1. day - 30/09/2007 - Sunday
English translation is missing, sorry....
2. day - 01/10/2007 - Monday
First of October is the start of theoretical Hurican Season in the Pacific. However the practice shows the huricans are very rare this time of the year and they really start in November or December.
The last days pleasant sailing became a bit uncomfortable with bigger waves and rains. It seems we entered the South Pacific Convergence Zone. This zone brings weaker winds and rains this time of the year but also it is usually more around the north than around the south Cook Islands. Now it stays at the south of the Cooks and we do not know yet whether we could stop at Aitutaki or not. We will see it when we arrive there.
Until what we can do is to make our cock-pit waterproof. We closed it with a canvas. Now we lookm like a sailing tent. The wind is very strong and reaching 20 knots.
Today we could catch again something big, but instead it took our fishing bait and hook by tearing the steel line apart. So now we fed up to catch anything here..
3. day - 02/10/2007 - Tuesday
We are doing well with our 6-7 knots of speed. It seems we could arrive tomorrow, although we still do not know whether we can stop. The weather is still not so good it is raining all day. This is not good for our solar panels so we are very low on energy now therefore we have to save. The convergence zone seems very wide around 200 miles. It is like a training to the next Tonga-New Zealand part.
Our waterproof tent in the cock-pit works very well so we can go out without being wet now.
We were thinking about that on the Caribien the islands were comfortably so close (usually around one day sailing). Here the distances far too long..
4. day - 03/10/2007 - WednesdayIn the night we could see some of the stars. It seemed that the rainy days were over for now.
In the morning we clearly saw the trade wind clouds instead of the dark clouds of the convergence zone. We sailed 484 miles under 4 days, thanks to our raft we let it go in the ocean on the first day. Maybe we are a bit superstitious.
We arrived at the protected side of the island and we saw some boats anchoring outside of the lagoon. It seamed a bit rolly and the anchorage was deep around 20 meters maybe with some coral heads around. In the lagoon the water was protected from the ocean swells and waves by the coral ring around the atoll. After we talked to the port captain on VHF we decided to go in. The pass was made artificially but it is only 20 meters wide and somewhere 1.4 meters deep plus the 0.6 meters water in high tide.
It was not easy to get into the atoll. The path is sandy but it was not possible to see the shallow parts (the sand is moving in it day by day). The port captain told us that we should be fine with 2 meters (although our depth is only 1.7 meters) and to get as close to the poles as we could. Finally we found out it was not quite right. We stuck for a few minutes on the sand bar in the pass but by raising the sails we could kedge off the boat.
From the moment we were in the lagoon we were very pleased with it and we saw the other boats outside of the lagoon were suffering because of the big waves which rolled them a lot.
08:45 18-46.39S 159-41.80W log= 23289.6
15:00 18-51.10S 159-48.60W log= 23297.6
5. day - 04/10/2007 - ThursdayAitutaki was a big suprise for us as we expected a very touristic island from the guide books. There were some tourists but not too many. Actually the locals live in scattered houses very peacefuly. The Cook Islands is a unique Polynesian country with an independent government in free association with New Zealand (Cook Islanders carry NZ passports and NZ takes on some responsibilities such as defense).
It was interesting that there was not any dog on the island. The story is that once a dog bit a king therefore they are not allowed to be brought to the island any more. Instead, goats are kept in nearly every houses.
The locals were amazingly nice and generous and they also show a bit from their Polynesian culture (e.g the women walk on the streets with chaplets on their heads). We also had the New Zealand feeling a little bit because we could see the locals rugby games and there were some nice bars where the locals invited us.
A catamaran was anchoring next to us with an English-Kiwi couple on board. They have been heer for a while so they could show us what and where to find.
Unfortunately we could not clear in on the first day, because the customs were on annual leave. We met with the health officer who told us we could come to shore and we had to pay NZD 20.
6. day - 05/10/2007 - FridayWe could clear in and out at once in the morning. We had to pay the customs fee (NZD 50) the departure fee (NZD 30 per person) and the anchoring fee (NZD 5 per day) above the NZD 20 we had to pay yesterday. That was not our cheapest clearance for sure.
We made a tour on the island with beautiful views to the lagoon. We climbed the highest point of Aitutaki which was not so high only around 120 meters. Reaching the top we had luck with the weather and the sky was clear despite the clouds which were around all day. On our way we found a deep-frozen meat seller and a biofarm. We bought only one papaya from the farm after we had a presentation about the farm by an Italian man who decided to live here in the Cooks. Next to the harbour there is a fruit
and vegetables market, but we could collect some fruits from the island for free from trees which did not belong to anybody.
Descending to the north part of the island we found a marine research station where we were showed around. The station was financed by Australia and its main project was the resettlement of the clams into the lagoon. They make the clams to grow and also the turtles in specific season. After we were showed around we were also invited to the Blue Nun Bar for the evening to meet the youths of the island.
In the evening we had our dinner in Puffys Restaurant where there was Island Night with local music and dance shows. We could notice the slight differences between the French Polynesian costumes and Cook Islands costumes. We met here the Australian crew of a recently arrived catamaran. After the show the owner of the restaurant took us back to the harbour. Then we went to the Blue Nun where we met some young people and also Felix and Hannah from the kiwi catamaran
7. day - 06/10/2007 - SaturdayToday we had also rainy day but even though we went to the marae in the south after some morning shopping. The prices were cheap of course comparing French Polynesia. The marae is a historical place we refer back to our ship bog in Raiatea of French Polynesia. We passed taro fields and we collected some fruits. We felt that the whole village knew us after the second day. When we were hitchhicking they did not ask the place any more where we wanted to go. They knew it was the harbour. And the tourist
boats asked us about the weatherforecast for the next few days. Is there anybody who can see a sign on us that we are cruising?
8. day - 07/10/2007 - SundayIt was the time to see the world famous lagoons and motus (islets) of Aitutaki. And actually this was the highlight for us in Aitutaki. The turquoise lagoons and long white sandy beaches here were superior. We beleive it was the nicest lagoon with the beaches we saw in the Pacific so far. The motus were quite far from the anchoring place so we decided to join the locals 90 horsepowered motorboat (against our 1.5 horsepower engine of the dinghy).
We were taken to 4 islets. The first was Maina the Island of Birds. We could snorkel here and walk around the island. We saw only two boby chicks in a bush but we also saw many long white tailed bird which are famous in the Pacific. The second islet was Honeymoon and actually we had our lunch here the captain cooked us an amazing meal. We had fish, salads, fruits and banana puding. It is funny that you can ask for a stamp into your passport. We did not think about because cruisers passports look
like full with stamps on every pages anyway. So we are happy if we do not have to change our passport. The next islet we visited was Onefoot Island. There is a good story why this island was called Onefoot. The last island we visited was the Survivor Island and actually this was the place where the Survivor series was recorded. They got an environmental award because they restore everything they moved, even the trees were cut out were replanted to the island. In the night we downloaded our e-mails
and we saw that Hafskip left us a message to deliver 5 cabbages and 8 tomatoes to a family in Palmerston. They were short on it. So this was our next mission. But the problem was that it was Sunday night and we did not know whether we could buy anything on shore.
For our suprise we found two shops which were open until 9 pm and sold also some vegetables.
In the evening we invited Hannah and Felix on board and we also asked them to help us in the morning with their 15 horsepowered dinghy if we go again on the sand bar in the pass. We planned to leave in high-tide at 7 am.
9. day - 08/10/2007 - MondayWe were ready to go early in the morning. Felix and Hannah were still copied some movies then Felix came with their dinghy and tied it to Rotor. We were approaching the pass at 7 am (high tide was at 7.15 am). We did not follow the poles this time only Felix watched the bottom at the fore. This time we were out without touching on the sand with the bottom of the boat. Then we said good bye to Felix and he gave us some bananas and baits for the trip.
We were heading towards the next island on the way in the Cooks with the cabbages on board. Palmerston is our next stop which is around 200 miles from Aitutaki. There are all together 15 islands in the Cook, but it is not easy to stop at them with a sailing boat. Palmerston can be a good place to stop in good weather outside of the atoll. It only gives protection from the ocean swells from the east.
We had a good 20-25 knots of wind to sail but the waves were a bit confusing mostly in the night. We could not sleep much in these chaotic waves.
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