Thursday, August 18, 2011

Southern Cooks vs Northern Cooks Route

Folks might wonder if we're going to interesting places like Palmerston and Aitutake, as well as Suwarrow. We are not.

The Cook Islands are scattered all over the middle of the South Pacific. Cruisers going between French Polynesia and Tonga generally need to make a choice between the Southern Cooks route, which include either Rarotonga or Aitutake, and then typically Palmerston, Beveridge Reef and Niue. Or via the Northern Cooks route, which includes Suwarrow, and usually a stop at American Samoa and/or Western Samoa.

We could spend a month out here and hit them all, but these islands/atolls are about 300 miles apart, so it would be logistically difficult and a lot of sea miles. Plus we'd be dodging cold fronts this time of year.

We chose the northern route for two reasons--Tom Neale's "An Island To Oneself" is set in Suwarrow, and so it's a cool place to stop. It is now a park, and two Cook Island Park Rangers stay there during cruising season to shepherd the passing cruisers through the atoll. They make it a point to show the cruisers an interesting time. Our friends have just raved about the experience.

The second reason is that the northern route seems to be north of the passing cold fronts. We are congratulating ourselves tonight on our choice, after hearing friends on the radio enroute from Aitutake to Beveridge Reef going through a cold front with 25 knot NW winds. Yuk! We, on the other hand, have 12 knots of gentle northeasterly winds. We are about 350 miles north of them, headed more north, and should not get much weather from the passing cold front. (Remember that we are in the Southern Hemisphere, so north means warmer down here...). The season right now is 'late winter'--the Northern Hemisphere equivalent of February.

If you're totally interested and want a geography lesson, here are some approximate lat/longs of some of the Cook Islands:

Suwarrow 13-13S 163-04W
Palmerston 18-04S 163-12W
Aitutake 18-55S 159-46W

Get out your Google Earth!
Sherry & Dave
On our way from French Polynesia toward Tonga

At 8/18/2011 6:41 AM (utc) our position was 14°32.64'S 158°44.28'W

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