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Very Quickly

Peter is ok.  See Miracles Do Happen.

Weekend has been too good to have time to blog. But here are the pics for now.

Desperate News

Please read the following link from our friends aboard Callypso.

A Night From Hell

We join Paul & Maureen sending our hopes up into the Pacific for a safe arrival for Peter.

Friday, Friday

Have I been spending too long looking into the tea leaves?  I’ll spout my weather musings, as usual, at the end of the blog so you tell me then.  And if you get the pop-culture reference in the blog title I can only say “sorry.”

Tuesday it was sort of back to normal in a way.  I managed a fairly typical 2 hour run to drop off trash and pick up a package from the chandlers.  Typical in that it really should have taken 10 minutes but I kept bumping into folks and “hello” leads to “bloody weather” and then time flies.  With a reasonable part of the day left we tackled a few important issues.  Two were leaks made apparent during the recent deluge.  Gone now is the leak via the mount on the forward starboard shower hatch.  Gone now is the leak from the handles to the stern locker hatches, the starboard one in particular being, I believe, the root cause of the bilge alarms last weekend.  Last job was to mount the man overboard pole securing it to the horse shoe float.  That way, if someone goes overboard we can throw it in the water.  The swimmer can see the flag/pole and find the float.  Those left aboard can see the flag/pole and find the swimmer.

In the evening was a pot luck dinner for the fleet of cruisers stuck in Opua.  We ended up sat at a table with the Imagines and Callypsos joined later by John from Passages.  All good company.  We left quite late.

So.  The bloody weather.

The model forecasts available yesterday provided no inspiration at all.  The huge high pressure system well to the east of us seemed immovable and creating a traffic jam of systems out our way.  The Delos boys are stir crazy and have a notion to leave today and head east before heading north.  A bold and brave move in my opinion but I can understand the move.

Knowing the models to be in a volatile state demands close attention to how the solutions are evolving.  And this morning I see a glimpse.  Perhaps a chance to leave on Friday.  Low pressure systems are doing the tango south and west of us.  One of them is now looking to take and hold a position just off the west coast on NZ bringing northwesterly winds Friday afternoon followed by westerlies.  If we left then we would get a day and a half of good sailing before encountering a line of high pressure spots with confused and light winds.  This would require careful threading through and maybe a little motoring.  Beyond this we would be into south easterly flows which would put us back into decent sailing conditions.  The final obstacle would be a low pressure system over Tonga way which could cause a combination of opportunities or problems depending on your destination and how it evolves.  My overall synopsis is that its looking good for those heading to New Caledonia, perhaps a good chance for those Fiji bound and a bit chancy for those bound for Tonga.

In about 3 hours we get the next model output.  I’ll shake the cup and read the tea leaves again then.

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?

Mariner’s Cave / Beach BBQ

Around mid morning Ben and I took the dinghy over to the small island of Luakapa to snorkel as we’d read it was supposed to be pretty good there. The water was certainly clear and it was quite interesting. We’d brought the spear guns just in case there was something worth taking back to eat but there was none of that.

On the way out and on the way back we popped by a few of the boats we knew to invite them to come with us to Mariner’s Cave in the afternoon. It was about 3nm away which is quite far for dinghies. It was recommended to go by boat – perhaps sharing to make it easier. In the end we had quite a few agree to come up – 16 folks in all from Delos, Inspiration Lady, Vagabond, Callypso, Ludmilla, Anthem, Jackster, Imagine & Arctic.

Gary and Jackie from Inspiration Lady were a great help. Not only had they agreed to be the dinghy dock but they also came along just for the ride and social giving us someone to man the boat while everyone got in the water.

At 2pm we had everyone aboard and we motored off to the cave. We found it easily enough as there were two other boats there when we arrived although they left shortly after. Our drop off was a bit far from the cave so we had a bit of a swim to get there. To get into the cave one has to swim down a few feet then along about 12-14 surfacing in a sealed, dark cave. The entrance tunnel was quite large so by going deeper there was no risk of bumping into anything. Inside the cave it is quite amazing. Despite being dark it is well lit from the outside. The surf created changes in pressure that could be felt in the ears. When a partial vacuum was created by the surf going out a mist would form inside the cave momentarily.

There was a second entrance which I’d heard about before. It was about 40 feet down and a little longer – about the limit of what I can do underwater. Forgetting that I’d just done a fairly long swim I went for it. This turned out to be a scary moment as I was gulping for air even when I still had rock over my head. Reaching the surface took forever. I decided to remove my weight belt to help. Just before doing so I realized I shouldn’t do it over the deep water outside of the tunnel exit so I swam over the roof of the tunnel to let it go. In hindsight I could probably have reached the surface in that time. Nevertheless I am here to tell the story but I’ve learned my lesson. The longer underwater stuff can only be done when I’m totally relaxed and not after an exertion. I was soon back in the cave spending a lot longer inside this time with everyone else who were now all inside. Feeling more relaxed I again exited via the lower tunnel finding it a lot easier. Ben also made the exit the same way.

On the way back Ben entertained us by playing on Bamboozle’s piano which we still have. We’d dragged a couple of dinghies out the the cave as a few folks wanted to visit Swallow’s Cave on the way back. We let them go about half way back and headed in.

We agreed to have a beach bonfire/BBQ at 6pm. A few of us went ashore to collect wood while others prepared food. Soon we had quite a crowd ashore and two fires going. We stayed quite late with chatting and some music – mostly furnished by Fergus from Paleides on his hand organ. It was well after midnight before we were finally back aboard. Ben went back to Delos but it looks like he swam back at some point as he’s aboard and there were wet foot prints all over the cabin this morning.