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A Day in the Bay

With bad weather threatened in the afternoon we went ashore in the morning to get a few things done. On the way out we dropped by Emily Grace to say hello. He’d been reading our blog and had a spare irrigation syringe for us and our efforts against the leak. Ashore we dropped off some trash and then checked our the Bursco chandlers. I was able to pick up an off cut piece of hose which I can use as a chaff presenter for our sea anchor. Their prices for a new reefing line was a bit steep.

We then said hello to Phil at Cars for Cruisers before heading onto the customs office to double check procedures for exiting the country. We then visited the marina office to pick up a key for the facilities before going to Catermarine to look around there. Their prices for lines were much cheaper so I bough the replacement line for our 1st reef. Our seal hadn’t arrived yet but nosing around the store we set out eyes upon a good man over board pole which we’ve been looking for for ages. I also had a discussion with one of the staff about trolling rods/reels as I want to lose fewer lures and catch more fish. Before leaving we asked to have the pole set aside. Later Helen acquiesced and allowed me my new fishing rod which I picked up in the afternoon.

As a treat we had a late breakfast/lunch ashore before heading back to the boat. When I returned in the afternoon to pick up the pole/rod I ran into March/Pam from Passages as well as Gary from Pursuit IV. On the way back to the boat I dropped by Imagine as I’d heard they’d had dinghy motor problems but that was now resolved.

The threatened bad weather never arrived but we ended up moving the boat anyway. The boats near where we were were all on submerged moorings which was not obvious until we swung on our anchor/chain and they didn’t. We’re a bit more exposed now but feel safer.

The shaft seal didn’t arrive yesterday but I’ve received confirmation it was signed for by Catermarine this morning. We’ll pick it up today. I need to pick up some fishing line. I could have sworn I had a reel but couldn’t find it when I looked yesterday. I’m looking forward to using that on our next passage.

The long term weather outlook still offers no sign of a passage opportunity. A low is projected to barrel down from the tropics a few days from now but it turns and heads west of New Zealand. If it goes east instead we may have a chance. Slim hopes indeed. The upside is that while we wait for our window it’s inevitable more and more of our friends will show up here in and around Opua.

Water, water, water

The last two nights and yesterday involved a lot of water. Most of the water has been in the form of rain, lots of rain. We did have plenty of breaks though. We are near to a supposedly excellent snorkeling site called the “Coral Gardens”. This involves dinghying over a reef to our west which can only be done around high tide. We gave it a go but weren’t too successful. The winds have recently been all over and we have a westward swell. The swell is coming over the reef from the wrong direction. The result was that our dinghy completely filled with water as several waves crashed over us. We turned back and dragged the dinghy onto a nearby beach and attempted to cross the reef on our snorkels and flippers. That failed too as the current was too strong. We tried one other spot but it didn’t look too good. That was that for our snorkeling.

In the evening we had Jules and Lois from Sympatica along with Gary and Tiera from Pursuit IV over for sun-downers. As of time of writing this blog Sympatica have already left the anchorage so it was good to catch up with them before they headed off. There’s a small chance we’ll bump into the them next week.

Not sure if we’ll stay here today or press on. A lot depends on the weather predictions. I am now spending a lot more time listening to the southern radio nets and looking at the broader weather picture in this region. Two reasons for this. The first is that the anchorages in the Ha’apai group are not as sheltered as those here so attention needs to be paid to what could be happening in the short term. The second reason is to build up some familiarity with the weather conditions for our trip to NZ in 2-3 weeks time.

Barnacle Beach

Around mid morning we dinghied ashore to Nuku to explore the island. There wasn’t a great deal to see but we did get to stretch our legs. Back on the boat we hooked up the hookah so we could explore the area in which we are anchored a little better. Ben and I went down shortly before lunch as we were keen to see what fish we could catch deeper than we could free dive. We found an underwater prominantary which appeared particularly abundant at around 70ft. Here we snagged a couple of groupers of a decent size which we took back to the boat where we gutted and bagged them for a later meal.

In the afternoon Helen and I went out, not going quite so deep, to explore the corals. The area is quite abundant with fish of many different species and numbers. Around each coral head was a blaze of colourful fish which made for a pleasant exploration.

After this I popped over to Zephyrus who had anchored nearby to pick up our diesel. It turned out our jerry can, which had held diesel all the way over from the Galapagos, had sprung a leak. Andy offered to replace the can but I declined his offer saying that it must have been faulty and would soon have gone on us. He did have our diesel in a can so I took that and tipped it into our tanks promising to drop off the can later on.

We’d decided to have a ‘Tonga Feast’ that evening as Barnacle Beach was nearby and they have a feast every Saturday evening. On the way there we dropped of the diesel can back at Zephyrus as well as loaning them our phone. We’d had reports of a boat than sunk 110nm to our south and it turned out to be very good friends of theirs. We knew the crew had been rescued but Andy needed to contact them. I’d bought some extra minutes expecting to be talking to the US to fix our charger (which we won’t be doing here now) so they’d have gone to waste any way. Hopefully Andy will have got through.

Next stop was Barnacle Beach for our feast. The first thing we learned that it was bring your own wine which we hadn’t. I had to whizz back to Dignity for a couple of bottles getting back late. There were a few folks there we knew – Jack from Anthem, Evy from Wonderland, the Bamboozles and we got to know Gary and Tiere from Pursuit.

The feast was very well laid out and very, very tasty. There were all sorts of meats, fruits and salads laid out in shells including a small roast pig. We felt quite full. After the food we had four Tongan solo dancers doing their thing. We were then given some time to mingle and chat before the evening was over.

The winds which have been blowing hard for the last 2-3 days have finally subsided. It is quite calm right now. We intend to move closer to Nieafu today before reentering the harbour tomorrow. Ben is quite pleased as Infinity is in town and they’ve already announced a party on Monday night.