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Anthem Adrift
Sense and Sensibility
10/13/2010, Ha'ano, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 14

Rued not snorkeling yesterday with good sun. This morning was cast over with rain, no wind and increased roll. Early weather was again motivating a languid day. Can't take too much of this. Deadly sloth, while delightfully decadent, is far less fun without the occasional counterpoint.

Sky did clear enough to beguile Jacksters and I into a dive that would have been pretty decent except for emergent swell encouraging sediment out of its tranquility, reducing visibility. Bugger. Saved most of air tank for better opportunity.

Having shared the boat with numerous flies for over a day, decided mid-afternoon to abuse their friendship no longer. Had considered walking the island, but again didn't want to put them out. Proceeded by motor-sail to Ha'ano anchorage - no flies, less roll and additional opportunity for goofing off. Tomorrow, however, attack on inoperative navigation lights will commence... probably.

Have recently watched both "The Four Feathers" and "The English Patient". Can't get a grip on either protagonist. Anybody have an insight for me? Although, "epic" personalities are usually convoluted, in this case their motivations often didn't make sense. Suspect both characters are too complicated for admittedly limited social skills, but still... Never could figure out Scarlet O'Hara either, but as a woman, she would be a complete cipher anyway. Next movie will be something completely sensible, either a "chick flick" or Monty Python.

Jack

Under a Rest
10/13/2010, Ofolanga, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 13

After motoring much of the night at an easy pace so as not to arrive before good light, breeze finally veered and swelled to a magnificent 8 knots that, using all plain sail, swept boat the remaining distance to Ofolanga Island at a majestic 4 knots. Arrived to anchor beside Dreamtime, the only other occupant, at 0930 experiencing a gentle motion perfect to induce the subsequent nap. Welcoming flies, which are only slightly annoying and seem put off by the yellow candle thingies, later had four additional boats to visit as cruising flock continues movement south.

Dave & Jacqui, having caught a bull mahi mahi, invited entire crew for ceviche. Being scurvy dogs not worthy of a fine repast they, however, were left aboard to eat worm infested hard tack, orlop rats and grog while, as befits his exalted station, captain repaired across to Jackster bearing snacks, wine and salad.

Tomorrow promises a dive on "Lord of the Rings" type underwater landscape and exploration of island. Also, repair of corroded wire connection on navigation lights seems to have gone wanting, so additional attention beyond salty expletives must shortly ensue. This will, of course, require an exertion of effort significantly greater than today, which was spent, as have several recently, in indolence and luxurious repose.

Jack

Changes in Lassitudes
10/12/2010, En Route Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 12

Using impending departure as excuse, maintained miniscule personal carbon footprint during most of day although two projects demanded attention. With possibility of diesel auxiliary usage due windlessness, oil pressure warning piezo buzzer was examined and found, along with used spare, to be unresponsive. Stuart of Imagine had a miniature siren for temporary replacement that now causes querulous looks with each engine start. Also, head anti-siphon loop was breaking wind, as it were, investing cabin with extra-pleasant bouquet during operation.

After early, late, mid-afternoon nap, proceeded from anchorage, which was being infiltrated by future southbounders, in barely enough wind to keep pointy end properly oriented. After two hours at a knot and a half then an exhilarating twenty knot squall, wind ceased altogether occasioning a certain listlessness in directional stability. Resulting ear-splitting wail preceded current disagreeable rumbling noise from bowels of bilge inducing in the craft, with minimum revolutions, a more useful direction, not even to mention speed.

Jack

Gone With the Wind
10/11/2010, Avalau, Vava'u Group, Tonga

October 11

Proceeded ashore early to steal a march on user horde descending upon Aquarium Cafe for free internet. Horde, having same idea, was not fooled. Patience and persistence finally allowed a trickle of data to squeeze through. Then, after a low pass by fresh market, returned home to semi-organize the accumulated disarray for departure.

Vava'u has been a huge blast. Had not anticipated a return, but will reflect on it over austral summer before return north from New Zealand. Would also like to visit Suwarrow atoll, so this would be en route. As planning that far ahead is akin to landing a man on Rigel Kentaurus, will merely store idea in bank of possibilities.

Reference sail to Ha'apai, only day with forecast wind this week is Wednesday so thunderstorms are predicted when? You're too quick. Staged south this afternoon preceding decision whether to leave in the morning, afternoon or following day. Have fuel to make Ha'apai and then Nuku Alofa, but since it has been posited that Anthem is a sailboat (credibility high as this notion has been corroborated on several occasions over the previous two years) thought a hint of breeze might be apropos. Also, as Mickey's little hand has displayed unseemly enthusiasm, crew speculates that O-dark manana has been relieved of its tenability.

Jack

Plowing a Rut
10/10/2010, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Tonga

October 10

Tongan feast was good, not great, where two thirds of attendees were Sunsail charterers from Colorado, sailing capitol of the front range and inter-mountain west. Food was agreeable and dancing girls (children) were pleasant, but once was more than adequate.

After returning to anchorage, meandered over to a huge party barge of two rafted cats and a monohull celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving. Chris of Stray Kitty, center boat and epicenter of merriment, was dispensing a tasty single malt scotch that it would have been discourteous to refuse... several times.

As gaiety was winding down, microburst from a thunderstorm blowing up overhead emboldened apparently poorly tied dinghy to loose its painter for a quickly thwarted escape attempt. It's comportment remained uneffected by my verbal reprimand and expressions of disappointment. While quite useful and resilient, Caribes are incorrigibly simpleminded and require constant supervision.

Other than return to Neiafu, Sunday has been a day of pervasive, unremitting, dissipating, sybaritic rest.

Jack

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

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