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Anthem Adrift
Disregarding Limits
10/23/2010, Nomuka Iki, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 23

Planning ahead (a noteworthy departure from normal wont) for expected late running dinner engagement, have decided to effuse a smattering of dross early to circumvent tardiness of previous two days. Improved quality should not be expected consequent to this Herculean effort.

Vexing salt water leak on deep port tack remains unabated by ameliorative exertions as starboard locker protecting backup battery charger didn't. All at sea as to possible source.

- Later

Rapt attention to reorganization and inventory of lockers permitted time for dinner to slip up, so this is post-festivity addition. As disregard for personal capability or safety and security of numerous underway boat's has allowed my debut as controller of Penguin net tomorrow morning at 0730, some level of sobriety and rest requires quickly completing this particular abuse of gullible segments of the population (you) to prepare for tomorrow morning's similar abuse of others. Since first condition has, unfortunately, been exceeded, sleep should ensue expeditiously.

Good night,

Jack

Raw Conditions
10/22/2010, Nomuka Iki, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 23 AM

Awoke yesterday to discover wind, lots of it... well, it seemed like a bunch after so little for so long. Reaved larger third reef line after splicing and whipping an eye before heading out toward Nomuka Iki. Hard on 15 to 20 knot breeze after weeks of not much, it was just like real sailing. Wind eased to 12 near destination, so shook out reefs to discover new line too short. Crew apparently neglected to double distance from boom to leech when measuring for purchase. Flogging is too lenient.

Jackster, sailing down from Ha'afeva, caught 2 dorado, a big-eye tuna and a mackerel. Went over to kibitz help with cleaning and stayed late eating ceviche, sashimi and tataki. Also ravaged their gin, tonic and lime supply. May donate a bottle of Tanqueray to forestall panic attendant to running out. Borrowed fleece jacket as south southeast wind brought temperatures of 24 C (76 F) threatening hypothermia.

Forecast backing wind may create good angle for passage to Nuku Alofa Tuesday. May remain here (60 NM) due anchorage at Kelefesia (45 NM), planned stage location for jump, being untenable with south component. May accomplish sundry boat projects while pinned down. May also convert to Buddhism, become fluent in Spanish and Kiwi or complete work on the unified field theory. Hey! Stifle that smirk. Hope you're appropriately embarrassed when when not invited to my prize ceremony in Stockholm.

Jack

Belated Bullflop
10/21/2010, O'ua, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 22 AM

Went ashore for lunch with locals (coconut water, lobster, fish, bread fruit and .. hot dogs?), then immediately upon return to boat weighed anchor and headed to next island.

As often stated and meant sincerely, love each and every one of you like a brother or a sister, but immediately after arrival at O'ua south anchorage received invite for dinner at Stray Kitty (kid boat). Was plied with devils brew (OK, wine brought from Anthem) and since return to Anthem was late, blew you off. With gang from Nikita (no relation to the Russian guy) the catamaran was overrun with completely ambulatory deck apes up to 10. To great astonishment, incredulity and bewilderment had, at no time, a desire to strangle a single one. Have found that boat juveniles, who predominantly hang around adults, are pretty tolerable and considerably more acceptable than adults who only hang around children.

Jack

Ancillary Activity
10/20/2010, Ha'afeva, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 20

Decided to forego possible drift dive this morning due overcast and rain. Misplaced convergence zone has periodically brought such and scared away trades. By weekend wimpy wind, like cowardly lion, may receive testimonial.

Proceeded early, again with but token help from sails, to Ha'afeva entertaining notion to mount relevant hardware and endow main with third reef. Ignoring the lure of Errol Flynn in "Against All Flags", this was, with surprising alacrity, accomplished. Not sure why, after crossing the Pacific, it should be necessary to get serious about bad weather, but have definitely ruled out, as an influence on decision, near certainty of getting hammered during 1100 NM sail south to New Zealand.

Pursuant to a shaft of light emphasizing lint elephants on cabin sole, have reluctantly resolved, at sometime in the near or medium (but certainly not distant) future, to utilize broom and swiffer for elimination. As ability to ignore dust is a treasured gift, such drastic action is seldom undertaken until absolutely necessary.

Jack

Wanting What You Have
10/19/2010, Uonukuhihifo, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 19

Work had barely begun in good faith effort to accomplish boat work when peer pressure (not just for teenagers anymore) forced me, forced I say, to go diving on nearby reef. Visibility, expected in Ha'apai to be stunning, was only 40 or 50 feet. Oh sure, there was a plethora of fish swimming around and through canyons of coral, but not a single whale, great white or nuclear submarine. Having serious problems with expectation threshold.

Moved again (likely to be a daily event until Nuku Alofa) to Uonukuhihifo (three times fast), bypassing aerial mammals and free fruit at Langahu for lobster, purported to be stumbling over each other to improve life atop the food chain. Contentment triumphs as crustacea are surely full of mercury and green curry potato over rice is a favorite anyway.

It's possible that sails abetted movement of craft in today's short journey. Have no expectation of a recurrence until Friday when GRIB (Generally Ridiculed Insipid Bunk) shows eagerly anticipated return of trade winds which will cause ipso facto an equally earnest desire for lower seas.

"The trick in life isn't getting what you want, my dear, it's wanting it after you get it." - Katherine Hepburn as grandmother Janou in "Love Affair"

Jack

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

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