Our anchorage here in Suwarrow will go down as one of our favourites of the four and half years we have been away.
The island is so remote – the nearest inhabited island is American Samoa which is about 500 miles away.
The actual atoll is quite large about 10 miles across with a few scattered islands around the northern part of the reef; the whole area is classified as National Park.
The island was made famous by Tom Neale, who lived here on his own for three long stints between 1952 and 1977 and ended writing a classic book called ‘An island to oneself’.
On the main island there are two park rangers, James and Apii, who spend 6 months a year here as caretakers. There are two ships a year that come here, one in June bringing them with all their supplies and one to pick them up again in November and if they run out of anything in between times they either go without or hope some passing yachtie might help.
There is a $50 fee to anchor here, but if you have spare petrol they will take that instead as they were only given 140 litres of fuel to run their outboard and house generator for 6 months!!
Nearly every night James and Apii organise a pot luck supper ashore – they supply the fish and coconut pancakes and we bring the salad and pasta dishes. It makes for a great social occasion.
One day Apii took us to one of the neighbouring islands in the atoll in his boat to collect coconut crabs and catch a few fish for one of our suppers. The coconut crabs live in the undergrowth beneath the coconut trees, so to catch them you have to fight your way through the bush looking down holes and under logs.
Although the crabs aren’t that quick they do have large claws that are designed to open coconut shells so you have to be a bit careful where you put your hands. After we got a couple of sacks of crabs we headed off to a nearby reef to get a few more fish to add to our menu.
It’s been months since we were able to eat any reef fish without the fear of getting ciguatera poisoning. That night we had an amazing feed. There were 21 of us and we only ate half of the crabs so the following day we all pitched in and made crumbed crab cakes with mashed potato, pumpkin, onion, garlic and parsley. It’s a bonus having being in the company of a chef.