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Anthem Adrift
Compelling Conquerors Contemplate Carousing
09/22/2010, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

September 23

While devotees of clear, understandable writing will cheer, production of this hooey for the ensuing week will probably be retarded (yes, I'm aware this is redundant), but prodigious demands on time for other nonsense take precedence. Went ashore early to run a few errands, like checking in with immigration, but was entrapped by event planners to play a game that proceeded through mid- afternoon. Hope Tonga government won't be too put out by a visit tomorrow.

Today's activity was a cornhole tournament. At this point it might be appropriate to disabuse many of the idea that this is a similarly named euphemism, which, due to the only obliquely (and sometimes furtively) naughty nature of this site, will not be explained. Teams take turns lobbing small bags of corn onto a slanted board with a hole at top. Think horseshoes without horses.. or shoes.. or stakes... well anyway it was fun and team Frozen Anthem, Don from Freezing Rain and I, became, against withering competition, champions of the universe. The multitudes go wild!

New Zealand party barge (where intoxicants are rumored) is next venue ostensibly to promote that country (and indeed may be for them) followed by a pub crawl during which, it has been alleged, additional adult beverages may be consumed.


Running Athwart
09/22/2010, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

Tonga Bob's by Daylight

September 22

Wind began to back and ease overnight after several squalls went by permitting sail right up to Vava'u channel. Very close reach, however, caused reduced speed delaying, until dusk, arrival onto last available mooring ball.

Inspiration Lady, the scurrilous dogs, forced me, forced I say, to immediately head ashore for all-you-can-eat buffet at the Dancing Rooster, then T$5 beer and transvestite review at Tonga Bob's, so, given lack of sleep due vacillating wind in squalls last night, tonight's anti-literary foolishness will be curtailed.

Hope to provide catch-up abuse tomorrow, although diversions provided by Neiafu during Vava'u Regatta seem destined to thwart any such ambitions.


Effing It
09/21/2010, En Route, Vava'u

September 21

OK, kava, a narcotic sedative made from crushed root of a pepper relative, it smells like grass with a touch of anise. It's slightly bitter and makes your tongue numb. Guys sit around on mats in an open room talking, joking, playing guitar or ukulele and singing while a virgin ladles out from a large basin several coconut shell cups of the stuff that circulate as each man, in turn, chugs the contents. Traditionally a male oriented function, Evi partook as Kara, her 23 year old crew, performed the virgin role as well as playing fiddle. Music as expected was superb. During return to boat, detected no cranial effects and ambulation seemed normal, but slept like an infant and felt great at 0515 wakeup.

Now in process of racing full moon to a party, Saturday, in its honor. While considerably faster than Anthem, it has a tad farther to go. Have been and, for duration, expect to be hard on the wind at 18 to 20 apparent into a meter and a half sea with reefed main, yankee and staysail. Hoping to arrive tomorrow in daylight, but not holding rhumb line or breath. Idyllic days of off-wind sailing have come to an end as direction to New Zealand is south with mostly east to southeast trades. Predominant motion of vessel goes from rolling to pitching. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

"Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all." - Douglas Adams


Head for Fun
09/20/2010, Niuatoputapu, Tonga

September 20

Hate to leave the Potato. For one thing, will miss roasting of Babe on Wednesday (place is lousy with free range pigs). This is a very pleasant place to fish, dive and hang out, but party lights beckon. Will arrive Vava'u on first day of Regatta festivities, but hope to hit the ground run... walking quickly. Expect to get up to speed after a few intensive Zs. Thereafter expect to engage in heavy drinking during training for Full Moon Party on Saturday.

After eggs, bacon, toast, jam, coffee, juice and morning nets, hoofed 3 or 4 klicks to Western Union for exchange of $ for pa'anga to pay various fees, clear out to Vava'u and buy phone sim card. Returned home to finish tidying from heady experience yesterday and store still serviceable used gaskets, O-rings and parts. A productive stop, this will probably be the last association of nose and grindstone for week of festivities. Then, of course, there's a week of recovery.

Well, just learned there's a kava drinking thingy on shore at 2000, so this will do for now. Tah tah.


Undistilled Spirits
09/19/2010, Niuatoputapu, Tonga

September 19

What does one do on Sunday? Why go to church, of course. Huh? Those who know me well are checking a calendar for April first. It was Methodist. Mom would be so proud.

While the speaker was droning on in Tongan (much of it while wiping away tears), many in the congregation had heads bowed on the pew in front ostensibly praying, but I'm thinking nap, knowing that loud music would immediately follow to awaken them and maintain their cover.

There is a big clock in front which seems odd. Guess they want to know how long the good news will last. Despite reports of some island services extending for two and a half hours, we were released in just 55 minutes.

One woman in the congregation stood up midway and with great emotion spoke for a few minutes. She seemed very taken with the spirit, but it was evocative of an AA meeting. "Hi, my name is Jack and I have sinned. I haven't had an impure thought in three minutes and 27 seconds. Oh, hello sister Myra... oops."

Interestingly, because Oceanians were not particularly religious before missionaries, there is a native word for God (Atua), but not for 'Amen', which was the only one understandable during the entire proceeding.

Music was divine, so to speak. Everyone from this part of the world must be born with the singing-in-harmony gene. Songs were in Tongan with Polynesian harmonies, but pace and composition obviously made them hymns. It really was remarkably beautiful.

In the afternoon was myself so taken with some kind of spirit decided to rebuild the head, which had been showing minor signs of distress for several months. Except for joker valve, all used parts are serviceable should any new ones poop out.


Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Today?
09/18/2010, Niuatoputapu, Tonga

September 18

What happened to Friday the 17th you might ask. Left Apia on Thursday then a day later landed New Potatoes on Saturday. Very confusing. Suspect that all those hours collected every 15 degrees since Florida were taken back. This seems terribly rude. Nobody mentioned a loan. Hope the vig doesn't hurt too much. Tomorrow didn't do any petty pace creeping this time.

Great sail all the way down from Apia. Arrived just before noon through a narrow pass into a beautiful, protected lagoon large enough for 50 boats. It's not raining, sky is mostly clear, breeze is perfect and it's not raining. Oh, and it's not raining. Without pratique until late afternoon, haven't been on shore yet but am fond of the place already. A resident caught a pile of fish and invited the anchorage (about 10 boats) to lunch tomorrow.

Clearing in with customs, immigration, agriculture and health was no fuss (except for waiting until 1730) as three little ladies came aboard with smiles and paperwork. Real pain comes Monday at payment of 135 Pa'anga (about $65), 100 of which is apparently for a hospital. As a sponsor, wonder if I can get some cool drugs or a complimentary operation. Wouldn't hurt to ask! Unless operation thing comes through, expect to leave Tuesday for arrival in Neiafu, Vava'u (vah VOW) during first day of week-long regatta.

Spent afternoon once again achieving self-actualization, this time by fixing nav lights. Todo list back into three digits. Traced problem to corroded connection in anchor locker where Star Kist cannery remains in evidence. Dumped all chain in the clean water before retrieving half not in use. Mo bettah.


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