Monday, August 13, 2007

Tonga










Enroute, from Bora Bora to Tonga, we had several islands, in the Cooks, where we could stop and breakup the 1300 mile trip. Suvarov, Rarotonga, Palmerston, Rose, and Niue (I had my heart set on this one), were the main ones we had in mind. However, most don’t have secure anchorages in anything other than settled weather. Also, take into account Meri’s growing dislike of cruising and sitting in shitty anchorages whilst a low pressure system threatens to throw us on a reef, or beach, during 3 or 4 days of strong winds and large swells, and the fact that we don’t have insurance (long story), we opted to continue west while the weather was good.

The first 6 days we had ideal conditions, enjoyed great sailing (this restored her optimism), and averaged 120 miles a day in comfort. We were heading SSW towards Niue and some great diving. Niue has the clearest water, in these parts due to no runoff from the island. It’s filtered through a limestone layer instead. From there to Tonga is just over 200 miles, so it seemed like a good option. Unfortunately, another low was heading our way, and as we neared Niue, the wind swung to the NW, blew hard, and was predicted to veer SW, S, SE, and blow harder. We spent the next 21/2 days in 25knt+ winds and seas mounting by the hour. We were running with a double reefed mainsail and a storm jib the whole time. Luckily, the wave period was such that Adagio rode between them nicely. Friends on a 50 footer found themselves too long to fit and had a terrible time of it. Niue was, definitely, out of the question. Bummer. They don’t have a protected anchorage, but moorings outside the reef which are only protected in E and, light, SE winds. Rarotonga (before Niue) was also out due to the gales cruising past to the south.

Some may call us whimps, for running, but we don’t give a shit. At the end of the day you have to consider many factors, boat and crew safety, stress levels in shitty anchorages, your marriage/relationship, and are you really missing a whole lot. After 5 years on the boat, dozens of tropical islands, scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, forests, tropical fruits, etc., etc., it all looks the same. We find more pleasure, now, in trying to meet locals and just hang out somewhere comfy. Call it tropics burnout, I don’t know. Looking forward to going skiing!!!! Bring on the snow.

At the moment we are on a mooring in Neiafu (The Va’vau group), Tonga. The people are very friendly, great produce and fish markets. Smiles all around from English speakers (such a relief after French Polynesia), and soooo much to do. We have planned an ATV trip around the island, a native feast and dancing, diving, and some hiking to nearby towns. The locals are quite religious and wear their traditional costume most of the time. We even found the reincarnation of the Dhali Lama comming home from church. Think it's him??? The singing in the church is quite beatufil and very pleasant to hear on a Sunday.

In total, we are looking at 3-4 weeks here before heading to Fiji. Hopefully the weather will cooperate soon and we can venture south to the Ha’aapai group of islands. These are even more laid back, and less populated, than the Va’vau group. Hope to enjoy an “umu” (local feast) or two whilst there. Along the waterfront there are several bars and yacht service type places that will do anything to attract clients.


"Tonga Bob's" has Trivia night on wednesday's and offers several prizes for each round. The grand prize is a case of beer. We won it twice in a row!!! I didn't realise how all that useless crap in my head would come in handy one day. Thanks for the beer and prizes Matt.


Thursday night they have the local "Ladies" come in to give a performance. Cross dressing is accepted in much of the Pacific and in Tonga they are revered as special entertainers. They put on a great, fun show and collect gratueties from the crowd. It's a sign of respect to place money on their persons. We had a great time but I couldn't help notice that one of the girls looked a lot like my old Greek school teacher!!!!!!


I finally managed to convince Meri to take a ride with me in an overgrown go-cart. We toured the island for 3 hours and had an absolute blast. It's so scenic and lush. The locals were all happy to see us and kids were trying to run after us in every town. It had rained hard the previous day so some of the trails were very slippery and muddy, cool. It's not something we'd do regularly, but once is worth it.








Thom, on SV Babel Fish, ask me to go for a sail out around the islands for a day and do some whale watching. What a great boat. It's a 50 foot Najaid from Sweden, worth $1,000,000 bucks and quite something to sail. Would most definitely love on of those next time round. Thanks Thom.

















3 Comments:

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey friends!! It was great meeting and running into you along the way. Happy you are back home and safely moored. Will never forget that FANTASTIC Tongan Feast!! Thanks a lot :) Your posts were beautiful and evokes much memories of our own crossing.
Happy Trails
Denis & Maria
S/V Theis

 
At 6:02 PM, Anonymous オテモヤン said...

オナニー
逆援助
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At 1:36 PM, Anonymous gerovital said...

I heard of this earthly paradise called Tonga...is very beautiful

 

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