Saturday, July 30, 2016

Suwarrow arrival

Current position 13.14.915S 163.06.501W
Suwarrow anchorage

We had a comfortable sail for the rest of the passage with the wind fluctuating between 15 and 20 knots from the east and arrived at the pass entrance at 3.30pm local time, having covered a distance of 670 miles from Maupiti with an average speed of 6.7 knots. We were however tired after a sleepless, active and wet night in the cockpit so we were looking forward to some sleep.

As we approached the entrance we hailed the Suwarrow ranger to get some information on the pass and the anchorage and he advised us that there should be no more than 2 knots of ebb current and there was nobody else in the anchorage - we would have the place to ourselves until our friends on Red Thread arrive tomorrow.

We dropped anchor in 30 feet of water, with 10 sharks swimming around the boat and the ranger hailed us to advise us that they would be coming out to our boat to check us into the country (Cook Islands) and perform the immigration and customs procedures. Harry and Pie, father and son ranger team, boarded Sarita, both uniformed. They were formal, efficient and friendly as they gave us lots of forms to fill out and checked our passports, ships papers and liquor cabinet for our customs declaration. We kept bringing out more and more bottles for them to record as although our alcohol stock purchased in Mexico was large (we have not had to buy any yet) we are sorely depleted.

One of the new regulations for entry into the cook islands is to submit an ANA, Advance Notice of Arrival form to the Cook Islands government, which we did before leaving Bora Bora but we never received a reply. We should have received a confirmation. Harry and Pie said that there were some teething troubles and waived the $20 each fine for not having the confirmation number.

We were a bit astounded that this remote place has been somewhat spoiled by over bureaucracy, The authorities have deemed it necessary to plant a number of large signposts on the island telling visitors what they CANNOT do - its mad!! I enjoy sailing in remote place to avoid this type of unnecessary nanny behavior, unnecessary as sailors understand and respect the environment and even then dont need signposts to tell you - for heavens sake there must be less than 100 people visit this place each year. If anyone needs rules and punishment its the authorities for planting these invasive signs. We were also advised that we were not allowed to go ashore on any of he motus and needed permission to go ashore at all. We were also advised that we were not allowed to SCUBA dive, a totally innocuous sport, and was one of the main reasons we traveled the 670 mile 5 day passage to get here. We would definitely not have come here if we had known this in advance. I will try to see through this frustration and disappointment during our visit.

Now we sleep - straight and level......

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