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Anthem Adrift
Averting Hostilities
10/06/2010, Mala Island, Vava'u Group, Tonga

October 6

After departing Hunga anchorage early to negotiate narrow, shallow pass at higher tide, proceeded 200 meters off west side of island with two humpback whales playing inshore. Too cool. Made photos, but low sun spoiled result. Day- stopped at Avalau Island for tea with Jacksters (they're English, you know), then eventually, in negligible wind, motored back to Mala Island due boat motion in open rodestead and desire to proceed toward Neiafu, tomorrow's probable destination.

As may have escaped attention, you not being mind-readers, oil pressure warning horn ceased function yesterday and alternator followed this morning. Fearing spread of rebellion, subsequently heightened vigilance of other systems. Considered, if necessary, bringing in maintenance "enforcers" or ultimately threatening the "nuclear option" of replacing mutinous parts with new. Fortunately, the imperative for drastic measures has eased. Removal this afternoon of 100 amp Balmar, which, by the way allowed easier access to oil pressure sending unit, thus revealing the ugly underbelly of serendipity, enabled flow of amps, but other solution must await further investigation, beginning with horn at back of crammed lazerette.

"A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works." - John Gaule


Shrifting to Shift South Shortly
10/04/2010, Hunga Island, Vava'u Group, Tonga

October 5

Already time to start checking passage weather. Can't believe departure is looming. Just got here, right? May want to come back next season. Vava'u is suggestive of a more verdant BVI - protected sailing, numerous beautiful anchorages and much of interest underwater and ashore, plus the people are friendlier. Would even choose here for chartering over Raiatea/Tahiti in the Societies. Ha'apai group, a long day or short night south, is reported similar with fewer people and great snorkeling/diving. So many places, so little time.

Have gotten on a movie kick, so this dross has been getting short shrift last few days. May devote medium shrift as availability of or interest in other diversions ebbs. First time viewing of "Chocolat" was great on jumboish 15 inch flat screen, which has languished since U.S. (and, by the way, just learned difference between 'that' and 'which', delineating essential or non-essential information, respectively - cool! Mrs. McCaskel would be so proud - after application of smelling salts).

Out here on the western edge of Vava'u at Hunga Island, Ika Lahi Fishing Lodge restaurant is maxed out for dinner, so have been reduced to raiding onboard larder. Given high tolerance for marginal culinary results this is not a bad thing as freezer is full of meat prohibited from New Zealand. Used occasion to disassemble for cleaning Force-10 grill, which would barely stay lit. Pan fried pork cutlet was delicious after non-optimum conclusion of foregoing effort.


Treading Lightly
10/04/2010, Vaka'eitu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

October 4

With all intention to advance early upon the greater world, found an inertia of diversion to delay any such activity until noon. Discovered, then, that no one wanted to come out for play until after lunch so found additional occupation until 1400 when David & Jacqui of Jackster picked me up to go ashore.

Clad in ultimate tree climbing footwear, sandals, Dave and I scampered (scampered I say!) to the peak of the great banyan's canopy where camera battery was discovered low. As scampering is limited by contract to once a day, spare battery on boat was useless. Perhaps tomorrow.

Again utilizing ideal foot stabilization devices, climbed over island ridge to beautiful beach on opposite side after visiting with Bob, a Tasmanian wood carver, who lives here in his solitary hut half the year. The most recent piece seemed to be a quite good, foot high caricature of himself.

Two bits of interest (or not): 1) As in medieval times no one has a surname while cruising, e.g. Robin of Loxley, Stuart of Imagine, Jack of Anthem. Only royalty such as the Plantagenets had such designations even though, as happens, Inspiration Lady's last names are King, which might cause confusion if it were known, but it isn't. And 2) Sandals are perfect for all local activities because lace-up shoes quickly become horticulture experiments and toes can eventually go missing.


Quiet, Too Quiet
10/03/2010, Vaka'eitu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

Coral Garden

October 3

Weather guesser finally scored with bad news. Abetted by surrounding island, wind has eased to make new anchorage virtually calm. This is not a good thing as wind generator gets lazy, fans get work and numerous boats meander about over 60 foot bottom.

Returned movie-dense hard drive to Inspiration Lady (first met in Turks and Caicos early last year) and bid them farewell until somewhere, sometime in New Zealand. Now have a plethora of movies to accompany superfluity of electronic books for entertainment into twenty second century. Any panic yet for Y3K bug?

Friend and I took his kayak through reef generated surf to snorkel in a big surge between islands. Mostly small fish, but observed big, colorful, healthy coral and a really cool octopus. Going was wet, coming back a sleigh ride.

Showing of classic "Captain Ron" was organized for tonight on 50 foot cat with big flat screen and surround sound (explain again why catamarans are not real sailboats?), but Ron rookies couldn't make it so Ronathon has been rescheduled.

Tomorrow's program, besides screwing off, will include climbing big honkin' banyan tree just off adjacent beach. Splints, tape and slings, held in abeyance.


No Show Time
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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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See profile for information on why this mess is being foisted upon an innocent world and, despite what is probably your better judgement, how to make contact.
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