Controversial Vessel To Sail To Cooks Outer-Islands Early Next Year

Wind-assisted ship Tiare Taporo last sailed to northern group in June

By Losirene Lacanivalu

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Dec. 29, 2016) – After weeks lying idle at the Avatiu Wharf the controversial inter-island vessel Tiare Taporo is expected to set sail for the northern group islands early in the new year.

Pacific Schooners Ltd director Garth Broadhead says the company hoped to make around eight trips to the islands in 2017, but did not offer any explanation for the lack of sailings in the latter part of this year.

The vessel last sailed to the northern islands in June.

“We will be departing for the north on January 21 and the tonnage of cargo and number of passengers will depend on demand,” Broadhead said. An anonymous source earlier told CI News that Tiare Taporo captain Kim Smith and his crew had not been paid. The source alleged that was the real reason the vessel had remained in port.   However, Broadhead said Smith had been paid in full when he embarked on the Tiare Taporo’s last 2016 voyage.  “So that is untrue and it is not the reason that we haven’t sailed,” he added.

This year the vessel made just four trips to the outer islands. In May this year the vessel suffered what was described at the time as “minor technical problems” after its arrival at Tongareva (Penrhyn) following a difficult 10-day voyage in stormy weather. Some passengers contacted CI News to air their dissatisfaction with the ship and conditions on board during the storm. The Canadian built vessel is wind-assisted and uses her engine for primary propulsion. The sails are hoisted to make effective use of the wind when the wind direction allows.

The vessel is licensed to carry nine crew and 30 passengers.

The cost per passenger to any northern island is around $550 [US$380] for adults and $275 [US$190] for children.

Pacific Schooners Ltd aims to generate trade and has been encouraging outer islands communities to tell them about any products that they might want to sell.  The Tiare Taporo does not follow the same routes every trip, but visits the same islands on each voyage.Each voyage takes around 23 days, depending on the weather. Earlier this year, the vessel was issued a domestic shipping licence to carry cargo and passengers in the Cook Islands.

The licence was granted by Prime Minister and Transport Minister Henry Puna on January 25. 

Cook Islands News
Copyright © 2016 Cook Islands News. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment