r. w. thompson : cook islands, 1900
There is no harbour
or anchorage at Mangaia, and landing is lively work for those who are not
accustomed to it.
If the weather is at all bad, it must be attended with very serious risk.
The bounding reef is a solid rampart of coral about 100 yards from the shore, the lagoon being exceedingly shallow, while on the sea face of the reef the water is very deep.
There is a constant surf, the huge waves rolling in and breaking on the edge of the reef with great force.
The ship s boat comes as near the edge of the reef as she dares, i.e. from thirty to fifty yards away, and is kept in that position by the rowers while it bobs up and down on the waves.
A large canoe comes alongside, and the passenger gets out of the boat into the canoe with as much agility as he can manage, quaking lest he should slip down between the two.
sits down in the
bottom of the canoe, holding on to both sides, and the men who are paddling
keep their eyes on the waves.
Presently a roller comes larger than the rest ; the steersman shouts to the others, and they paddle towards the reef with all their might.
The canoe shoots swiftly along on the crest of the great roller, and is carried by it far on to the reef before it breaks.
There are a number of men there standing up to their waists in water, who seize the canoe as it comes to a halt amidst the foam, and with a shout they haul it right over into the shallow water and on to the shore.
The passenger presently finds himself stepping out on dry land without having had a splash !
My Trip in the John Williams
London Missionary Society, London,1900.