Sunday, August 26, 2012


Sunset on the way to Niue
I learned yesterday that a rumour is going round that theres a woman on my boat who hasn’t come ashore.  I discovered this when a bloke at the yacht club asked me what was going on. I had to laugh – this is a problem that has beset me for years, that people who don’t know me when they hear my voice on the phone , mistake it for a womans voice. So they’ll say “Oh, I thought Dr MacFarlane was a man!”  And later when they meet me they might say “no it wasn’t you I was talking to, it was a woman”. So it happens on the VHF as well!

The other story that is going around about me is that years ago I worked in the Hospital here, and was married to a local woman and had a few children with her. And this one, believe it or not is true! This is why coming back here is so special for me.

My first wife was from a tiny village called Makefu, about 5 miles up the road from  Alofi, the main town. We met in New Zealand and came here with our young family for the last three months of my medical training, in 1983. I worked in a voluntary capacity at the tiny hospital, and it was a wonderful experience for all of us. The hospital has since been completely destroyed by massive waves in a hurricane – the hospital was in a beautiful location on top of 100 foot high  cliffs overlooking the ocean where we are now moored.  A nearby Hotel was also destroyed by these unbelievable waves which destroyed much of the infrastructure on the island in 2004.

In 1983, there was very little contact with the outside world and my radio couldn’t pick up Radio Australia for outside news. The only news I really wanted to hear was progress in the Americas Cup challenge that year. In the end I learned of John Bertrands “wing keel” victory over Dennis Connor when the Time Magazine appeared in the shop with a photo of Australia II on the cover. I think I still have that edition somewhere!

Yesterday, I came ashore after a great nights sleep and had a lovely shower and dropped all my rubbish off, and my Laundry, and then hired a motorbike, and headed for Makefu to visit my ex-inlaws, with whom, along with their sister I have managed to maintain friendly relations. Everyone was wonderfully welcoming and friendly. And last night I was invited back for dinner of traditional food and afterwards, live Rugby! The All Blacks thrashed the Wallabies 22:Nil – the last time the Wallabies completely failed to score against the All Blacks was 50 years ago, so it was a humiliation.

Ive noticed, coming south from Suwarrow that the nights were getting cooler, and daytime temperatures in Niue are around 25 C making it much more pleasant than the stifling heat and humidity of French Polynesia. I think I will be here for another 5 days or so – its great to be back.

( I am finding the Internet to be very slow most of the time, and I haven’t yet managed to upload any other photos than the one above, but I hope to soon)

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