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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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