10/12/2008, Neiafu (Tonga)
After an afternoon of dinghy sailing in anchorage #8 (Nuku island), we decided to do a "peanut" crossing, we mean a serious crossing of 6 miles from anchorage #8 to Neiafu in a Davisson sailing dinghy of Orca III that we renamed "peanut". Peanut can only hold three of us comfortably so Jocelyn, Maya and Alec skippered the first leg of the trip and got "the easy downwind part" say Kyle, Emilie and Jenny who had to tack multiple times into the entrance of the harbor.
It was a real crossing with a major brake, luckily at the end of the voyage, the aluminum mast broke, nearly hitting Emilie ....but all in all it was so much fun! It took us 2 hours and we almost kept up with the big boats (Malachi, Orca III, and even speedy O'Vive) who were following along. We had up to 20 knots and went almost 4.5 knots at one point. The coordinate of the transfer point was 18' 40 355S (we are in the southern hemisphere); 174 02 003W (West).
Kyle says: "It took Orca III for ever to pass us, I felt very proud!"
Alec says: "It was intense at time, when it gusted to 25 knots!"
Emilie says: "It was so much fun to sail on our own!"
Maya says: "We were spreading like peanut butter with a peanut!"
Jocelyn says: "It was fun and faster than I thought it would be!"
Jenny says: "We were so excited to pack our lunch that we ate it as soon as we got in the dinghy, good so it didn't get wet!"
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Swimming with the whales, snorkeling, exploring caves, we have fun in Neiafu but the weather can be sometimes a little rainy!
09/15/2008, Vava'u islands (Tonga)
We are delighted to have reached the west milestone of our trip in Tonga, it was a short and almost easy trip (beside the incident with the spinnaker). 90% of every boat we ever met along our Pacific crossing seems to be in Neiafu!!!! 1% stayed in French Polynesia and the other 9% left already for Fidji (like our friends from Silver Curl that we never catch up with since the Marquesas!), but it is a huge reunion place and it is nice to see all those familiar faces around town and yesterday at the bounty bar where Steve (from Orca III) and Glenn (from the Dorothy Mary) played some great music (the best they had yet performed, it was really nice). The kids met again and are awaiting patiently for Malachi, our other friends in the south islands of Tonga who should meet us in a week or so. The weather is a little rainy so we spent a lot of time around cappuccinos sharing our adventures.
Nous sommes tres heureux d'avoir atteints notre destination le plus a l'ouest de notre voyage, ce dernier passage a ete rapide et facile (a part l'incident du spi). 90% des bateaux que nous avons rencontre le long de notre traverse du Pacifique semble etre a Niafu!!! 1% sont restes en Polynesie Francaise, 9% ont déjà quitte Tonga pour Fidji (comme nos amis de Silver Curl avec que nous avons toujours espere rattraper, mais ils vont jusqu'en Australie cette saison , donc voyagent vite!). C'est donc a chaque coin de rue de Neiafu que nous voyons des visages familiers, ainsi qu'au Bounty Bar hier au soir ou Steve (Orca III) et Glenn (Dorothy Mary) ont joue a notre plus grand plaisir (harmonica et saxo).Les enfants sont tous reunis, il ne manque que Malachi, qui sont un peu plus au sud et devrait nous rejoindre dans une semaine au plus.
09/12/2008, Marla Island, Vava'u Group, Tonga
We left Niue at 6am on Thursday the 11th for the 245 mile run to Tonga. We arrived the next day at 2pm for a passage time of 32 hours but lost Friday the 12th completely as it is Saturday the 13th here in Tonga on the other side of the international date line. Very hard to wrap my mind around the concept. A nice passage with lots of wind at first and down to 10 knots at the end. Had too much excitement at first though, two hours out of Niue we wrapped the spinnaker around the head stay so bad I had to go up the mast in the boson's chair to unwrap it. While up the mast getting bruised all over we caught a 16 pound Mahi-mahi just to add more stress to the morning. Anyway after two hours we had the sail back down on deck in one piece and shortly there after had the whisker pole track fixed and we were wing and wing again. Another catamaran that left Niue at the same time as us blew their spinnaker out and then ran over it, so our outcome was better with fish to boot! Its nice to be fast, they and all the other boats that left Niue Thursday (six boats besides ourselves) will not arrive here until tomorrow. so will be at sea for two nights instead of one. Not that we can do much until Monday when we check in to the country. We have been spoiled in places like the Cook islands and Niue for instance where the Customs guy told us to come to the dock at 2pm but he was early and caught us coming back to the dock from the land where we had already been touring the island with friends. It was no problem at all. This is the same Island where one of the other boats had asked the policeman (out of uniform) where he could buy some pot which the whole island knew about within hours and was an ongoing joke with the locals during our stay there. Not in Tonga, here we will stay on our boat until Monday and play by the rules. We would have loved to stay in Niue for another week but the anchorage there is exposed to the open ocean and a low pressure system will move though next week making it impossible to stay there.
09/10/2008, Alofi (niue)
We Love Niue! There are between 1000 to 1500 people left in Niue, most of the 6000 inhabitants left little by little for New Zealand and when cyclone Heta hit in 2004, the population really dropped, leaving a good 50% of the houses abandoned. But the small town of Alofi is very hospitable and one of a kind! Beginning by an original way of lifting your dinghy (lifted on the wharf by a crane that you operate yourself at the great joy of Alec and David, all men get a kick out on this one), Alofi does not seem like much at first but you just get into it and find yourself busy every day (market, weaving class, pool table, the cutest little yacht club, site seeing or just hanging out with cruisers or the locals that are absolutely a joy!). Yesterday we went on a full day trip with 4 other boats; we left early, all 14 of us packed with our picnic in the van, what a wonderful day we had! We first stopped at the Tahava / Matapa site and hiked for about 20 minutes before reaching some amazing caves near the seashore where this gigantic arch (Tahava Arch) open on breaking ocean waves, inside, a small transparent pool is so pretty that you can't not just jump in it. We also explored the other pass that led to Matapa Chasm, a nice snorkeling and swimming spot. The afternoon was spent to visit another site on the south east side of the island, called Togo Chasm: another 20-30 minute hike in the forest took us to a very strange and hypnotic lunar landscape of coral spikes. The wind on the east coast was ferocious and the waves crashing on the rocks where we were standing were mesmerizing, we stayed a long time just watching the power of nature. We finished the day at Falala...la restaurant where the food was delicious and to top it all we were served by Miss Niue! Emilie and Alec are so happy to find kids again, the days go by very fast.... Tomorrow we are going to a weaving class....
Niue est super! L'ile a entre 1000 et 1500 habitants, la plupart des 6000 habitants present il y a quelques annees ont quitte l'ile petit a petit pour la Nouvelle Zelande et depuis le cyclone Heta en 2004, 50% des maisons sont maintenant abandonees. Mais le petit village de Alofi est acueillant et tres original! En commencant par la levee de l'annexe a la grue (au plus grand plaisir des petits et grands garcons qui s'amusent follement a opere la grue plusieurs fois par jour), les journees passent tres vite entre le marche, les cours de vannerie (ou plutot palm tree weaving), le petit yacht club, deux restaurants, et surtout le contact avec les autres bateaux et les locaux qui sont tres sympas et toujours pres a discuter. Hier nous sommes partis faire un tour de l'ile avec 4 autres bateaux. Un depart tres tot, 14 personnes plus le picnic, masques,tubas, serviettes, le van etait a maximum capacite, quelle rigoalde!Premier stop au site Tahava / Matapa ou une marche d'environ 20 minutes nous a menee a des caves fantastiques en bord de mer ou une arche ouverte sur l'ocean completait le spectacle. De belles petites piscines naturelles d'eau sale nous invitaient a nager, l'eau est tellement transparente les fonds colores sont tres attractifs! Nous avons aussi explore le second chemin qui nous a mene a Matapa, un endroit a ne pas manquer , nage entre les rochers et de jolis poissons tropicaux. Le site de Togo au sud est de l'ile est aussi a ne pas manquer: Apres une marche dans la foret de 30 minutes , l'arrivee dans un paysage lunaire de piques coralliens est hypnotique! Nous avons fini la journee au restaurant Falala...la ou un delicieux repas nous a ete servi par Miss Niue elle-meme! Demain le marche a 7h et la classe de vannerie....