Friday, June 14, 2019

Veimumuno Cave

Today we walked 3km out of Neiafu to a cave. There is a competition going on between neighborhoods and everyone was in a festive mood.
The ladies like to dress up.
Pigs run wild.
Breadfruit trees are in every back yard.
Love the sign.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Neiafu, Vava'u, Tonga

We motored the 2 hours up to the mooring field outside the main center here and took a look at the town. The market had a lot of quite good vegetables and lots of crafts for sale.
St Joseph's cathedral looked a little run down.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Banyan Tree

This Bay that we are anchored in has a giant Banyan tree. It is related to the fig tree and the fruit is small, red and eaten by the local bird life as well as the many bat species here.

We met David, the owner of the island on the beach. He lives here with his wife and we swapped some fish and shirts for some lemons and limes.

We went snorkeling today at the coral gardens just around the corner from where we are anchored. This is the first time I've snorkeled outside of the Caribbean and I was blown away by the diversity of the fish. At one rock I saw a sea slug, a couple of large sea urchins and about 20 varieties of fish. Incredible! No photos because Steve had a slight accident with his GoPro and mine is back in the USA because I never guessed in a million years that I would get the opportunity to sail in the Pacific Islands.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Why come all the way to the Vava'u?

Swallow's Cave

Rain stopped long enough for us to visit a nearby cave in the limestone shoreline. Rest of the day was spent playing cards and word games while outside it was pouring rain. Today we will move on to the other side of Vava'u to some coral gardens before heading into Neiafu the day after.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Waiting out the weather

We went north yesterday to escape some bad weather and fortunately it has moved mostly south of us. We got a little drizzle last night but nothing like the 2 inches of rain predicted for where we were night before last in Vava'u.

Steve has several flags displayed on our flag halyard.
The red flag on our starboard side is the Tongan flag. Convention in every country requires each country's flag to be the highest on the starboard side. The only other situation is when you first enter a country, you must fly a yellow quarantine flag instead of the country flag.
On the port (left) side of the boat is first his New York boat club flag, the two ARC flags and finally the NZ one indicating that I am onboard.
The final flag is the American flag on our stern where a lot of boats like to display the flag of the boat's country of registration.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Port Maurelle

We arrived after 12 hours of brisk sailing and anchored in 70 feet of water.

Leaving for Neiafu

It was very relaxing spending the day just south of Pangai in the Ha'apai group but with bad weather predicted on Tuesday through Friday of this week and little or no protection here we are heading to Vava'u which is a big group of islands in the northern part of Tonga. Because it is a good 80 miles to where we going, across a wide expanse where there are no islands, we will leave at midnight and arrive there around noon.

Here we will join the ARC, which is a rally that sails around the world. They leave Neiafu on the 18th of June heading to Fiji.

While beach combing today, I came across a pretty cowrie shell.
I was reminded of the tales I heard when I was young of the famous golden cowrie shell. This is quite a large cowrie shell compared to others and they are so rare that Fijian chiefs wear them around their necks as a status symbol.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

What do we do all day?

A friend wrote to say that he would be bored doing what we do. I guess it can be boring sometimes. It is a bit hard to describe. Beach combing, snorkeling, visiting villages. To provision, you can't just jump in your car. To do laundry may take you all day. When you go somewhere, you have to up anchor, set the sails and actively sail the boat to get somewhere. Looking out for weather is a daily thing. Meal planning is tricky. During down times we read, listen to newshour from pbs, maybe watch a movie. No different than what you do at your leisure. Meanwhile we have the best view in paradise and here was sunset last night.
Also I have been trying to make some soft shackles using fids when I get some spare time.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Pangai via Nomuka

Couldn't post last night at Nomuka, but it was a beautiful spot after a fun filled day of fishing.

We hooked a huge blue Marlin that then decided to dance across the water for at least a minute trying to dislodge the hook. Fortunately he was successful because there was no way that we wanted to bring in a fish like that. Next we hooked nearly a six foot Bull Mahi mahi, and I struggled for at least a half-hour to bring it up to the boat. Steve then harpooned it and now we have enough fish to sink a ship. We made fish tacos last night and today we had a hankering for some shashumi so we stuck out a small lure and hooked a nice tuna for dinner.  The beach here is pretty and tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day.
We will stay here and soak up the sun.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Off to the Ha'apai group of islands

Today we are going north to the next set of islands here in Tonga called the Ha'apai. They are low lying islands that are mainly uninhabited.
Some beautiful boats in the rally with a much younger group of sailers compared to the Caribbean including 24 children. Many boats got crew for the voyage and a lot of them have already left to go back to work.

Pangaimotu Island

Went for a walk around the island that we are anchored next to and saw lots of mangroves, coconut trees and beautiful scenery.
Had to jump in the water for a swim in 78F to cool down.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Nukualofa fish market

Ciguatera is a food poisoning illness caused by eating reef fish here in the Pacific Islands so it was not surprising that the fish market was mainly octopus and shellfish.
And lots of crabs.
There were some fish for sale though but I wouldn't feel safe eating them.
Meanwhile I managed to get a better photo of Ana out at "Big Mama's."
They actually do a good job of catering to the cruisers.
They have made a valiant effort to rebuild after cyclone Gita and the rafters are full of mementos.

Nukualofa again

I caught the ferry over to the main land for $15 Tops which is the Tongan currency. One US dollar is 2.25 Tops. They call them dollars though.
When catching public transportation here, you have to make sure whether or not the schedule is on island time or not. The skipper went to pains to clarify to us that the schedule was NOT on island time.
School children here all wear school uniforms.
And of course there are the obligatory wild chickens that all tropical island seem to have.
The royal palace doesn't house the king anymore but it is still an impressive building.
It used to be the home of  Tu'i Malila,a tortoise that Captain James Cook was traditionally said to have given to the royal family of Tonga. She was a female radiated tortoise from Madagascar and is the longest-lived tortoise whose age has been verified. The name means king Malila in the Tongan language. She died in 1965.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Tupenu fakafisi

Ok so every man here wears these dress like things and when in "Rome" do as the Romans do.


People here are very friendly and they truly continue that same hospitality and tradition that Captain James Cook recognized in 1777 when he called Tonga the friendly Isles.

Lots of open air markets here.
I met the famous Mama from big Mama's.
This is the main market

A feeling of openness.
And they certainly look after their dead.

Trip report

Left after clearing customs Wednesday around 11am in calm conditions but ran into rough, confused seas offshore from the bad weather the night before. We motored in improving conditions for a couple of days but all of us felt a bit nauseous especially Thursday. Friday saw the winds steadily increase from the SW so we were able to sail for the next 3 days. These winds were as much as 32 knots with just one squall thrown in. The last 24 hours saw the winds steadily lighten so again we turned on the 110hp yanmar. Overall, the six days were quite rough but we ate very well after we got over the initial couple of days. We caught a couple of tuna on the Friday so ate them that night. The mahi mahi that we caught on the Sunday was saved for our arrival dinner along with a bottle of champagne to celebrate our successful voyage.
Speaking to some of the crew that sailed with us on the 40 odd boats in the NZ Island cruising rally here, many were sick and 4 boats had to turn around and go back to Opua because of breakages. Normally boats have to go into Nukualofa harbor to check in here and the officials come aboard, but we tagged along behind the rally boats and were able to check in at "Big Mama's" with them.
We chose to do 2 hours on and 4 off for our nighty watches so I ended up doing the 8pm to 10pm and 2am to 4am shifts.  During the day we each napped at different times.
Most of the time while I was on watch and even during the day, I listened to music, did Sudoku puzzles and read a book on my Nook.
Our fruits and vegetables lasted well over the week with a cabbage, half a lettuce and some celery left along with some apples. You are not supposed to bring in any to Tonga so we made sure that we only bought enough for the voyage. There is supposed to be a good market here in Nukualofa so I will restock our supplies of fruits and vegetables hopefully today.

Captain Cookers

So for those of you who don't know, Captain James Cook brought pigs to the islands of the South Pacific and today they run wild all over the place including here in Tonga.
My first impression of Tonga is that it looks a lot like the Bahamas with lots of Coconut trees, turquoise colored water and islands surrounded by reefs.
The customs officials were very laid back as well as the staff serving behind the bar here at Big Mama's in Nukualofa.
Tomorrow we will catch the ferry over to town and pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Arrived in Tonga

We made it! Caught 2 tuna, a mahi mahi and a striped Marlin which we released. We are still 10 miles away and the coverage is not that good so I will post photos when we get in.