After getting some boat items taken care of on Monday (filling propane tanks, making new hatch pieces with Martin from S/V Anima, replacing some rusted bolts on the engine instrument panel, etc.), we ended the day with another mostly Beatles song session on Anima that lasted until past midnight.  Martin is an incredible guitar player (a.k.a. The Human Jukebox), and Wolfgang, who joined him as crew in Bora Bora, never tires of singing.  Lauren not only loves to sing, but has a great voice, and Martin was really pleased to be able to play a second night with her joining in.  He has a book with music and words for the complete Beatles library, and it turns out we all knew a lot of Beatles songs.

DSC_0290 Martin (The Human Jukebox, sailor, welder, woodworker, etc.) and Wolfgang from S/V Anima III

Tuesday was be-a-tourist day.  The Aitutaki Adventures (the yellow boat for those of you headed this way) lagoon tour had received rave reviews from the other yachties, so Martin, Wolfgang, Lauren, and I gave it a shot today.  It was another expectation-exceeding experience.  After motoring out through a channel that was built by the Survivor TV show when they filmed here (we seem to be following these guys around the Pacific) we came to a deep part of the lagoon where we drifted for a few minutes to try to spot sea turtles, and did see a couple, although they were a fair distance from the boat.  Next it was off to a beautiful motu for some snorkeling.  There was the typical collection of tropical fish, but we also saw some eels, a couple of new tropical fish, and giant clams, which seem to be a unique feature here.  The largest clam was at least 3 feet across, but it moved to close just like a normal-sized clam when you got too close to it.  The food on the excursion was pretty impressive.  After a snack of delicious fresh fruits (papaya, guava, banana, and passion fruit), we had lunch at One Foot Island.  Lunch was really not what we were expecting.  It was like a potluck dinner – beets, cole slaw, potato salad, two types of green salad, sweet potatoes, a papaya dish, rice, tuna, sausage, and at least a couple of other things I’m forgetting.  The variety was a big change from what we’re used to, and everything was really, really good.  The motus themselves were the most beautiful we’ve seen, with lots of soft white sand giving way to crystal clear water at the shore and then different shades of turquoise and blue in the deeper parts of the lagoon.  Some of the motus also had areas of black volcanic rock that made a beautiful contrast with the white sand and clear water.

DSC_0212 Honeymoon Island

DSC_0240 Clear water at Honeymoon Island

DSC_0230 Before.,…Scruffy Sailors

While we were snorkeling, Martin was busy taking aerial pictures of Honeymoon Island with a kite camera that he got as a gift before leaving Austria.  Thanks to Martin for these pics.  His website,, has an English section he’s proud of.

RIMG0011 A motu in the Aitutaki lagoon

RIMG0018 Honeymoon Island from a kite

After a short time to rest, we were off to the Samadi hotel/restaurant at the northeast tip of the island for a dinner buffet and local traditional dance show.  Depending on your perspective, I was either in need of or several weeks overdue for a shave, and this seemed like a good occasion.  Apparently it had been a while, because Wolfgang thought I looked like a different person and one of the locals talked with me for a couple of minutes before realizing we’d met a couple of days ago.  In addition to Martin and Wolfgang, seven Brazilians from the three Brazilian boats here joined us, so we had nearly a full table of “yachties” as we’re called here.  The spread of food was even bigger and more impressive than lunch and again everything was great.

After dinner the entertainment started.  They started by asking for anyone who was on a honeymoon, birthday, anniversary, etc. and since Lauren and I are in the fifth month of our honeymoon and there weren’t too many people standing up, we volunteered along with a couple of the Brazilians who’d had birthdays in the last couple of days. Things started off well enough with us each getting a beautiful lei of fresh flowers, but they warned us that we would be called upon later in the evening.  The Maori king of New Zealand recently made his first visit to the Cook Islands, and a traditional Maori performance group came with him, so in addition to the local show, we were also treated to a performance by the Maori group.  Aitutaki is well-known across the Pacific for the quality of their dancing, and we enjoyed seeing it first-hand.  The women dance with a lot of arm-swaying and hip-shaking, which is similar to dances we’ve seen before, but much of the time the men do a unique dance.  It’s a bit hard to describe, but it generally involves making hand and arm gestures while their legs look like they’re doing the chicken polka at a fevered pace.  The feet stay in place, but they squat a bit and move their knees back and forth very rapidly.  They also do a haka dance similar to what we saw in Ua Pou but a bit less aggressive.  The music behind them included percussion from a variety of drums and wooden percussion instruments that were also played at a fast pace during most of the dances.  During the slower dances, a guitar, ukulele and vocals would join in.

DSC_0294 After….cleaned-up “yachties”

DSC_0297 Aitutaki kids got things started

DSC_0308 The Aitutaki dancers in action

The Maori group was almost 20 people and they sang as if they were all hand-picked for their singing ability. Their dances weren’t quite as traditional and they seemed a bit more like a first-world trained performance group, but they were impressive.  They featured plenty of the expression that was historically recorded where the eyes are made large and rolled so that there’s a lot of white showing while the tongue is stuck out almost down to the chin and accompanied by yells and fierce gestures.  It was meant to intimidate back in the day and it’s certainly attention-getting.

DSC_0335 Expressive singing and chanting by the Maori group

After the show, all the people with leis got to put on a dance show for the guests by dancing two at a time with a couple of the Aitutaki dancers, which provided plenty of laughs from everyone. The sight of us trying to do the local dances was guaranteed amusement for everybody involved.

The night was finished off by another song session on Anima that somehow lasted until 4 am, when even Martin and Wolfgang had to throw in the towel.

Needless to say, today started a bit slowly, but if the weather looks good, we’re hoping to wrap things up here and set out for Beveridge Reef and Niue tomorrow.