Category Archives: Penrhyn

Pictures from Te Tautua and Broken Palm Island, Penrhyn

Unbelievable! We caught an internet signal a mile away from the village out at our secluded Broken Palm Island! The internet has been down for a week but the supply ship came in yesterday and they fixed the wifi. As a result, here are some pics of the past week:

Anchored off Te Tautua village
Anchored off Te Tautua village
Waterfront in the village
Waterfront in the village
Asian feast with Ruby from DRINA
Asian feast with Ruby from DRINA
Ahhh...that's more like it. I just remembered why we cross oceans ;-)
Ahhh…that’s more like it. I just remembered why we cross oceans ;-)
Mermaid green thumb hard at work
Mermaid green thumb hard at work
The school in Te Tautua. Grades 1-10 in one room....
The school in Te Tautua. Grades 1-10 in one room….
Romanda and Rose Lilly, the Chiefs' daughters. He actually inquired if Alyssa and I were married....he is looking for a husband for Romanda (right).  Alyssa protested again of course
Romanda and Rose Lily, the Chiefs’ daughters. He actually inquired if Alyssa and I were married….he is looking for a husband for Rose Lily (right). Alyssa protested again of course
Baseball with the kids
Baseball with the kids
Lettuce...on an atoll?!
Lettuce…on an atoll?!
Alyssa's garden
Alyssa’s garden
My two loves in one kayak
My two loves in one kayak
Sailing the hobie kayak  and loving life
Sailing the hobie kayak and loving life
Ellie swinging peacefully behind Broken Palm Island
Ellie swinging peacefully behind Broken Palm Island
I'm so spoiled with Alyssa's cooking. Last night we had fried salmon cakes with sprouts and a spicy teriyaki glaze over sweet brown rice
I’m so spoiled with Alyssa’s cooking. Last night we had fried salmon cakes with sprouts and a spicy teriyaki glaze over sweet brown rice
Hooked a shark but he bit me off
Hooked a shark but he bit me off
I cooked an actual meal! The Mermaid was very impressed
I cooked an actual meal! The Mermaid was very impressed
Heading off on an adventure. Broken Palm  Island left background
Heading off on an adventure. Broken Palm Island left background
Exploring the reef
Exploring the reef
Filleting a parrot fish
Filleting a parrot fish
Mermaid hammock time. Be sure that book is estrogen-packed!
Mermaid hammock time. Be sure that book is estrogen-packed!
Kayak exploration in a postcard
Kayak exploration in a postcard

 

Paradise Found at Broken Palm Island, Penrhyn

I couldn’t stop smiling all day yesterday. I had the best day since last season when we were anchored in Toau in the Tuamotus. I’m in my element and am once again living the dream as I imagined it. Life is beautiful today.

We are anchored in the lee of a picturesque, palm-tree covered, uninhabited motu. An expanse of shallow fine white sand stretches for a half mile off the starboard bow and reflects dozens of shades of turquoise and blue and it recedes into the depths of the lagoon. Our anchor is set in only 6 feet of water and is set hard below the sand. Our rudder is floating peacefully 4 feet over a coral head with dozens of brilliantly colored tropical fish in residence. We also have a stern hook out to prevent swinging into the very shallow water forward of our bow anchor. The light turquoise water around Ellie is so beautiful it’s impossible to suppress a smile just looking out the ports.

After enjoying a delicious breakfast that our world-renowned Mermaid Chef prepared, I loaded up the camel back and jumped on the paddleboard in pursuit of exploration. The wind was howling so it was a strenuous workout paddling to windward across the short standing waves guarding the false pass through the break in the motus. I reached the other side wet and exhausted but warmed up for the trek ahead. I tied off the paddleboard to a palm tree and made my way across the shallow reef to the windward side where the waves punish the reefs edge relentlessly. After being accosted by hundreds of sea birds, I made the breakers and started walking south along the shoreline. I explored the shore for hours, collecting sea urchin spines, sorting through the plethora of plastic cast on the reef, taking a dip in a natural bath tub and just soaking in the beauty of the sea. I also found another research raft with a GPS transmitter, just like the one we found in Raroia last year. After being sufficiently baked by the tropical sun and heat I returned to the paddleboard and made my way downwind back to Ellie. I shot some underwater video on the way back that came out amazing – it’s like flying through a tropical reef at high speed.

Alyssa had been babysitting the watermaker, doing laundry and baking bread. She also has quite the little garden going. She is growing basil, cilantro, sage, rosemary, green onions, butter lettuce, mescaline mixed greens and daisies (because they’re pretty of course). They are in little greenhouses on the stern seat and are starting to sprout. She is quite the green thumb. We are both excited to enjoy some fresh greens sometime in the next week or two. She has also been growing sprouts and making yogurt. Do I have the most amazing woman in the world or what?!

After showering and drying in the trades on the bow, I made dinner. Much to Alyssa’s surprise, I am actually capable of making a proper meal…fooled me! Dinner was blackened parrot fish that I caught yesterday, briefly seared in hot olive oil; cream of broccoli soup with artichoke hearts; mixed veggies and beets with goat cheese; and a slice of Alyssa’s amazing fresh sourdough bread. She was all smiles and very impressed. I was just glad it was edible and pleasantly surprised how well it turned out. I told her she’s got competition now.

We ended the evening with a movie in the cockpit under the bright stars. We turned in just as the full moon was rising to windward through the palm trees.

As I said, yesterday ranks up there as one of the best days of my life. We love it here and are not looking for weather to leave anytime soon.

In other news: with the help of Doni and Martin on the 100 foot Schooner, SJOSTROM, after three long hours underwater, we finally got the broken Kiwi propeller off and my spare fixed prop on. We now have a fully functioning vessel, including reverse! Moving the transmission into and out of reverse is now super smooth. Being able to set the anchor hard – when surrounded by shallow coral heads – it’s of utmost importance. We can both sleep much easier now knowing the anchor is dug in hard.

There’s a broken palm tree off the bow so we have decided to name this place, “Broken Palm Island.” We are also kegging an Australian Pale Ale today and have decided to name it the “Broken Palm Pale Ale.”

Cheers from Broken Palm Island,
Lewis & Princess Green Thumb

June 5, 2015
Broken Palm Island, Penrhyn, Cook Islands

Life in Penrhyn Island

Peace and tranquility have been found and island time restored. The anchor is buried a foot deeper in the same spot we dropped it off Te Tautua village. The toys are all out: dive gear, sailing kayak, paddleboard, dinghy. The fort is in full force: shade tents, dive compressor, hammock. Rest has been had. Boat projects are being crossed off the list and Ellie is coming back to life. We are happy here and are really enjoying ourselves.

The villagers have welcomed us into their lives with open arms, hearts and homes. We have enjoyed multiple feasts (kai kai’s), watched the school children put on song and dance, played baseball with the kids, hosted locals on the boat and watched the local women craft intricate hats and fans from palm and pandanus. A walk through the village will be met with smiles and greetings and a few smiling kids chasing pigs through the streets. The pace of life is extremely slow and tranquil here. Not much going on aside from the many church sessions per week. It’s a simple life and a good one.

The villagers have money and do extremely well through the sale of pipi pearls, a gold-colored pearl they harvest off the coral heads in the lagoon. Last week there was a buyer here to purchase pearls. They have nice homes with modern amenities such as washers. Many of the locals have been educated and spent time in new New Zealand and they speak proper Oxford English as well as Maori. They travel to Australia and New Zealand often, despite the fact that a round trip ticket costs over $6,000. They all have aluminum fishing boats and nice motor scooters even though there is only one road and the motu is less than two miles long.

The influx of money has brought greed with it. They have already informed us they are doubling the per day anchoring fees and will retroact the fees for our entire visit. Fees that are already multiples more than any other island nation in the South Pacific. It’s a real shame because many cruising boats already bypass the Cooks as a result of the very high fees.

The island leaders are also very restrictive on the movement of boats in the lagoon. This is the first atoll we have been to that restricts when and where we can anchor. We finally got permission to move a mile away from the village but that required a visit to the Chief with many gifts given, a long discussion about where and when we plan to move, and some of our best ass kissing skills. He finally agreed to let us move but only where he can still see the boat from his home. I believe the restrictions are out of fear that we will go to the other side of the atoll, out of view, and start harvesting their cash crop, the pipi pearls. It’s the only explanation I can come up with. We understand we are their guests so we have been – and will continue to be – very gracious.

Today I am going to attempt to remove the broken feathering Kiwi Prop and replace it with our fixed prop. The reverse function does not work and jams the transmission. We have decided to give up the advantages of the feathering prop, namely 1/2 a knot boat speed under sail, for the safety of having reverse and being able to set the anchor. Friends from the Schooner are bringing over a prop puller. I’m hopeful we can make the switch successfully. Stay tuned.

Then it’s back to sailing the kayak, exploring the motus and swinging in the hammock. I also plan to get out the kiteboard once the trades return.

Life is good in Penrhyn. I think we’ll stay another week or so before heading west. The amazing diving at Suwarrow beckons and after another week we’ll have run up quite the fee schedule.

Kiorana,
Lewis & Alyssa

June 2, 2015

Te Tautua, Penrhyn, Cook Islands