Two To Tango in the Wind

This is the new Blog from Janet and John Harrington as they sail Tango from San Francisco, CA (USA) to the South Pacific and beyond.

20 August 2019 | Neiafu Harbor, Vava'u, Tonga
15 August 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
04 August 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
03 August 2019 | 78nm NE of Tonga
01 August 2019 | 15NM S of American Samoa
27 July 2019 | 530NM ENE Tonga
25 July 2019 | 530NM ENE Tonga
24 July 2019 | 10NM SW Suwarrow
21 July 2019 | 30 NM to NW to Suwarrow
20 July 2019 | 223 NM to NW to Suwarrow
19 July 2019 | 223 NM to NW to Suwarrow
19 July 2019 | Friday AM Sailing North
18 July 2019 | Just passed 5 NM North of Maupihaa Atoll enroute Suwarrow
17 July 2019 | Just passed 5 NM North of Maupihaa Atoll enroute Suwarrow
16 July 2019 | Just passed 5 NM North of Maupihaa Atoll enroute Suwarrow
15 July 2019 | Departed Raiatea 4PM Monday
15 July 2019 | Departed Raiatea 4PM Monday

Swimming with the Humpbacks

20 August 2019 | Neiafu Harbor, Vava'u, Tonga
John E Harrington
We are in the northern island group called Vava'u. This is the main yacht spot for cruising in Tonga and we'll be in an out of this area until early-mid October when we will leave for New Zealand.

On my bucket list for a really long time has been swimming with whales. WE DID IT! One of Janet's focused points after several dives was, "we are doing this again!" Thanks to my Jacobs family's retirement present of a GoPro camera we were able to get some photos of our adventure. Next time we go we'll have a way to recharge that camera because we missed photographing even better encounters after we killed the battery for the day. Tough to be us, I know 😀.

On the last snorkel dive of the day Janet stayed in the boat and John and 3 others swam over to an area where a momma, baby, and an escort humpback whale were relaxing. They were hovering about 10m (33ft) deep. The baby had to surface every 5 min for a breath and the BIG whales surfaced about every 20 minutes. Did I say BIG LOUD ENOUGH. Think freight train here...

While watching we quietly hovered trying to be as quiet and calm as possible. The baby was nestled along mama's belly feeding. Momma had turned and was calmly watching us, and, have no doubt that she was completely aware of us. As we drifted she would turn and see where we were. At one point I felt a bit of pressure behind me, like a wave pushing. I looked between my legs and watched a freight-train of a whale swim behind me joining the momma and baby. I'm super comfortable in the water after a lifetime of scuba diving. a zillion tons of whale silently gliding past ten feet behind me was startling. Glad this whale was as interested in us as we were in it. This was the escort whale protecting the baby and momma. This is a normal thing apparently; we saw this several times. This GIANT whale, the size of Tango silently approached and glided behind us snorkeling mini-humans and took up station next to the momma and baby. WOW! The water was totally clear and you could see the interactions between the 3 whales and us. The Tongan rules limit "visits" by snorkel groups to 15 mins so we had to leave shortly after this.

One of the other exciting experiences occurred while we were moving to a new location on the twin hull, 40ftt, aluminum excursion boat. A whale decided to swim with us. He (or she who can tell...) came within 20 feet and effortlessly stayed with us as we cruised at about 15 kts. Sometimes he would dive and then explode out of the water and breech right next to us; like "duck!!", splash,holly smokes, splash again! I think I could here him chortling when he did things like that. This show lasted about 10 minutes too.
We also had the opportunity to find and watch a whale sing. It was hovering about 10m deep and was singing. The sounds were LOUD and higher pitched than I expected. The notes were complex, harmonic, and pitched just like regular notes. There were long and short notes or chords too. I'd say the pitch was from a piano's middle C down two or three octaves.

Janet and I have had lots of great experiences and adventures during our cruise so far. This was tops and we are going to do this again before we leave Tonga. I hope to get some more great pictures soon. Just had to share this experience.

Photo - from our initial dive; shot by Janet. Momma and baby, surfacing for air. So cool...

Exploring Tonga

15 August 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
John Harrington
Tango is exploring Tonga. The diving and snorkeling are "best ever". We have snorkeled into Swallows Cave and explored several reefs and underwater walls. The walls are where the coral and volcanic rock zoom UP UP UP from over 200ft deep to the cliffs and reefs that make up Tonga. In the matter of 20ft the depth goes from deep to very shallow.

We have been moored for two days on a ball in Port Maurelle which is on the west side of Kapa Island. Calm and beautiful. We motored the dinghy over to the cave. The cave is obvious from the boat. As you swim in you cross a wall that is aobout 10ft deep. On the ocean side is is WAY deep; on the cave side is is about 20ft deep. It was very very cool. We'll probably swim that again. We did take some photos but getting them uploaded is a challenge. In the cave John dove and swam through a ball of hundreds small (5") of fish. Under them, at the floor in the cave (about 30'deep), was another layer of larger 1ft fish circling in a 10ft donut shaped circle. Looking up you could see through a hole to the sky and trees, etc. Really cool. Yesterday Janet and some friends snorkeled the reef edging our anchorage. They saw a turtle, moray eel, Rasps cleaning other fish and lots of other things.

Today is Friday, Thursday in Nebraska. Tomorrow we have a whale swimming adventure planned. This is an all day excursion, with boating friends, on a commercial diving boat. It should be a blast. The guides say that we will see whales for sure. If the whales are calm we'll swim with them. If they are moving too quickly then we will watch them and try to find some friendly whales. More on this adventure later; its a bucket list thing for John.

We like Tonga. It is a friendly place that could use a bit if investment (more than Tango can add!). The people are very friendly and nearly everyone speaks english. We are able to get food provisions, but not everything every day. Vegi's, eggs, and some fruits are local. The rest come in from NZ, Austrailia, and the US on Tongan ferries about weekly. There is a pretty good chandlery shop in town that is connected to the newish boatyard in Vava'u. They have the right stuff, but not a big selection. For example they have the common Racor fuel filters but not the odd-ball brands.

Our three favorite places in Neiafu Harbor are Mango (great dinghy dock, really good food, internet), the Hideaway (a bright blue houseboat that is moored in the harbor and serves upl Margaritas, beer, and superb fish & chips), and a short walk out of the small town is Hepi Pizza (really good pizza). All of these are small venues, not fancy, but provide friendly conversation, fun, and great food.

We are in Tonga!

04 August 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
John Harrington
Tango has made it to Tonga. We aborted our initial attempt to get to Tonga when the autopilot broke in heavy seas and we diverted to American Samoa for repairs. We were VERY lucky and got a perfect part from another boat. Installation and calibration of the autopilot was pretty easy and we departed Pago Pago on Wednesday, 31 July. Our trip took 3 days and included a shift to Tonga date/time. Essentially we never had Friday 2 August. Tonga's calendar is on the "other side" of the international date line.... Too hard to think about that.

Our sail was very nice until TODAY. We had quartering seas for most of the trip and made good time. Approaching Tonga we ran into a weather front. Starting Saturday night we had fog, calm winds, and growing seas (from the approaching front). Early this morning the winds went crazy and jumped up to 25 kts. Janet drove Tango through most of the crazy winds. We knew they were coming so we were reefed down and never really had any problem.

We got into our anchorage around noon and picked up a very robust mooring ball. We have to clear customs tomorrow and that will take hours probably. After that we'll catch up on some maintenance and then start exploring. So far gorgeous! Can't wait for the sun to come out.

Vessel Name: Tango
Vessel Make/Model: Tayana 52 Cutter Rigged Sloop
Hailing Port: Houston TX, USA
Crew: Janet and John Harrington
About: John is a retired USCG ship captain and engineer, well experienced with offshore sailing and operations. Janet is learning quickly and makes Tango a welcoming home that is looking for adventure.
Extra: Janet and John are full time cruising. Our adventure started with the 2018 Baja HaHa rally and we continue our adventure visiting Mexico, crossing to the South Pacific in March/April 2019, then travelling on toward New Zealand.
Tango's Photos - Main
Some photos during our 25 day Pacific crossing. Not a lot of photos because we were pretty busy with watch standing, eating, and sleeping.
33 Photos
Created 25 May 2019
29 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 23 May 2019
12 Photos
Created 18 March 2019
41 Photos
Created 4 February 2019
Photos of places Tango visited along the mainland of Mexico's west coast.
2 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 4 February 2019
Photos from our transit to and around Banderos Bay.
27 Photos
Created 29 January 2019
Photos of our cross from La Paz, anchoring off Muertos, and arriving in Mazatlan.
17 Photos
Created 29 January 2019
Photos from our crossing from Baja to the mainland West Coast and the places visited
2 Photos
Created 27 January 2019
FInally done. Took less than 1 week in La Paz and workmanship was top notch.
4 Photos
Created 27 January 2019
This folder will hold project related sub-folders showing elements of the various projects done to support Tango.
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 3 January 2019
Photo's taken during our trip from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, MX during the 2018 Baja HaHa sailing ralley.
31 Photos
Created 3 January 2019
Places and event during our stay in La Paz Mexico, mid November to early January 2018.
12 Photos | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 26 December 2018