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Anthem Adrift
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10/02/2010, Port Muerelle, Vava'u Group, Tonga

Swallow's Cave

October 2+

For those noticing a decrease in spammage over the previous 24 hours, you're welcome. Although I love each and every one of you like a brother or a sister, downloading several dozen movies yesterday prompted dropping last night's edition like a bad habit to delve into new toys.

Before that and after rearranging clothing storage (finding, with some level of incredulity, no mold or mildew) accompanied Jacksters back to Swallow's Cave to motor about then climb into large dry cavern at back. Opening at top illuminating interior kept dragon (one of which is, of course, present in every dark cave) at bay, but trepidation reigned as tunnelage continued into darkness. Had, regrettably, left torch, chainmail and broadsword at boat.

Designing to leave minimum time for boat work, will move, following present rain shower, to new locale with fresh delights. Toodles.

Jack

Breathing and Brains, Highly Overrated
10/01/2010, Port Muerelle, Vava'u Group, Tonga

Mariner's Cave

October 1

Austral spring is in full swing. Sun's getting higher and hotter, but nearly froze last night with fresh breeze coming through V-berth hatch. Water is warmer than normal keeping whales farther south and auguring an active cyclone season. Won't be here.

Sailed/motored to Port Muerelle anchorage to join a crowd on "Dignity" heading for Mariner's Cave. No way to anchor there, so somebody (Gary from Inspiration Lady who doesn't like salt water) remained aboard to peddle around close by. Upper entrance is two meters below surface and lower is ten. Everybody made it inside and a few of us got out through the bottom. Obliged to do deep free dive, but once was ample - checked the box, obtained the T-shirt. Looked like a pant load more than thirty feet heading for the surface. I really shouldn't be allowed free run of the planet.

Return to boat left minimum time to prepare for pot-luck/bonfire on beach, so slapped together rice and beans plus concoction of mango, banana and rum that went down like honey-dew vine water (plagiarism alert). My it was tasty (second alert). Pleased to have performed on-wagon recovery last night thus averting irreparable damage. Brain herd maximally strong as all weak cells have now been culled.

Jack

A Swift Swallow as Dragon Turns
09/30/2010, Mala Island, Vava'u Group, Tonga

Swallow's Cave

Having completed all onshore tasks, albeit with island time delay, picked up skirts and pranced out of town (foregoing was entirely figurative as wearing of dresses is reserved for special occasions and prancing is just wrong). Glided short five miles on yankee and stays'l (spelling to emphasize cool, salty pronunciation) into Mala Island anchorage with seven other boats including, due to a perplexing oversight, one with children (contrary to popular opinion, there is here no dislike of the little guttersnipe... err, darlings provided they observe legal pedophobe distances).

After frittering away early afternoon with a good book and a couple of winks, refocused on priorities by confirming availability to cruisers (i.e. boat trash) of breakfast at nearby resort restaurant. Then, with good light and a desire to throw off last vestige of torpidity, took inflatable the mile or so to Swallow's Cave for a quick peek (latest update - inhabitants are neither swallows nor terns, but swiftlets (did not make this up... probably)). May return with help tomorrow to fight dragon that doubtless lurks in deeper recesses.

Jack

One Day at a Time
09/29/2010, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

Tonga Bob's

September 29

Life after regatta has begun as anticipated. Recovery proceeding apace. Listened to nets, dinked in for breakfast, internet and breeze shooting, returned to boat for yankee sun-cover sewing repair, took laundry ashore for wash, finished order for boat shirts, bought neck amulet (no, don't believe in luck) and returned home for this bit of fairy dust. Soon headed to Wonderland for dinner then Tonga Bob's for 5 pa'anga beers and Fakaladies (acquaintees of 801 Club on Duval in the Key of Bones will deduce performance species).

Pondering removal of boat to less distracting anchorage tomorrow barring end of life on Earth or inertia (as specifically applied, not the concept, which is generally well accepted). Vava'u is lousy with great places to drop the hook for diving, whale watching or hangin'. First stop will allow brekkies at a resort and visit to "Swallows Cave" (into which one may drive his dink, but where terns are resident guano producers). Speaking of flocking, as they tend to, 'kid' boats are mercifully easy to avoid, so expect to.

Jack

A Ward to the Wise
09/28/2010, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

Crow's Nest

September 28

Given potentially free breakfast at The Crow's Nest (didn't work out), procurement of gasoline and boat shirts, Monday Night Football (1300 local) and Awards/Wrap Party starting 1700, this will be another mercifully short effusion.

Regatta over; fun done. Tomorrow signifies return to daily grind of cruising Tonga. Oh, the drudgery. In near future this will hopefully entail an occasional boat job interspersed with long periods of indolence. Neiafu with its cruiser orientation (bars/restaurants/entertainment) is a tarbaby, but other great anchorages in the group may soon provide sufficient lure. Expect to squander another two weeks before easing down to Ha'apai Group. May begin move toward New Zealand end of October.

Time to reprise pirate costume of Full Moon Party for incumbent pillage and plunder at tonight's concluding event (at which will be awarded the coveted cornholer ear-of-corn statue), so will conclude this and depart.

Jack

Token Reprieve
09/27/2010, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

September 27

Am pleased to accept your gratitude, tonight, for a very abbreviated issue. Day began early, will end late and anticipate an inability to aim fingers at appropriate keyboard buttons upon return to boat.

Special thanks to Angela without whose gift the evening's entertainment would not be possible.

"Alcohol is necessary for a man so that he can have a good opinion of himself, undisturbed by the facts." - Finley Peter Dunne

Jack

Full and By
09/26/2010, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

September 26

Perfect weather, big 'yeller' moon shining down through a canopy of trees, dancing black-lighted skeletons on a ship's bow sticking out of a steep, close hillside, movie projections onto stretched boat sails either side, DJ with good, loud, thumping music, cheap food, strong drink and four or five hundred people - great Full Moon Party marred by atrocious logistics for getting bodies back and forth to island. Some waited three hours to arrive and late attendance was undoubtedly winnowed by fear of forced stay past fun threshold. Some intrepid souls dragged home around 0400. Personal training ameliorated morning aftereffects.

Scheduled potluck lunch on nearby beach was not well organized, advertised or attended, but an ambulatory few had fun anyway.

Magnificent sail back to town in 12 to 15 knots with calm sea. Short-tacking isn't the gnawing desire of most heavy displacement, full keel cruiser owners, but enjoyed honing technique through narrow upwind channel into Neiafu. Return today was necessitated by Chinese restaurant. It alone is open on Sunday and personal chefage - not an option. Besides, Tridecagon-athon (don't know, but signed up) is at 1030 tomorrow. Notice indicated water and dirt would be involved. Sounds like fun if personal humiliation is not a distressing concept. Plan to leave, however, at first sign of Maury Povitch.

Jack

Home From the Sea
09/24/2010, Pangai Motu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

Race to Tapana

September 25

After a rainy morning, sky cleared, wind picked up to 15 from the perfect direction and excitement built for looming excellent adventure. In preparation for the ten NM sail, managed to find hidies for under-dinette jetsam, but additional organizational skills (such as they are) will ultimately be required. Expect to get all pending improvements to boat, including leak stoppage, completed in next several weeks before departure toward Whangerei... or not.

In the race to Tapana Island, site of tonight's Full Moon Party, would like to announce, with great pride, that Anthem did not finish last. Yeeesssss! It was a pyrrhic victory for all those speed sleds, miniature cruisers, rowboats, inner tubes and jellyfish that beat us, because we had way more fun, avoiding the debilitating stress of competition. Crew were two young Aussie women on extended vacation (experienced one on the helm and first-timer as decorative ballast). After the party am expecting a menage a un as girls will be cabbing back to Neiafu. OK Cal, your immediate thought was naughty, wasn't it? Don't lie to me!

Arrived at festivities locale around 1400 to anchor in 90 feet and dash out a few words. Do not expect further additions to this codswallop (love the English), after returning home at some highly irregular hour yet to be determined. Have every expectation that this event, like Agincourt, will cause those to curse their fortune who were not here this night, at least the survivors... bloody, but unbowed.

Jack

Mooning the Anchorage
09/24/2010, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

Usable Dinette

September 24

Neglected to mention huge leak, not located, that inundated saloon during sail from Niuatoputapu with at least two gallons of ocean. Suspect companionway hatch cover as only venue able to introduce that much water, but further research will be necessary. Water pooled beneath dinette, site of considerable storage, so new locations will henceforth be necessary to keep area open for observation. No clue where this might be, but having usable table again rather than decoration since third week of March will be a pleasing change.

As may not have escaped notice, last night was a major hoot, this morning somewhat less so. This is another of those activities in which one must occasionally engage as a reminder to never, ever do it again. Have now reached peak training condition for tomorrow night's Full Moon Party, so today will remain a contemplative day of rest. I'm tanned, rested and ready. Anyway it's children's day at the Regatta and psyche is not a kid friendly environment.

Due to massively negligible demand for this knowledge, far side of the world is now Niger.

Jack

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.

Jack

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