Greatings from vavau again. Nieafu is epic. The bay is super clear and clean which is very very nice. It makes a huge difference in the quality of life onboard if you can jump overboard to cool off or clean up any time you want. It is also town which means the internet and stores which is good in its own way. This last weekend was the rugby world cup semifinals. It turns out that is will be the All Blacks vs France in the final next weeken. Australia got worked by NZ, and Whales had a crushingly close loss to france the day before. Secret Agent Man had a nice harbour race on friday evening. A bunch of friends came including Dave and Sherry from Soggy Paws, Jim from Chesepeke (An Outbound 46, sweet!) Tom and Marry ellen from Aphrodite (Amel, also sweet) and Ross, a sailmaker from NZ who, incedentally, put in a third reef point in my mainsail which I am keen to try out. Nothing much else new. I am about to get out of town and sail around Tonga heading to NZ. However there is a "squash zone" possible for the end of the week. That means you dont want to be out in it and have to be careful and watch it at anchor.
Racing in Vavau. We had a good start and a lane which was the plan but both these guys got away from us...
This is the FV Lesila. Shango picked them up and brought them back to Nuiatoputapu and I took the Captain and his mate back out to their boat. Photo by "Soggy Paws"
everyone involved in the rescue is in this photo.
I am in Vavau, Tonga. It is epic. Very much like the san juans but tropical. It is a hub and main stop for everyone sailing across the pacific so there are people on yachts from all over the world. The trip here from Nuiatoputapu was eventful. My friends on Shango, Chesepeke, and Soggy Paws (all Americans) picked up a pan pan call and ended up taking the captain of a disabled fishing vessel and his mate back to Nuiatoputapu. I organized some locals to pick them off of Shango in the middle of the night. The next day they had fixed the piece of their transmission that they had brought with them and I took them back out to their boat. They were unable to get their engine sorted and I stood by them all night on the radio with the police in Nukualofa trying to get them a tow. They wanted me to tow them but it was windy and there was no way. They did not want to leave the boat. I sailed away the next morning having set up a radio sched with them and the authoraties. As I sailed away I was very worried about them, though they were not worried at all. It was on my head. I was able to get regular positions of their boat and guide the Navy to them. Yesterday I spoke with the commander of the Tongan Navy and was able to confirm that they were found and under tow. The passage was rouigh. I am super happy to be in a safe harbor and that my tongan friends are safe as well. Today, myself and some friends are going to race Secret Agent Man in the harbor race. It was great motivation to clean the bottom which needed it. I hope you all are well and happy and making a difference.
10/07/2011, South Pacific
Eric's last three e-mails. He is clearly having no trouble becoming one of the locals. Starting point is 9/27 through 10/5.
Nuiatoputapu is great. Yesterday I stayed on the boat most of the day waiting
for the authorities. I got all checked in in the afternoon and got super locked
in to "3 cups of tea" and ended up polishing that off. Today was packed. There
was a ceremony to commemorate all the people who died here in the tsunami with
some spectacular singing and then rugby all afternoon. I walked into town which
was far and watched the 15s play. Afterward I found an awesome freshwater spring
that I read about and had a much needed swim. I hitched back to the village at
the anchorage which was the best part. They picked me up in town and asked where
I was going. I said to the yachts and they said us too. We drove half way there,
switched drivers and then drove all the way back to pick up some boys from
rugby. Then we drove way up into the jungle wo cut some bananna leaves for the
underground cooking. Then we made our way back dropping off several people.
There was a lizard in the bed of the truck and all these ladies with babies
freaked out. I grabbed it and threw it into the jungle and had a laugh with
them. It was lots of fun. There are several other yachts here. 3 english and 1
czech. They are cool but lets just say older than me. One of the things I enjoy
most is melting in with the locals. I am obviously white and dont speak the
language, but other than that I have consistently been treated more as a
traveler and less like a tourist which I like. Tomorrow is a huge feast which
should be cool. Every one knows me already, it being a small island. Also, my
friend Sia put the word out that I am alone and single so all the girls know
which should also be cool.
Im beat after a huge festival today. It was the catholic church's fund raiser.
They made about $20,000 which I thought was a lot. Every family from the church
brought a huge table of food. Every table had between 5 and 7 roasted pigs on it
and there were at least 30 tables. So the pig population took a dip yesterday.
There was dancing, and money collecting festivities. It turns out that tongans
like to eat dog as well. I may have had some but was oblivious. I would like to
knowingly try it though. I was talking to a girl who said it tastes like chicken
but smells like dog. In an hour Tonga is playing France which is a huge deal.
They are underdogs, but France hasnt played well in their last few games. Some
americans Came in yesterday which is nice. They knew about me but I havnt met
them yet. They are your age and from Santa Cruz. Also, one of the Englishmen got
on the mike today at the party and said some words of thanks, and condolences
for the tsunami which was celebrated yesterday. All the yachties were spread way
out in this big field with whatever family invited us to their table. At the end
of his speech he gave three cheers which was epic. In the huge crowd Every
yachtie cheered at the top of their lungs and the tongans thought it was great.
To answer some of dad's questions:
-Yes I am cleared in but my Visa is only for a month and you have to check in to
the next place too
-There are now 5 boats besides me. 3 english, 1 czech, 1 American
-The weather is fine. we had a nasty squall today and got wet
-The island is big and there is running. There are 800 people here
-Ill probably stay here another week and head to Va'vau
Tonga beat France last night in worldcup Rugby play. The Island exploded. There
are only three houses who have sattelite TV. I did some homework and found out
when and where the game was on and myself and three of the brits were invited to
a house to watch it. It seems as if people didnt really know when the game was
because half way through the first half the house was packed and there were 30
people watching throught the windows. for the second half we moved the TV
outside and there were almost 100 people in outdoor theatre mode watching rugby
on a 20 in TV. They scored one try and the crowd went wild. After the game the
celebration hit the street. Some youths had been drinking all day and were
pretty rowdy so the brits went home. There are a bunch of totaled cars all over
the village from the tsunami that were getting more totaled with sticks but some
of the elders put an end to that. Then everyone made a huge posse of trucks and
piled in to the backs of them. We drove around the entire island singing and
dancing. There were a dozen cars and some motorcycles and a bunch of kids on
bikes. It was remarkable. It was about 9:00 at night. We made a lot of noise and
everyone cheerd as we drove by. I was several cars back which was a good thing
because there were ambushers with buckets of water on the sides of the road and
we were far enough back to not catch fire. It was very epic. It was like they
won the world cup. Anyway, it is sunday which means church and I think I will
walk around the island as well. I hope you guys are having a nice weekend.
I am drained after an epic hike today. The kids had the day off of school for
teacher appreciation day. I went with two high school kids and got the full
tour. Epic views. I took lots of pictures. We climbed down the south end of the
mountain which the guys I was with had never done before. It was quite
treacherous. It was capped off with a swim in the spring which was also epic.
All the "cool kids" showed up from Western Samoa in the last two days.
09/28/2011, South pacific
Eric left American Samoa on the evening of the 25th sailing into one of the northern most atolls in the Tongan archipelago 36 hours later. Samoa was a stop packed with welding repairs to the stanchions, mail in / mail out / water / fuel / laundry / replenishing the food stores / rebuilding both autopilots and enjoying an anchorage not subject to 20 knot daily wind and waves. Eric found a fellow Tacoma YC member anchored in Pago Pago harbor, Don Patterson there with his Tahitian crew on Balquhidder. Don & crew did some traveling and hiking around the island with Eric while the country was riveted to the Rugby World Cup and the crucial Samoa / Fiji game for which the country shut down on the 24th.
Eric now starts his travels through the 176 north to south islands of Tonga eventually exiting south to New Zealand. Here is his e-mail from midday on the 27th.
I am sitting in a nice calm anchorage at Niuatoputapu. For such a short passage
it was quite eventful and I am going to be glad to get a good nights rest
tonight. the three highlights were the weather, the fishing, and the landfall.
The weather was interesting. The gribs [weather files -ed.] were wrong which is not unusual. It was almost dead downwind the whole way which is not a fun point of sail for my boat. It is fine when it is windy but yesterday was about 10 kts and the boat rolls rail to rail non stop. I ended up reaching and doing some jibes to save the sails some wear. Interesting that light air is way harder on them and the rig than heavy air.
Also yesterday the trade wind clouds went away. There were some
nasty looking big black cumulus about but no wind associated with them. It just
made me think "something is not right here" and wish I could read the sky
better. Also I slayed sportfish! I was using a lure that we made in Canton out
of some bird feathers, an onion bag, and a piece of big coax cable with a SS
wire leader. The secret is the color. I wish I learned that long ago. I had on a
seamonster that ended up getting away. It was just as well because it had to
have been 50-60 pounds. I never saw it but I fought it with my gloves on for a
while and it was really big. Later that day I killed the biggest fish of the
trip and my favorite. It was a 4.5 foot long 35 pound Wahoo. It was almost as
long as the cockpit, which looked like a murder scene afterwards. I just now
finished cleaning up. My fridge is full, and There is a BBQ tonight for the
yachties and I think Ill bring some with John's secret sauce.
And on the landfall. It decided to get windy late this morning. As you approach the island you sail in a channel with Nuiatoputapu on one side and a spectacular volcano on the other. It goes from real deep to less than 100 feet deep. The breeze was north of east which was bad. The seas were heaping. I saw a wave "explode" and was like holy shit. It would have hit my spreaders if it broke on my boat. Long story short it was really scary but I was careful and made it in OK. It was obviously not windy when the guy who wrote the cruising guide was here. Anyway ......... Im safe and happy and Ill write more later.
There was a massive, bulldozed pile of coral around the west side of the atol. Miles and miles of it incase the Japanese invaded the island.
Here is me making my Kiribas courtesy flag on Naomis sweet hand crank sewing machine.
This is rush hour on Canton.
This is Nanisan he is the elder of the village and also the medical officer.
Shell art with Naomi. We were both keen to learne and our friends were keen to teach us.