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Leaving Aitutaki Island and Arutanga Pass September 19, 2014

Posted by steveandjudy in Code Blue 2014.

We had a tough time getting out of Aitutaki (this is about 137 miles north of Rarotonga, southern Cook Islands) on my birthday, 9-18-14 as the pass is shallow, under 6 feet, and we went too far right. We should of followed our breadcrumb trail more closely by zooming in even more, that we made on the way in. Wind was from the south and pushed us over to the right also, plus we had less of a high tide. We were pretty close to center but we hit sand on the right. We got help from a dinghy and two sailors, eventually, Daniel and wife from a catamaran and Tracy a guy from Ingrid Princess, an Ingrid 38′, 1978, also in the one dinghy. Tracy dove in the water to check for deep water and how bad things were. We kedged our boat by tilting it with our spinnaker halyard, a line that goes to the top of the mast to a dinghy pulling sideways 90 degrees to the boat to tilt the boat back to deeper water and swing our keel up some by the tilting method.

I also turned on the water to drain out as we were pretty full 3/4 of 116 gallons tank with water. (We didn’t make any more water while in port but we were pretty full in one tank on the way in) The first time we used our spare anchor going out to the left and way forward, with full power from our motor forward, also. But it got us out then we couldn’t lift the anchor fast enough and we hit again on the right. We tried the anchor only method with full power, but didn’t work. Very narrow pass of 40 feet also. The second time we got stuck we lifted the anchor up and just used the kedging technique to the dinghy. We made it into deeper water by tilting the boat and using full power on the motor forward. The pass was running water out also about 2 to 3 kts, so when we hit sand, it pushed us even more into the sand spots and out stern over to the right. There is a shallow spot about 1/3 of the way out and this is where we hit. We made this shallow spot on the way in no problem, but with deeper water due to tide.

Another boat s/v Alia (William Atkins 32′, 1975) went out earlier and we found out later they had hit sand too, but they just powered thru it. Supposedly you should have depth of only 6′ at high tide per notes on the area. We are only about 5 feet of depth or less on our keel now, but a wide 15″ keel that is flat on the bottom.. Our water went from 3/4 full to 3/16, about 65 gallons, 520 pounds lighter. We can make more water by solar power, 520 watts and a Spectra Cape Horn watermaker. We have to see how much bottom paint and primer we scraped off when we get to Palmerston Island another 130 miles at this writing on the 19th at 9:15am local time. I think I’ll remember this birthday for a while.

We connected with a family in Aitutaki that has a son, Bob, the mayor of Palmerston, so have a bunch of squash and bananas to give to families in Palmerston, as they can’t grow them there.

Steve and Judy
s/v Code Blue



1. Marie & Greg - September 19, 2014

I think I said last time that 1 1/2 feet was not much! It sure wasn’t. Happy to hear that there’s no major boat damage and you are ok. Greg managed to polish our prop on a sand bar in Gulf Islands, south of Namino, many years ago when he was by himself as I had flown home for a few days of work. Tide going out fast, but tossing the anchor a few times, pulling like mad finally, & saying many bad words… got him off the bar. So you too will have this story to tell about… for years to come on “how you spent your birthday!” Once is enough. Marie

2. pam driscoll - September 19, 2014

happy birthday Steve! I sent you a long message about how I was up in the Gulf islands with Wendy and Allen Volt, but I’m not sure that you got it because it did something strange when I hit sent. we just finished the Northwest harvest race, had nice wind..I was on the committee boat, it reminded me of when I was on the committee about with you guys! everything is still the same here, I have a Bible study that I attend on Wednesday morning and I go dancing with several ssyc members Wednesday night in Bellevue.I love living through your pictures and posts, I feel like I’m on a vacation with you!without the Joshling feeling at night

3. John & Daleen Reed - September 20, 2014

Happy Birthday Steve. Glad you both are okay… What an experience…. We are finally headed south toward home after being out on the Omega since May. Sounds like a short trip for you both but it was a nice summer for Omega crew. Looking forward to hearing from you both again and have enjoy your pictures… John and Daleen

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