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Anthem Adrift
Cool Rock
11/01/2010, En Route Opua Day 2

November 1

Dude! It was cold last night. Wearing shoes, blue jeans, T-shirt and windbreaker with side curtains enclosing cockpit, toasties couldn't be maintained. Have broken out long shirt, long underwear, wool sweater and socks for potential utilization as passage south progresses. Current latitude is 23 with Bay of Islands at 35. Previously checked lows in Whangerei have been 20 F (11 C) cooler than here. Well Toto we're not in the tropics anymore.

Rip roaring passage through increasingly boisterous conditions continues as GRIB (Grievously Reprehensible, Inconsistent Bilgewater) forecasting lighter wind then further easing maintains consistent accuracy. No complaint, however, as average speed first 24 hours was 6.5 for 156 NM.

As surmised, leakage into cabin perseveres, but at dramatically reduced rate. Source confirming amelioration adds toil intensive item to planned and ever- expanding New Zealand repairs. Said list to languish until end of rally festivities on the 20th and obligatory subsequent convalescence.

Jack

Twin Bypass
10/31/2010, En Route Opua Day 1

October 31

Underway toward Opua in beam wind and sea with only 974 NM to go. Almost there. At current rate arrival could be Sunday morning. Not gonna happen. Tradewind conditions are forecast for three or four days then it's a crap shoot as low pressure coming east from Tasman Sea could provide south wind for a day or two. Big ocean swell is nice change after choppier Tongan water.

After heads up from Freezing Rain ref. a reef, checked forward on chart plotter to discover course went directly over it (the term 'over' in this case is highly misleading). Yowzers! Middle of nowhere. Three to eight thousand feet deep all around. Though currently out of range on smallest detail zoom, presumably would have seen it on closer approach, but Marie gets a free drink next available watering hole. Something like that could ruin an otherwise perfectly acceptable evening. Course altered appropriately.

Buddies on Inspiration Lady who made Kiwiland on 28th are bedazzled after two years away by first-world civilization. Lest you have forgotten, Gary's the guy sailing around the world who doesn't like fish or salt water and hurls when the boat rocks. Give him KFC and Clamato juice (to mix with beer... it's a Canadian thing) and he's a happy camper. Have requested more critical information in next email like best bars and location of highest coronary-artery-clogging ice cream.

Jack

Catting the Anchor
10/30/2010, Nuku Alofa, Tongatapu Group, Tonga

October 30

It was stated by female crew of Freezing Rain that otherwise gendered captain was multitasking. This activity as everyone knows is the sole domain of women and not built into male functionality. After being reminded of foregoing reality, said crew explained that Don was drinking beer and doing something else. Ah! An exception that proves the rule. Note with asterisk added to Book of Immutable Laws of Nature.

Multifarious tasks were accomplished today making ready for tomorrow's anticipated egress. Waterline no longer has green tendril forests swaying with 20 knot wind chop and prop, which had accumulated a layer of crust, is now smooth as a babies tush. Why, he queries, does copper, active ingredient in most anti- fouling paint, work (somewhat, sometimes) when bronze props so easily foul? It's a quandary.

Bid farewell to cruising friends and staff at Big Mama's during barbecue tonight before returning home for good night's sleep. Anthem will be at large by 0900 or so after captain abuses airwaves as Penguin Net control starting at 0730. Roll call of boats underway has been shorter with fresh breeze, high seas and squalls, but should escalate by Monday morning with several departures, most to Opua, Sunday. 1100 NM trip with good wind takes as little as 6 days for fast boats. If this crew expects quicker than 9 they're dreaming. Mutiny watch will be maintained after day 5. The cat will not be spared.

Jack

Festivities and Flattened Fauna
10/29/2010, Nuku Alofa, Tongatapu Group, Tonga

October 29

Shuttled to town for produce and groceries. Eggs are sold by the piece or in open pallets of three or four dozen, so containers will be taken in tomorrow. Also expect to procure lime and tonic. Tongans, it was revealed, do not eat olives so martinis will not be dirty and salads will be less exciting. Capers are completely beyond the pale.

Stanchion bases are surrounded and engulfed in messy adhesive sealer making all involved feel better. As with free range chicken, holistic medicine and do- gooders in general, feeling good is what counts. Likelihood of actually sealing leaks however, though not zero, is miniscule. Interior is screwed back together, cushions are cleaned (loose chunks) and heavy objects (except for the 170 pound appendaged one) have been secured. Latest forecast shows, to no one's surprise, winds too strong, too light and then on the bow.

Rally send-off and Big Mama's 8th anniversary party was the best. Mama had a ten piece band (including trumpet and trombone) playing tunes from 1940s to present - no hiphop. They were all Tongan and nearly as good as the originals. Huge crowds of sailors and locals had a grand time.

Cabin hasn't been this clean (and with cool breeze whipping through anchorage at 20 and better, also dry) in a coon's age, although, based on observed flattened evidence, a racoon's lifespan is appreciably shorter than the expression purports to mean.

Jack

Beckoning Baby Bear Breeze
10/28/2010, Nuku Alofa, Tongatapu Group, Tonga

October 28

Today was an unusually fruitful day (no fruit of any kind were harmed during this process). Don't know what went wrong. Was drifting along in pleasant complacency when suddenly it was 1730 and productive activity had transpired. Took 0800 water taxi to clear into Nuku Alofa, clear out of Tonga, acquire duty free fuel fuel form (in duplicate, stamped, after hour wait for customs agent to materialize) and shop for groceries. Returned to take Anthem into downtown harbor for fuel, motor back to anchor same spot, change engine oil and hang paper towel holder. Even celebratory evening sojourn at Big Mama's for libation, socializing and teriyaki chicken burger ended with pickup of laundry. It was a beautiful character building experience. Hate it when that happens. After a lifetime of striving for improvement, have decided it's more fun going the other way.

Bar/restaurant owned by Big Mama (she is) which is called.. well, you know.. off which a great melange of old and new cruising friends has congregated awaiting jump-off for New Zealand is on Pangaimotu Island one NM northeast of town. This is a wonderful location and great cruiser bar with sand floor, darts, billiards, table tennis and multiple services including aforementioned shuttle. Friendly people, good food, cold beer. Enhanced by today's clear sky, this last view of Tonga doesn't suck, a lot.

Despite above and barring some odd circumstance such as weather forecast not being accurate... ummm... anyway, plan and hope to commence next passage shortly. Calendarized agendaration as follows: Friday (tomorrow)- final shopping, final boat prep and big Rally party; Saturday - recovery; Sun - weigh anchor (expect something rather close to previously determined 45 pounds plus chain); Monday - lament hasty departure due too much wind... or too little.

Jack

The Fun Part
10/27/2010, Nuku Alofa, Tongatapu Group, Tonga

October 27

Drear has infected enthusiasm for this tripe, so limited abuse will be forthcoming.

Rained all day. Everything is soggy including formerly operative iPod Touch. After taking laundry to Big Mama's (by the way, found unopened pack of skivvies so drastic act of bucket washing was avoided by a day) and having breakfast, spent considerable time disassembling interior to get at back of a stanchion base, the easy one. It was dry. The two suckers that seem to be leaking the worst however are not going to happen. Have decided that whenever rain stops, if it does, to clean and slap sealer on outside for passage to New Zealand where major surgery may be necessary.

Plan 0800 shuttle tomorrow into Nuku Alofa for clearing in and out, scheduling duty free fuel for afternoon or early Friday then returning to boat for continued departure preparation.

Thus ends the scintillating excitement for today, toodles.

Jack

Preparationlessness Proceeds
10/26/2010, Nuku Alofa, Tongatapu Group, Tonga

October 26

Feeling pleasantly ebullient (unpleasant ebullience could prove rather difficult) after terrific sail into Tongatapu. Forecast was surprisingly correct until about noon (even a stopped clock...), then reefs blocked worst of sea as wind rebuilt. Full foremast sails and triple-reefed main kept boat at 6 to 7 knots most of day.

Currently anchored off Big Mama's whose happy hour today will suffer as entire crew have (probably should use 'has' as there's only one crew and at that only one individual, but this is how the English would say it and by the way, does the US Army still have that "Army of One" campaign which was pretty silly on it's face just like this crew nonsense? But I digress and all of us have forgotten how this sentence started, so let's go back to the beginning and skip the pointless babble in parentheses) been invited aboard Callisto for what will be first consumption of intoxicants in two days. To answer your obvious question, no one has started early.

Expect to shuttle across harbor in the morning to clear in and out with customs, immigration and port control then find laundry. Additionally, list of passage preparation boat projects is excessively long and will not be completed. Triage (which in this case requires quantities of adult beverage and friends with whom to commiserate) will be utilized to decide which work will not be accomplished first.

Jack

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

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