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Anthem Adrift
Wooden Go There
10/24/2014, En Route to Tongatapu

Saturday 25 October 2014

Morning GRIB (Grim Reality In Boobooville) showed earlier onset of strong headwinds than last night's attempt at accurate modeling. Although initially able to sail on beam at 8 knots, wind began veering southeast halfway on to encourage letting big, noisy iron thingy help with locomotion. Once far enough along and now bashing into seas, fell off to head for north entrance of harbor and again let big flappy jobbies push us near hull speed in more peace and comfort. This direction is a tad longer and will require motoring last few miles directly upwind, but gives more protection and may save a liter or two of diesel, which is getting a bit skosh.

Via morning SSB net requested info on a clinic to have Jan's leg checked. Although skin doesn't look too bad, muscle pain indicates deeper infection. Meantime Ciprofloxacin is attempting to slay the little, offending demons. Although wonderfully nautical, a peg leg doesn't have the utility of an original and we just don't want to take time to have one carved.

Assuming none of crew is having an appendage lopped off, tonight will find us pot lucking at Big Mama's with, it has been understood, ice cream. Something really sticky and gooey and particularly unhealthy would be appreciated.

Although several have left, many boats remain anchored off Pangaimotu, home to Mama and just across bay from Nuku'alofa, but will all be departing shortly for New Zealand, some via Minerva Reef. There appears to exist a possible weather window for us around the 31st or 1st (this, of course, assumes long term accuracy of that previously aspersed (not a real word) forecasting tool - uh huh, uh huh). A few crews have indicated departure a bit sooner, but we have things to do: get parts from airport, fix headstay, fill fuel tanks, wash clothes, clear out, screw off. Plus there's a Halloween party on the 31st. That's probably worth getting slammed en route for because we left too late in the cycle. Right?

Jack

Wooden Go There
10/24/2014, En Route to Tongatapu

Saturday 25 October 2014

Morning GRIB (Grim Reality In Boobooville) showed earlier onset of strong headwinds than last night's attempt at accurate modeling. Although initially able to sail on beam at 8 knots, wind began veering southeast halfway on to encourage letting big, noisy iron thingy help with locomotion. Once far enough along and now bashing into seas, fell off to head for north entrance of harbor and again let big flappy jobbies push us near hull speed in more peace and comfort. This direction is a tad longer and will require motoring last few miles directly upwind, but gives more protection and may save a liter or two of diesel, which is getting a bit skosh.

Via morning SSB net requested info on a clinic to have Jan's leg checked. Although skin doesn't look too bad, muscle pain indicates deeper infection. Meantime Ciprofloxacin is attempting to slay the little, offending demons. Although wonderfully nautical, a peg leg doesn't have the utility of an original and we just don't want to take time to have one carved.

Assuming none of crew is having an appendage lopped off, tonight will find us pot lucking at Big Mama's with, it has been understood, ice cream. Something really sticky and gooey and particularly unhealthy would be appreciated.

Although several have left, many boats remain anchored off Pangaimotu, home to Mama and just across bay from Nuku'alofa, but will all be departing shortly for New Zealand, some via Minerva Reef. There appears to exist a possible weather window for us around the 31st or 1st (this, of course, assumes long term accuracy of that previously aspersed (not a real word) forecasting tool - uh huh, uh huh). A few crews have indicated departure a bit sooner, but we have things to do: get parts from airport, fix headstay, fill fuel tanks, wash clothes, clear out, screw off. Plus there's a Halloween party on the 31st. That's probably worth getting slammed en route for because we left too late in the cycle. Right?

Jack

Bookending Fun
10/24/2014, Kelefesia Island, Ha'apai

Thursday 23 October 2014

Survived another adventure in paradise as toilet discharge began flowing from under cabinetry. Despite festering E. coli sloshing about head sole, crew took this development with her usual sangfroid. Leaving hose ends taken from redirected pump disconnected due not having a second splice or 2 stoppers allowed discharge to sneak past disappointingly deficient 3-way valve. A bit of a rummage through plumbing parts box excavated 3 parts that, when combined in a delightful and interesting way, connected the ends so, given the old 'third time's the charm' thing, expect no further problem.

Excellent sail to Limu Island, a small, lone island in a long barrier reef. Crystal clear water, very nice bommie nearby and no roosters (or anything or anybody else) made this anchorage particularly enjoyable. Unfortunately Jan had a badly scraped leg from Wednesday's snorkel on an excellent, though damaged reef (January cyclone was culprit) so didn't get in the water to enjoy it and won't for several days or until sufficient healing occurs to elude tropical infection induced amputation.

Friday

Given end of near-term diving and multifarious activities awaiting in Nuku'alofa plus adverse weather in train for later afternoon Saturday (not even counting general dreariness now), which would extend our Ha'apai sojourn while hiding until perhaps Tuesday, have decided to beat feet south. 35 NM motorsail to furthest south Group anchorage, Kelefesia, which will allow day-sail to Big Mama's by early afternoon (assuming all hands can be mustered out at O dark hundred), resulted in current home. Closely surrounding reefs should, but aren't providing great protection. Non-forecast winds gusting over 20 are engendering positive psychic energy directed toward ground tackle. "We love you Rocna anchor!!!".

Jack

Execrable
10/21/2014, Uoleva Island, Ha'apai

Sunday 19 October 2014

Leftovers from heavy weather last few days provided brisk passage for not so long daysail to Ha'apai Group and helped evidence good butyl rubber seal on chainplate cover as sea berth and storage below remained dry. All deck hardware will get same treatment in New Zealand as tired 18 year old caulk begins to fail. This multi-day project is item 2 on list that currently numbers 29... oh wait, just thought of the wind generator (a misnomer as it normally generates electricity) that doesn't - make it 30. Anything after 50 will be completely ignored unless she's sinking or on fire.

Monday

Plans to explore, snorkel or conduct other frolicking came a cropper as rain persisted well into the morning. Decision to check in at Pangai, 10 NM south, and potentially get internet was result. This too went poorly as data cable from Nuku'alofa had become recalcitrant. Not to worry as Mariner Cafe serves beer and was aswarm with several cruisers of our acquaintance.

Tuesday

Never wanted 2 heads as they take up so much room, but the rethink is proceeding apace. Having noticed water squirting out of Lavac pump while flushing, removed and cleaned it to find a split in the membrane. Rebuild kit put that aright, but, regrettably, did nothing for a crack in the case. As there is alternating pressure and suction, fixing it is a problem that was not alleviated by 5200. Unlikely epoxy will do much better, so conversion of whale pump normally used to pump out holding tank is under advisement.

- Later (after sail to south side of Uoleva Island, 10 NM south of Pangai and inhabited by 14 cruising boats, all moving toward Tongatapu for passage to New Zealand)

Although a universally desired activity, working elbow deep in effluent is no longer a bucket list item as today provided a surfeit. Re-plumbing to different pump, a project that under normal circumstances would go quickly, but due limited space and old, brittle hoses proved otherwise, took all afternoon... (Who just wrote that? Crikey, all boat projects take much longer, are messier and cost more than expected.) Cleanup requires shower with serious scrubbing plus burning of work clothes. The glamour of cruising around the world once again asserts itself as we prepare for a pot luck on the beach including, it has been hinted, significant quantities of adult beverage.

Wednesday

Toilet reconfiguration proves itself this morning with most substantial throughput. TMI?

Snorkeling a reportedly great reef is on agenda for this afternoon. May stay another night before continuing south to thank Craig, owner of resort where we hid from rain last night. He was out of supplies, but will buy more today after supply ship visits Pangai. Perhaps he will have something besides local Popao beer which tastes OK, but given subsequent headache is detrimental to one's outlook on life for a substantial length of time.

Tired of writing this poopy crap with no inspiration and want to get it out of "drafts" box, so that's all for now. Tah.

Jack

Gulp and Go
10/18/2014, Euakafa Island, Vava'u

Thursday 16 October 2014

Famous Swallows Cave is actually inhabited by starlings or swifts, so we've been informed. Many are devastated by this cruel hoax. Nevertheless, it's interesting to dinghy in and motor about. Would have tied up to an inner wall, taken a swim and climbed into the deeper chamber that has a skylight, but swell inside might have pounded hypalon dink against jagged rocks and it was a long swim back to Port Maurelle. Not to fret, we found an excellent reef just south that terraced from 2 meters crossed by numerous canyons to 35 or so and then down again to blackness (actually it was deep blue, but the darker color sounds cooler).

Crew of Rigel came by in afternoon to introduce and ate half our dinner. Sounds bad, but actually not, as we had interesting company (he's a Yank and she's from Italy - they got together in Papeete 3 months ago) and it ostensibly restricted caloric intake for maintenance of nymph-like figure. Regrettably this was a false expectation as mass quantities of cheese and crackers more than made up the difference. Somebody stop me.

Friday

Continued intemperance in food and drink was forced, forced I say, on entire crew as we celebrated Sandy Best's birthday at La Paella on Tapana Island. Maria makes the most wonderful tapas and, oddly enough, paella (named for the large, shallow pan it's cooked in). A dog and a goat, which wandered around during the meal and listened raptly to terrific live music, provided by 2 rather ancient looking chaps whose appearance belied their euphonious skills, made the evening quite memorable for the 7 of us who were there. Highlight was Sandy's extemporaneous and somewhat naughty song about the evening. There is a tape. Bribes will be expected.

Saturday

Moved this morning to Euakafa (Ay wah KAH fah) Island, farthest south anchorage that blustery weather will allow, for long daysail tomorrow to the Ha'apai Group. Enjoyed better than expected snorkel on isolated nearby reef. Lots of, you know, reef stuff. Chilled rest of day, then happy hour G&T, lamb dinner and early bed to prepare for way early departure for long daysail to Ha'apai Group.

Jack

Divine State
10/14/2014, Mata Maka, Vava'u

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Unaccountably, outboard motor is still acquitting itself with aplomb - or it could just be running OK. Hard to tell the difference sometimes. House batteries, which have a few years on them, are beginning to fade, but a lack of full charging and equalization for several months may be culprit. There are visions of an isolation transformer in the future to allow 240 volt shore power to reverse sulfation deterioration. 120v is uncommon outside of the Americas, so need the option. Water maker and generator intakes, despite therapeutic ministrations, still suck.. ummmm, air. Suspect replacement of geriatric hoses will ameliorate the problem - might even make it better. Refrigeration, after perhaps a year of psychotic behavior until Mazatlan, has been perfect.. well, except for auto function of controller - BFD. Now, if rigging part coming from New Zealand is, for some inscrutable reason, the correct one, boat will be as nearly perfect as it ever gets. Let's agree to ignore the odd leak onto bunks and such.

Sailed out of Neiafu yesterday to Mata Maka where Sandy will reinstate the Giggling Whale and Thirsty Turtle restaurant and bar. Cool place, great anchorage, fun people. Helped drag semi-sunken barge made of bits and pieces piled with sea-soaked logs (to be used for construction) across bay with dink. Counter-intuitively steered left to go right and right... right. Should be in operation by next cruising season. THE place to be in Vava'u. Be there or be square.

Planned alcohol reduced day came a cropper due having too much fun. Departure tomorrow for new anchorage with good snorkeling and few other diversions may reinstate that divine state of temperance. Hey, it could happen.

Jack

Recurrent Recovery
10/11/2014, Neiafu, Vava'u

Tuesday 7 October 2014

After discovering regrettable failure of outboard carburetor repair, we enjoyed promotion assisted brekkie (they paid half) at the Beach House Cafe and listened to fun facts about Northland services. Opua based ICA (Island Cruising Association) poobah, John Martin, also gave out good routing info to help cruisers avoid getting their bumpies handed to them by periodic adverse weather on the 1200 NM passage to New Zealand from Vava'u.

Wednesday

Speaking of good poop (as differentiated from 'a' good poop), learned a couple of cool facts about whales at last night's talk. They're able to stay suspended at, say, 30 meters below surface with neutral buoyancy because of breathing out after surfacing to catch a breath. "Huh?", you may say. Turns out oxygen is stored in their tissues, not lungs, so before going back down, they expel most of the air. Also (and this is where children should be shooed off to play with their Gameboys, X-Boxes or whatever), males have 9 or 10 foot long, 18 inch diameter love commandos.. and we thought Galapagos tortoises were studs! Neither application nor culmination 9 to 12 months later has ever been observed.. except presumably by the actual participants.

Thursday

Finest time "racing" yesterday to Tapana, AKA anchorage 11. Revelry once at anchor on 65' Rewa was over-the-top fun, followed by Tongan feast ashore. Sandy from the Giggling Whale and Thirsty Turtle regaled with songs that your children should never hear and would cause him to be stoned to death in many cultures.

Skipjack tuna that Jan caught on the way back to Refuge Bay won us a bottle of wine and 7 day's berthage in downtown Whangarei. New plan includes delayed arrival into Auckland to take advantage.

Saturday

Last night's pub crawl was another outrageously jolly abuse of brain cells with a flock of great and interesting rabble. Expect to leave here Monday for an extended recuperation period. Although there are a few places to engage in debauchery along the way, Vava'u outside of Neiafu and Ha'apai are generally much less conducive to sclerosis. Should be at Big Mama's near Nuku'alofa to stage for New Zealand passage before end of month where assault on vital organs may again be demanded.

Jack

PS After initial truculence displayed by outboard Tuesday morning following previous day's ministrations and subsequent verbal reproach, it has behaved well.

More Than Some Awe
10/05/2014, Neiafu, Vava'u

Humpback Puppy

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Final run into Vava'u was good with all 5 boats from Niue arriving just as officials woke up. Despite dire predictions of tedious delays, clear-in with 4 different agency representatives toptoeing across the 4 boats rafted side by side to customs wharf was pretty darn painless. Spent balance of day exploring town in insufferable heat due unusual north wind.

Thursday

Swimming with humpback whales is one of those very few occasions where the description "awesome" is entirely appropriate. At one site a male's song was so loud while floating above him that it would vibrate one's entire body. At another a female and calf rested, suspended 30 meters below us. Periodically the 2 month old little guy (this is a relative term) would come up right by us for air with mom (somewhat bigger than our boat) making every 2nd or 3rd trip to the surface. Tonga is apparently about the only place one may do this as the Americas' eco-zealots get acutely choleric about people bothering whales which here generally ignored us. Beluga Dive with whom we went made everyone stow all harpoons and have ordered a lifetime ban on anyone named Quequeg.

Saturday

After signing up for next week's festivities and downloading email at the Tropicana Cafe, crew returned to boat where actual work was accomplished. Due continued incursion of salt water onto sea bunk while underway, another attempt to stanch the flow was made with huge amounts of butyl rubber on a shroud chainplate cover and nearby track endcap. If this is ineffective have decided to consider more comprehensive remediation to include dynamite.

Sunday

Eschewed traditional banana pancakes today for brekkie at Mango Cafe. Rugby on telly was proximate inducement, but departure from boat in process of selling former SSB equipment was contributory. For second day in a row, actual work was accomplished.. possibly. Johnson outboard, having become difficult to start of a morning, but running well subsequently until next day, had its carburetor cleaned. Success will be ascertained in the fullness of time.

Jack

A Day Light
09/28/2014, En Route to Vava'u, Tonga

Monday 29 September 2014

Although the day is shown as Monday, it's not. The label is strictly a technicality as we've decided to skip it and spread return of those 24 hours over the next few years in dribs and drabs as we transition time zones. By carefully doing so on Tuesday through Sunday, we can effectively blow off an entire and ostensibly less desirable day. We'll shoot for Fridays and Saturdays.

Speaking of Saturday, got the last one wrong. Mistakenly labeled that day's prattle as Friday the 26th. If anyone is foolish enough to read this at some time in the not too distant future and go take a look, it will have been corrected (sending these things can be done with HF radio, but fixing them requires internet) and you'll wonder what the idiot is talking about. In that case expunge this paragraph from your computer and your memory and continue on with your life as if nothing happened. It's for your own good.

Two day passage to Neiafu has been all right so far. Wind too far aft and rolly, but we've made good time and haven't beat up the sails very much. Other boats that also left Saturday went more direct, but, no matter utmost confidence in welding, we jibed a bit with reefed genoa to ease stress on forestay screw. Despite the zigzags, made 150 miles last 24 hours. Regrettably, wind is easing, as predicted, but so far declining to back, so progress from this point might be a tad more sedate. Still anticipate arrival early morning followed by at least a month of exclusively daysails.

Jack

Warped
09/28/2014, En Route to Vava'u, Tonga

Sunday 28 or Monday 29 September 2014

We're en route from Niue to Vava'u and don't know what day it is. We left Niue yesterday, Saturday, and will arrive Tonga tomorrow, Tuesday. Huh? Have a reasonably good grasp of the time, but that day thing has us stumped. You see, Tonga is east of the Date Line, but pretend they're not and got everyone to go along. Time starts at Greenwich, England, to go west 11 and east 12 hours to 180 degrees east. For those proficient in math this adds up to 24 hours (does too, you forgot to add in Greenwich Time, hour zero) and, fortuitously, that's exactly the length of one Earth rotation. Pretty sure the Brits did this on purpose so the 3 hours of "prime" time TV would remain convenient to watch between dinner and bedtime. So, everyone else adds or subtracts (normally, but not always) in hour increments from the zero degree, "prime" meridian, up to 12 hours... except Tonga. They add 13. Niue is minus 11 - same time, different day. A very friendly and normally agreeable people, Tongans are apparently willing to spurn world order just to be on the same day as New Zealand and don't seem perturbed that they're 3 hours later (pretend daylight time is just a myth). We've adapted to the situation by pretending today is Sunday so we can have banana pancakes and don't mind losing Monday as it's generally considered a pretty sucky day, anyway.

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure." - Segal's Law

Jack

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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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