Thursday, August 23, 2007

Monday 20th August

Cook Islands

21 12.295 S
159 47.091 W

Happy Birthday Tony, we are thinking of you today

Our day began with me making pancakes for breakfast; this in itself caused a problem as the gas (propane) ran out half way through cooking them. After changing the bottles over and finishing cooking we made plans for the day. Half way through eating breakfast we were interrupted by a shout from the dock, the agricultural inspector had arrived to check our boat, this meant that Gerry had to take the dinghy across to the dock and ferry him out to the boat – I’m not sure what these guys do if there is no dinghy. Anyway we plied him with strong coffee and suspect milk (is it meant to have little lumps floating on top?) whilst we filled out the required paperwork. Just as we thought we had finished with all that stuff another man arrived on the dock and needed ferrying out to the boat, this time it was the health and safety officer We offered him coffee but he settled for juice – wise man! Then he proceeded to tell us that he was going to spray our boat to kill off any bugs we may have bought with us – normal procedure for New Zealand ports of call, we closed all hatches and he did his thing whilst we sat in the cockpit. Then came the fee payment - $10 NZ for the agricultural man and $20 NZ for the health and safety officer, I tried to tell them that the coffee and juice cost the same as their fees but they didn’t fall for that one.We had to get a photo of them with Bear before they departed and they both posed quite willingly..
Once we had handed over our cash they required ferrying back to the dock which Gerry did. Then we got down to the plans for the day, Abigail wanted to book in for a tattoo, we needed to take the gas bottle to the refill station, Gerry had to do the customs and harbour master check in and we wanted to hire a car for a couple of days to see the island. We went ashore together and separated to do 3 different things, I dropped off the gas bottle, Abigail went to book her tattoo and Gerry went off to the harbour master’s office. I met up with Gerry and we went to hire a car, he then had to go and get a local driving license so I walked to the tattoo studio and met Abigail and the two of us then walked into town dropping off a necklace for engraving and a pearl to have a gold loop attached to. We met up with Gerry who had arranged his driving license but had to return later to collect it, he had then gone on to see if he could get an external keyboard for the computer that has the sticky key – he had bought one and the computer is now back in working order. We then retraced our steps to the police station but his license still wasn’t ready so we then went for lunch – figuring that everything may be ready after an hour of lunch. Eventually we managed to collect the license – and here’s the funny thing – it was Gerry’s photo, they had his birthday round the wrong way month where day should have been and day where month should have been, but the worse thing was that the signature slip on the back was someone else’s entirely! He didn’t wait around to sort that one out, figuring that it wasn’t going to matter anyway. It was then time to go pearl shopping. We hit just about all the main stores in town, Abigail found some baroque pearls to have made into earrings to match her ring and I eventually found a pair of earring that were reasonably close in colour to the ones in my pendant, Gerry just tagged along to sign the credit card slips and sit on the “bored husband” seats inside the store. With our shopping complete it was time to return to the gas filling station to collect our propane tank and then return to the boat for a late afternoon nap. We went out for dinner to a shore side bar / grill called “Whatever” where we had a wonderful meal, met some terrific people and shared a few stories with the locals including the owners and a man who holds the Guinness record for free diving for pearls. This man and I chatted for a while and it turned out his father was one of the founders of the pearling industry in the Cook Islands, he had taken over the farming and he surprised me by handing me a gift of a pearl just before he left for the night. It poured with rain whilst we were there having dinner and as soon as it stopped we headed back to the boat to make sure that we weren’t taking on any water and that the dinghy was still floating. Back on the boat we soon retired to bed, marveling at the generosity and friendliness of the people we had met.



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