Voyage north happens at last

Saturday January 04, 2020 Written by Published in Outer Islands
People boarding the Tongan vessel which left for the northern group on Thursday.20010342 People boarding the Tongan vessel which left for the northern group on Thursday.20010342

Tongan cargo vessel Taka-I-Pomana finally set sail for the Northern Group islands on Thursday afternoon, with scenes of happy passengers departing to their home islands and a large crowd at Avatiu Wharf to see them off.

The waters may have calmed at Avatiu Harbour.

But after a public spat between the Cook Islands Government and former Penryhn MP Wilkie Rasmussen over a perceived lack of Northern Group islands transportation options, there could be some rough times ahead.   

Tongan cargo vessel Taka-I-Pomana finally left the port on Thursday January 2 after delays caused by the weather hindered its departure.

The ship arrived on Monday December 30 and it was initially hoped that it would depart on New Year’s Eve.

A group of elderly women spoken to by Cook Islands News on December 31, while they waited to hear news of when they would be able to board the ship, said they weren’t worried by the prospect of spending New Year’s Eve and the beginning of 2020 on a ship.

The fact that they would soon be on board and eventually touching the soil of their home island of Pukapuka was a dream come true.

However, their hopes of departure to the Northern Group were dashed after the tail end of ex-tropical Cyclone Sarai smashed the western side of Rarotonga, with high seas, huge swells and strong gale force winds.

Boats docked in Avatiu Harbour took a hammering, but on January 2, the only effect of the storm on the Taka-I-Pomana, was its anchor getting stuck, delaying its departure by an hour or so.

Despite the delays, the 250 people who stuck it out happily boarded the ship on with smiles on their faces.

Earlier, the wharf was crowded with excited spectators and passengers. Under a searingly hot sun there plenty of action, with trucks and cars piled with luggage pulling up on the wharf while a long line of people queued to board the ship.

As the final passengers went up the gangway, the ship’s crane was still loading the last of a number of water tanks destined for drought-stricken Penrhyn.

There were cheers as the ship finally pulled out from the wharf and headed through the entrance, people waving frantically as the Taka-I-Pomana rapidly headed out to sea.


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