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Anthem Adrift
Amusing Cruising
10/25/2010, Kelefesia, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 25

Some mention was made yesterday of discretion. Hmmmm. Neglected to bring that thought forward to this morning. Twenty five knot wind and three meter short period sea isn't nearly as much fun close-hauled as you might think. Wonder how long one has to be under water for a submarine rating? Tomorrow is three times distance, but slightly moderated wind and sea (pretty sure that was forecast for today) will be on the beam so ride should be gentle as a butterfly kiss.

Also reasonably sure, after observing significant ingress this morning, seawater is coming from lifeline stanchion bases. That would be good news if backside access were feasible. Hope to keep boat dry on passage by rebedding the things before departing Tongatapu en route to Opua. Also hope that all women from the ages of 21 to 45 will hold hands and sing together in perfect harmony "We Are the World" with mouths full of marbles while diving off 10 foot platforms into barrels of tepid Budweiser wearing olive drab and harvest gold striped thongs. It's not a common wish.

Following engaging sail to here, anchorage is disappointingly more comfortable than at Nomuka Iki. This information was inobvious (real word?) until within two or three hundred yards of dropping the hook as swell crashed on entrance reefs. First anchor set had chain playing connect the dots with coral formations while boat bobbed above a 25 foot bommie over 33 foot bottom and swung toward awash reef (do not ask how!). After snorkeling the anchor free, have now reset in sand patch, finally deciding to eschew further amusement until tomorrow.

Jack

Talk and Talkies
10/24/2010, Nomuka Iki, Ha'apai Group, Tonga

October 24

Performance this morning as net control was a triumph of insipidity.. er, unconscionability.. er, unintelligibility... anyway, hardly anyone was permanently horrified. Due a cornucopia of boats on passage it took 45 minutes, so hope to streamline a bit tomorrow.

With overcast sky, wind in mid-twenties and venturing out in the dinghy a drenching prospect, all nine cruisers in the anchorage plus a local fishing trawler were practicing hunkering skills. Renounced in lieu of a movie marathon, work remained a stranger on Anthem and, it is suspected, others as well although Ed of A Capella claimed to have been productive. Probably just showing off.

If wind direction remains ESE as today or backs further, expect, after the net, to sail 18 NM south to Kelefesia for final stage to Nuku Alofa Tuesday. Crazier things have happened. Weather is expected to remain boisterous for awhile and, anyway, may as well get used to it for Kiwi crossing. Third reef may debut to strut its stuff or discretion may inspire another night in Nomuka.

Jack

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

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