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Bike Ride

As I still had some internet work to do my plan for the first part of the day was to go ashore by 7am, pick up some pies, cycle to the hotel again, get the work done and then get back to the boat at a decent time for the ride. Unfortunately I was initially delayed. On the radio we could hear port control trying to contact Dilan as the freighter with the island’s supplies had arrived and they wanted to send their barge out through the channel. Dilan wasn’t responding so I offered to go out and forward their request for them to move. When I got to Dilan we discovered they were having issues with their radio and could not hear anyone calling in. I relayed the information and soon Dilan was making ready to leave the channel and anchor outside where it was rolly. This all delayed me so even though I made it ashore before 7:30 the pies were gone.

I cycled for the third time the couple of miles to the Tamanu Beach Hotel and sorted out a few more things. Everything is now set to have our parts shipped to the Aquarium Cafe in Neiafu, Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga. Then it was back to the boat to pick up Helen and Ben for our island bike ride. We made (I made) a map reading error initially and had us cycling up a steepish hill and then back down the wrong way. Nevertheless we were on our way anti-clockwise away from the direction we’d gone every time before. We were on the lookout for a listed Marae – ancient ruins. We saw a sign to a rubbish dump and passed it by. On reflection we reckon that was the road to the Marae but we missed it. Having seen a few before we had no great desire to turn around and go back.

We passed through small pockets of homes, most of which giving evidence of the devastation wrought by the hurricane earlier this year. We eventually came to a shop selling food and household items with an attached cafe. We had a look around and found a few things we needed and a few we’d heard were sought after in Palmerston. It was late enough for brunch so we settled for (to make up for earlier) pie and ice cream although not of course together.

Our next stop was a lookout at one of the highest points of the island. It was not exactly high but it was a struggle getting up the dirt track on our bikes. Ben was the only one who didn’t get off and push at some point. From this point the map showed a dotted line that would take us back down to the road. We followed what we thought was the correct path which seemed to be a 4×4 track through some fields. We eventually came to a building plot and seemingly a dead end. Off to one side we saw a track heading down the hill very, very steeply down towards a road. We decided to make our way down here. This was quick tricky as we had to hold the brakes on the bikes and slide them down while trying not to slip off our feet. About 50ft from the road the track turned into brush which we had to forge a path through. We were eventually successful. We headed north on this road and soon ran into a new dead end and turned around. It did not take too long to reach the main road.

By now we were all feeling a little tired and saddle sore. We decided to complete the last 4 miles or so without and detours. Before long we had passed the Tamanu Beach Hotel and were on familiar ground. We dropped off the bikes and walked back to our dinghy. At the port they were still ferrying containers back and forth to the main ship. We’d learned earlier in the day that the produce may start showing in the stores on Saturday or Monday. In the main store I mentioned we were planning to head off for Palmerston on Monday. It looks like they may have some things for us to take with us.

As implied we’ve made the decision to stay here the weekend and get some rest. Today we may dinghy over to one of the islands on the surrounding atoll. Tomorrow (Sunday) we’ll respect the local custom of doing no work. We may visit the local church. While cycling round the island it appears the big local issue is many of the folks here are against Sunday flights into the airport. There were many signs protesting against this. We’ve also read that respecting the day of rest is very important to the locals here so we will honour their custom.

Fire Dancing

Yesterday was another day when our prior plans were superseded by other activities. Yesterday we needed to spend some time focusing on family matters. In the morning I went ashore to pick up SIM card and some minutes for my mobile phone. It’s amazing that we’re in the middle of nowhere practically and we can have a working mobile phone and our own number in minutes. I had also hoped to pick up some pies for breakfast but it turned out I was already too late. The pies are available at 7am and it looks like if we snooze we lose.

Back on the boat I was able to talk to family and sort a few things out – hopefully. CatCo/Lagoon had already come back with some assistance regarding the charger problem. I had a few more tests to do and the result is they’ll be shipping a replacement charger out to Tonga on warranty. It’s all 2-4 day hops from here to there so we should be able to pick our weather windows and mostly sail. Even if we have to motor we’re not severely impacted at the moment as the top 1/6 of our energy supply doesn’t make that much extra boat speed. And we’d save fuel too if we had to motor.

By mid afternoon all the calls and tests were done. We needed some internet time to try and find a contact in Tonga to which we could ship the charger and water maker part. We also still wanted to visit the Tamanu Beach Hotel that evening to watch the fire dancing. The best answer seemed to be to go and hire the bikes for 24 hours so we could do everything that afternoon/evening and have them to tour the island the following day.

We managed to obtain the bikes just before the place closed. It took us a while to find the Internet Lounge listed on our map. We had brought our laptop but were soon frustrated as we were not allowed to use it. They had their own PCs and insisted we use them. All my bookmarks, etc. were on my laptop so it made a few things quite tricky. In the end, after asking again if I could use my laptop there, they suggested I go to the Tamanu Beach Hotel as they had a hot spot. So off we went. It was good to see a little more of the island. One thing that is very apparent is the damage left over from a major hurricane that came through in February.

It was good to visit the hotel in daylight so we knew what to expect later. Using my own laptop was much better and soon I was banging away. I obtained a contact via a very quick response from one of the organizers of the Tonga Rendezvous we’ve signed up for. I’ve reached out to them to make sure it’s ok but the signs are good. I also managed to upload a few but by no means all of our outstanding pictures.

We all cycled back to the dock (Helen and Ben having left ahead of me) and we went back to the boat to kill some time. We noticed a boat having difficulties in the pass. It was high tide but now past 5pm so the light was poor. When we entered we needed the light to avoid the really shallow patches and no doubt this boat had run aground. I was soon off in the dinghy to assist. It turned out to be the boat Dilan which we’d first met in Huahine in the Societies. He was surprised at the grounding as he’d been through the pass a few years before in the same boat and had no issue. I pointed out there had been a hurricane year and that with 1ft less draft than he we had bumped a couple of times. Perhaps the channel had silted up a little. I helped him off the sandbar he was on by nudging him around and waited until he’d safely anchored in the channel. With fading light that was his best option until he could assess his options the following day. I let him know the island was expecting a supply ship in very soon and that he may have to move out of the channel if it arrives.

Around 6:30 we went back ashore to eat out. We went to one of the fish/chip/burger bars on the side of the road and again had our fill. Now completely dark and with no lights we cycled to the hotel. We had to wait 3/4 an hour for the dancing so we walked the beach, chatted and had a couple of beers to fill the time. The dancing ended up being very similar to that in French Polynesia. It was longer than the show in the Intercontinental that Ben saw so that was good.

Cycling back we were assisted by someone on a moped who chose to ride along just behind us providing some excellent visibility and protection from traffic in the dark. Whoever it was peeled off at the fish and chip shack we ate at earlier without a word. I waved and thanked them for their consideration. We chained the bikes up at the nearby petrol station and went back to the boat feeling very, very tired from the days activities.


Around 9:30 we were ready and went ashore for our hike to Maeva. We briefly looked at hiring bikes (or at least an extra bike as we already have two) but decided against the idea in favour of walking. The hike was around 6km to where the archaeological site is. A lot of the way was along the side of a stretch of water connected to the sea at one end called the lake. It was all very pretty. Along the way Ben set us a maths problem. We had to make the number 24 using just the four numbers (once each and only once) 1,3,4 & 6, the four standard operations (+,-,/,x) and parenthesis/brackets. It was infuriating but once the trick was found both Helen and I solved it.

The ruins were quite extensive and in a lot of places partially restored. There was a boat hut that appeared to have been reconstructed but it was out of bounds so we could not investigate further. Our guide book stated there should be a museum nearby so we walked into the town of Maeva but could not find it. We walked back to the ruins and up a foot path to find more of the marae – ruins. There were a lot of noisy school kids around the first set of ruins/banyon tree so we soon pushed on upwards to where we were on our own with a pleasant view over the sea to the north.

We decided against following the path onwards and headed back the way we came. Walking back along the road we soon managed to hitch a lift with a local lady who was singing along to French songs. In town we picked up some sandwich rolls from the supermarket which we ate going back to the dinghy. At this point we’d decided to leave the anchorage in the afternoon and head down south to where the snorkeling is supposed to be really good.

Heading back to the boat we noticed Renova had arrived. We went over to greet them and hand over a pair of shoes Naomi had left aboard our dinghy after the ride to the rays in Moorea. We gave them the low down of the land and soon had agreed to stay in the anchorage and meet them for Happy Hour.

As the afternoon wore on more of our friends arrived: Kamaya, Victoria, Dilan & Escapade showed up in the anchorage. We soon had a few more folks invited to Happy Hour. I spent the afternoon doing computer stuff still not getting round to work on the head sail.

We ate our dinner before heading out for Happy Hour. Another great time with friends was had on the waterfront. Back on the boat we watched a couple of episodes of 24 before retiring.

Today we definitely will head south and definitely might work on the head sail.