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A family travels from Florida to New Zealand aboard their St Francis 50 catamaran
Aitutaki to Niue day 1
09/04/2008, enroute, Pacific

Aitutaki to Niue Thursday 11am We stayed in Aitutaki for longer than we wanted to due to a slow moving BFH (Big Fat High) sitting to our southwest (1040+hpa). It blew 30 to 40 knots for days along with rain and cold. Forecast wave heights of 18-28 feet just outside of the harbor. It was the first time we had stayed longer than we had wanted to. Well after climbing the highest hill 3 times and eating in the same restaurants even though they were good, well you get the picture. So yesterday Wednesday September 3rd after being there for 10 days we decided to leave even though conditions had still not settled down. This because I saw a trough forming east of Niue that was forecast to become a pretty deep low right in our path by Sunday. The next opportunity to leave would have been in another 10 days. So that explains why we are out here in this weather, we left at 11:15am with a little sun shining, by the time afternoon arrived we were out of the lee of the island with 3 reefs in the main a scrap of jib poled out the other side surfing down the waves at up to 20 knots. Shortly after night fall we rolled up the jib completely and spent the night under main alone. We were still surfing some of the larger waves as the wind built to a steady 30 knots gusting to 36 knots with rain every so often. Any more wind and I would have removed all sail. The problem with large waves and wind is your average mile per day number is not fantastic as you are keeping the average speed down to keep the surfing under control. Give me 18 knots and smoother seas and I will have a much higher average speed. This morning finds us under rain but the wind has dropped to 20-25 knots so we have the jib out again. We left with three other boats, "Upps" our German friends had to change course to Palmerston Island to try and find some calm water to repair their self steering gear. "Excalibur" a Australian boat is doing well about 50 miles behind us and "Enswann" a French boat who does not have a radio is somewhere behind them. Mono-hulls do not like to sail directly downwind as there is no sideways pressure on the sails to keep them from rolling. Looking back at them rolling almost gunnel to gunnel in the big waves does not give me any urge to trade boats! "Orca 3" is waiting for us in Niue and "Malachi" is leaving Niue for Tonga today as they have to pick up friends there on the 7th. 188 miles in the last 24 hours 382 to go.

The blue lagoon of the cook islands
08/28/2008, Aitutaki, Cook Islands

8/28/08 Aitutaki Aitutaki entrance was not that easy! 40' wide and 6' deep at high tide. There is only one man made cut leading to a small harbor and because we are impatient by nature, we made our entry pretty stressful, coming in at low tide, it was very close!!!! But, we made it, slowly going through the narrow passage and the 3.5 lnots current then we had to anchor the Med way with our back line attached to a palm tree. It is a very cute but sleepy little island, not much happen, but we enjoyed renting a scooter and going around the island with the kids, they actually got to try the motorbike with shift gear and had a blast (only on very remote dirt path) but I think it was the highlight of their stay here. The lagoon is muddy near the shore but it is beautiful on the south motus of the island where the water is clear. People on Aitutaki are lovely. For weather reason, we are kind of stuck here for a week, but it is ok. A big german monohull called Upps (60ft!) came alongside O'Vive at high tide. Today another French boat came along the outer reef and was kind of hesitating to come through the pass, we went to see him to give him some info and he will wait for high tide tomorrow morning. For info, we draw 4.5ft (1.4 meter), Upps draw 1.7 m and the French boat 1.6 m, but remember wait for high tide! L'entrée du lagon de Aitutaki n'a pas ete tres facile! Il y a un seul passage assez etroit et peu profond surtout le derner tier, et comme nous sommes un peu impatients de nature, nous avons voulu passer juste après la maree basse, nous etions arrives depuis 1h et demi déjà. Nous sommes donc passes tres doucement, avec un courant contre nous de 3 noeuds et demi, cela a ete un peu stressant mais nous sommes arrives au petit port ou nous nous sommes amarres a la facon "Med", une ligne a l'arriere accroche au cocotier du rivage et l'ancre a l'avant . C'est une petite ile tres jolie et paisible. Nous avons loue des scooters et sommes partis a la decouverte de l'ile avec les enfants. Emilie et Alec ont essaye les scooters (en fait l'un des deux etait une moto avec changement de vitesse au pied) sur un petit chemin de terre loin de tout ou ils ne risquaient rien, ils se sont bien amuses. L'eau du lagon est trouble aux abords mais vers les motus au sud de l'ile, le lagon devient turquoise et transparent, c'est tres joli. Les gens sont tres sympas. Nous sommes coinces a Aitatuki pour une semaine en raison du mauvais temp a venir, mais c'est pas mal. Un monocoque allemand, Uups (60 pieds, 19 metres) s'est amarre le long d'O'Vive, ils sont arrives a maree haute! Aujourd'hui un autre monocoque francais est arrive pres du reef et n'etait pas sure de pouvoir entrer, nous sommes donc alles les voir en annexe pour leur donner un peu d'info et ils entreront demain a la premiere heure a maree haute. A titre d'information, notre tirant d'eau est de 4.5 pieds ou 1.4 m, le bateau Allemand, 1.7m, et le bateau Francais, 1.6m . En tout cas, attendez la mare haute, cela vous evitera des battements de coeur!!!!!

08/25/2008, Aitutaki, Cook Islands

We are at Aitutaki after one of our shortest and roughest passages. 145miles. We are the only boat here which is another first. We have an anchor off the bow and a line to a palm tree as even though we are the only boat there is no room to wander.

08/27/2008 | Jim Brown
Sarah and Sunny and Jim and Snowball are hoping you guys are doing well, sounds like you are still having lots of fun. We miss you guys a lot. Lets hear from you ,, Love ,, the Browns
08/27/2008 | paola

09/02/2008 | Bonnie and Jorge Aladro
Dave and Nathalie
Jorge and I have been watching your travels. It is always good to see when you have arived to a safe passage. Looks like so much fun. Give the kids our Love and Kisses. Love Bonnie & Jorge
Rarotonga quaint little town
08/20/2008, Cook Islands

I love Rarotonga! The town is small, pretty, has nice restaurants and shops.... And most of all the people are so nice and welcoming! Yesterday we witnessed the arrival of an old time sailing pirogue that left the Samoa islands and came all the way to Rarotonga with 16 sailors (2 women among them), it was a ceremony with songs, speech and food. It is very similar to French Polynesia (as far as the singing, the intonation of the speech and the men dancing) but the women are much more covered... Rarotonga is a country of the common wealth with strong connection with New Zealand (their money is the New Zealand Dollar, although they have some of their own bills and coins and a one cook island dollar representing a tiki with strong manhood! Surprising...) The country economy seems more vibrant than French Polynesia, the people are also much more industrious and ambitious if I may say, the prices are of course cheaper so the tourists are more receptive to spend some money (especially among us, cruisers, with a long term budget in mind). No swimming here, however there are some beaches around the island, the nicest being on the south east, but nothing like Bora Bora for snorkeling. The inside of the island is very lush and beautiful, you can see papaya trees (called pow-pow) and lots of fields of Taro (sort of roots similar to potatoes).
J'adore Rarotonga! C'est une jolie petite ville avec de bons restaurants et de jolis petits magazins... Et puis surtout, nous avons retrouves la gentillesse et l'accueil des polynesiens. Hier nous avons eu la chance d'assiter a l'arrivee d'une ancienne pirogue a voile venant des iles Samoa, l'equipage de 16 comprenaient 2 femmes et ils sont venus sans moteur, tout a la voile. La ceremonie d'acceuil etait tres belle avec des chants, des fleurs, et les hommes ont dances traditionellement, cela ressemble beaucoup a la polynesie francaise (les rhytmes, les intonations, les chants, les danses marquesiennes des hommes, mais les femmes sont beaucoup plus couvertes.) rarotonga est un pays du Common Wealth soutenu par la Nouvelle Zelande (leur money est le dollar new zelandais, mais ils ont certains billets et pieces propres aux Cook islands, leur piece de un cook island dollarest tres explicite: un Tiki avec de tres grosses et voyantes parties sexuelles!) L'economie du pays semble beaucoup plus florissante que la polynesie francaise, et les habitants des cook sont beaucoup plus energiques et ambitieux si je puis me permettre (je sais, la verite n'est pas toujours bonne a dire!).Les prix sont beaucoup plus abordables et du coup le tourisme est en plein boom, nous le voyons aussi parmi les voyageurs qui ont un budget a long terme comme nous, nous sommes beaucoup plus enclin a depense ici (location d'une mobylette -vespa $85 par semaine par exemple, a Tahiti, ce serait pour la journee!). Par contre les fonds sous -marins ne sont pas tres chouettes a Rarotonga meme, ce n'est pas l'endoit pour profiter de l'eau bien qu'il y ait de jolies plages dans le sud est de l'ile. L'interieur de l'ile est splendide, tres verte, tropicale, beaucoup de cultures (essentiellement les arbres a papayes et le taro- une sorte de tubercule).

Arrived Rarotonga
08/16/2008, Rarotonga

Arrived today at 12:15pm so 3 days and 2 hours travel time. 535miles total. More to come.....
Nous sommes arrives aujourd'hui a midi, Orca III et Malachi nous avait garde une place au chaud entre eux deux, c'est vraiment tres gentil!!!!
Rarotonga semble sympa, l'internet marche bien et est moins cher qu'en Polynesie, la monaie est le dollar new zelandais et ce soir nous sortons dans un restaurant indien avec tous les autres bateaux....a bientot

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Who: David, Alec, Emilie, Nathalie
Port: Tavernier, Florida USA
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