Sunday, May 31

High-tech troubles in paradise

This video was filmed in December 2001.
You might wonder why the most recent blog posts have all been of days gone by.
Well, my camera broke down. It refused to zoom – stayed at the wide-angle setting all the time. Mind you, it still recorded to tape which is an improvement over last time it went belly up. Back then something weird happened with the sensors and I got pixelated images and garish colours. I had to send it back to New Zealand three times before it worked properly again. It took eight months in total to repair.
This time it’s been a mere month – that’s assuming that the repair is effective. I’m heading to NZ for a few days so I’ll pick it up and see.
I had a back-up camera but it’s feeling its age and no longer has the strength to load and eject tapes.
On top of that, I can’t get on to YouTube to upload videos. In fact, most days I can’t get on to YouTube at all unless I use a numerical IP address instead of the domain name. It’s only YouTube that’s inaccessible; everywhere else is fine so I’m storing the videos directly with Blogger at the moment. We’ve got a small home network and the problem’s the same for all the computers so it looks like a router malfunction and we’re planning to get a new one in NZ – the model we want isn’t available here.
Fortunately other hardware bits and pieces are available locally. My monitor started doing strange things - parts of it would pixelate and the desktop icons flickered. We replaced the graphics card (which was supposed to be pretty fancy and wasn’t all that old). The machine worked OK for a day or two and then the problem started up again. So we replaced the motherboard. Same thing happened. Fine for a day and then back came the flickers and blobs.
Ended up removing the graphics card completely and using the motherboard’s own graphics and (touch wood) it’s now working properly.
It’s beginning to look as though the fault lies with the graphics card not sitting properly in the case.
Living in a tropical island paradise has its drawbacks.
Back to the video.
The schooner Silent Lady spent a few years in Rarotonga when Skip Price was the owner. It was a beautiful boat and Skip did short day trips for tourists sailing from Ngatangiia Harbour out to sea and back. I’m a rotten sailor and I didn’t take any Dramamine so looking at the video makes me feel queasy all over again!
Skip sailed Silent Lady back to America for a tall ships festival and never returned. It is now owned by someone in Florida. Shame really as it really looked magnificent in this setting.
In an earlier blog (Flying High) I mentioned various air-related business ventures in the Cook Islands that have turned up their toes. I missed one – we had a helicopter for a while. It island hopped all the way from Australia to Rarotonga which was quite a feat. The company got a licence to operate here but unfortunately the chopper didn’t have a NZ airworthiness certificate (or something similar) and it’s not possible to get one here – the chopper would have had to get to New Zealand for that. Another dream bites the dust.
Water-based tourism ventures haven’t fared a lot better. Over the years we’ve had the Silent Lady, jet boats, jet skis, a hovercraft, and kayak tours. A catamaran, the Release, went aground during a cyclone but was replaced by the Hotel California which is still sailing away. Fishing charters and dive boats are also still going strong, as is the Reef Sub, but sadly many maritime ventures on Rarotonga have sunk without a trace.

Thursday, May 28

The FV Ana rescue – success!

Fortunately the tide didn’t wash away the causeway and the next day it was beefed up and a Landholdings crane took over. Slings were fixed around the boat and it was hoisted off the rocks, manoeuvred onto a cradle and lifted onto the back of a trailer.
The load was heavy and there was a short, steep incline leading onto the shore so a tractor joined the parade to add muscle.
This time everything worked well, FV Ana made it to land and the best free show in town was over.

Thursday, May 21

The FV Ana rescue – day 2

Well, re-floating FV Ana didn’t work. It was time for plan B.
This involved T&M Heather building a causeway out to the boat. Fortunately the reef is pretty close to the shore at Panama and the lagoon is grungy – rocky foreshore, not much in the way of sand, no living coral. There were a few environmental worries but nobody had any other ideas for rescuing the boat and having it break up on the reef would no doubt have been worse for the environment.
But at the end of that day it looked as though plan B had turned to custard. As the tide came in seawater rolled over the causeway and the Ana remained stuck fast…

Sunday, May 17

Looking back - FV Ana on the rocks

Just over a year ago, in March 2008, Tapi Taio’s fishing boat FV Ana ended up on the reef in Panama. It was a Saturday afternoon and conditions were calm so the grounding was a bit of a mystery. Cook Islands News photographer Matariki Wilson, who took the still photos at the start of this video, says the engine must have failed and the boat just got swept onto the reef.
Poor old Tapi had a run of bad luck back then. In November 2007 he was the centre of controversy when his decrepit inter-island freighter Miss Mataroa was loaded with asbestos and sunk in deep water a few miles offshore. There were environmental concerns but nobody could come up with an alternative way of getting rid of the stuff, mainly old roofing, so down it went.
Then in January 2008 a storm washed up a second inter-island freighter, MV Maungaroa, on the reef in front of Avatiu Harbour.
That wreck was still there when the FV Ana ran aground.
It was tough on Tapi but for a few days the effort to save the boat was the best free entertainment in town.
The first attempt was to get a line on board and tow the boat off the reef. Tapi’s last remaining freighter, the Manu Nui, and the Ports Authority tug Toa stood by but it all came to nothing as this video shows.
More later…

Sunday, May 10

Highland Paradise

I recently tagged on to a tour at Highland Paradise, a twenty acre haven carved out of dense bush-clad hillsides on Mount Maungaroa.
The Tinomana tribe used to live there before the arrival of missionaries in the 1820s.
When the then-chief converted to Christianity everybody moved down to the coast where the missionaries built a model village – Arorangi.
Up on the mountain the houses rotted away, and trees and shrubs soon covered the marae, meeting places and other important rocks and stones.
The late Raymond Pirangi Senior began the mammoth task of reclaiming the area and his daughter Tutu carried on the work and is now in charge of Highland Paradise.
The views from up there are magnificent. Lookouts would have been able to see enemy warriors (of which it seems there were many) long before they came near.
Danny Mataroa was the guide on this occasion. He’s a well-known local personality, a great showman and a mine of information about the old days with their battles and legends, as well as the trees and flowers all around.
A Tereora College social studies class organised the tour and it was an awesome way to study history and culture with a bit of biology thrown in. Interactive too. Danny got kids to play the part of priests, chiefs … and victims!
The weather was lovely; the paths were gentle, the botanical gardens beautiful, and the tour fascinating. Check out the Highland Paradise website for more information.

Sunday, May 3

The Esther Honey - Hash House K9 run

Rarotonga Hash House Harriers and the Esther Honey Foundation recently combined for a fun fundraiser – the K9 9K run.
Runners, walkers, dogs and their owners gathered at Punanga Nui market. The hounds, all dogged up in their EHF bandanas, must have been on their best behaviour. There were plenty of tail wags and barks but no dog fights!
The run, along the back road to the post office, was a double loop so the two and four-footed participants could go the whole 9 kilometres, four-and-a-half km, or the not-so-fit, elderly or arthritic (dogs or owners) could cut down a side road and back to the market where there were refreshments – a BBQ for the humans and dog biscuits for the rest.
Raffles and donations raised $500.
EHF clinic director Karen Galvan said the clinic has now treated over 24,000 animals and hopes this will be the first of many more fundraisers with flair.

Rarotonga ANZAC Day ceremony

Servicemen and women marched from Avarua CICC to the war memorial outside the courthouse and the uniformed organisations joined the parade; Boys’ Brigade, Girls’ Brigade, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. The latter two organisations included some very young marchers - cubs and brownies.
About a dozen dignitaries as well as representatives from the uniformed organisations laid wreaths on the cenotaph.
This second ANZAC video shows some of the service.