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Anthem Adrift
Too Much And Not Enough
10/09/2010, Port Muerelle, Vava'u Group, Tonga

October 9

Had to work at it, but slept until 0830 for a little catch-up. Mo' bettah. Also managed to do virtually nothing thereafter, so yesterday's expectations have been met. I love it when a plan comes together.

Moved this afternoon back to Port Muerelle near Barnacle Beach, site of a Tongan feast tonight. Because prospect of overindulgence in midst of over two weeks of it approached certainty, had avoided these things, but then decided that an opportunity in one day to commit both sloth and gluttony, two excellent deadly sins, was too good to pass up.

Gave thought to continuing south from here, but need eggs, produce and bread, so expect one more swing by the big town to stock up and bid a fond farewell to several favorite bars. It would have been rude to sneak out. Besides, still air is still forecast for still more days. Since tomorrow is Sunday and little happens, have even contemplated a soupcon of boat work. This possibility has engendered cold, clammy sweats, but have survived worse. Cruising on a sailboat is not pretty.

Jack

Efficacy Entropy
10/08/2010, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

October 8

Clearing out to Ha'apai with customs and immigration, plus extending visa and purchasing forty two liters of petrol for 107 TOP (something north of sixty US dollars) was sum of useful activity for entire day. Previously decried socializing brings fecklessness as its handmaiden. To get a grip on this ill- favored behavior, will attempt to avoid extended conversation with friends and acquaintances by remaining, for much of tomorrow, supine in V-berth unless overcome with urgent desire to fix something. Likelihood of any such impulse seems, at the moment, rather trifling.

Since productivity has been trending downward all day, any further efforts here would be unseemly, inappropriate and wrong. Tah.

Jack

Healthy Hostility
10/07/2010, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

October 7

Plan was to hit the resort early for breakfast and free internet, then run four NM into Neiafu followed by boatwork and a quick nip into town for the odd errand. Yeah, right! Met a single-hander from Washington (state, not the festering cesspool of political saviors) and didn't get underway until noon. Beat most of distance to town on yankee and stays'l in a couple of hours, then hunkered down in heavy rain until late afternoon after which socializing at local hangouts blew the balance of usable day and early evening.

This fraternizing with interesting people thing has gotten out of hand. Oh sure, it's harmless at first. You have fun and begin to do more. Soon it's happening all the time. You can stop anytime, you say, but don't. You catch yourself being friendly to complete strangers, carrying on conversations for hours. Boat work suffers (your reason for existence). You find yourself smiling for no reason at all. It's against nature, but you finally realize you're powerless, lost and it's too late. Don't get started. Be grumpy and irritable, don't make eye contact, expunge "please" and "thank you" from your vocabulary. Frown at every opportunity (It requires more muscles than smiling, so stay in shape). For heaven's sake, save yourselves. You have been warned.

Jack

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

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

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

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