Search This Blog

Badger

Badger
In Greenland

Iron Bark

Iron Bark
Under full sail

Fantail

Fantail
At Russell Boating Club's Tall Ships Regatta

Annie Hill

Annie Hill
Photo credit: Alvah Simon

Blue Water Medal

Blue Water Medal
Blue Water Medal

Books By Annie Hill

  • Brazil and Beyond
  • Voyaging on a Small Income

About Me

04 March, 2007
















Clearing in was wonderfully casual. John and Veronica were going out fishing: ‘so come over later and we’ll sort it out. Or tomorrow, if you’d rather.’ Suvarov is a National Park; there’s a charge of US $50, which is used to pay John as Park Warden. He spends 6 months a year on Suvarov with his wife and 4 delightful sons. They’d prefer to stay there all year, so that they could make a garden and have hens, which would immensely improve their quality of life, but the Cook Is Government has not yet agreed. When we were there, they were more than grateful for anything the yachts could spare. The Government had not planned their supplies too well: they’d run out of cooking gas, flour, sugar and were very short of petrol. Any other little luxuries such as sweets for the children, interesting tinned food or the odd bottle of rum for John were more than welcome. We hoped that they’d get home more easily this year than the previous one, when the relief ship that was supposed to pick them up, found itself short of fuel and simply cancelled the voyage. They’d had to hitch a ride to Penrhyn I on a visiting yacht! John and Veronica could not have been more welcoming and we were upset to hear that some members of our cruising community had disobeyed the rules, or refused to pay the Park charge. John has no way to enforce the regulations and hates having to be unpleasant to his visitors.
One of the boats that had had such an uncomfortable time of it, a week or so previously, was a German yacht. His bow roller fitting was almost tied in knots and he was having problems leading his anchor gear clear of the boat. Trevor spent a day ashore making a new fitting. By using our own supplies of stainless steel and fastenings, Trevor made a strong if slightly inelegant temporary repair which Toby used all the way to New Zealand. He was delighted with the work, but not sufficiently so as to buy Trevor a beer when we crossed tacks again in Apia!
We stayed for five wonderful days in Suvarov. If the yachts could provide the petrol, John liked nothing better than to take us for fishing trips, or to one of the nearby islands where we could see frigate birds and terns nesting. He loved his atoll and its birds and refused to harm either them or their eggs. He was very proud at the increase in numbers of (lesser) frigate birds, commenting sadly to me that he believes his predecessors used to eat the eggs. He’s working very hard to eradicate rats on the islands (in Tom Neale’s time, there were no rats, cockroaches, mosquitoes or flies!) and one side benefit is that the number of coconut crabs has increased enormously. He warns all visitors that there is rat poison down and that the crabs may very well feed on the dead rats: this effectively discourages visitors from taking the crabs. He showed us some of these beasts and his older son, Jonathon, put one on a palm tree for us: it scrambled up with no difficultly. When we went ashore, John would shin up a palm tree, throwing down nuts to Veronica, who deftly lopped the top off with her machete. Any fish caught on the outing would be shared between all the party, John’s face alight with the pleasure of sharing good things.
They are a lovely couple: superb both as caretakers and ambassadors for the Cook Is. We were sorry to say goodbye.

No comments: