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sir lancelot

Kiteboarding Aitutaki in the Pacific!

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Greetings y’all!

As some of you know I was lucky enough to head over to the lagoon that is Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. Somehow I've not managed to make it out of Australia until now, so this was my first trip overseas, which wasn't too difficult since the island is tiny, geared towards tourism only, and everyone speaks English. It's as you'd expect - shorts & T-shirt only, trade winds, warm all the time (even when it rained), and the only thing that was of any discomfort was the amount of coral on Honeymoon Island (the kiting island). I quickly cut up my feet to the point of infection, but nothing a few Detol baths couldn't fix! (not a fan of kiting with booties!)

Aitutaki is a small place, you can ride around the entire island in under an hour. I bought myself a gopro for the trip so there’s a link below to most of the videos I took – some from the scooter around the island, one in and around Honeymoon island (the best kiteboarding spot), some snorkelling and of course a few kiting vids!

Basically a standard day is - wake up, look out across the lagoon (past the coconut trees that line the shore), enjoy the warm morning and crystal blue waters, hop on the scooter, pleasant ride from your overnight stay to the docks where you jump onboard a boat for 20mins to get to Honeymoon island at the South West corner of the lagoon. No one there but kiters! There's a massive sand spit that extends out from the island, and when I was there the winds would have been north-east, such that if you kited on the downind side of the sandspit, the water there was quite protected from waves and much more flat – albeit quite shallow too (results in coral cuts and sand scrapes if you’re not careful!). The sand here is quite coarse as it turns out, and I have a few scrapes from dragging across the bottom of the lagoon in the shallow parts after a jump/trick gone wrong. Some really interesting things about the water, the depth was always very consistent and distinctive – i.e. it would be 1-2 feet deep, then immediately drop off to 1-2m, then immediately drop off again to 3-4 meters – you can see this in the videos. It meant you would be kiting in sandy-coloured water, then all of a sudden you'd be in bright blue water, then into a deeper blue water. Generally the corals were covered by about a foot of water so you could kite right over them and pretty much go anywhere. I ended up doing a few kite trips where I kited right around Honeymoon Island. Most enjoyable! Recommended.

If you’re interested to see the place, here’s a bunch of pics:

http://s285.photobucket.com/user/cbrconvert/library/Aitutaki%202013

All of my vids can be found here (including the island-scooter-headcam-tour ones)

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8TR6a-An2lIT3IM63TBYHA/videos

And here’s the kite-related ones from the trip:

Kiting Honeymoon

Crashes

Fancy tricks

Honeymoon Island tour

I saw also Dean has posted a couple of videos too in this thread (bottom of first page).

http://www.extremekites.com.au/forums/viewtopic.php?t=17700&f=22

On the Video Editing front, I simply picked one of the better rated software packages to use, and ended up with Power Director 11. It’s very easy to use, but is not as good/complicated as something like Adobe Premiere Pro. Having said that, it does everything I need it to do in the way of editing. As for Camera shake – and Dean this will interest you – it seems that something like Adobe After Effects is one of the better software packages to do this, however it’s expensive. I have not tried this, but the word on the web is that the FREE VirtualDub with DeShaker plugin is actually better than After Effects. This is what I’m using and it gives you complete control on exactly how the deshaking is performed. You can set the allowed amount of horizontal, vertical and rotational shaking to be removed and select how you want the video to be cropped so that the boarders aren’t compromised. No matter which deshaker you select, it seems that they all convert your shakey video to one that is more stable, but appears to ‘wobble’ instead. Basically the more you deshake, the softer the video (start to lose sharp hi-def look), as well as losing colour. But, like all things, there is a good middle ground. I’ve opted for light deshaking which really improves the video without a significant loss in quality.

I think that's enough for one post! Enjoy :-)

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:good: That looks like an absolute fabulous spot for a kiting holiday :pump::drinks::friends::clapping::D

So I have a few questions for ya, how much was the airfare, accommodation, food & any trouble transporting your kite gear?????

I had a look into airfares from Brissy , varied from $440 to $600, a good place to stay??? Would you stay at the same place or somewhere else now that you have been there??

When is the best time to go for good strong reliable winds?? Nothing worst than travelling for a kiting holiday & sitting on the beach :(:(:(

The videos were great thanx Sir Lancelot, looks like you had a blast & not to proud to even include the crash reel :popcorm1::good::clapping::crazypilot:

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Fellas! Sorry for the super slow reply, I was luck enough to go and spend a month in CAMELOT! No, not camelot, 'tis a silly place. I was actually in Malaysian Borneo - also known as "The Land Beneath The Wind", so as you can well guess, no kiteboarding I'm afraid. But there was some snorkelling and plenty of amusing naughty monkeys (macaques, specifically). Actually the rainforest makes me want to live in qld.

Wolfie! We've missed you. I'm afraid the only romancing I was doing on Honeymoon Island was with the wind and the water :P In fact, I had such a personal relationship with the water - specifically upon most landings from jumps - that I bruised my backside. So no real gossip yet! Jem is doing quite well, we're both about to move house again and start new jobs so it's about to get hectic. We'll let you guys know when we're headed back to Brissie (Melbourne is far too cold, especially after the fantastic weather Borneo offered... we need to be in qld, if not for the wind alone!)

Westfire! I think I met you in Brissie briefly on the beach near Briskies? My memory is a bit hazy. Aitutaki was a fantastic kite spot, there are so many good things to say about it. Ask as many questions as you want and I'll try and answer them! The place is so relaxed you make friends very quickly, and even moreso when you're all on a boat headed for a tiny motu (island) to kiteboard together. I actually went on my own - not with a tour group, which turns out is the best way to do it. If you can somehow pick a time between tours (or indeed stay there a 2-3 weeks to ensure you do!) then you'll have the place to yourself. When tours show up, it can get busy, although there's still plenty of room to kite. Basically one side of the island will be shadowed by a massive sand spit so the downwind side has the flatter water. Normally I'd not kite in offshore winds, but here it's no troubles - most people kite offshore since the water is so good. It is however shallow water and the dead broken coral scattered around cuts easily, and if not that, the bottom of the sea bed quite coarse. But, if you treat your wounds with a bit of a detol bath, then no worries! You could also just not fall off the board so much :P

I'll get back to you with the financials, since it was actually my partner Jem that surprised me with a completely booked 12 day holiday on the island! I had no idea it was coming, and she packed me off alone. She's pretty amazing that way. I had a flight from Melbourne to Auckland to Rarotonga to Aitutaki (same in reverse). There's only one plane that makes the flight to Aitutaki if you haven't already found that out. I'm guessing you may be lucky enough to be able to go straight to Rarotonga from Brisbane. I ended up packing a large heavy kitebag with rails and wheels on the bag making it somewhere around 27kg I think. That was 1 board, 1 pump, 3 kites, 1 harness + a few other small things. I purchased oversized luggage with the larger airline to get there, and I believe that AirRarotonga from Raro to Aitutaki had a max weight limit of 20kg, plus $3.50 per kilo over. But, when I got there, they basically told me to eat all the food I was taking over to reduce the weight, but they didn't charge me anything extra. They do mention with heavier bulkier items they can't guarantee putting them on the plane (i.e. will put them on the next one that can fit the gear), but if you get there early you'll have no worries. They're actually super relaxed about the whole thing. I get the impression that they want more kiteboarders to go there to increase tourism, so they'll give us some slack with respect to taking a lot of equipment. In fact, Aitutaki has only had people kiteboard the island for something like the last 4 years - so quite recent.

I stayed at a place called Ranganui's Retreat, managed by a bloke called Steve. It's a great place to stay, I'd definitely go again. You get your own independent bungalo which has all you need, and looks straight out into a beautiful channel, on the other side of which are the really expensive huts (so don't bother with those, as you share the same view/water anyway!). Ranganui's is on the north-eastern side of the island, and you can also kite this spot - launching can be a little tricky, and it's not as nice as Honeymoon. So count on going to Honeymoon as many days as you can manage. While i'm on the topic, the wind reliably comes in waves - rises up to high 20s, 30+ knots for a few days, then rolls off progressively back to just a few knots over a period of days, then rolls slowly back up to the higher winds. So low wind days are only a few at a time, surrounded by over a week of wind. If you want to kite near Ranganui's, then put your gear in the canoe (use included in the stay) and paddle across to the next island (beware of stonefish in this river!!). Set up and launch from the tip of the island (not much room).

Here's a better way to pack your kite gear: I met a lovely family from NZ who had purchased vacuum bags on ebay (super cheap!) where the one way valve to create the vacuum fitted the kite pumps. This makes your kites as compact as possible, downsizeing your bags significantly. You're better off packing these into a lightweight smaller kitebag since the size of the vacuum bags is so small. Don't worry about the golf bag thing, airlines no longer make that distinction any more. Next kite trip I do, I'll be getting a lightweight bag and vacuum bags for my kites.

As for the time to go and better advise on the place, have a chat to South Pacific Kiteboarding. I was there in July, and I think the trade winds are present for something like 4 months, i'm not sure exactly when, I'll get back to you on that. Speaking of South Pacific Kiteboarding - I actually had a handful of nights where Ranganui's was booked out, and they offered to put me up in their place. I don't think this is something that's advertised openly, but you could always ask if they're up for taking you onboard their place for a while - I get the impression this is generally something that individuals would be offered rather than groups. Mike and Andrea are fantastic people, and I was on their boat almost every day going to Honeymoon. So long as you go in the months that have wind, you won't be sitting on the beach!! Even if there is low wind, then go do some snorkelling, diving, or recover your sore joints and relax/explore the island! I can't wait to go back.

And lastly, I was actually really looking forward to making that crash reel :P I quite enjoy video editing, and it's good way for me to re-watch my time there in the future, but also if you can get a good idea of what you'll be up for, then that's a bonus!

<>

Let me know if there's more i can tell you about the place!

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While i'm on the topic, the wind reliably comes in waves - rises up to high 20s, 30+ knots for a few days, then rolls off progressively back to just a few knots over a period of days, then rolls slowly back up to the higher winds.

In the 30+ winds are they steady or gusty?

Regards,

Norman.

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:D:D:D:D Finally YAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! :good::clapping: Thats some great information you have put up there, I do remember meeting you at Brighton Beach, thanks for the memory jog on that one :fool::o

How do you avoid stonefish, I expect don't walk on the rocks?????? Very painful if you step on one from what I have read. :eek::eek::eek::(

In regards to the coral, stay on board check, is it along the bottom or in the water sticking out everywhere, eg- if you fall of are you going to get dragged through it, or is it only when get up & walk your way back to your board????? Will have more questions, but this spot is definitely on a short list of spots to go to :good::drinks::popcorm1::pump::crazypilot::dance4::dance3:

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Excellent questions! Sometimes in the videos above you can see some colors that are not the white sand. On the beach, that's a lot of dry white sharp coral. Immediately in the water off the shoreline the black sausage things are actually sea cucumbers! Further out there's a bit of a minor rock-reef (don't put your feet down), but for the most part the bottom of the ocean is coarse sand with a sprinkling of dead coral, so just tread lightly and you'll probably be ok, but the coral is definitely there. I go a mix of cuts from both land and ocean bed. The cuts seemed to be ok during the day in the water, but flared up at night, so I'd recommend taking some Detol (or similar) with you in case you need to bathe your foot to avoid serious infection.

As for stonefish - you may not even see them if you go looking for them! They're so ridiculously well camouflaged. Apparently they like to stick to rocky shallows, so this would be the beach immediately outside of Ranganui's Retreat, all the way up to the inlet between the main island and the next island that Ranganui's faces. In fact, a friend I met there stepped on one. Thankfully a local knew which plant could be used to stop the poison from spreading. The remedy was to plunge foot into as hot water as can be tolerate (somewhat neutralises the poison), chew this local leaf, cut into foot and remove multiple spines from bottom of foot, spit out local leaf and mash into a paste, put paste into foot and elevate foot and wait. Doing this means you are back in the water after ONE DAY. Amazing. If you wait as the hospital recommends, the significant pain will quickly spread as far as your hips and you'll be out for 2 WEEKS. So there you go, I witnessed local medicine work! The other alternative, is to carefully cut into the fish (if you find it), and remove a small sac from it (don't know which one), which is apparently the anti-venom for the poison - put this into the wound and you'll be ok. Two problems with this, I've no idea which part of the fish it is, and apparently it's also very fragile!

In summary, don't step on one!! :D Or if you're unlucky, get local help. A good pair of wetsuit booties should stop the spines going into your foot. Alternatively, tread/drag your feet in the shallows and stay in the canoe until deeper water!

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And AALLLL the winds are steady. Mostly. Most days the gusts are barely noticable. The windiest day I was out was actually near the end of the runway (north-east end), and it was very gusty here, which may have been a function of the surrounding islands. I can't say whether the strongest wind days on Honeymoon were gusty or not. From memory they were a bit gusty, but not as bad as we experience in Melbourne.

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Stone fish:

When I saw this I thought ... aren't they deadly, so a quick search gave this:

post-3795-1433663382386_thumb.jpg

Personally I would take this very serious. You don't want to step on one. I know in Australia, the ones we have here, see above. The source:

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/10-creatures-that-deliver-the-most-painful-stings-and-bites/stonefish

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Yep Stonefish you do not want to mess with. We had a few people die from stepping on these back when I was a kid in Hervey Bay as there was quiet a few around the area. My father has stood on a freshwater variety that are not supposed to be as bad and he was in excruciating pain for several days and his foot was extremely swollen and red and that was after the hot water treatment.

You mainly find them in areas with lots of rock and coral as they like to blend in with the surroundings as they are an ambush predator. They don't swim fast but if you ever see one feeding you won't believe how incredibly fast they can snatch a fish form in front of them the fish just seem to vanish. We used to come across them a fair bit when we were skin diving around the rocks.

Your best bet if your in an area where they are known to be is to wear a good pair of water shoes or wetsuit booties, that have soles to thick for the spines to penetrate, the spines themselves aren't that long around 5mm or so at the pointy business end and are pretty easily broken off if stood on.

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