Friday, 26 September 2008

Kingdom of Tonga to Fiji

Today we are leaving the main island of Tonga to visit the smaller atols and continue to Fiji where we arrive in a couple of weeks. Sofar the Tongan islands are small, green with white beaches and wonderful coral formations. The people are the friendliest sofar. On entering a village, we were ankered on the leeward side of the island and walked the 1 km across, we were invited to a tradional Tongan meal, of which all dishes are cooked in an underground pit above some hot rocks. The kids love the fishhooks with line we brought for them and we also gave some batteries and basic medicine to the family we stayed at. The exchange of gifts and friendlyness is the basis for the mostly barter economy. This of course provoked another exchange of various fruits to ensure our hapiness.. etc.. etc..

Walking around a deserted island in 10 minutes on bright white sandy beach around coconuttree laden island is one of the highlights sofar. Shortly after we topped up a perfect sunny afternoon with watching the tale of a whale.. admittedly some distance away.. but now I have seen one.. more are sure to follow!

Another few days with heavy winds and rain ahead of us to the nothern island group of the Kingdom of Tonga. We may drop in to say hi to the king if we can get past the Royal Guards ;)

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Gales, ankerslippage and tonga sunday

We have arrived in Tonga after 10 days of rough sailing. Mostly cloudy with rain.. On our arrival the sky cleared up and we are having some nice sunny weather again.

Rarotonga was great but our 10 day weather enforced lay-up was getting to us a little. The island is great and the fridaynight an excellent way to let off steam. They know how to hit the bottle here.. late night scenes resemble 'the morning after' of Amsterdam Queensday. Cat the vet showed us around biking and hiking the island and it was nice to be able to converse with the locals as they have english as the secondary language and not french.

After all the hubbub and the lost radar unit caused by the gale on the way to Rarotonga, it seems we were rather lucky.. of the ships arriving after us, one had to come in with failed 3 GPS units and nativagation system (a mean feat of naviation), one lost the use of their engine and came sailing into the very small harbor and was only able to anker in time with the help of various dingies (4pk engines) being used as pushboats. Another we saved crashing into the quay as the anker slipped and mooring lines started to pop by throwing a 2nd anker from the dingy.. and the smallest ship, another 3 feet smaller than ours, came in completely drenched inside with all their electronics out.

Having arrived in Tonga, we got to hear of a dutch couple, crewing a ship to New Zealand who had lost the rudder and had to be towed in at the expense of 30.000 dollar.. Our neighbours at the mooring were thrown onto the side with mast in the water twice and are still drying their belongings, accumulated on a 14 year circumnavigation.

After all this, we almost crashed our boat into the other neighbour and rocky quay in the port of Tonga at the mooring when the 10 knot wind changed direction and the anker started slipping. Stupid you may say.. and rightly so.. Being alone on board, and trying to do right thing.. pffff, hauling in the anker, getting the engine going for forward thrust and having to let the backspring (line to quay) go slowly.. this was not going to be possible for me to do on my own.., going, going... oh oh.. of course I am in control and know what I am doing... eh... ok.. yell for help to the neighbouring boat!! This brought out the owner couple from their siesta who immediately rowed to the resque and together (me doing what they told me to) we saved the day with only a minute to spare.

Having arrived on saterday, the sunday provided well deserved rest and a stroll around town. We came to the right place for that. Walking around is a throwback to a dutch village in the 50ies. Massive and very full churches everywhere, with wonderful harmony voices (maybe not so dutch but you get the picture) and traditionally dressed Tongans inside. Literally everything is closed down for the day, and both radio stations are dedicated to ' god and tonga' (the proclaimed cornerstones of Tongan life) with the soundtracks of 'the sound of music' being the highlight.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

To Nuie and then Tonga

Miss Polynesia and Miss mama-hu Polynesia ( miss grandmother)

Friday, 5 September 2008

Saved by the bell

The last few days the weather has maintained a somber look with new high pressure front coming in, as the 1048 is slowly moving away. Cedric says that in 20 years of sailing and instructing heavy weather sail courses, he never has experienced such a high.. So we are stuck in the paradise of Roratonga. We have met a nice volunteer vet who has shown us the island on a 30 km circumnavigation by bike. People are extremely friendly and open. Besides the islanders of course, which are typical polynesian, especially the new zealanders also known as kiwis are a breath of fresh air. Certainly after experiencing the stuck up toerists spending bucketfulls of money for a week in Bora Bora. They seemed to have gotten contaminated with a dose of snobbyness, probably thrown in for free.

The islands from here on to New Zealand will have even more variety of coral and fish species. Especially Tonga and Fiji are going to be great for snorkling and diving. After leaving the French Polynesian islands there is no more risk of eating poisened fish from the lagoons, so we can start fishing in the lagoon as well. The french deny it, but the nuclear testing done on one of their Tohomutu islands (still off limits) coincidentally occured around the same time in the 60ties and is limited to the area, is when the ciquatera desease developed.

Friday night tomorrow is partynight on the island, saterday night should also be fun but everything closes down at 12 at night in preparation for holy sunday. There are hundreds of churches on the island for up to 6000 people, so you might say they take religion seriously. Another reason for the really sociable people here to gather round, talk, sing and dance.

Gigantic news from Amsterdam. For some reason people at home are running scared of economic resession and have decided to freeze the real estate market. This was not expected nor planned forand becoming a nagging worry in the back of my mind. I am relieved to say that a solution has presented itself at the right moment and I continue my adventure journey carefree while the real estate agent does the impossible and shields me from the daily ups and downs of selling one's home.

Monday, 1 September 2008

40 knots to Raratongo (8 b'fort)

We arrived in the Cookislands yesterday after a 4 day trip with consistent winds of up to 39.6 knots.. Halfway through the radarunit got ripped off the mast. Luckily we had spotted the imminent crash of the 5 kg device from the top of the Thira mast while outside changing to storm sails, and as soon as it crashed on the deck between two enormous waves we were able to recover it. Onwards without radar.

Ever onwards, getting some snippets of news, or rather non-news, from home on the sale of the appartment, left over from a previous lifestyle, anyone interested in an appartment in the center of Amsterdam.., just let me know..

From here on everybody will speak english.. that is going to be a little easier when meeting the locals, although my polynesian is getting better everyday. Even so, it is unlikely you will see me return with a local pearl, even though they are beautiful woman, most are not exactly my size.. any meal served here seems te be supersized, breakfast, lunch, late lunch, early dinner and dinner while enjoying island beach life with lush green backdrop and steady 29 degrees with light breeze... who can blame them