Phil and Seth on Honeymoon during the Vava'u Regatta
The last blog entry pretty much sums it up. The last three weeks have certainly been fast paced. You'd think it would be slowing on island time but not so. There's always something to do or prep for. You intertwine provisioning with exploring and excursions always trying to find the locals price on goods. As fate would have it our failed attempt to explore the Ha'apai Group rendered Pangaimotu. Months earlier I spied this island which I found on the internet and placed it on my hit list.
Yachties: Yacht, derivative(s) of ! Varietal - homosapien.
One who resides in, crews on, or dinks from a transient sailing vessel often in search of un-attended toilet paper for procurement purposes.
It was here we finally viewed our first spectacular sunset from the open air resort. This informal resort, as it turns out, is a popular Yachties rest stop and waypoint. Some choose to anchor here and dink to Nuku'alofa instead of staying in the harbor. We visited the resort water front bar where we spied our fist spectacular South Pacific sunset. I even had a foster dog for a day who explored the beach with us. At anchorage we were visited by two gray whales at a range of 5 yards that weaved slowly in and out of boats. That night we discussed our weather options.
As mentioned in the previous blog entry we earned another passage badge. In the middle of the night while on watch with my old Ha Ha watch partner, Rina, something caught our eye in the far off distance. It was a slow ever-changing pattern of red to orange glowing colors. It didn't get noticeably larger in the binoculars but it remained well over the horizons edge. We both agreed the only thing it could be was a volcano which was confirmed later on the internet. I find unusual things occur on night watches therefore I recommend them highly. We arrived at Neiafu just before the first annual Vava'u Regatta.
This was a constant barrage of welcome gatherings, parties, pud-crawl, and other various events that seem to make a week go by in a couple of days. We had our first gathering on Carinthia and a birthday party for Dietmar which also occurred on our anniversary. We didn't get much time with Dietmar as he had to depart on a plane to the states the next day. As if not to have enough to do during Regatta Week we went on a go-cart island trek with S/V Honeymoon's Seth & Elizabeth and there guests.
This was a rainy-day go-cart ride thru the forest and mud. The ride was also broken up with a few stops. One cliff stop the whales were on cue with multiple breaching and pectoral fin slapping. Even the caves were breaching. As the ride continued on it turned into "Mr. Toads Wild Ride." The mud was slinging as the horse play progressed. We still can't decide weather Seth or Elizabeth is the craziest driver of the two. Evidence falls to Elizabeth though as she finally rendered the cart useless. We all agreed with wild ear to ear grins on our faces the cart trek was "the bomb."
Back to the Vava'u Regatta week. All be it the first annual, the oranizers and staff volunteers did a great job. There was something for everyone. There was a coupon book called the "Passport" that had people competing to visit the local businesses. Each business would stamp the book at different levels thereby rendering points. Prizes were given to passport holders based on points acquired. There were kids sporting events and games. On Friday a "beer can" race was held in Neifu bay under light winds. I took lots of pictures via the dingy "ME2." The next day this was followed by the Governors Cup race.
Josie and I crewed on the catamaran S/V Honeymoon for the Governors Cup race to Vaka'eitu Island and the Full Moon Party. What a joy Honeymoon is to sail. During the first hour or so aboard I was confused as to where to set my beverage cup. Elizabeth thought me 'nuts for sure' as I kept asking where to put my glass. I finally figured out "it's a cat, just put your drink on the table!" I owe a debt of gratitude to Seth & Elizabeth for my first sail aboard a catamaran.
The Full Moon Party; what a rave! We danced like there was no tomorrow on a remote tropical island. Great sound system, cool colorful neon-lit dancers and a clear sky full of stars.
After the regatta there was the formal 'meet and greet' and awards ceremony with the Vava'u Governor and his wife. Dinner was at a restaurant called the Giggling Whale where a birthday party was held for a fellow Yachty, during which I broke out in a fever and I had to take a couple of down days to shake it. The fever eventually made its way through the fleet, taking 5-10 boats down with similar symptoms.
[editors note: Phillip writes very well but it takes him a looooong time to write, so he never finished the above blog. We just put them in a taxi to the airport... (sniff, sniff, sob, sob) Perhaps when he is back in California, he can find time to finish the entry. In the meantime, we return you to our regularly scheduled programming]
See the gallery for new pics of our last couple of days... full story as soon as the flakey crew writes their assigned blogs!
09/05/2009, Vava'u, Tonga
The last week or so has been a whirlwind of activities with some high highs and low lows. Follow You enjoyed the ambience of Nukualofa for a couple of days, then plotted our escape back north to Vava'u. Unfortunately the weather had other plans, as our proposed passage to the Hapa'i group of Tonga was cut short by 30 knots of wind on the nose and short sharp 10 foot wind waves that made Follow You shudder every 6-7 seconds as it fell off the face of each wave. After an hour of steadily increasing seas, we turned tail and headed back to the comforts of Big Mama's Yacht Club on the lee of Pangiamoto Island, just above Nukualofa. After checking with the weather gods and windguru.com, we decided that we were going to *have* to leave the next day as the conditions were deteriorating further. The only saving grace was that our path to Vava'u would keep the seas roughly on our beam, as opposed to directly on our nose. I steeled the crew with the warning that the voyage would be very uncomfortable to absolutely miserable. In short, the weather did not disappoint, as we had one of the most miserable sails to date, with 10-12 foot wind waves and underlying swells of 8-9 feet that kept the boat off balance for most of the 26 hour journey North. The entire crew except Rina took turns at the leeward rail, feeding the fish with the meager contents of our stomachs. The only comfort was the plastic side curtains that we put up on the windward side of the boat to keep the 30 knot winds and wind driven waves out of the cockpit. And even with the side curtains up, sheets of water would hit the top of the dodger and bimini and find a way into our little cocoon. The entrance to the fjords of Vava'u could not come soon enough. Next up.... Vava'u Regatta, a MAJOR friggen party.
The pic above is Big Mama's Yacht Club
ps. Mom: Rina, Phil and Josie *promise* to do a blog entry soon....
Phil and Josie, our newly appointed sherpas, brought an amazing collection of replacement parts, critical items that we were convinced we could not live without, and several bottles of sweet nectar to celebrate both our anniversaries in early September. In a reprise of sorts of our "cruising cockpit" game of several months ago, a week on Follow you to the person who guesses the most items in the above picture correctly....
08/27/2009, 21 08.2'S:175 10.9'W, Nuku'alofa, Tonga
Brother Phil and wife Josie arrived in Tonga yesterday morning after 21 hours of flying.SFO to LA to Western Samoa to Tonga. Rina and Josie squealed like little girls, having seen each other for the first time in almost 9 months. this after they have been daily walking partners for the last several years of our land-based existence. They came loaded with 4 bags of "stuff". As Stephanie, John, Alyssa and Megan all discovered, we missed no opportunity to replenish critical spares and supplies from the U.S. After Rina and Josie's ritual espresso shots, we began catching up and unpacking. More on this adventure in our next blog...
In what must be a record, we fixed a major issue with our generator in 4 days. On Sunday, our generator died and upon investigation, I found that the wires from the "run" capacitor had chafed on a heat sink. As I had played around with the capacitor, moving it around while inspecting the genset, I can only blame myself for not positioning the wires away from the danger. With the help of Alan on LoveSong, we confirmed the capacitor was toast, so I began strategizing for a replacement. On Monday a quick call via Skype to Mastervolt tech support in Florida confirmed that the capacitor would likely be the only problem, so we sourced replacements at Southern Cal Marine in San Diego, shipped them overnight to Bair Island Marina in Redwood City. Phil picked them up on the way to the airport and after a nap yesterday, we installed the replacements and the genset fired up the first time. YES!
08/19/2009, 18 42.0'S:172 15.9'W, 140 miles WNW of Niue
Nope. How about:
The night was black, the wind tense and the seas annoyed. Our night ride to Vava'u was fast, in short following seas that snuck up on us in the darkness and sucker punched the boat, like getting unexpectedly bumped from behind on a crowded New York street. Winds were steady at 28-32 knots, so the boat in general and the rigging in particular were taut, making for a loud, stiff ride. No moon and a deeply overcast sky ensured we would see nothing around us other than the white froth of breaking waves behind us reflected in our white stern light. Sleep came only when we were so tired that the conditions no longer mattered and we fell into our sea berth without a care.
We arrived at daybreak and navigated the 10 mile passage inside the fjord-like confines of Neifu Island, listening to the morning VHF net, (including commercials!) to arrive at the customs dock, where, upon seeing our yellow quarantine flag, four officers from customs, immigration, health, and quarantine descended on the boat. It was just before lunch and we were aware of stories of cruisers being exploited by officials for extra fees. We were advised to have soft drinks ready, so upon introductions I offered a Coke to each, but upon searching the fridge, found none. Unfortunately Rina's late night tactics for staying awake included plenty of Coke, so we were at risk, especially as Mr. Health started talking about how it's lunch time and extra fees may apply. Uh-oh. we quickly rummaged through a cabinet to find some old Pepsi Max from Tahiti that Rina didn't like. Pepsi Max and ice distributed to each officer helped avert extra charges for checking in during Mr. Health' s lunch break and a little light bantering with officialdom helped move the process along. A couple of questions about fruits and vegetables, firearms and the meager contents of the liquor cabinet satisfied their urges, and after 45 minutes they all departed.
After a lunch of buffalo burgers and locally brewed Ikale beers at the Aquarium Café we secured a mooring ball and moved the boat to a ball near a grove of trees infested with birds and frogs, who's chorus awakened suddenly at dusk. Rina and I sat on the port coaming of the cockpit listening, and stared at the developing sunset for an hour, watching the clouds traverse the color spectrum from red through burgundy, bright copper, bronze and finally a deep brown before disappearing. The frogs joined a frenetic mating song punctuated by lilting bird calls we have not heard in the South Pacific until now.
The waters are now pond-calm, with bright reflections from the shoreside lights, the sounds of a local rugby team practicing, and dinghies slowly motoring to the many bayside restaurants. Over 75 mooring balls are populated by many of our cruising friends, whose company we will enjoy over the next 3 months in this sailing mecca. Meanwhile, a good night's sleep will be had, contemplating it all.
08/18/2009, 18 42.0'S:172 15.9'W, 140 miles WNW of Niue
We skipped forward a day today, crossing the International Date Line between Niue and Tonga. A minute ago it was 15:08 on Tuesday, 18-August, now it is 15:09 on Wednesday, 19-August, going from GMT -11 to GMT +13. We're still 4 hours ahead of the west coast, just on a different day.
Otherwise, a pretty uneventful crossing so far. The seas are calmer out here than in the Niue anchorage our last night, so we slept well, sailing all night. Prevailing winds took us a little South overnight, so we motorsailed in light winds this morning to charge the batteries and get us further North. This will set us up for a nice beam reach as the winds move to an expected ENE later tonight. Rina and I are brushing up on Tonga and Vava'u, re-reading the cruising guides and etching the locations of previously uncharted reefs into our minds and chartplotters.
Day 1 Overview: - 140 miles covered in last 24 hours, 116 miles remaining to the anchorage in Neiafu Bay - 4-8 foot seas, much less than expected - 15 knot sustained winds, gusts to 23 - 5.8 knot average speed
Gallery has been updated with our pics from Niue...