Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ready Set Wait!

Tuesday was 'fuel' day! An early ferry into town, making the rounds of the Port Captain's office, customs and BP fuel depot were the steps involved in lining up delivery of 200 litres of dutyfree diesel to the wharf. Then ferry back to Pangaimotu and bring Toketie back to town to take on the fuel! It would have been much easier if we could have tied up to the wharf to do the paperwork but the only mooring is med style and with the breeze across the harbour it would have been more trouble to set
that twice than taking the ferry in! But we managed and then rafted to a catamaran, pumped the diesel out of the drum into our jerry jugs, lugged them across the catamaran and siphoned them into our tanks. Fortunately the rain held off for those two hours! Back to the anchorage in time to catch a special ferry back to town to go to an Italian restaurant for dinner with four other boats.
Wednesday was paperwork day again and we went in and cleared out of the country officially! But don't tell anyone as we are still here, waiting for the right weather window to leave. Tomorrow is All Hallows Eve and a party will be held at Big Mama's and Saturday night Big Mama has invited all the 'yachties' in the anchorage to a barbeque to celebrate her son and her husband's birthdays. So if we don't get out of here for a few days, we should be busy.
We also sent the water jugs in by ferry to be filled and transported them back on board. The infrastructure in this port is pretty bad. There are no taps for water at the dock and no pumps for fuel. It all has to be trucked down and loaded by hand or pumped out of the tanker truck in the case of a larger quantity.
But in spite of all this, we like Nuku'alofa and are glad we stopped here. Some boats left directly from Neiafu and passed us yesterday without stopping but a squall hit them and turned three or four of them back 100 miles to do some repairs in Nuku'alofa.
So other than the final stowing and lashing, we are ready to go. We are expecting McDavitt's weather report and routing plan in the next few days and will then head south to Opua, NZ!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Last night was the 'bring your own'meat barbeque at Big Mama's! Lots of boats in here now, counted 26 yesterday and they are still arriving from the N islands. There were about 12 when we arrived a week ago. The theme for the Barbeque was 'pirates', kind of an early Halloween. We cobbled something together and had fun!
But there is an underlying tension here as everyone plans for the last 1000 miles to NZ. As I may have mentioned previously, this passage is less predictable weatherwise. Because it can take 8-10 days to complete it, the weather systems coming off the coast of Australia and moving E over NZ can develop in 4 or 5 days time so your best guess when you leave can change radically by the time you approach NZ. We have engaged Bob McDavitt who is the local weather guru to do a prognosis for us on the
best departure date. At this point we are targeting sometime in the first week of Nov! Meanwhile we have to figure out how to do the paperwork for the dutyfree diesel. As we have not taken fuel on since French Polynesia, we can now take 200 liters and the savings are about 1/3 the cost. As we will need to go into the harbour to top up our water tanks, we will top up the fuel tanks at the same time. It is complicated though because they will not issue the dutyfree form until you clear out of
the country and then they expect you to leave. We plan to do the formalities and then wait for our weather window with everything stowed and ready.
Repaired the windless! It was a terribly corroded wire under the foredeck which was difficult to diagnose, difficult to access and almost impossible to repair! But it's done and works and should last to NZ where I can replace the whole plug. The cooling water coming out of the engine exhaust vent hose on deck is not so easy. The checkvalve must have failed and I cannot replace it here. So other than pouring water down the side deck when we motor, there does not seem to be any harm in leaving
it till NZ.
Provisioning has begun, a couple of trips into Nuku'alofa, using the small launch from Big Mama's as a water taxi, has us about 80% ready. We will go in tomorrow (Mon) and get the rest of what we need for about 2 weeks of meals. Linda has it down to a science now where she figures out what we need and I just lug the heavy bags around in the hot sun!
Spent a couple of hours in the water with a plastic scraper lashed to a stick, scraping the growth off the bottom of the boat! Brian next to us was doing the same when he decided to quit after a 2' black tip reef shark was taking an interest in him! I carried on oblivious!
So life here continues! We work and party and visit with other cruisers we have met along the way, meanwhile hoping the weather down S is settling down for our arrival in NZ and no cyclones are developing up here before we depart! When we do leave, I plan to update the position reports along the way so all those vicarious voyagers can follow our progress. I will also log into Opua Offshore, a HAM radio net out of NZ daily to report where we are and what the conditions are like.
So pray the weather gods will be gentle with us.....15-20 knots on the beam would be nice!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Anchored off Paingamotu in Nuku'alofa! This was probably the best passage we have had to date! A steady 15 knot breeze on the beam carried Toketie along comfortably at an average of six knots. Not bad for us! We are tired though and the windless won't work and salt water is coming out of the air vent hose to the engine...oh well I needed something to do anyway...tomorrow!

Friday, October 17, 2008

At sea again

Sailed out of Vava'u at dawn. Now underway with very comfortable 15 knot wind on the beam. Sun and clouds and not very big seas make for a pleasant passage to far!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On the move!

The turkey was great! We had five good nights in the lagoon of Hunga Island, got to know one of the locals, and met the schoolteacher and many primary school children who knocked fresh mangoes out of the trees for us to eat!
But we have checked out of the Vava'u Group of Tonga and plan to jump the 165 miles directly down to Nukualofa, the capital of Tonga. We are preparing to go to sea again after almost two and a half months in Vava'u. Nukualofa will be the last stop before NZ. So I am busy studying the weather patterns down south and they can be very interesting! As the stormy season comes to a close in NZ, the typhoon season begins in Tonga and we will try to time it to avoid the worst of both! There is lots
of weather information available fortunately and many other boats planning the crossing. The only concern is that once you set out on the ten day (for us anyway) passage, the situation can change in NZ when you are half way there. So the strategy is to pick the most favourable conditions and then pray!
Meanwhile the weather up here has been stable and the forecast is good for our passage down to Nukualofa. If I get a chance, I will submit a position report!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gobble Gobble!

Thanksgiving is near! And we are prepared to give thanks, Canada style, from Tonga! We found a really nice turkey and shared the small fortune it cost with Anne & Barry on 'Cat's Paw IV'. 'Tarun' may be in the neighbourhood on Monday as well so Brian & Cathy along with their current NZ guests may join us for the feast.
Meanwhile after three nights in Neiafu Harbour with the 100+ other boats, we were more than ready to depart for quieter places. Water tanks are full again, gas for the outboard, laundry done, provisions....etc.... So yesterday we sailed around the outside of the Vavau'u Islands,to Hunga Island on the Western side and ducked into a tiny opening through a reef at high tide to find ourselves in a large, well protected lagoon and only two other boats way off on the far end! This morning we drift snorkelled
the pass at low tide and can see why they advise coming in at high tide! Lots of nice fish and the ubiquitous black and white striped coral sea snake just to keep Linda on her flippers!
The sun has been out for days now and although some clouds darken the horizons, we are enjoying warm weather with a gentle breeze for a change. In the afternoon we took the dinghy through another reef at high tide into the "Blue Lagoon"! Lots of interesting coral reefs and wave action from the exposed SE side. Some resort huts on a beach, very secluded. A walk on soft sand, a giant turtle checking us out.
So enjoy your Thanksgiving Feasts wherever you are and we will raise a toast to the friends and family we miss so far away.
Special greetings to Doug and Karen....our hearts are with you.