Are We Back In BC?
08 August 2016 | 18 41.96'S:174 01.77'W, Port Maurelle, Vava'u Tonga
Yesterday, we finally left Neiafu Harbour and headed off to start exploring the many anchorages in the Vava'u group of islands.
Before leaving, our first mission was to head to town for some last minute provisioning. Our needs were not great and our expectations were not high, but we were still nearly skunked. First, we wanted some bread. Nothing special, just breadÉ We saw some white bread in a store on the way to the vegetable market but thought that we should hit the market first as the best vegetables often sell our.
On our way back, the bread was sold out! Even the bakery had no bread. In fact, the bakery wasn't even baking any more bread because they were out of flower. We checked every other store in town, but there was no bread anywhere. Eggs, you want eggs, too? You must be a crazy palangi! We haven't had eggs in a weekÉ What were we thinking being so bold as hoping to buy bread or eggs? Mistake number two was not buying the single, yes only one, egg that we saw for sale about a week ago.
Jumping back a bit to our trip to the market for vegetables, we pretty well struck out there as well. You see, Sunday is serious day of rest here. I have surmised that means that nobody picks anything on Sunday, hence no vegetables for sale on Monday. That is our theory at least.
We did find one lady, who must be a lapsed Catholic, selling vegetables in an otherwise barren market. There wasn't much choice, but we did get some tomatoes, bananas, green peppers, beans and, in return, she got all of our money! Some people say that the Tongans are not entrepreneurial, but this shrewd businesswoman clearly understood that she was the only game in town on Monday for veggie's. We are not complaining, however, and take it all in stride. This is all part of the fun and games of being in the remote South Pacific, just as much for the locals as it is for cruisers.
With our small load of gold-plated vegetables, and no bread, we headed out of the harbour to the highly recommended anchorage #7. Isn't that a romantic name for a gorgeous South Pacific Bay with a sandy beach? In actual fact, it is called Fangakima, but most of the names are so hard to pronounce that the cruising guides just go by numbers for each anchorage. After telling someone to anchor off of Tu'ungaskia Island across from A'a Island, off of Fangakima on Pangaimotu, you quickly start to like just saying anchorage #7É
Here we had one of the best experiences of our entire voyage - snorkeling in Swallow's Cave. Check out my recent facebook post for a picture that really captured the essence of the swim. This cave appears to be in eroded limestone. Is is easily wide enough for a dinghy to head inside and is about 50 ft deep. The ceiling soars over 40 feet high in a jagged cascade of eroded pinnacles. The water is deep, dark blue, and full of swirling schools of fish hiding from sea birds. With the sunlight piercing the tall opening, it was truly a surreal experience that I can't do justice with my small vocabulary. There are lots of video and pictures online so you may want to take a few minutes to Google some of them to see what we saw.
Today, as I write, it is pouring rain. This will clearly be a boat day as we wait for a frontal system to pass by. Next up is exploring this area on foot as there are, reportedly, hiking trails on shore. Then, we will be off to the mythical #15 or #16 before visiting the much renowned #13.