Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Cook Islands, Aitutaki (23rd September to 3rd October 2016)

We checked out of French Polynesia with the Gendarmarie in Bora Bora which involved a clearance being sent from Papeete in Tahiti after filling out rheems of paperwork.

Last minute groceries and produce were loaded aboard and on the 23rd of September we were off to Aitutaki in the Cook islands, 488nm to the SW.
As we left the anchorage young lads in outrigger kayaks rode our stern wave
These beautiful wakas take tourists out onto the reef
Goodbye Bora Bora
Eric caught a Tuna and Wahoo on passage so the freezer is full of fish again
We had a mixed bag with the weather..Some good sailing, motor sailing and just motoring...Where have all the trade winds gone!!! Fronts rolling up from the southern ocean disturb the trade winds. 

On the 5th day we arrived at the entrance to the Aitutaki lagoon. We had to slow down overnight to be there at daybreak with a full tide. The lowest depth is apparently 1.7m and we draw 1.3m so there was no concerns for us. The only entrance into the lagoon is narrow so good visibility is essential. There were 2 boats in the little harbour who gave us some guidance via VHF radio coming in
The lagoon of Aitutaki covers 70km in area
You can see the pass on the middle left of the chart. It is just over 1nm long
 We initially tied up alongside the wharf and after we had cleared with health and biosecurity we anchored and tied our stern to a coconut palm and the reef. Another monohull came in the next day.
The Immigration officer had the flu so we cleared  a couple of days later
Seeing the island on motor scooters was a lot of fun. We drove up to lookouts, through country roads, out to the other side of the island and past the airport to the resorts and sand beaches
Stopped at the Koru cafe for “flat white”coffee (The best for a long time!)
Everywhere we went people waved and smiled and showed true friendship. The Cook islands greeting is Kia Orana which translates to “May you live long”. 

After 10 years our world cruising days are coming to an end and we have very mixed feelings about that... But hearing the Polynesian and Kiwi accent was very warming to the heart and we felt welcomed to be back in the SW Pacific.

The local children loved swimming out to the yachts. All 3 boats had young children aboard which was attractive to them.

We enjoyed drinks in the evenings at the fishing club with fellow cruisers and met a couple who had flown in. They knew Eric's sister and family and a midwifery friend of mine in Tauranga..It is truly a small world!

On Sunday the 2nd of October we waved goodbye to Bernard and Angelica and their 2 boys on the Catamaran Vida
 Toby, Nicole and their 2 girls and crew Danny on Invictus, and a French couple and 3 children on Excalibur.
The locals looked on as the boats made their way out of the pass. Invictus had only cms to spare. They had run aground on the way in and had to wait for more water as the tide came in.
After they left an Australian couple, Ken and Belinda on “Free Spirit” arrived and we enjoyed a meal aboard with great conversation
With our outboard serviced, maintenance on the toilet and a new outhaul halyard line we left for Nuie island on the 3rd of October 580nm to the west.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Society Islands, French Polynesia ( 27th August to 23rd September)

Warm balmy tropical weather, a cooling sea breeze at anchor, spectacular reef breaks, calm crystal clear aquamarine lagoon water offset by deep blue in the depths, lofty breath taking peaks, fascinating lush fauna, fragrant flowers,white powder sand beaches, tropical fish in coral gardens and exotic pearls.....
120 islands spread over 5 archipelagos..
We would like to spend more time here in French Polynesia but we need to head south for the crossing back to New Zealand in November.

We arrived in Tahiti from the Tuamotus on the 26th of August and spent a week in the Papeete marina where we welcomed Ralph's wife Colleen aboard. She flew in from NZ to meet Ralph after his long voyage with us from Panama since the end of May
 Ralph wasn't fully recovered from his illness so we didn't go far afield, just walked to the market and around the town
After 3 days with us we waved them off on the ferry to Moorea to begin their holiday together and we prepared our floating home for the next stage of our voyage.
After leaving Tahiti island we spent a few days in Moorea island where we met up with Ralph and Colleen for lunch aboard in Cooks inlet
 We waved goodbye as we passed their hotel
 While we were in the marina in Papeete we met a lovely family from Oregan on SV Baku and when they arrived in Moorea we shared an exciting episode with them on the reef in Papetoai with stingrays and black tip reef sharks
An overnight passage of 83nm took us to Huahine island.
 The wind was howling down the valley to the anchorage off the village on the NW side and since all the mooring bouys were taken, the holding on the edge of the reef not good we decided not to leave the boat to go ashore. So instead we anchored in sand off another reef and left the next day for the twin islands of Raiatea and Tahaa. These 2 islands share the same lagoon.

Entering the passage between the reefs..
We found a lovely anchorage beside the reef across from the village of Uturoa. It was a very narrow and shallow pass beside a motu but we skimmed across with a few inches under the keel. Having a centereboard is a huge benefit meaning we can go where shallow draft catamarans venture.

On the left upper part of the photo you can see the motu (small island) and us anchored....
Cathy unloading the shopping trolley into the dinghy
  We were entertained watching many reef fish, local boats traversing the pass and kite and windsurfers.
After a couple of days we sailed across the lagoon to Tahaa island renowned for its vanilla plantations and anchored in Baie Hurepiti for the night.
Now the 11th of September saw us heading to Bora Bora island (25nm) with lots of charter catamarans. After passing the reef we saw a large whale surface to the obvious delight of the people on the catamarans. It is still wondrous to sight them but we have seen so many in our travels now that we tend to keep our distance after 2 direct hits in Madagascar and Sth Africa.
 The reef surf and subsequent spray as we approached the pass into Bora Bora lagoon were spectacular but hazy for good photos.
 The entrance
Mt Otemanu rises out of the lagoon majestically.
We motored in to the village of Vaitape to check out the services for future use then headed across to the eastern side of the lagoon.The lagoon is surrounded by reef and low lying land giving excellent shelter but a pleasant breeze rising over the top.. Again lucky to be shallow draft and able to poke into places many can't go.

The next day we headed in the dinghy down the lagoon to look at the stilted hotels projecting out across the bay. It would not normally be an anchorage we would choose preferring solitude instead but we needed to careen (clean the bottom of the boat) of weed and slime and this site with shallow water, white sand and good visibility was ideal so we upanchored and headed for the exquisite little bay.
To each side of us were stilted hotel chalets, behind us the mountain peaks and in front palm trees and white sand housing more chalets and hotel facilities.. We are told they are in excess of $2,000 per day.
But there was work to be done...Not all sundowners and lying under a palm tree!

Goodbye French Polynesia......We shall miss you

SV Erica

SV Erica

About Me

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We met in 1971 and it was Eric's dream to build his own yacht and sail the world. This became a joint dream but it was not until 1994 that we were able to start building. "Erica" was launched in 2001 after 7yrs building her. It then took us 5 yrs to prepare her and ourselves before leaving NZ to see the world