Aitutaki – Outside of Lagoon…..

Dear F&F,

June 26, 2010

Aitutaki – Outside of Lagoon

I think I fared better than Scott overall on the passage. Besides the
scopalamine patch, I took anti-seasick meds 2x/day. Lucky for me they all
work with minimal dry mouth side effects. So I rotate between Bonine,
Phenergan & Cinerzine (given to me by Mazatlan sailor friend, Sandy). Drank
lots of water. Kept a full belly. Got plenty of catnaps even when on watch.
Not exactly a high traffic area, so safe to doze 15 minutes.

Aitutaki (eye-two-tock-ee) has a \”high\” part (124 meters, so about 410 ft)
plus a fringing reef with several motus (islets). We have been in email
contact with dive master Neal plus several cruising boats that say you can
enter the lagoon at high tide. We missed it by about 2 hours this morning.
Each foot of water under the hull really counts. In many places it is only 2
feet deep at low tide.

Pros of Anchoring In the Lagoon: calmer, less boat motion & noise. Closer to

Cons: Very shallow, must watch that we don\’t swing over a shallow spot & go
bump (day or night). Further in dinghy (or pro dive boat) to the dive sites
– all outside the reef).

We are currently anchored outside the reef. It is a bit bumpy as the wind
does not want to reduce from 20 knots. “Na Maka” (sister ship with Jerome,
Natalie & 3 kids) are here too. There is one other boat: New Zealand farmers
that bought a boat on a whim and have been here 5 weeks. They have 5 grown
kids & 13 grand kids. It is only a 5 hour flight from Auckland so they have
been anchored here, outside the reef, with a parade of family visiting them..
Their boat draws too much to go inside. Monohulls usually have a deep keel.
We can bring our dagger boards up & skim over water on 4 ½ feet deep but we
certainly prefer more.

Dale ,(s/v Further) kindly went with Scott & Jerome on an early run just
after we anchored the big boats. We all decided we\’d missed today\’s
opportunity. Next high tide is 9:30 pm, negotiating the pass is not a
maneuver we want to do in the dark.

My first shower after we anchored was delicious. Had not bathed in 48 hours
since the starboard bathroom is toward the bow & dances the most with big
seas. Risky business. Scott hosed the salt off “Beach House”, sent the
position report, hung our laundry in the shower then we both had a nice nap..

After lunch, both Jerome with family & we went ashore in our dinghies.
Dumped trash that we\’ve been stowing for 20 days. There was no place to dump
it on Mopelia, out last island & Jerome discouraged us from adding to the
local trash fire pit. Port authority office here is closed until Monday, so
we are not officially checked in, but Dale who has been here 5 weeks thought
it would be fine to go ashore. We forgot our ATM card, so Jerome loaned us
some local currency (from the ATM). The one market we went to has pretty
meager supplies. Eggs cost about $4 USD for a dozen but I was so happy to
buy them. No NZ wines, only Australia which seemed odd to us, because The
Cook Islands are administrated by NZ. Minimal produce: onions, potatoes,

They drive on the \”wrong\” side of the street, mostly in mopeds &
motorcycles. One enormously fat chap stopped his motorbike when we waved him
down to ask about the lay of the land. Pretty funny after a year of French,
to encounter Polynesians who now have a New Zealand accent! He was very
helpful & kind.

Apparently they got hit hard by Cyclone (hurricane) Pat in February, so
almost all the fruit crops got wiped out & many trees are denuded &
buildings with roofs ripped off.

The cargo ship from NZ only comes 1x/month (next due in about 10 days). But
there are at least 6 planes per week from Rarotonga. We met a couple from
Arizona who were here for 5 days. They loved the snorkeling but could not
rave about much else. Well, that\’s what we\’re here for – the diving. So as
long as we don\’t starve life is good.

We did a \”test run\” many many times with the dingy on how to enter this
lagoon at high tide. We decided to wait until we can get more info, probably
Monday. One dive operator did come back to us via VHF when we first arrived,
but it was NOT Neal who is the one (of 2 dive masters) who has been in email
touch with us. Neal had written us that he monitors Channel 16 24/7 but we
have not roused him on several tries. We aren\’t savvy to what small island
politics are going on here. We aren\’t partial to either operator, just would
like to arrange to dive & get more info on how & when exactly to enter the
pass. We weren\’t sure if we are on the same time zone as Tahiti, but we are
(three hours earlier than Los Angeles).

Tomorrow morning plan is for Scott to pick up Jerome at 8 a.m. & run the
entrance in our dinghy at what we think is high tide. We have a depth
sounder with digital readout. On today\’s test run, I read out the depth
constantly while Scott drove. Felt like an auctioneer: Low 4s, hi 3s, mid
4s, hi 4s, hi 5s, blah blah blah. I am calling out the depth in feet while
he is trying to dodge coral heads & shallow spots. We did this test at low
tide. High tide is nearly 2 feet higher.

If I\’m not too seasick out here, I don\’t need the added stress of going in &
risk bottoming out. For Jerome with the kids it is better that they can get
to shore to play every day. We know whichever dive operator we go with will
pick us up on our boat, so it does not really matter for diving. Only reason
to go in is for comfort/more calm water while at the anchor & we have to
weigh the risk/rewards. We also did have the idea to fly to Rarotonga if we
felt we could safely leave the boat here. But this is not essential, just an

We enjoyed one of my \”cooked in Tahiti\” meals (frozen chicken mole with
brown rice & green beans) & a bottle of red wine, so life is good. We have
plenty of chocolate too.

It will be SO lovely to sleep all night. Scott enjoyed the 60% lunar
eclipse, but I got the sunrise which was gorgeous. Red sky in the morning,
sailors take warning & all. To my eye it went quickly from red to gold. I
got the \”Land Ho\” reward which is always fun.

Tomorrow, besides trying to get more info about negotiating the lagoon pass,
maneuvering safely once inside & where to anchor, mostly Scott will run the
suggested generator tests, so we can determine if we need parts or not. We
are hoping there is a loose wire somewhere, but poor guy will have to
contort down into the locker before he learns more

Cindy & Scott