Arrived in Aitutaki, Cook Islands

by Drew on July 1, 2009

Pulling out of Bora Bora on Saturday morning, we knew we were in for a rough ride. I had reached that point where I was ready to leave no matter what. We were 8 days past our “legal” date in French Polynesia, out of French Poly cash and tired of the prices, bored with the food (except that Reuben at Blood Mary’s), and oh so ready to see something new. We were attempting our first passage since last year and of course, Margie’s second ever, so we knew there would be some adjustment time to get used to the movement and life at sea. We had two meals prepared and ready to cook. I set up the blog so we could update by email and keep everyone posted on the 485 mile passage. Three hours after we pulled out of the pass we hit our first rain. Soon after, the random 12-13 foot southern waves started rolling in on our nice 8-10′ southeasterly sets. The wind gusts rose into the 30-35 knot range and by 3:30 we were sitting in the cockpit in our foul weather gear surfing down waves at 8.5 knots thinking hmm…I’m not that hungry any more and let’s just keep that computer where it is. Just after nightfall we finally gave up the cockpit and did watches from below. Those intermittent southerly swells would come out of nowhere, slap the side of the hull, and crash across the entire boat drenching anything in the path. We made 162 miles the first 24 hours which was actually slower than I thought we’d be but I think it was the wave height slowing us down. Sunday came with absolutely no improvement in the weather so we sat below all day, hatch boards in, reading and trying to keep the nausea under control. We did manage to get down a couple of tuna fish sandwiches. Day two put 151 more miles out of the way and by late Monday morning the winds and seas had abated some so I put out the full genoa. That along with the mizzen carried us at 7 knots till late night Monday. Then the wind died all together. We wanted to make it to the pass at Aitutaki with some good daylight on Tuesday so with the help of the engine we came around the northern coast at noon.
Then came the pass. I circled around the front of it saying “is that it?!?” for about 15 minutes before finally dropping anchor on the outside (in the swell) so we could explore it by dinghy first and see what we were up against. It looked like the dinghy was gonna run aground in the pass as I entered so I couldn’t imagine taking Dosia in. I discovered it was dead low as one tide program had suggested (the other, of course, said the exact opposite) and we would have to roll around and wait a couple of hours before we could safely enter on the “big” boat. It was nice being able to dinghy around the anchorage and chose out my spot beforehand without coming in blind. About 4pm we wrestled the anchor off a coral head on the outside and headed in. Dosia’s draft is 5.1″ and the shallowest I saw was 5.8″. I had spent an afternoon in Bora Bora calibrating the gauges just for this pass and I was happy I did. Once inside we headed up the small outer channel into 2 knots of current and dropped anchor. As I write this I have three anchors out. Two off the bow and one stern anchor. At full tidal outflow, the current runs probably three knots and where we’re sitting it tends to push on the starboard side of the boat so I feel more comfortable with some extra protection out. The bottom is rocky in places so you gotta check your anchors and make sure they’re set. I have one bow anchor in sand and the other wrapped around a rocky head. This boat ain’t going nowhere and that’s good cause with our smoking scooter rental (code named “Scoot Scoot”) we don’t plan on spending much time on the boat! Yep, that’s right…we got transport for at least the next week. $100NZ ($65US) for a week cannot be beat. Especially when that was the cost for one day’s rental in French Polynesia. This place is G-R-E-A-T! It is wonderful to be back in a country with some sort of earthly pricing. It’s just as beautiful (if not more in my opinion) and with the same friendly South Pacific people. And here they speak English!
Apparently there was a funeral on the island today and with a mere population of about 600 people, it drew the likes of many of the locals, including those in customs so that was closed. We’ll check in tomorrow and be clear to explore the rest of what we’ve already decided is going to be awesome destination!

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