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Pangaimotu

Our sail down was slow and drizzly but uneventful. We’d aimed for the eastern passage into Tongatapu hoping to see whales outside in the deep water. No luck there. We arrived around 3pm, anchored behind the island of Pangaimotu on first try and settled down exhausted. We’d all had a troubled night’s sleep and were all ready for a rest.

Not without first checking the internet. This was fortunate really as although it is free here, it is insanely slow. So we all started downloading stuff then slowing down and resting.

In the evening we went ashore to Big Mama’s where we ate out along with Sea Mists, Imagines and Tahinas. Later, the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was shown but we didn’t stay. The Visions of Johanna’s came for the movie so we had a chance to say hello and catch up. There are others in this anchorage we know. The Leu Cats are here as well as the Borees and another number of other boats we recognise but know less well. All are waiting here for their preferred weather window. A whole load of boats left last Sunday. I wouldn’t have but I keep my fingers crossed for all of them as we know a few.

This morning I took the 9am water taxi to the main dock a mile away to clear in. I shared a taxi to the Immigration Office with the Borees. There I discovered my visa was all in order and they said I didn’t need to do anything until I leave. Same was true for customs and the port captain, they said. It may be incorrect but I’m still cleared into Tonga so I can’t go too far wrong.

My next problem was that the return water taxi was at 1pm. I picked up some supplies based on a list that Helen gave me and wandered around Nuku’alofa for a while. I covered most of it in fairly short order and still ended up with plenty of time. I ended up at the dock an hour early. I sat in a cafe and read a magazine to kill the time.

This afternoon I’ve been back on the boat sorting out my ebook collection. Helen has spent all day on her year two perspective – still not finished. Ben has been stuck into his actuarial studies. It’s been too windy today to take down our headsail. Frank on Tahina offered us the use of his sail sewing machine which I’d like to do after taping up the tear. The quick and dirty fix of putting marine compound on the sail repair tape can wait until if and when it recurs.

A new headsail and a service of our old one was already on our to do list for New Zealand. I think the tear is a result of our old problem of the sun strip being a tad too narrow. We look after the sail by furling it tight but the initial damage may be quite old.

Uoleva

Before we left Pangai I did one more trip ashore to do some final internetting, buy some more phone time and get some bread. On the way back I saw a tent set up and underneath they were cooking chicken dinners. I managed to get a nice pile of chicken for about 5 bucks which I took back to the boat for our brunch.

Shortly after we raised the anchor and, with the trade winds reasserting themselves, hoisted the sails for our 5nm sail to Uoleva.

Already in the anchorage were Sympatica and Visions of Johanna. Behind us, coming to the same anchorage, was Sea Mist – even though we’d not discussed our plans. Somehow we ended up snoozing much of the afternoon. Bill from Visions borrowed our hookah to clean his bottom as well as inviting us, the Sea Mists and Sympaticas over for cocktails later. Although we came here for a nice walk along the beach we never found the time to do it.

We had a good evening aboard Visions – Bill being liberal with the rum cocktails. We got the usual boat tour which was quite amazing. Bill had designed a lot of the interior himself. The boat is a whopping 62ft long but he’s laid out the interior for convenience rather than packing in as many state rooms as possible. His engine room is a picture of redundancy.

Not sure what we’ll do today. Maybe we’ll go ashore or perhaps just push on. Maybe both.

Recovered

My original plan to retrieve the dinghy was to wait until the tide has risen sufficiently to float it off the patch of sand/reef it was stranded on. John from Tyee called me to say he’d rounded up enough able bodied men from the boats around to lift it off the reef sooner. Realizing that most of the nearby boats were planning to leave and that if my plan A failed I would have no help I agreed. After all, if lifting it off turned out to be impossible then I always had my original plan to fall back on.

John arrived with Andy from Zephyrus and a father and son from a Gangada. With our Ben along we headed over to the other side of the bay – nearly 2 miles away. Getting onto the reef was a challenge but we made it although we had to leave John in his dinghy as there was nowhere to anchor. The dinghy was further away than we remember but nicely sitting on sand. The patch of the reef nearest the water was festooned with small urchins and plenty of pits and hollows which was a little forbidding.

With the outboard locked on (key on boat) and with anchor chain and safety chain aboard it was all pretty heavy. We were able to carry it though with three at the back and one at the front. Each position was tiring so we would rotate after each short walk. When we reached the treacherous part we would carefully plant our feet and shift it forward one or two feet at a time. Soon we had it in the water and afloat. The engine fired up cleanly – a big relief. We then had to retrieve our helpers from the reef which took a little coordination. We gave plenty of thanks to our helpers and returned our separate ways.

Later in the morning Ben and I went back ashore to Ben and Lisa’s island. I had left my camera ashore – Saturday was not my best day. We met Bill and Johanna there from Visions of Johanna. Bill is a doctor and was visiting Ben who had fallen out of a tree the night before. Hopefully he’ll be ok.

On the way back from the island Ben and I dropped of at Tyee to say thanks again. While there we were able to help them fix a laptop which would not start up so all of us ended up happy.

The afternoon we just relaxed. We really are pooped and tired from the last couple of weeks and needed the down time.

Sadly we have still not received any communication about the latest tracking number for our charger from CatCo. It has taken six weeks so far and we have yet to overcome the difficulties this end. I have reached the point where if they’ve not sent it already we need to figure something else out. Tremendously disappointing. With no other issues getting to NZ with 1/6 of our charging capability lost is not that big a deal. It’s hard to fathom how so little can be accomplished in six weeks.

Full Moon Party

The Jackster’s showed up and anchored next to us around midday. We soon had them over to share our experiences of the last few months as well as abandoning our plans to hoist the main sail in favour of a few beers.

Around 6pm we headed ashore to Ano Beach for the ferry service to the Full Moon Party. Sadly, the ferry service was the weak link of the whole evening requiring some folks to wait over two hours for their turn to board and make the passage round to the party. Fortunately we made it over on the second one out so we didn’t have to wait too long.

The party was a lot of fun. A lot of the people we have previously mentioned on our blog were there. Most people on their way to New Zealand this year are either now in Tonga or soon to be arriving. I’m probably missing a few but those that we can put our heads together and remember are : A Cappella, Anthem, Bamboozle, Callisto, Delos, Freezing Rain, Imagine, Inspiration Lady, Jackster, Kamaya, Mojo, Paleides, Passages, Scream, Sea Mist, Trim, Tyee & Visions of Johanna. There were many others and we made some new acquaintances along the way.

A lot of effort had been put into things including three 10 minute shows of which Ben played a part (dressed as a skeleton) in the first and third. Not everything went smoothly but it was all appreciated.

We didn’t get back until after midnight. We didn’t see Ben until the following morning around 11am which I saw him on the ferry. I dinghied over and he jumped in the water to avoid the trip to the beach. He hadn’t slept at all having had the beer and food go free around 3am and partying into the morning followed by helping to clear up.

We have some pictures, courtesy of Ann from Callisto, which will be posted when we can get a connection.

Tomorrow the fun continues so we’ll be off early round to Neiafu.