Friday, August 30, 2013

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Approaching Aitutaki, Cook Islands.
Another day, another passage another country.  We left our mooring ball in Bora Boar on Sunday, August 10th and headed for the Cook Islands; specifically, the atoll of Aitutaki. The passage itself took four days and we had much higher winds than the GRIB files (weather data) predicted and a fair amount of 3 meter swells to boot.  Upon reaching the northern tip of Aitutaki, we rounded the reef and headed south towards the reef passage. The pass into the lagoon was a bit difficult to enter as the markers were not quite what we were used to and it was really shallow.  One of the reasons we decided to visit this atoll was because the channel into the lagoon is so shallow that only shallow draft boats can enter it and we figured it would be less crowded as a result.  When we arrived, there was only one other boat (a catamaran) anchored in the corner of the postage stamp sized anchorage.  This was on a Sunday and we waited on the boat until Monday to clear in with customs.  Having cleared customs, we lowered out "Q" flag (quarantine) and raised the Cook Islands courtesy flag.

Osprey (l) and Calico Jack (r) at anchor in Aitutaki.
We have been anchored in the small anchorage off of Arutanga village for a little over a week now and have thoroughly enjoyed our time here.  The pace of life is slower and the people are very friendly.  We have rented scooters and toured the island, done some snorkeling off of the northern tip of the island (past the old runway), visited a giant clam restoration program facility, and hung out with Travis and Joanne from Calico Jack.  

In addition to Calico Jack, who we first met back in Mo'orea in French Polynesia, we have also run into Dolfin of Leith which is a small, 107 year old wooden boat that was given to Iain and Vicki as a wedding present back in the Untied Kingdom.  They have sailed this boat, with their children, Finn (4 years old) and Petra (2 years old) across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal, to the Galapagos and then across the Pacific to French Polynesia.  We first met them as we were both approaching Hiva Oa in the Marquesas, having just crossed the Pacific.  They are a lovely couple with plans to sail to New Zealand, where Vicki is from, and settle down there as land based citizens.  They do intend to keep Dolfin of Leith while living in New Zealand.

Joanne and Travis at the Game and Fishing Club.
Here in the town of Arutanga there is a Game and Fishing Club that turns into the local hotspot on Wednesdays through Saturdays.  It seems as though the whole village shows up for dancing, drinking, socializing, playing billiards and darts and we have attended this night spot on several occasions; always a good time.

Last night, Richard and I decided to make reservations at a "fancy" restaurant and treat ourselves to some fine dining.  The open-air restaurant was set back from the road in a lush tropical garden setting, complete with about a dozen tables, a sand covered floor, tiki torches and the ubiquitous smell of mosquito coils burning on the periphery.  We were not disappointed as our meals with first rate and we left very satisfied.  The thirty minute walk back to the boat justified the delicious chocolate cake we had for dessert.

The crowded anchorage in Aitutaki.
Our plan is to leave Aitutaki for Niue by the beginning of this week depending on the weather.  Hopefully, we will be able to secure a mooring ball; otherwise we will have to continnue on to Tonga.  You cannot anchor off of Niue as the coast is nothing but cliffs and steep-to drops into the ocean below.  In addition, the attraction for going to Niue, besides being able to get some of their world famous stamps, is to get the opportunity to swim with the humpback whales which have migrated to Niue to raise their calves.  We have heard reports of people swimming off of their boats with the whales and this is very enticing to us.  There is, also, the small issue of trying to avoid being bitten by sea snakes which populate the waters off of thew island, but according to one guidebook, you basically have to stick your finger down their mouths in order to get bit; something that neither Richard nor I have any intentions of doing.


  1. we received your postcard today, it was postmarked aug. 15th. the mail system must be getting better, only 2 weeks

    love mom & dad

    1. Awesome news! Having a great time. We are in Tonga now and plan on spending about 2 months here. Will send the next postcard installment in the next few days.



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