Day 283, Year 1: A Wild Ride from Aitutaki to Rarotonga
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2006
Weather: Totally Overcast with Squalls; Winds Switching to the South
Location: Overnight Transit from Aitutaki to Rarotonga

We left Aitutaki just before sunrise this morning hoping to get back to Rarotonga before the stationary front/trough/low (the weather forecasters are referring to it as all three) could be pushed east by a strong high to the south of us. That black wall that we went through on our way to Aitutaki was the front and it has just been sitting here, but about an hour ago, I think we broke through the wall and have come out on the other side. Garrett and I had been below sleeping. When I got up, I decided to check to see if we had any weather information coming in as e-mails before going up into the cockpit. I was sitting at the navigation table when all of a sudden, one of our folding cushions from the cockpit came flying down, and I, along with the computer, went flying across the cabin. Garrett’s eyes were as big as saucers as the boat kept heeling further to starboard. That’s because he was watching Mark up in the cockpit being thrown across from port to starboard and onto the cockpit floor. I didn’t see that because I was looking out the starboard ports and seeing nothing but rushing water. Whew! I knew we had been hit by a very strong gust, but we’ve never had such a hard hit before. Michael, Linda, and Mark saw a black cloud coming our way and before they could shorten sail, the gust of wind really knocked us for a loop. I am so thankful that no one was hurt. Somehow, I was actually able to hold onto the computer and not hurt my already broken leg. I landed on my good foot with the computer going into the kitchen sink. One food cabinet at floor level flew open and cans of food flew everywhere, but everything else looks fine.

We were able to roll in the staysail and the headstay and are now motoring under a double-reefed main. It was double-reefed all the time, as was the headstay, but that was just too much sail for these changing conditions. We are motoring because the wind is now on our nose. At this time it is only 10-12 knots, but it is supposed to build if indeed that front is moving on, so we will just make sure we are well prepared for a stormy night. It will be slow going if the winds build to 20 knots, but we will just have to deal with what is thrown our way. If all goes well, we will be back in Rarotonga sometime tomorrow morning. I think we will all be glad to get back “home” and walk on land for a while.

060727 Day 283 Cook Islands, Rarotonga–Back to Rarotonga
Day 284, Year 1: Back in Rarotonga
Day 282, Year 1: A Day on the Lagoon, Aitutaki