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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.


Filling In and Filling Up
09/17/2010, Enroute to Niuatoputapu

Show at Aggie Grey's

September 16

Got away at 0600 with no wind. Didn't fill in until 8 NM south of Upolu after motoring for six hours, then has been 17 to 20 on the beam. Anthem is romping along at better than 7 knots in 3 meter beam sea. With continued conditions, could arrive in Niuatoputapu much earlier than anticipated tomorrow, before noon. Wind vane is steering the boat like it's on rails, albeit somewhat lumpy ones.

Show and buffet dinner last night were at Aggie Grey's Hotel, an institution in Apia for 60 or 70 years and now run by Aggie's granddaughter. Traditional dancing and music were performed by volunteers from the staff who were excellent as was the food and cheaper than Tisa's on Tutuilla. Beach Boys could have written one of the songs, but would have needed help with Samoan lyrics. Got some video, but sound didn't seem to record. Too bad as it was terrific. Typically, for all-you-can-eat, ate all I could before waddling home late.

Expect to spend only two nights at New Potatoes, maybe one. It's suppose to be beautiful, but otherwise not much there. The 1300, Taters (are the kids tater tots?) are Tongan and live on the north end of the 13 square kilometer island. Between Samoa and Vava'u, the place is somewhat isolated except for now when a deluge of boats seems to be invading. Hope the natives are friendly.


Soggy Flock Flies South
09/16/2010, Apia, Samoa

September 15

Although Apia is at 171 degrees 46 minutes west, the international date line takes a jog east, so it's cheek by jowl with tomorrow. This is of no moment, except that proceeding to Neiafu, Tonga from here makes one 24 hours older (not 23 as one would expect) and, more importantly, causes loss of a travel day for desired arrival next Tuesday. Hadn't previously focused on that, so expect to leave for halfway point, Niuatoputapu, tomorrow, Thursday, which is actually Friday even though at 173 degrees 47 minutes west it should be Thursday, but it's not. Does that clear it up for you? Well then, how about this - time of day is the same as Samoa, so no time zone is crossed. There's a bureaucrat involved here somewhere.

Looks like a mass exodus tomorrow for Tonga as at least five boats decided today to join the parade. Departing crows will have about 171 NM. Waterborne transport may go a touch farther as Niuatoputapu is t'other side of Upolu. Wind is forecast at 12 to 18 with 10 foot, 11 second sea. Looking for a good sail (this assumes one can trust a weatherman a day ahead).

As O dark thirty departure is necessary to assure reasonable ETA in New Potatoes, will relate details of tonight's show and buffet at Aggie Grey's in some future blatherage.

By the way, with additional sampling data, have reconfirmed that rain never stops, ever.


Fun Facts Facetiously Foisted
09/15/2010, Apia, Samoa

September 14

Samoa (formerly 'Western', which commandeered the generic name just as did America) is apparently a very conservative place, highly resistant to change, practicing (outside of Apia) Fa'a Samoa, a pure pre-industrial socialism. Due to absence of individual ownership a local might walk off with your property as a matter of normal practice. Although the people are very peaceful and exceedingly friendly, this can create some conflict with more European sensibilities where working for everyone else (or not, depending upon personal penchant), while expecting them to give you everything you want hasn't quite caught on yet among a dwindling majority. This is, of course, a fun game for some only if everyone is forced to play whether they want to or not. Nobody gets ahead here.

Other tidbits that piqued interest, gleaned from various sources, including Moon Handbook: "Samoa" is Samoan for sacred chicken. This is the center of the South Pacific Bible Belt. The country has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. If a visitor is thought to be intruding he might get stoned by village children. This is usually avoided by smiling, so ostensibly, acting friendly is not optional. Cranky visitors take note. "Eco" is promoted heavily, including eco-helicopter rides and eco-prices for gullible eco-tourists. Much of the coral around Apia has been killed by fishing with dynamite. Each village has a high chief who is too grand to speak, so also has a talking chief. Families live in Fale (fah-LAY) that have no walls - a touch less private than Haight/Ashbury in the 60s. With admittedly limited sampling data, have concluded that rain never stops, ever.

In more personal news, red/green navigation light discontinued operation on sail from Pago Pago. Will attempt cajoling a return to service if rain ever ceases, otherwise will go 'stealth' to Tonga. Anchor and chain have been dropped onto dock from bow locker (vented into V-berth) for eradicating tuna enhanced bouquet and munge acquired in Pago Harbor. Helped Evi on Wonderland replace cracked fuel hose that had caused a diesel sheen over much of the marina. Officials threatened $5000 fine, but when told "no", just said not to do it again. That should also turn the trick for next speeding ticket.

"Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff." - Frank Zappa


Fixed, Fed and Fagged
09/14/2010, Apia, Samoa

September 13

A good downwind run over to Apia was culminated with light winds provoking shaking out double reef just before getting blasted with 25. There's probably an immutable law of nature in there somewhere, a corollary to Murphy, perhaps. The puff was hiding in rain that continued all day without additional wind or much cooling.

All yachts are required into shiny new, inexpensive, floating dock marina where officials come to you for all formalities. This is good. Unfortunately, after arriving at 0900, remained under house arrest with breakfast unattainable just across the street until last guy came at 1400. Once freed up, fed and ATMed, headed for hospital to have crown reinstalled a scintilla out of position for only 20 tala, about $8.50.

Circumstance of islands, other boats and such in close proximity allowed only minimal Zs overnight, but invitation to expected, then realized excellent and free home-cooked meal on Jackster prompted dragging semi-somnambulant carcass out of bed where reading had degenerated to napping. No further interruption is expected toward phase four unconsciousness to begin mere moments from now.


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