July 3, 2010
Aitutaki – Adventures in Anchoring & Scooter Tour
It was our coldest night since we left northern Baja in Jan 2007: 70 degrees
F! I wore a long sleeved shirt to read in bed & we dug out a blanket. No
rain but the wind persisted from the southeast which pushes us sideways into
the harbor. It is winter here & we seem to be hibernating a bit. Scott was
asleep by 9 p.m. I read until 10:30 & we didn\’t rouse until 7:30! With the
sky overcast & cooler air we don\’t have the strong bright sun & rising heat
ejecting us from bed at the crack of dawn
Scott\’s mornings always begin with uploading email, including requests for
weather charts. He received the sad news that Mike Lonnes\’ father passed
away. He was not that old, but had heart disease for many years, so not
entirely a shock. Our hearts are with Mike & Beth. Instead of a happy 4th of
July weekend in Catalina on their boat they are flying back east to grieve
with his mother & family there.
It was oatmeal and yogurt making day for me, so I was busy in the galley. No
news about my eldest Aunt Edith (96 yrs old) who had a stroke yesterday. By
the time we pondered what to do with our day it was close to 10 a.m.
But before we can do anything or go anywhere we need to reset the stern
anchor. The south wind has pushed us sideways too much into the harbor
I hopped in the dinghy & proceed with my tugboat routine: pushing “Beach
House” sideways as Scott manages both engines and bow & stern anchors, which
he can control remotely from the helm station. Upping the stern anchor goes
as planned. Resetting the stern anchor we have a glitch. The stern roller,
we are required to use to keep the chain from scraping either hull, sticks.
The stern anchor won\’t drop. We are only in 8 feet of water & the wind is
pushing the boat sideways to the left while I am resisting by pushing the
boat sideways to the right via the dinghy acting as tugboat. We struggle
unsuccessfully before regrouping with another approach. I get on “Beach
House” to take over helm & bow anchor duty. Scott hops in the dinghy taking
the stern anchor & chain with him.
He has to use the dinghy engine plus body mechanics & muscles to maneuver
Beach House sideways (while he is gripping the stern chain) against 8-10
knots of beam wind, to get us into the desired position. He then deploys the
stern anchor from the dinghy, while I take up the chain slack on both bow &
stern anchors until we set just right. I feel a bit battered & stressed
afterwards. Scott vows to have a better functioning stern roller fabricated
in NZ (added to our ever growing \”Do In NZ\” list). We have 2nd breakfast &
proceed with our day.
The rental company did not have any cars available today. Only (the dreaded)
scooter, albeit a better one,(so they claimed) than the one I ix-nayed a
couple days ago. Better take it quick because it was his last one. Hmmmm.
Tomorrow is Sunday & the entire island goes to church or stays home. No
shops, diving or tours. I tell Scott to take the scooter & I pop a codeine
for courage (and butt relief – I’m not a good sitter). I don long pants &
walking shoes, so feel a bit more protected than the first test ride when I
was in shorts & sandals. To think I used to zoom around on the back of a
Honda 750 barefoot in a bikini….ahhhh youth!!! I am pleased to say that I
was able to relax enough after a while to actually enjoy the scenery.
Worrying about imminent road rash (or worse) moved to the back burner of my
brain. Helmets off to my buddy Karen, who with some trepidation is a
wonderfully brave Harley Wife!
It was a beautiful day, not too hot, not too gray, didn\’t rain, just lovely..
We toured about 50% of the paved roads of the island. We saw the clam &
coral farm at the Marine Sanctuary which is funded by an Australian nature
foundation & likely somewhat of a sham, but a token gesture of preservation
perhaps. Seems to be more of an aquarium stocking business. Not that there
is anything wrong with that, but at least tell folks what you really do. Fun
to see the colorful & beautiful clams from teeny tiny to medium sized
growing in tanks of circulating ocean water. We heard that part of the golf
course plays across the airport runway! There are numerous hotels, huts,
bungalows & we got the feeling that this might have been a \”happening\” place
at some point, but not now. Maybe it is just too early in the season. Maybe
tourists learned that much is still thrashed from the last hurricane. Hard
When we were ready for lunch we sniffed at several options. Scott (like
Vincent) has a nose for eating establishments. If they only serve fish that
is not a good option for him. We were pleased with Koru Cafe. It closes at
3:00 pm but was still bustling at 2:00, which we thought was a good sign.
Kiwi owner Trina runs a great place. She was informative, kept a good pace
of service & very friendly. Scott whole heartedly enjoyed his burger &
fries, while I chowed down on fish & chips (fresh caught wahoo – delish!) We
each indulged in milkshakes: chocolate for me & vanilla for Scott. I
hesitated to take a doggie bag, but had so much leftover, and Trina
encouraged me. So I got to enjoy the same meal again for dinner! Minus the
milkshake. Even Scott had to admit the battered fish was really tasty
We stopped at a tiny market uphill & scored a 5 gallon empty oil container.
It had been used for soy oil, but it will serve dandy for engine oil. Scott
could hold it on the runners between his feet on the scooter. We have to
bring our own containers to a store that sells oil out of a large drum. I
picked up a couple more apples & liters of boxed milk at the closest store
to \”home\”. Since the scooter rental company is closed on Sundays, we are
paying for 2 days, which is fine: we didn\’t feel pressured to \”see it all\”
today. It is parked safely ashore in sight of “Beach House”.
Jerome got back from his kite surfing lesson about sunset & plans to go
again tomorrow. We may try to dinghy out to where they teach to take some
On the evening amateur radio Net, Scott got one of his ham buddies to look
up our DHL tracking number: it cleared customs in NZ today! That means it
could be in Rarotonga tomorrow or Monday – happy news. We are now thinking
we will NOT fly to Rarotonga, but have Air Rarotonga put it on one of the
frequent inter-island planes to us
We confirmed that Onu does not take divers out on Sunday, which is fine
since we have the scooter & more sightseeing to do tomorrow. We asked him to
check in with us Monday, although that is supposedly cargo ship day & we
want to closely watch the barge as it zooms by “Beach House” many trips..
Plus I want to dash to the market as soon as good are stocked on the shelves
because we understand it is a first come, first serve buying spree. Besides
hoarding food for the next 2 islands, which will sell little or nothing, we
need to fill up our 8 x 5 gallon jugs of diesel. We want to get in a couple
more days diving, but the operator knows that we are spoiled & only
interested in going when the weather conditions are such that he can take us
to the better sites. We may also go on a Lagoon Tour with another company.
They take you to prime snorkeling sites and beautiful islets. Aitutaki is
actually an interesting place. The wind & temperature strongly influence our
perception of a place & what we feel like doing. We are trying to make the
most of our time here & very glad that it sounds like we won\’t be dragging
out our stay waiting for the generator parts. The critical question is: Will
the awaited parts actually repair the problem? Stay tuned…
Scott has steered our 2 sets of friends sailing monohulls away from this as
a stop because anchoring outside the reef is not pleasant with the southerly
winds we are having & which are predicted to continue for a while. Sadly
this will delay our reunion with either of them, but this would not be a
comfortable stop for them anchored outside the reef. We are so glad we got
inside when we did. Ah the advantages of a catamaran! Departing the pass
will be another story on another day, perhaps a week or so from now.
Cindy & Scott