Passage from Mopelia to Aitutaki…..

Dear F&F,

June 24-26, 2010
Passage from Mopelia to Aitutaki

June 24
One year, three days in French Polynesia….Cook Islands, here we come!
Similar conditions to our Galapagos crossing: good conditions to fly spinnaker, but it is high maintenance. Full concentration steering, using long wire remote for the auto pilot. I can move around & not be glued to the helm seat. Click Left, click Right sometimes big turns, sometimes fine tuning. Barely able to glance at the sea or sky because of the focus required to keep the boat moving. Too far to motor. Too light a wind to use a smaller more self-managing sail, so we are stuck with the horrible video game. Scott does not mind it & is having a grand sail. I wish I found it more enjoyable, but I don\’t. I must take oral seasick medication on top of the scopalomine patch, so underlying bit of mal de mer no doubt coloring my mood.

Making yogurt now so we will have enough for the next 2 mornings. Already made enough oatmeal. I\’ll be going to sleep as soon as the yogurt temperature is right (cooled down to 110 F from 150 F) to put in the thermos for 7 hours. I am on watch next 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. Different than we\’ve done before, but should work out fine. Probably won\’t be writing much, boat lurching about.

June 25
I am sure glad we waited for the bigger seas to settle down a day. Sure looks & feels plenty big still! The wind has been 20-25 knots with a port aft quartering swell of 8-10 feet. The waves are close together, only about 7 seconds, so no chance for \”Beach House\” to surf them, just lurch amongst them. I have medicated myself adequately so NOT seasick which is a relief. I know things are rough when Scott takes phenergan which he asked for a couple hours ago. I also gave him a 4 hour sleeping pill so he can get some rest. I have been able to take cat naps between my 15 minute watch beeping.

One positive to the stronger wind is that we are not flying the spinnaker, so do not have to tediously hand steer the auto pilot control. I don\’t love being tossed about, but I prefer it to the aggravation of hand steering. Scott reminded me that on his \”To Do in NZ List\” is upgrade the auto pilot\’s ability to steer down wind according to the wind angles which is happy news. We have heard there is a gizmo that does this. You have to teach it, program it a few times, and then it learns your boat & how to adjust to the wind & swell conditions. I am all for the modern conveniences that help keep boating fun.

When we were still flying the spinnaker, one line that controls it broke, but we were able to get it down in a controlled fashion. We went straight to the genoa plus took 2 reefs in the main, so you get an idea we have \”boisterous\” conditions. I laugh to hear sailing described as \”harnessing the wind\”. In light wind I suppose it can feel that way. But in strong wind it feels much more like \”toss up a hankie & hold on for the ride!\” I keep mopping seawater that is trickling down the port bathroom ceiling hatch with each breaking wave. We are on port tack (boom & sails to the right, wind coming from the left beam/slightly astern). I think it is leaking because our Sunbrella fabric covers are on & sometimes a bit of the elastic or cloth interferes with the gasket getting a good seal when closed. Neither of us leaves the cockpit or interior without the other up & watching. So it will have to wait until Scott gets up to take off that cover & see if it will seal better.

Happy news is that the escape hatches are not leaking despite repeated slamming waves under the steps. We did replace those gaskets in Tahiti.

This morning I set down my cup of tea (with snap on lid) & left it unattended for just a moment & Wham! it douched the right side of the settee where I like to curl up for my cat naps. Drats. I mopped it up & used a bit of oxyclean & now have a 12 volt fan blowing it dry.

The temperature is a very pleasant 84 in & out, but I cannot really sit outside right now because of sea spray & splashes of the waves. It is a game to see if I can dash out to check our course, heading, boat speed, wind speed, look 360 degrees for traffic without getting too wet. In shorts & tank top. During the night watches I wore but lightweight long pants & sometimes put on my windbreaker.

Tonight we may get to see a partial lunar eclipse, hope it\’s not too overcast.

Generator Update: during satellite phone call & with multiple emails to FL, Scott learned more tests to do to help diagnose. It did finally start cranking but would stop abruptly at 10-15 secs. We think it may be a fuel starvation problem. Too rough to make any tests underway, it can wait until we get to Aitutaki, sometime before sunset Sat (hopefully a.m. to noonish). Scott already has parts on hold for the Florida rep to mail to Mike in Redondo who would DHL them to Rarotonga, which is the closest major shipping site to Aitutaki. Scott has been (by airplane) to Rarotonga before & does not think it is a good place to take the boat because the harbor is small & somewhat industrial. We had talked about an island hopper plane from Aitutaki (eye-two-talk-ee) to visit Rare-oh-tonga anyway, so all the more reason if we need to pick up parts. But we\’ve been in email contact with Neal the dive center guy & he said he could help make sure our package got mailed from Rarotonga to Aitutaki if we decide NOT to fly their ourselves.

Because Neal runs a dive center there, we may dive with him, so having the generator kaput is not the end of the world in the short run. We can charge everything else to run \”the house\” via engines. The scuba compressor is the one thing we absolutely need the generator for. So again we are lucky, that this happened in a place where it won\’t delay diving fun, and we still can get parts flown in.

Finger Report: Trying to use it a bit, to desensitize the tip which has a hard leathery, but not crusty kind of brown scab. Our sailing doc friend finally wrote & said the CoT does have venom in its spines & some people are highly reactive (moi), whereas other people it is no big deal (Scott). Still no word from Divers Alert Network, which is bad. What if we had a serious urgent question? I suppose we would get a faster response by satelite phone, but since it was already on the mend when Alberta reminded me to contact them, we just sent an email.

The #4 Ring finger is still a problem & overall I feel spaz as it can get sore easily doing sail changes, handling lines, etc. I always wear my sail gloves, but the fingertips are cut out for dexterity so no protection to the owie bits. Getting better day by day now.

Ok, don\’t want to push my luck on writing. Rather save myself to read your emails. PLEASE WRITE!!! Many thanks to those of you who do write often. Each email is a great gift, especially when we are at sea.

Love & Hugs,
Cindy & Scott on passage from Mopelia to Aitutaki (our first Cook Island)