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Anthem Adrift
What About Bob?
08/29/2010, Alofi, Niue

Sea Snake

August 28

Spent all day on boat projects... yes, work. OK, except for diving on the caves, but that was it. Fingers are mere smoking nubbins. This operation is approaching ready to float away in the O dark hundreds tomorrow if a smidgen of wind can be coaxed from Aeolus.

Went back to Chimney and Caves for pictures with, unfortunately, cloudy sky. Began playing with sea snakes, then realized this might be a sportier activity without gloves, which had been left on boat, but discovered that higher surge in cave and grottos was sufficient diversion.

Weather weasels forecast an adequacy of breeze on the beam through Tuesday morning before going light and on the nose. He, she and it are wrong, of course. Just hoping that direction of wrongness is toward more wind on beam and for longer. How do you spell phat chanse? Trip would take until Tuesday morning with good wind or well into next month if current conditions persist. May burn some diesel or just bob around in northeast swell for awhile.

Will get ride to whale benefit at Matavai Resort at 1700 which promises to go late as ridee is with research group and suspected party animal.

Jack

Terminal Tenacity
08/28/2010, Alofi, Niue

Talava Arches

August 27

After various activities such as clearing out with customs and breakfast, finally got seven-man (def: a human being of either sex) self-guided tour on the road. Visited Togo Chasm, Talava Arches, Matapa Chasm, Palaha Cave and some other stuff - arches, caves, chasms and pools plus arches, caves and chasms with pools. All very cool, but one of the men (who could conceivably take umbrage at that designation) was over-caved and waited in van at last stop.

There are many helpful signs along roads exhorting population to save resources and not litter. This all seemed harmless enough until a sign was sighted enjoining the elimination of "persistent organic pollutants". Wonder if they realize that cruisers are seldom excessively persistent? Given large numbers of graves around the island and not wanting to test the limits, have resolved to remain pallidly diffident for remainder of stay. And they seemed so friendly.

If interest remains high, however, will tempt fate as described above by diving The Chimney and Bubble Cave tomorrow with new arrivals. Dive company reportedly gets a little peeved by divers using their buoys, but not them at $120 a shot, so we'll wait until they leave site around noon and use our own dinghy anchors. Departure toward Pago Pago the following day before sunup while wearing Richard Nixon Halloween mask will be entirely unrelated.

"On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time." - George Orwell

Jack

Spelunk This
08/27/2010, Alofi, Niue

The Chimney

August 26

Have stumbled upon a few comments placed onto blog site up to a month and a half ago. Please feel free to add them, but replies may take awhile as they are seldom checked even when internet available. This foolish flood of folderol is foisted upon you via radio waves.

Just barely able to rerun halyard over only remaining, usable, free sheave pushing from top and pulling from bottom. Masthead is on exponentially growing list of projects for New Zealand. Anyway, checked the 'boat work' box and went diving.

Six of us easily found 'The Chimney' for additional exploration. All went in at top (5 meters) and out at bottom (30 meters) except Stuart whose head explodes at 50 feet. Pretty cool, but there was better. Dave and I found a narrow spooky entrance to 'Bubble Cave', which is completely dark (he had a flashlight, um, torch - he's British, you know). Great schools of fish hang out there hiding, one presumes, from higher food chain creatures. Upper part of cave is above water, but accessible only from below. Exited by easier route and took others back, then into pretty extensive lighted caves and grottos. Topography in open includes deep, narrow, sometimes overhung, chasms. Snakes. Way cool. As today's group is sailing in the morning, may try to gin up interest for reprise with new fun-seekers before departure NLT Monday for Pago Pago.

Tomorrow is a seven man van of caves by car. An uplifted coral atoll, Niue is lousy with them.

Jack

Tried to Work, But Caved
08/26/2010, Alofi, Niue

Auto at Chimney

August 25

Following full English breakfast (with baked beans - Brits are weird) at Yacht Club, returned to boat, climbed mast, with some difficulty ran light, weighted line down over proper masthead sheave, tied it off to halyard and promptly broke it while attempting to pull said halyard through said sheave. Blew off all attempted productive activity at that point (have yet to put away Monday's laundry) to go diving with Jacksters.

After searching for 35 of the 40 minutes available on decompression dive, finally found lower cave entry to The Chimney (not far from an automobile?), just in time to go up and hope to get out at top. Cool. Tomorrow following second try at reaving halyard (this time with help), plan return there for pictures, then Bubble Cave, which is reported harder to find. Because of distance, may have to pay dive operator or not go to Snake Cave where there are reputedly snarls of snakes. Despite some archeologically significant crap, have no expectation of seeing Indy. Besides, even if Callista is working some serious magic, he's like 90, right?

Jack

This Space Intentionally Left Blank
08/25/2010, Alofi, Niue

Cave

August 24

No habla blog today.

Finally got wifi aboard and, after spending morning touring north end of Niue (great caves down to the ocean), have been catching up with finances and researching boat part shipments into American Samoa, next destination. USPS is responsible there, to the degree that's the case anywhere, and is inexpensive.

Plan for tomorrow after breakfast at Yacht Club is fixing stuff, previously mentioned and from discouragingly long list, and cleaning. All ashiver in anticipation.

Jack

Scuba and Skepticism
08/24/2010, Alofi, Niue

Cotton Mouth Moray

August 23

This morning, after a quick scan, was pleased to discover that last night's entry was vaguely comprehensible. Suspect that John & Chris put gin in their gin and tonics, which would thus explain the fuzzy recollection. Forewarned of their insidious proclivity, will show more restraint in future.

Cleared into Niue (NYOO ay - with 1300 residents perhaps the smallest self- governing country on earth) this morning for free, but leaving requires a fair bit of New Zealand cash. There are no ATMs on the island so it's the Hotel California if you're strapped. Actually have Kiwi bucks, but bank will exchange US $ at reasonable rates.

Interesting dive with Jacksters (caught up with them again after a few weeks) in the mooring field from 10 down to 40 meters around ridges and through deep, narrow canyons. Saw a cotton mouth moray, 18th century bowers (anchors) and numerous sea snakes with cobra-lethal venom. Have been assured with great sincerity that they don't bite. Ah! They are sufficiently friendly as to wrap around body parts and climb into wet suits where there's an opening. Ah! So I grabbed a couple. One swam leisurely through my hand, then away and the other turned around to check out the imposition. At this point I discovered alternate amusement.

A few dozen cruisers gathered this evening at the Niue Yacht Club (everyone who comes in is made a member) for sausage or barracuda sandwiches and presentation by a private whale research group - very interesting with great pictures and recordings of 'music'. Whales are way cool. Factoid - leviathan is most closely related to hippopotami. Who knew? No doubt well-meaning, they claim to know little about numbers of humpbacks (their primary focus in this area) or habits, but become very specific when decrying the devastation by human interaction including a 98% reduction in population. Nobody loves a skeptic.

Jack

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