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The Yankee and the Tavenui both on the reef at Avarua 1966. Photograph by Bill Johnson - Copyrighted

On the 23 July 1964 the Yankee was anchored off Avarua, Rarotonga when a gale blow up during the very early hours of the morning and she dragged her anchor and drafted on to the northern reef at Avarua, Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands
The Yankee was abandoned on the reef at Rarotonga. A couple of attempts were made to try and get her off the reef by using blocks and tackle and a D6 Bulldozer from inside the lagoon. With the help of local Cook Islanders and the crew from the Yankee they came close to getting her near the edge off the reef and hopefully re-floating the Yankee. However, more bad weather came in and once again pushed the Yankee still further back onto the reef at Rarotonga. Sadly to say, I had the privilege of being one of the last people to see the Yankee still afloat and at anchor in Rarotonga, just two days before she met her fate. The rest was to be history for the beautiful World Famous Yankee. The Yankee is seen here with the local inter-island trading vessel Tavenui (left) on her side in Avarua harbour before being re-floated and taken to Pago Pago, American Samoa for repairs.

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Comment by Grace Dickinson Johnson on June 10, 2017 at 9:54pm

While researching info on the brigantine Yankee and Windjammer cruises, I came across your photo with your interesting comments. I signed on as the stewardess aboard the Yankee in Nassau Bahamas, February 1964  I sailed on the Yankee through the Caribbean and through the Panama canal.  Four of us regrettably left the Yankee in Panama city due to the conditions aboard, including myself, two passengers and the ship's doctor. What a great experience to sail on this beautiful ship.  Many exciting days with the Yankee in full sail. I love seeing your photograph and always wanted to travel to Rarotonga  to remember the Yankee.  Would love to hears from anyone there who has any memories of the Yankee.

 Grace( Dickinson) Johnson 

Comment by Scott T. Shier on June 10, 2017 at 10:17pm


Very nice message and info. you shared. Thanks. the classic Yankee is one of my favorite vessels and I love seeing anybody's personal experiences and memories of her. 

Have you ever happened to see either of the vintage National Geographic Specials about Yankee ?

* Voyage of the Brigantine Yankee (1966) ,

* Yankee Sails Across Europe (1967)


     ~ Scott S.


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