Adventures

I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Back to School


Some of the cutest and happiest kids in the world - Nua Papu village, Tonga

I believe we left off with the epic whaling adventure. Since then I have visited a local primary school in a village of 22 families, returned to Neiafu, and to put it bluntly, partied my ass off.


The visit to the school was precious. On Thursday morning Mom, Dad and I went in to shore where we were greeted by a young boy. He led us through the village to the school. We walked under a huge tunnel of mango trees, hopped over fences, avoided pigs roaming through the bush and crossed people's front yards to arrive at the school.


The school is a two room building perched on a wide lawn that overlooks the bay and surrounding islands of Vava'u. The building looks fairly well maintained on the outside, but the floors are peeling up in the classrooms and the benches and desks are.. rustic. However, the classroom we visited was filled with bright posters in both English and Tongan, (well used) school supplies, and a few books.


Upon our entrance into the classroom we were greeted by David, the teacher, who then arranged three chairs for us in the front of the class, while the kids sat at our feet, staring and giggling at us. The school serves as both a preschool through classes for 12 year olds, all more or less in the same classroom. A few of the youngest kids were laying under desks or eating crackers in the corner, while the older kids lined up and introduced themselves. The typical introduction went as follows:


"Hello, my name is Loto. My father is Pino, my mother is Lana, my brother is Dano and my sister is Lana. My teacher is David. And when I grow up I want to be a soldier." Other desired professions were fishermen, nurses, farmers, and an engineer or two.


After the introductions, the kids sang the ABC song, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, and some beautiful traditional Tongan songs. A few girls did a very graceful dance that involved clapping coconut shells together. I love that they are not shy in the least about singing and dancing. It is a natural part of the culture - even for teenagers traditional singing and dancing are cool things to do.


Needless to say, the visit to the school was great. In all honesty, and I am a bit ashamed to admit, I have not immersed myself or explored the cultures here in the South Pacific as much as I should. It is so easy to just go diving or surfing every day, or hang out in the bars and cafes owned by Palangis (white people), and mess around on the internet. Sometimes it is a bit intimidating to walk into a school or village or through a market where I know I will be gawked at. You would think I would be used to it by now, but it still takes an effort. It is much easier to make friends with fellow cruisers who speak the same languages and have at least one common interest than it is to engage the locals.


Speaking of cruiser friends, my friends on the boat Slow Dance showed up this week. In Samoa I spent many a late night partying on the 90 foot luxury yacht with the very cute South African captain. We more or less picked up right where we left off, and have been hitting the bars with force since they arrived. The only thing that is different now is that the owner is on board, and he is quite a character. Some would describe him as a "dirty old man", which is accurate enough, but he is also very generous and treats his crew and their guests well.


He is so generous that has agreed to extend me an invitation to join them (via Sean, the captain) on their boat for a few days. Mom and Dad are concerned that I might never come back... which, if I were a total flake, would be a legitimate concern. However, I have committed to sailing on Rutea to New Zealand, and will follow through with that. But.... man, Slow Dance is a nice boat! Electric winches? Check. Huge dinghy with a 70 horsepower engine? Check. Live aboard chef? Check. Compressor to fill dive tanks? Check. Hot captain? Check.


Ok, ok. I'll stop. You get the point. I am sure I will have many stories to tell after my stint as crew with them. Assuming that I can leave. Be strong....


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Cool Shit

If you are sick of hearing about whales and diving adventures, stop reading now. Come back in a few weeks and you can read about how miserable I am on the nasty passage to New Zealand. However, if you are not sick of reading about cool shit, continue.

Yesterday we (I am back aboard Rutea) headed out to anchorage 13, also known as Hunga Island, with Merkava. Anchorage 13 is actually a volcanic crater that turned into a lagoon, with perfectly flat water and a very narrow and shallow entrance to get in to. We were not daunted by the 9 foot depth at the entrance at high tide, even though we draw 6.5 feet. Mom gunned the engine and we made it through the bright turquoise water into the safe, deep blue in seconds flat. On our way in we saw a mother and calf humpback whale hanging out at the entrance, so we thought we might go out in the morning to do some whale watching.

After celebratory beers aboard Merkava, celebrating another safe passage - never mind that it took under two hours - Mark, Yuka and I went for a snorkel outside the lagoon. It was getting to be late in the day and I must admit I was a bit paranoid about sharks, but my fears were unwarranted because the only 2 meter, black tipped reef shark that I did see was totally uninterested in me. I am okay with that.

Unfortunately last night the wind picked up and I woke up many times to the wind howling through the rigging. We were tied up to a mooring, and it takes a leap of faith to believe that a mooring will hold in 25 knots of wind. To make matters worse, the reef of the lagoon was not 500 feet behind us. I don't think any of us got a good night sleep. By the time 6:00 AM rolled around this morning the wind had generated some pretty choppy seas, even inside the lagoon, so Merkava and I canceled our morning whale watching trip. We heard on the morning net that the winds were supposed to pick up even more, so we decided to leave the lagoon because if the winds get too strong at Hunga Island, boats can be trapped inside if the pass out to the ocean gets too rough. We did not want that to happen.

Rutea and Merkava headed out to sea (once again) and ended up back at Lape Island, home of our favorite dive spot, Mushroom Mountain. This afternoon Mark, Yuka and I went diving out there for the fourth time. You would think a dive on the same reef would get boring after a while, but every dive has been so different it has held my interest. The dive was cool - tons of cool fish, some tuna, an octopus, etc. But the coolest part happened once the dive was over.

As we were pulling up the dinghy anchor to head back to the boats, I noticed a whale spout a hundred meters in front of us. We decided to try to swim with it because it was late enough in the day that all the whale watching boats had returned to Neiafu and would not harass us. Once the anchor was up, we followed slowly and quietly behind the whales, which we realized were a mother, her baby, and a male "escort" (yes - they are actually called escorts). Yuka and I jumped in the water a few times when we thought we were close enough to see them, but no dice.

Finally, Mark drove the dinghy right up to the three whales and they did not swim away. We slid silently into the water, only to see the huge, looming figures of the whales not 20 feet away from us. Amazing. Thrilling. Freaking scary. COOL.

The mom was huge. She was probably 45 feet long, with 15 foot pectoral fins, an 8 foot wide tail, and maybe 20 feet in circumference around her body. She was massive. Her baby, which swam right next to her at her eye level, was tiny in comparison. It must have been a newborn, because it was less than 10 feet, blew very tiny spouts, and looked all wrinkly like a newborn baby does. The male escort, which swam under and a few meters to the side of the mom and baby, was much smaller than the mother, but huge nonetheless.

The whales were very gentle, slow and methodical in their swimming, but they could have easily killed us with one slap of the tail. In all honesty I was pretty scared to be swimming along side these majestic, powerful and awe-inspiring creatures, but the thrill and my adrenaline pumping kept me afloat. After swimming in a wide circle with us, the whales took off. I think they were well aware of us, and it almost seemed to me like the mom was proudly showing off her new baby to us. Who knows, but they certainly could have avoided us if they wanted.

After they left we did not follow them again, too stoked on what we just did to try and replicate it. With big smiles, high fives, and a few, "Oh my god!! That was so.... wowww!!"'s, we headed back to the boats. Unfortunately none of us had cameras so there is no photographic evidence, but I don't think any photo could have done the experience justice anyway.

Sorry, did I get a little mushy there? Don't worry, I am not going to go join Whale Wars or anything, but man, save the whales!

Anyway, we have been invited to visit a kindergarten of the small village we are anchored in front of tomorrow. It should be a good time. After that (and perhaps another dive or a snorkel) we are heading back to Neiafu where some serious partying is in order: Dad's birthday is on the 1st, and my amigos on Slow Dance just arrived. This spells trouble. Should be a good time as well.
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At 9/28/2011 5:29 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°42.44'S 174°04.18'W

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dive, Drink, Sleep, Repeat

On Wednesday we left Neiafu for the outer islands, chock full of fresh food, fresh beer, and 3 full air tanks for diving. It was a pretty windy day, so we got to sail for most of the way across flat calm water with 20 knots of wind. Perfect conditions - until we had to bash up wind for the last mile or so - which was not too big of a deal. However, as we were rounding the point to enter Lape Island, we noticed 2 whale watching boats on either side of the bay, with everybody on board staring at us. What are they looking at? I was thinking, until I saw a huge humpback whale surface not 10 feet from the boat, do a 90 degree turn, and slap its fin on the surface to avoid us. I was at the helm and turned hard to starboard to avoid hitting him, or rather, being hit by him. Fortunately he was able to turn fast enough so we did not collide, but it was close. Too close. Then we got the hell out of there before the whale watching people tried to harass us for almost being hit by a whale (which they have been known to do).

That afternoon my friends on the boats Sara Jean II and Merkava and I went for a dive out at our favorite reef, called "Big Knobs" by some and named "Mushroom Mountain" by me. The reef is about 10 feet under water, so we used latitude and longitude coordinates to find it. The weather was still a bit nasty, and our 2 dinghies full of dive gear and people were bashing into 3 foot wind chop to get out there. I didn't mind too much, but it was a bit tricky getting into our gear out there. The dive was cool - we saw a giant Napoleon wrasse and lots of other neat stuff. The coolest part of the dive looking up at the giant coral mountains that look like mushrooms. After the dive we had cold beers to help us warm up.

That was on Wednesday. On Thursday the compressor for the freezer broke, so Mom and Dad took Rutea back to Neiafu with the hopes of getting it fixed. I opted to move aboard Merkava for a few days because frankly, while Neiafu is nice, the outer islands are way more fun. So is Merkava.

I moved on board Merkava with my dive gear and ukulele, intending to stay for a night. I ended up staying on Merkava for the past 3 nights. Mark and Yuka are the kind of people who do not do things half assed, so when they get into things such as diving, they go all out. Our typical day was wake up, play music, eat breakfast, go for a dive, come back, eat ramen noodles, and then start drinking. We have been diving every day for the past week and Mark is planning to go back into Neiafu to refill all our tanks tomorrow.

I like diving. It does not replace surfing, but it is nice to have another water activity to take away some of the pain of not surfing. It is amazing to be able to breathe under water, to follow fish around, swim through canyons, under arches and closely study coral. But, in all honesty, I find free diving much more of an adrenaline rush (perhaps it is the lack of air...). One of the dives we did was at Mariner's cave. The cave entrance is about 10 feet under water and one has to swim in another 10 feet (or so) into the dark tunnel to come up in the cave. I had done the dive before and it is super cool, but I really wanted to free dive it.

Looking at the black, gaping mouth of the cave was intimidating, as was knowing that I couldn't surface if I wanted to until I was well inside the cave - even though I had been in it before. My first attempt was unsuccessful. I dove down too deep and got about half way in, looked into the darkness, looked back into the light, and headed for the light. I came up gasping for breath, even though I can swim way deeper and farther. It is notion of swimming into a confined space into total darkness that is so scary. However, I overcame my fear and made a dash for it, successful the second time. I was proud of myself for making it free diving, even though we dove it with tanks right after. Scuba diving Mariner's cave is cool too because there is a second exit about 50 feet down, which would be nearly impossible (and hella freaking gnarly) to free dive out of. It is easy but exciting with dive gear on.

And so, the last few days have been full of under water adventures, living on board Merkava with Mark and Yuka, and enjoying much of what Tonga has to offer. I think we have been here close to a month, but 1. it doesn't feel like we have been here that long, and 2. there is so much more to explore. Unfortunately Dad is already talking about preparing to leave... but I don't wanna go to New Zealand.... yet!
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At 9/25/2011 2:18 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°42.03'S 174°01.79'W

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wooooooooo?

Glenda and me (left) feeding the fishies
(this picture may or may not have been taken in Bora Bora)



Woooooooo. Eeeeiiiiiiaahhhhhhhh. You know the whales are close when you can hear them out of the water. You know the whales are even closer when you stick your face in the water and they are RIGHT THERE, just hanging out, swimming around.


We are currently anchored in the outer islands of Vava'u, and yesterday Mark, Yuka and I went illegal whale watching. In Tonga whale watching boats have a "monopoly" on the whale watching business, meaning that (in theory) you have to pay 300 Pa'anga (about $200) to go swim with the whales. You can be fined (I don't know how much) if you are caught swimming with the whales on your own. Not that the tours take any special precautions not to bother the whales or anything, it is simply for economic reasons. We said to "hell with it, nobody can own the whales, man," so early Saturday morning we jumped in the dinghy and set out to find some whales.


We saw a whale right outside the anchorage, but it swam away when we headed in its direction. It was not until we were out in the middle of nowhere - still in sight of land, but far out - that we saw a mom and her calf swimming around. We motored over very slowly and quietly to where they were. They swam away. Things went on like this for an hour or so, until we just sat in the dinghy with the motor off, listening to their songs getting louder and louder. I stuck my head in the water and from their songs it sounded like they were right next to us. Then Yuka hit me on the shoulder, "They are RIGHT THERE!!"


I stuck my head back in the water and sure enough, a mother and her calf were swimming not 20 feet from the boat. I managed to grab my camera and snap a few shots before they dove, but I was too stunned (and a little scared) to actually get in the water with them. Mark and Yuka were also too awestruck by being so close to them to do anything but stare. When I took my head out of the water I was giggling and shaking - it was pretty thrilling just to see the whales under water.


We followed a few more spouts and saw a calf breach a few times, but now it was getting later in the morning and the whale watching boats started to show up. We got out of there pretty fast to avoid being harassed.


I got back to the boat about 10 AM, which was high tide, so I wolfed down some breakfast and then suited up (yes, I wear a wetsuit in 80 degree water) to go snorkel the coral gardens. You have to snorkel the coral gardens at high tide because it requires swimming out past a very shallow reef on which waves break (unsurfable waves, unfortunately). The current was very strong swimming out and we all struggled a bit, but it was pretty exciting. I was roasting in my wetsuit from swimming so hard, but was glad I had it on because I would have many reef cuts if I didn't.


The coral gardens are exquisite. The sea floor is a carpet of brightly colored coral with exotic looking fish swimming in and out of crevasses. I saw a big octopus and had a great time watching the waves heave and tube over the reef (from the back) and listening to the whale songs. We didn't see any more whales but heard them well.


That evening there was a "feast" put on by the local village of Lape Island to raise money to rebuild the pier that was destroyed in the last cyclone. A bunch of us yachties went in and were fed traditional foods, including a roasted pig and canned corn beef - which is not local and not particularly good, but extremely popular here. The meal itself was not... superb, but the atmosphere was friendly and fun. Before the meal the Tongans said a prayer which included something to the effect of, "we thank God for this food and will remember those in the world who do not have enough to eat..." I though this was very interesting because one could consider these people impoverished, and yet they are still concerned with people in the world poorer than themselves. They followed the prayer with a beautiful a cappella hymn which almost made me want to go to church in the morning to hear the singing. Almost.


Instead of going to church we went on another whale watching expedition, this time with Mom and Dad as well. We were ready for the whales this time, and when we saw one close enough to the dinghy we all jumped in the water and swam over them for about a minute, until they dove deep and disappeared. It was pretty amazing and a little eerie to be in the water with such a huge creature. Aside from that one whale, we did not see any others. Maybe they were taking Sunday off, like everybody else around here does - except us extreme folks.


After whale watching Mark and I went on a dive with two guys from another boat. As we were getting in the water a huge whale breached not 100 feet from the boat. That made it a little intimidating to get into the water. Once in the water the whale songs were so loud I could feel the vibrations coursing through my body. We also heard a few crashes that I assume were whales breaching very close by. Pretty thrilling. The dive was amazing, with coral towers in the shape of giant mushrooms towering 60 feet up toward the surface. Tons of fish, big and small, all sorts of cool shit, etc., etc.


Ok, I think this is enough.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You-a-Focka

Euakafa... or whatever you want to call it.

Or Euakafa. Whatever. These Tongan names are tricky. Regardless of the funny names, some of the places around the Vava'u group of Tonga are freaking amazing. The Vava'u group of Tonga consists of hundreds of volcanic islands, bays and reef systems that make for some great cruising. Imagine flat calm waters surrounding small, palm tree covered islands with white sandy beaches, and a pod of whales breaching in the distance. This is Tonga. It is cool.

We have been here just over a week, and only on Saturday did we venture out of Neiafu Harbor. The town of Neiafu is the biggest town in Vava'u, with lots of bars and restaurants catering to the cruising community. They always have some event going on, whether it be a rugby game, bingo, a lecture on whales, pizza night, etc. All of the cafes have wi-fi so it is not unusual to go in to meet your friends at the bar for a good internet session.

Neiafu is a nice place but it is also a nice place to get out of. On Saturday the Vava'u Regatta (see last blog post) set up a race to Ano beach where a full moon dance party was to take place. Unfortunately there was absolutely no wind for the race, so after 3 hours of going 1-3 knots, I talked Dad into to turning on the motor so we could get to the bay this century.

Although it was raining for most of the afternoon, it cleared up at night and there was an epic dance party on the beach - complete with a DJ, fire dancing and techno light show - until about 2 AM. Some of the local Tongan guys got a bit rowdy, but I do not think there are parties like this too often in Tonga, so they had to make it count.

Ano Bay was nice, but after two days we decided to head back to Neiafu, mostly so that I could finish my (damned) online dive course and get my certification done. On the way back we stopped at Euakafa Island, which my friends on Merkava affectionately renamed Euafaka (You-a-focka). Euakafa reminds me more of the Tuamotus more than any other place we have been since. This means that there was bright blue water surrounded by vibrant reef full of different colored coral, tons of fish, sea turtles, and a shark or two. As we motored over to the reef to snorkel we saw huge splashes in the distance from humpback whales breaching out of the water. But by far the coolest part of the snorkel was hearing the whales sing when I dove under the surface. They were faint but distinct whale songs.

Unfortunately the anchorage at Euakafa is only a day anchorage (not good to stay overnight at) so we had to move on before night. In the afternoon we headed back to Neiafu, mostly so that I could get internet to finish my online dive course. After not studying for a year, sitting in front of a computer processing information and answering questions has been incredibly difficult. Not to mention that I was doing all my studying in a bar/cafe/restaurant with extremely slow internet and friends stopping by to share a beer or whatnot.

Miraculously I was able to finish the course (scored 97% on my final exam! (with the help of Yuka)) and tomorrow I start the fun part - the actual diving. Although I am not certified yet, Mark, Yuka and I decided to celebrate by going on a dive to Swallows Cave this afternoon. I did not have my own tank, but shared a tank of air with Yuka and used her secondary regulator.

The cave was stunning. The entrance is about 15 feet deep and the inside of the cave goes to about 50 feet. The coolest part about the cave was being in the back of it in the dark, and looking out into the neon - blue - koolaid colored water illuminated by the sunlight. I did not have my camera with me (it would have broken from going too deep) but I am sure you could Google "Swallows Cave, Tonga" for some pictures. Not only was the water amazing but when I surfaced I could hear the bats in the cave chirping to each other. When we exited the cave we swam through a little tunnel to get out that was maybe 4 feet in diameter and 20 feet long. It was dark in the tunnel but I headed for the bright blue light and everything was fine. In fact, everything was very, very cool.

Tonight I said goodbye to my friend Lars who is heading to Fiji tomorrow. I am a bit sad to see him leave, but that is how things are out here. Friends come and go... but there are always new friends to be made and old ones to meet up with. I look forward to it all.
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At 9/13/2011 1:13 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°39.79'S 173°58.90'W

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Vava'u Regatta

Every year the local businesses and cruising community of Vava'u, Tonga come together to throw a week long party called the "Vava'u Regatta", which is more or less an all-out shit show. It kicked off yesterday with a street fair in the afternoon, complete with a kava circle and jam session, food stands and traditional arts and crafts for sale. I got a hamburger from the stand which was recruiting volunteers for the Sea Shepherd (from the TV show Whale Wars), and made sure that the meat was neither whale or dog. Eating dog is popular here... I avoid most of the street food.

I met a few young people at the street fair and was invited to have afternoon beers on their boat. The cruising community is dominated by the 50+ crowd, so it is always exciting to meet young(er) people out here (as far as I am concerned, 30 is young). We had a good time sharing stories, most of which reminded me of how easy and mellow I have had it aboard Rutea.

The activity for the evening was a pub crawl through the town of Neiafu. It started at a bar up the road a ways, where I finally met up with my homies on S/V Architeuthis (whose dinghy I lost at Punta de Mita) and have not seen since Mexico. It felt like a homecoming - even though we are thousands of miles from home. I remember Christine telling me, "see you on the other side of the world!" as they said goodbye in Mexico, and alas, it has come true. Not that I doubted it...

Throughout the night I met a bunch of interesting people, most of whom I do not quite remember. A few people stand out, including a Swedish couple who are both 26 years-old and left Sweden two years ago, crossed two oceans, stopping at Easter and Pitcarin Islands, saying, "Ya, it was cool, but no big deal, you know?" Right, no big deal to make it this far on your extremely tight budget with very little experience on a teeny tiny boat. This couple is a testament to the fact that anybody can be out here if he or she wants to be. If you want it enough you can make it happen.

It's interesting, most people I meet out here have some sort of charisma about them. I mean, you couldn't be some slacker without ambition and make it all the way here (except if you are getting a free ride from your parents...). Granted, I meet some people who are a bit out there or slightly off their rocker, but what those people lack in charisma they make up for with gumption. There are very few boring people out here.

Back to the crawl - which became more of a stumble (due to the rough streets) after the 5th or 6th bar - we ended up at Tonga Bob's, where a drag show was put on by the "Fakaladies". It is surprising how accepted and common transvestites are in Polynesia, especially in Tonga where people are so conservative and religious. The Fakaladies put on a good show for all the palangi cruisers, and really are quite convincing women except for their huge shoulders and square jaws. It was an interesting ending to a fun night.

This whole week is filled with silly events ranging from land based contests to a few boat races, culminating in a full moon party at the end of the regatta. Basically there will be copious amounts of drinking, conversing, and partying in general. I told you that the cruising crowd is mostly 50+, but man, they can party. At least half of them could drink me under the table no problem. I could make an excuse - that I am trying to keep my wits about me because I am trying to do my dive certification online in the midst of all this madness, but really, they are hardcore.

As well as getting my dive certification so I can keep up with my friends who are all advanced divers, I have been doing a bit of snorkeling around here. The water is a chilly 80 degrees here (freeezing) so I might have to pull out the old wetsuit. People keep saying, "Just wait until New Zealand..." It makes me cold just thinking about the place. The snorkeling I have done has not been amazing, but there are cool fish and in some places the visibility is supposed to be 100+ feet. There are also tons of underwater caves that I am looking forward to checking out. There is also allegedly some surf that is not supposed to have "kamikaze" level waves, so maybe I will be able to get some of those. There is also the Tonga vs. All Blacks (NZ) rugby game tomorrow night. Sorry, Kiwis, but I gotta root for Tonga while I am here.

Anyway, we will be in Tonga until we leave for New Zealand around the end of October, but it does not sound like I will get bored any time soon. Stay tuned for more adventures.
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At 9/8/2011 1:38 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°39.80'S 173°58.91'W

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Tiggity TONGA

We made it to Tonga! Cool, eh? We managed to lose a day on the way, but who is counting? I am pretty sure it is now Saturday, but I have no idea of the actual time (again, not that it matters).

It is not quite what I expected, but it never is. We are in the Vava'u group, which from my first impression seems to be a bunch of islands with all sorts of nooks and crannies to be anchored in and explored. Right now we are anchored in Neiafu. Technically we are not supposed to go on land until Monday when we check in with customs, but... we will see.

We arrived about two hours ago so I don't have too much to say about the place yet, but this will be home sweet home for the next two months, so I will have plenty of time to check it out and report back to you.

In the meantime, it is time for a shower - maybe even a warm one as it is a chilly 72.5 degrees outside - a nice meal, and a good, solid night's sleep.
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At 9/3/2011 3:18 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°39.81'S 173°58.91'W

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sailor's rule

Sailors have a rule: no drinking the night before you go to sea. Generally I follow this rule, but on Tuesday evening I got a bit carried away with my goodbye's, and before I knew it it was a few hours before we were to shove off from the dock (at O'dark 30).

Yesterday was tough. The only thing worse than being hung over is being hung over and seasick at the same time. Although I slept most of the day, we did about 10 sail changes that required putting up the pole, hoisting sails, furling sails, and taking down the pole, which felt like a lot of work. Usually we can set the sails and cruise all day, but the wind has been light and fluky so things weren't quite that easy. At least the seas are relatively calm.

You would think it would be cooler out here on the ocean, especially heading south, but it is still 87 degrees in the cabin and it is before 10 AM. I read somewhere that the average temperature in Tonga in the winter (now) is 60 degrees - which, as far as I am concerned, is f-ing freezing. However it would be nice to be able to move without sweating buckets. We shall see.

The reason I am most amped on getting to Tonga is that some of my favorite cruising people in the world are going to be there! It feels like I am going to be reunited with long lost friends, although I have only known some of them for a few months. I think it is pretty cool to be going some place as remote as Tonga and have friends waiting with cold beers for us. Should be a good time. We will lose a day when we cross the international date line - or have we already?? Who knows, but it won't matter until we arrive.

Tonga is our last stop before we head to New Zealand. We will probably spend about two months cruising the islands (of which there are like, 500), working our way south until we jump off. A part of me wants to turn around and head right back to French Polynesia - I feel like there is so much more to be explored there - but I also don't want to run into any cyclones. Down in New Zealand we will be safe from all those for the Austral summer.

We should arrive in Tonga tomorrow morning. Let's hope the winds stay fair and the waters calm until then.
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At 9/1/2011 6:16 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 15°46.35'S 172°56.92'W

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