When in Rome … The preferred local way of transport is on a scooter: we rent a couple and explore the island. It’s great fun! I’m worried however about driving around without a helmet on and with the kids on the back. It’s what everyone does though and we take it slow. There have been several attempts to introduce a law here to make helmets compulsory but every time the women, who insist they need to be able to wear traditional flower arrangements in their hair, veto it.
The Cooks are celebrating 50 years of independence this year. They are self-governing in free association with New Zealand since 1965. The 15 islands are sprinkled over 2.25 million sq km and make up a land area of just 240 sq km. Aitutaki is in the Southern Cooks and has a lovely relaxed laid back atmosphere. It’s a small island with lots of churches! Religion is a big thing here and on Sunday everything stops and nobody is allowed to work or even go for a swim. It’s quite a nice idea actually and we settle in and relax along.
We meet a fun Australian family with two boys similar ages as ours and the kids have a blast for the next few days. There are lots of activities to be done: snorkeling, swimming, island exploring, beach combing, …
After having checked the weather forecast this morning we are ready to move. There is a good window to sail over to Palmerston island, approx. 200 NM from here. This remote atoll is home to 60 people, all descendants of William Masters. There is no airport, no shops, no hotels or restaurants. The island sees a supply ship only once or twice a year. It was discovered by Captain James Cook in 1774 and named after Lord Palmerston. A century later, in 1863, an English barrel maker and ship’s carpenter named William Masters settled on Palmerston with his three Polynesian wives and started three distinct Marsters (as the name is now spelled) family lines. There is no pass into the atoll but the inhabitants have put a few mooring balls for passing yachts to tie onto. It goes without saying that stopping at Palmerston is very weather dependent. Anyway, we are going to give it a try and if the weather doesn’t allow us to stop we’ll just continue to Niue or Tonga!