Friday, June 24, 2011

Suwarrow...isolation, manta rays, sharks and lovely manners....


The beach on Anchorage 

From Palmerston Island  we sailed for two days to reach Suwarrow…a remote atoll, of enormous beauty and pristine condition, a Marine National Park, unreachable by any boat which is unable to navigate the “clearing” through the treacherous reef.

I had been passionate about wanting to step foot on Suwarrow after reading Tom Neale’s book “An Island to Oneself” and having spoken at length on Palmerston Island to Stella Neale, his daughter,
about the man, and the father.




The "monument"outside Tom Neale's shack

After a tortuous two days at sea on the ghastly "rust bucket" of a vessel we were "cruising" on Suwarrrow loomed on the horizon.

The island is uninhabited, except for the ranger and his family, who live, fairly much like Tom Neale, above the cyclone shelter. They are visited irregularly by passing ships with supplies;  most of their “treats” are provided by passing round-the-world sailors on yachts who choose to moor in the pristine waters of Suwarrow for peace, relaxation, to walk in the footsteps of Tom Neale and perhaps most importantly, to resupply their fresh water.



The Intrepid Travellers go ashore...the author alights!

I have never been much of a fan of yachts…until, on the "rust bucket" with its diesel engines working irregularly and inefficiently,  its lack of holding tanks for sewerage and its generally ugly appearance.I viewed our arrival, through the channel, with the eyes of the environmentally aware yachties.

A truly special sunset at Swuarrow (ph

And Suwarrow was lovely.  We ended up staying for two nights there, again anchored, hopefully not destroying coral, and going ashore, or to snorkel with the sharks and manta rays with the leaking Zodiac.

But as a group of passengers we really bonded.  We shared gin and tonics at sunset, jokes about the sharks which swarmed around the boat and the cooking duties.  The meals were inventive, washed down with some good New Zealand wines.

The sharks circled the boat waiting for scraps...

And perhaps most importantly, in front of one of the most remote and isolated  islands in the world, we all agreed that good manners, love for the environment and old fashioned kindness towards each other, made the ghastly times with which we had to deal on the "rust bucket"  less difficult. 



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