Hold the Presses...Paradise Found
02 July 2009 | Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Every sail, except the storm jib, was pulled out and used on our 500 mile passage from Bora Bora to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. First, we drove the boat south with the hopes of making the passage more comfortable. It was a ruckus ride with 25 knots of wind and 15 foot confused seas, plus a southeast swell. Fortunately, the moon was out to light our way and there were barely any squalls. Next, we took a right heading due west, put up the code-zero, a large roller furled head sail, and started flying towards our destination. Finally, the wind came from directly behind us and we needed to douse the code-zero and hoist the spinnaker. At this point, the waves were down to 8-footers and were almost totally behind us. Billabong has nothin' on us, we were surfing from 13 to 17 knots with ease. Kids were chanting and we were doing the "Margie Polynesian Cowgirl" sign (swing your arm around over your head like you are going to lasso one of these curlers)! Wow, it still amazes us what an ocean catamaran can do. The arrival time was critical and at the end of our 2.5 day passage, we had to rush to get into the little pass of this atoll before the daylight closed us down.
Drew and Margie from Dosia, a couple that keeps us laughing hysterically while dishing out their comedy in their southern drawls, were already here and in their dinghy ready to help us navigate the shallow pass in the low light of the setting sun. The pass at Aitutaki is not like any pass we have navigated before. It's a quarter mile long by 40-feet wide by 6 feet deep. It's marked with old rusty rods. The only way to discern the entrance was the breaking waves as the tide rushed out through the only break in the reef. One monohull was stuck in the pass due to a miscalculation of depth. Would we be able to negotiate Zen past her or would it be too tight? We are light, but fat, if that makes sense. It all worked out, the sun stayed up just long enough to see the 6-foot depths. Drew grabbed our stern anchor, putting it in his dinghy and setting it off our back side, while we sidled Zen into her stable between Dosia and a French/German aluminum boat. It was parallel parking in paradise. The coral heads you see in the picture were all around us. You have to pick a patch of sand and commit to it or your paint job is going to be tattooed quick. With the anchors down and the current ripping past, we all sat down for Zen's Burn Down the Barn Chili and Dosia's Drop Dead Brownies.
The next day brought new light on the anchoring situation. Our sterns were sitting too far in the channel. Local tour boats were going to be ticked off and could clip it. We knew we had to move. After some reconnaissance in the dinghy and a trip up the mast to see the depths of the waters, Zen pulled out of the barn and moved to her own little lake. Drawing only 3.5 feet, we went into a small bay off the main channel. It could fit 2 boats at the most. Due to many coral heads, we had to use a stern anchor again to ensure the boat didn't swing around. When we went into Customs and Immigration they said, "Oh, you're Zen! Nobody has anchored in your spot." Tommy asked, "Are we the first of the season to anchor there?" "No, you are the first EVER to anchor there. Good spot!" The rest of our exploration of Aitutaki followed the same perfect path. We stumbled upon a picture perfect beach wedding, with grass skirt clad flower girl. As the white dressed bride floated up in the traditional flower covered South Pacific canoe, a small crowd of onlookers gathered to bear witness to their romantic vows as the sun set. We cheered when they kissed and the newlyweds held high their champagne glasses in a toast to the impromptu guests. It got Tommy thinking about how we can renew our vows, now 15 years old, in similar fashion. Our rented scooters quickly tooled us around the island on the left-side of the road, and dinner was to die for delish at only $75 for appetizers, drinks, dinner and desserts! Sold. We love it here. I won't even go into the hellos, smiles and constant waves from the natives...all in English. Our plan for tomorrow is to visit an organic garden and purchase some fresh stuff, walk off some of our huge dinner, catch a dance and fire show and convince a local farmer to cook a pig roast for us and half the village! Wish us luck. Oink!