17 October 2017
2 nights and days later we arrived in Tonga. We pulled up to the main dock to clear in and we were pulled back quickly into Island time. Things and people move slowly here. We really wanted to be cleared in as quick as we could so we could get hauled out, fixed and back to sailing again. Finally we got all the paper work sorted and were on our way to a mooring in Neiafu. We were planning to haul the next day but it was very wet so delayed a day. It seemed it was the same again the next day but opted to get hauled out anyway. This was the first time we had been hauled on a trailer and it was very nerve wracking but Joe and Allen of The Boatyard were very professional and tended to all the details themselves, even getting in the water to ensure the trailer and pads were lined up. About an hour later we were on stands and ready to start work. Matt and Dagma came over and helped us get the forestay down. With great relief, nothing was broken. Apparently the foil had slipped and wedged on a fitting that slowly ensured it would undo itself, which it did. After finding a few screws that had seized and putting back the >30 year old furler, we were able to get the sail back on in 2 days. What a relief. We didn’t want to wait here while parts got shipped in from NZ. We managed to get a bottom paint on at the same time and fix a few other things that can only be done out of the water and were back afloat again in 5 days. Apparently we were the quickest turnaround the yard has had in a while. Probably because we did most of our own work and can work at a slightly faster speed than some of the locals. We were so relived that nothing major was wrong and we felt comfortable in sailing down to NZ now.
04 October 2017
Time to move on and head toward Niue. With our genoa being in a sad state, we picked weather with little wind and motored most of the way. We did try our little foresail for a while but it didn’t add too much to the speed. Niue is one of those amazing rocks in the middle of the South Pacific. It looked harsh surrounded by cliffs but it hid a few little gems of places worth seeing. Our first task was to learn how to operate the dinghy crane. Once we saw how it was done, it was easy after that. We had to haul our dinghy out of the water every time. We quickly learnt to avoid the rush hour when commercial operators would be putting in their boats in the early morning, prior to lunch and after lunch, and then again at the end of the day. We managed to get a mooring next to the main wharf and once again, we were enthralled by the whales that came up close to the wharf and played around, often for an hour at a time. We just hoped they would leave the mooring lines alone. They have been known to take out a mooring with their playing around the boats. Clearing in was reasonably painless and took less than an hour. We managed to rent a car, as there is really no way of getting around the island. We also needed it to get fuel from the one and only fuel station over a mile away. It was also our first taste of NZ food and delights. This is the first time in a long time that 1) I could read the labels on what I was buying and 2)knew what I was buying. Fresh food was a little more of a challenge as it all goes to the main market at 0400 on a Saturday morning. But just to eat an ice-cream was enough for a while. We spent half a day re-securing the sail again and then took sometime out to tour the island. The island is full of amazing rock formations from sandy canyons to magnificent arches. Taking our time, we spent one day touring the north and doing some of the sea tracks and one day doing the south. We had dinner at the one and only resort and were entertained by some of the local children dancing. Not very polished but they certainly enjoyed showing off for us. It was a place with plenty to see and do but we had to move on when a period of no wind came up so we could get to Tonga with minimal stress on our rig. It was sad to see the whales go as we knew that never again would they be so close to us and never again would we be where they can entertain us off the back of our boat.
Church on Palmerston
30 August 2017
Sunday came along and Edward picked us all up in time for church. Ladies had to wear a frock (I hadn’t heard that word in a long time) and a hat. Most of us only have sun hats but Sheila, Edwards’s wife, had a few spare and made sure we were suitably dressed for church. It was a very traditional church where the ladies sat on one side and the men on the other. Given that there were 18 cruisers at church, we seemed to fill at least half of this small church. But the vicar certainly made us feel welcome. The singing was incredibly melodic for such a small group of people and a pleasure to listen to. After church, we all participated in a potluck where Edward’s family supplied local pork, chicken and bosun bird and we supplied side dishes and desert. It was a delight to share Sunday lunch with Edward and his family. And once again in the afternoon back on the boat we go whale watching without having to move. Made cocktail hour a real delight.