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Happy New Year

Our New Year’s Eve began with a walk to Pier 21 where the Kamaya’s are moored. It was good to catch up with Ruth and Tim. As a bonus, Evi from Wonderland was staying aboard too. We then walked to the Ponsonby area where we met up with Richard and Krista from Lileth who we’ve not seen for ages. We had lunch with them and while doing so Darusha and Stephen from Scream showed up.

Our next stop was the Sky Tower where we had booked a jump from the observation deck. Ben and Helen didn’t feel it would be thrilling enough to justify the cost so it was down to Sam and I. With perfect weather the view from the top (and on the way down) was perfect. Stepping off the rim of the tower was quite intense. We were left dangling for about 10 seconds before the brakes were removed and we plummeted to the ground. Something to remember. We both received a free pass to take a ride to the observation deck which we gave to Helen and Ben.

Sam did a little more busking to help rebuild his entertainment kitty. Sam and Ben left us oldies to go back to Richard and Krista’s apartment near Ponsonby where they were due to meet up with Ian from Sea Mist and go out for the night. Helen and I had a meal out and watched the fireworks at midnight from a spot near the Sky Tower. There were fireworks from the tower and down on the river. We’d been told by a taxi driver that the river fireworks would be a long way away which turned out to be wrong advice. But we were able to see both which was quite good. We returned to the hotel to share a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the New Year.

Happy New Year to one and all.

Ha’afeva

For our sail to Ha’afeva I again gave Helen and Ben a challenge. This was to determine the best route and plot this into the chart plotter. There was a choice of going around the north or south of the island and based on wind direction, etc. it was really up to them. They decided to go head sail only. With 20 knots of wind this was a reasonable thing to do. I performed my usual (for now) role at the helm to get us off the anchor but handed over to them to set the head sail, get us out from the reef and sail us over to Ha’afeva.

On arrival we saw Sea Mist and Leu Cat here with Kamaya just raising their anchor. Behind us Sara 2 was arriving. The Sea Mists having been here 24 hours were just going ashore at the same time as we were so we ended up hiking the road across the island to the village together. In the village we found a chap who sells lobsters and agreed to pick up two each the following morning.

Later on during our walk around the village we were greeted by Miimi who invited us over to lunch the following day. We’d heard about this before and were half hoping this would happen. The custom is they invite us to lunch and we bring gifts from the boat. She promised us sea food, including more lobster.

On the way back we bumped into another local called Peter who I think wanted to invite us to lunch but on discovering we’d been invited by Miimi he offered us (probably to sell) some mangoes. We were interested but suggested we’d bring some bags the following day when we collected the lobsters.

Back in the dinghy we dropped by Leu Cat to say hello as we hadn’t spoken to them since Tahiti although we had seen them in Nieafu. As we eventually arrived back at Dignity we were offered a generous chunk of Wahoo from Griffon 2 who’d also just arrived. They’d caught a 36lb fish and had too much for themselves. That was turned into a delicious curry for the evening.

Right now I’m downloading the day’s weather forecasts while I wait to go ashore with John from Sea Mist to get our lobsters and mangoes.

Avalau

In the morning Ben, Tim (from Kamaya) and I dinghied around Euakafa to go spear fishing. The guide books said the south side was supposed to be pretty good but it turned out to be a little less than spectacular. We anchored the dinghy fairly close to where Tim, Stuart and Paul had capsized in Stuart’s dinghy the previous day. There were a few items that hadn’t been recovered the previous day. Tim had a look for those too but had no luck.

Having exhausted the thrills of Euakafa (the hike was the only good thing) we moved the boat to Avalau around midday.

Here there are vast expanses of turquoise waters making the area look quite pretty. Ben was soon out spear fishing and caught a couple of fish. I joined him but I think the word was out and no decent fish were presenting themselves.

Both Imagine and Jackster were in the anchorage so we invited them over for dinner – particularly because Stuart is still single handing and probably needed the company. Over the evening the weather picked up and the anchorage became quite swelly. Overnight things have not improved and we woke to a grim, gray morning. The poor conditions make this a less desirable stop so we may move on today.

Some news on the charger front. I was passed (I suspect without reading) an email which revealed that the charger was at UPS but awaiting on someone to pay. There was no indication that anyone was doing anything nor was there any indication that my requests to prevent it being sent to Nieafu (and hopefully onto Tongatapu instead) had been heeded. That email got a quick response. The delivery has been canned and now it’s going to New Zealand. Given the poor show so far that’s probably about the only thing that will work for us. The resiliency of the system is not letting us down so we can get about ok. If we’d been told up front that sending the replacement to Tonga was impractical and could we have waited til NZ I would probably have accepted it. Instead our expectations were set and then the comedy began. In Aitutaki I had to cycle miles to get an internet connection to research delivery options. In Niue I had to make several trips ashore to use the public phone (mostly to full voice mailboxes) for a dialog which would have been simple over email. I’ve had to make several (almost always completely ignored) calls a day from Tonga to chase. We’ve wasted time and money on all these fruitless phone calls. I’m sure the real reasons for the delays and frustrations are being concealed from us but the result, which is all that matters, is a big zilch. What a load of bollocks.

Euakafa

The boat hadn’t moved too far from the buoy we dropped the night before. The bottom was about 30 feet down which is shallow enough to do some exploration with just a snorkel. I took an early morning dip hoping to find the missing fork but had no luck. I even moved the weight bad to see if we had a lucky (unlucky) covering and turned over a few large starfish. After the morning nets I tried again, this time with my tank on. I spent about 25 minutes searching around. I found some discarded carrots and the bones we through over the night before but no fork. There were a few deep holes from sea critters and I can only imagine it slid down one of those.

Shortly after this failed effort we raised the sails and set off. The winds were so light we motor sailed all the way to Euakafa threading our way through the pass. With our GPS track and memories of the features it was a lot easier this time.

Euakafa is listed as having great snorkeling on the south side and a pleasant walk up to the summit where one can find the tomb of a princess. We arrived around midday to find Tim from Kamaya and Paul from Callypso working with Stuart (Imagine) on his four stroke engine. They’d all been out on the south side earlier in the day and had been tipped by a wave flipping the dinghy in the process. They’d had a bit of an adventure retrieving what they could from the flipped dinghy and even recovered some parts from the bottom at 70ft. I offered to help and lent some ignition fluid I’d acquired all the way back in Bequia when our hookah flipped. Stuart turned out to have some of that but I was ultimately able to help by giving some spare oil to allow another flush.

In the afternoon Stuart (Imagine), Paul and Maureen (Callypso) and we all headed ashore to ascend the trail to the summit. It was quite a pleasant walk. We reached the site of the tomb first. Typical for Tonga there was no information. Just a series of slabs partially covering a deep hole now empty of deceased princess. The trail continued onwards to a bluff overlooking the anchorage giving us a great view to the north.

We learned on the walk that Callypso had some TV Series we needed and we had some they did so after the walk we were able to exchange DVDs, etc.

We spent the evening watching one movie and one episode of Top Gear which has become a recent routine. Now that we have a complete collection of Prison Break we could well get into that soon.

No meaningful progress on our charger. We have received one forwarded communication which confirms the charger has reached the UPS office but is awaiting payment by some named individual presumably in someone’s finance office somewhere on this planet. No suggestion that anyone was doing anything about this nor any hint that our recent requests to have it sent to Tongatapu (instead of here) have been heeded. Certainly no tracking reference which would be a solid assurance that it’s on it’s way somewhere. We first requested assistance on the warranty replacement on August 18th. Anyone impressed?

Last Day of the Regatta

What a long and fun week this has been. The last day of the regatta finished with a prize giving party at the wharfside hotel in the evening. Before that we did have an interesting day. I spent 4 hours wrestling with the internet at the Aquarium Café. It is a favourite spot, it seems, for cruisers to buy a coffee and collectively wrestle with slow internet connections. It’s quite social as we each wait several minutes for each page to load. I managed to upload a bunch of pictures from the previous day’s events. I also managed to book a flight for Sam to join us in New Zealand. While I was ashore, Ben hosted a chemistry lesson for nine of the kids from Tyee, Kamaya, Stray Kitty & Mojo. Not all his experiments went as planned but from what I heard later it went over well.

Back to the party. At the beginning of the week we had to option to purchase passports which encouraged us to visit places around town and the island gaining points for each visit and even more if we bought things. We gained points for the events we joined in and more if we won any of them. The party included a prize-giving ceremony for the top 11 scorers. As we had stuck together most of the week (and we got Ben’s passport stamped while he was working on the Full Moon Party) we had similar points. Not only did we all make the top 11 we placed near the top gaining a good selection of prizes. Ben and Helen each won two tank dives. I won a 45km 2 person kart ride around the island which I’ll do with Ben. We each earned secondary prizes amounting to a free pizza, a map and a desert for 2 people. All in all this was quite a valuable haul – but very much the icing on the cake for a fun filled week.

The party had some local dancing and a live band. We stayed on till nearly midnight when Helen felt too tired to continue. On the way back to the dinghy it seemed she had a new burst of energy causing her to invite Brian, Brady & Erin from Delos, Jenny from Callisto and Steven and Dorusha back to the boat to carry on the festivities. We didn’t get to sleep until 1:30 – normally (but not recently) quite late for us.

We had planned on scooting out of Neiafu today and seeing some of the outer anchorages. We still don’t have the tracking number for our charger which is getting comical. The Delos crew have invited us to dive on a wreck in the bay here today and we have to sort out and book our prizes so maybe we won’t be out of here after all.