Cook Islands: Yacht Prohibited from entering Avatiu Harbour

A solo sailor en-route from French Polynesia to Fiji was prevented from landing at Avatiu Harbour, Rarotonga after reportedly arriving unannounced, according to the Cook Islands Ministry of Transport.

Published 2 years ago

Source:  Cook Islands News

The yacht named “Pebbles”, which is registered in Germany and crewed by a Belgian man,  arrived unannounced at Avatiu Harbour, Rarotonga, on Monday December 6 and had been at sea for 30 days.

The unwelcome yacht in Avatiu Harbour (c) Cook Islands News

Cook Islands Secretary of Transport Mr John Hosking said the yacht entered the harbour without approval, with the crew member reporting auto-pilot and engine problems in an attempt to come ashore.

Lack of Communication

“There was no communication whatsoever, he just turned up,” Mr Hosking told the Cook Islands News.

Mr Hosking said under the Cook Islands Covid-19 maritime border regulations, there was some allowance for people requiring humanitarian aid, however, the person did not fall under this category, because of the lack of communication he had had with authorities.

“They (sailors) are very aware of what the border rules are.  At the end of the day we’ve got to be really vigilant on arrivals, especially yachts.”

The sailor – who was unvaccinated – was told to turn around by authorities.  He left the harbour but then returned in the afternoon before heading back out to sea.

Mr Hosking said authorities first tried to communicate with him via radio but there was no response.

He said a team from the Ministry of Transport approached the man on a boat from a safe distance, while wearing full personal protective equipment, to try to convince the man to leave.

“He said that he had an engine problem, but he managed to get into the harbour on his own engine, and then when he was told to leave, he actually departed on his own engine and then did a 360 degree turn and came back in”, reported Mr Hosking.

Protecting the Borders

Hosking said with the border being closed, the MOT has been very strict.

“We need to protect our borders, whether its aviation or whether it’s maritime.  As far as we’re concerned he has gone, we have dealt with it.”

Mr Hosking said if another incident like this occurred, the ministry’s position would not change and they would ask the crew to leave the Cook Islands.

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Editor’s Note:

The Cook Islands maritime borders closed on 16 March, 2020, and remain closed. Covid-19 has succesfully been kept out of the country. In cases of emergency or essential need, international yachts may apply for authorization to enter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration. Research the countries you may need to use while on passage in the case of an emergency and know the rules. All information is available on Noonsite via our Covid-19 borders document and biosecurity sections for each country.

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Noonsite has not independently verified this information.

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