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Anthem Adrift
Chewing Then Eschewing
10/18/2010, Uoleva, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 18

Finally. Awoke to bright blue sky, no rain. Now if just a touch of wind could ripple the water with some consistency, life would be perfect. Dinked nearly a mile into the village to get official crap painless taken care of, followed by Mariner's for breakfast, surprisingly fast internet then lunch. Not to say Pangai isn't the greatest thing since the founding of Rome, but cafe, owned by European former cruisers, is apparently the only place in town. Also no laundry so... hand washing or turning inside out? Either way, looks like skivvy situation will get ugly within four days.

Fighting the sybaritic pleasures of metropolis, motored 6 NM south to Uoleva Island to where several others had also broken free. Spent balance of afternoon ignoring this blog and vegging with "Second Hand Lions". A touch schmaltzy, but compared to "Departed", unnecessary to hide razor blades or locate Prozac.

Tomorrow, after a little (heavy on the little) boat work and some exploration, expect to move (notice that at no time was the word 'sail' used) farther south to Langahu. Highly recommended as it is well protected and has papaya and really large fruit bats, AKA flying foxes. Not to the scale of flying monkeys that carried off Dorothy, but impressive nevertheless and way friendlier.

Jack

Absolutely Positively
10/17/2010, Lifuka, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 17

Today took the normal recent course, being squally in the morning with clearing by afternoon. Subsequent to post-shower calm there is now even adequate breeze to pack an amp or two into storage apparatus carried aboard for exactly that purpose.

Repositioned just north of Pangai to patronize Mariner's Cafe (breakfast related dishwashing avoidance tactic) before official check-in to Ha'apai and, with sufficient male bovine excreta, concurrent check-out to Tongatapu with several stops en route. Success of predecessors in second coincident endeavor has, apparently, been contingent upon depth of aforementioned effluvia.

Numerous anchorages south are worthy of investigation and, given conflicting desires to explore each one and to arrive Nuku Alofa before All Points Rally send-off party at Big Mama's on Saturday the 30th, sluggardliness will be disapproved for foreseeable future. Weighing for Minerva Reef and Opua will transpire at first weather window following festivities, to occur absolutely by November 5th... or possibly later.

Jack

Drifting Conjecture
10/15/2010, Foa, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 16

Fulfilled minimum boatwork mandate this morning by cleaning topside rust streaks from below scuppers and chain locker drains before watching the end of "Premonition". When did Sandra Bullock start making downer movies? OK, next time it's "Sleepless in Seattle" or (the classic) "Captain Ron"! Have also formed a committee to study feasibility of avoiding both activities by sleeping until noon.

Afternoon snorkel proved better than expected. Four of us, towing a couple of dinghies, did three drifts in a surprisingly swift incoming tide over bommies (large, tall, coral outcroppings separated by sand canyons) between Foa and Nukunamo in a pass that is, lacking only large creatures, nearly as good as south channel into Fakarava.

After dinner of green curry and leftover red beans and rice (either a fascinating new Thai/Cajun fusion or poor planning - you choose) some of usual suspects will paddle over for swill of choice, peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets and ongoing effort to prove the 'dragons at the edge of the world' theory. Seeming so obvious after a few sody pops, logic frustratingly slips away overnight.

Jack

A Spear of Light
10/15/2010, Foa, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 15

Offer yesterday from Tim of Kamaya to go snorkeling for lobster at twilight reminded me that last shark death on Florida west coast was on the bay just north of mine (for the record, as there is no exclusivity, it is not, strictly speaking, mine) around sunset. Enthusiasm for swimming and snorkeling in minimum light has since been somewhat muted and yet, lobsters are awfully tasty. Maybe one of these nights.

Chickens. They're everywhere, but in Tonga pigs outnumber them. Have never seen so many hogs, hogettes and hoglets. They mostly forage for themselves, so, to the degree possible, are rather svelte. Also extremely skittish. Doubt they're feral, so postulate a premonition relative to lifespan or perhaps it was something I said.

With wind shift Ha'ano became somewhat rolly, so sailed short distance south to more protected anchorage off Foa (this is not Southern for the number following three). Also, as implied might be possible, repaired faulty navigation light ground which, when rechecked after dark, failed to operate. Bugger! Jiggling wire at fixture proved constructive, so additional effort in that area will be forthcoming.

Fresh tuna dinner aboard Jackster furnished a reminder to swap out cheesy home- made lure for something that might actually catch something. Meantime may unlimber Hawaiian sling to, if chancing to come upon a particularly slow and stupid one, spear a parrotfish.

Jack

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

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