Keg Day in Tonga and goodbye Delos
16 September 2010 | On route to Vanuatu
Brad and Kat
We had a pretty quiet weekend on the boat following our success in the yacht race - nursing hangovers and hiding out from winds of 35 knots. There had been talk of diving a wreck in the bay but the most enthusiasm that could be mustered was a Sunday afternoon "salvage" dive to help the crew of Artemis find their anchor that was lost a few day prior due to the unfortunate act of not having the bitter end tied on. Not the most enjoyable dive, with nearly no visibility and swarms of jelly fish to dodge, not to mention the extreme depths so perhaps a good thing the girls sat this one out. We didn't find the anchor (recovered by technical specialist deep divers the following day) but at least it was a reasonable hangover cure.
On Tuesday we ventured out to anchorage #16 which we had heard was good for diving and would be pretty sheltered as the winds continued to be quite strong from the SE. Anchoring was a bit of an issue as there is generally only a little sand covering the coral bed rock, therefore not much for an anchor to bite into. Nothing a little extra chain won't fix but still it was a restless night so first thing in the morning we jumped on to a recently vacated buoy. After lunch we loaded all the diving kit from Ghost, Delos and Oso Blanco (a 64 foot Nordhaven that we've met via Delos several times since Tahiti) into Oso's Boston Whaler tender (fondly referred to as the pick-up!) and Eric and Brady took it out into the rough water on the exposed side of the island and around the eastern point to a sheltered dive site. The rest of us took a short dinghy ride to a little cove, mostly protected from the prevailing wind and sea state, and walked over a small spit of land to a beach and swam out to meet the "pick-up" and don our gear. The dive was great, loads of healthy coral, a stark contrast to most of the storm-ravaged coral we have seen across much of the Pacific. We followed it up with a "pot luck" on board Oso Blanco that night - even more delicious when served with a couple of Heineken mini-kegs and some kava. With such a good system in place for getting to dive sites, we did it again the following morning, this time to the west side of the island which was notable for spotting several large octopi and again more beautiful coral.
Then it was time for something that we'd been planning for since Tahiti when we discovered the duty free alcohol store, something to complement our Delos to Ghost "Rumway" on the town quay in Papeete .... Keg Day. These wonderful little vessels of beer have provided us with so much fun and so many hangovers that we had to do something in their honour and what better way to have a final hoorah with our mates on Delos than an afternoon dedicated to the consumption of kegs, in this case, one each. That's 5 litres of the nectar of the gods each. We've been drinking these for some time now and awhile back had a vision of building a raft out of our empties which we've been squirreling away on Delos for the past couple of months. So the date was set, the location found in a sheltered little beach complete with fire pit and picnic table. Erin and Brady even had the foresight to design and have printed special T-shirts to commemorate the day. So it began, Delos, Ghost, Oso and the boys from Mojombo for the first inaugural Keg Day, or as our T-shirts say "Pia on Mia". Although while we know Pia means beer in Tongan, apparently the on Mia just rhymed!
We started out with a quick keg photo shoot - these kegs are surprisingly versatile and scenes included: keg man, stacked kegs, diving through stacked kegs, starfish bed kegs, chair kegs..... Finally the fire was lit, the food was cooking and the raft started to take form. With the raft coming along nicely it became a battle to complete it before the tide came in, but finally it was done. The raft was in pretty good shape and worked very well with Bear's rather smaller weight paddling it around. Once Brady and Brad took turns though it became significantly less floaty and even more amusing for the audience! What a fantastic day, which we had planned to be our last in Tonga before setting sail for Vanuatu....
The winds swung around to the NE during the night and were still quite strong, making for a rather uncomfortable night, moreover the forecast didn't have them easing for another couple of days. With discretion being the better part of valour we decided to stay another day and we all (Delos and Oso) decided to move to anchorage #11 which we knew was very sheltered, had mooring buoys so we could all get a good night's rest and also hosted a Spanish night that was strongly recommended. The restaurant was called La Paella and does a set menu with entertainment for 70 pa'anga (around $35 US). The restaurant itself was very intimate with only 4 tables and opened directly onto the kitchen so you could see exactly what was going on. The food was great and the band very entertaining. Perhaps one of the unique highlights is their goat that likes to wander into the restaurant unimpeded, joins in with the band and butts (in a nice way) anyone who takes its picture!!
After a good night's sleep in this sheltered anchorage and with the weather forecast still for strong winds Delos twisted our arms and we decided to stay yet another day. After popping over for a quick movie swap we ended up spending all day on board Oso Blanco where we promptly split the group, "boys" all played Age of Empire computer games with their PC's all linked up wirelessly and the "adults" played cards and dominoes. We then had a very chilled out evening laughing and drinking Kava (oh and we managed another couple of mini kegs just for good measure).
The following morning though it really was time to head off and we said a very sad goodbye to Delos. After meeting back in early June in Rangiroa, we've sailed regattas, dived drift passes, night sites, coral reefs, plane wrecks , boat wrecks, seen sharks big and small, sting and manta rays, dived for missing VHF's, head torches and anchors, explored pitch black underwater caves and swim throughs, drained the duty free store of mini-kegs...twice, drunk more rum and beer than we care to (or can) remember, wake boarded, surfed, taken the concept of a pool party to a new level, taught and played beach cricket, watched a solar eclipse, hired cars (effectively just to drink beer) and explored, taken mopeds where they simply shouldn't go, scaled south pacific peaks, crashed 5 star resorts for a beer and a wash in the pool, worked on outboards, had many a dinghy adventure, BBQs, beach fires, watched too much Tim Minchin and Flight of the Conchords, laughed and then laughed some more and generally had a fantastic time cruising in the company of 3 wickedly cool people and a boat called Delos. We'll really miss you guys!
Now we're on route to Vanuatu to meet up with my best mate Gav and his wife to be, Linda. We're really looking forward to exploring Vanuatu and finally having a chance to celebrate their engagement. Unfortunately we have run out of time to visit Fiji, especially as we have heard that the admin to check-in here can take days. Perhaps a sneaky couple of weeks aboard Delos in Fiji next year is in order!!
More pics see: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/bradmcmaster1/Tonga2010#
For Delos' blog see: http://svdelos.blogspot.com/2010/09/heineken-mini-keg-is-there-anything-you.html