Saturday, 15 November 2014

Tongatapu, Tonga

Greetings friends & family,

Our time in Tonga has flown by, and we are hours away from weighing anchor to leave for New Zealand via Minerva Reef. There are a couple of dozen boats here at Tongatapu (Pangiamotu - Big Mama's Yacht Club) and I think that most are heading out within the next 48 hours. It seems that we have the weather window we have all been waiting for.

I had hoped to take the time to "bring you with us" during our stay in Tonga; I had wanted to describe in detail each feast, each day of the sail repair, each trip "to town". Alas, this short note will need to suffice. Each day was filled from morning to evening. I assume you have already seen Max's photos of the sail repair that we completed; this took six full days, and it felt a bit like I was right back to working full time in terms of staying on top of daily chores... then I needed the rest of the time here to catch up again! Suffice to say that we supported Big Mama's kitchen while the repair was ongoing. Doug & Benjamin became fast friends, as they hung out together while Victoria and I sewed for the first three days, then Doug took his own turn at sewing later in the week. We couldn't have done such a solid repair so quickly without the advice from our friends on SV Totem, or the tools from our friends on SV Exodus. The support of the cruising community has once again been humbling, and we look forward to opportunities to "pay it forward"...

Our stay at anchor offered many chances to socialize with friends old and new. We enjoyed several potlucks and traditional Tongan feasts. We were even invited to help cook on Wednesday evening - everyone took some food ashore, and we cooked it collaboratively into traditional Tongan foods. My favourite was the "raw fish" - as with Mexican ceviche and French Polynesian "poisson cru", three kinds of fish (tuna, parrot fish, and snapper) were marinated in lemon juice, then combined with tomatoes, chives, cucumbers, and coconut milk. So good!

There were about a half-dozen kid boats in the anchorage, so the kids have had great fun playing with their friends from earlier in the season (and we finally met up with Exodus - yeah!) I hardly had to hold Benjamin, because each time I showed up ashore, one of the girls would come and ask if they could take him ... he would be returned to me, grubby but happy, upwards of an hour later.

We had a few chances to go "to town" (just over a mile away by either dinghy or small "ferry" - we often chose the ferry, as it was the drier of the two!). Checking into Tonga was a bit of an adventure, as we had to spend four hours tied up to a concrete dock, but checking out was easier because we just had to go to the offices in person. Doug, Benjamin, Victoria and I combined checking out with shopping for a few provisions and visiting the local farmers'/artisans' market (can you ever own too many black pearl trinkets??)

We (I) are ready-but-nervous for the upcoming passage. Everything looks good for nice (but potentially light-air on day 3) sail to Minerva reef, where we (and quite a number of our friends) will spend a few days, and then it also looks like it is shaping up for a good run to NZ. We (Max) have been checking systems, cleaning prop & bottom, inspecting the rig, and stowing like mad to be ready for this next leg of our journey. Our current intention is to leave in the morning to ensure the most daylight on the day we arrive (likely two nights and three days).

Love to you all,
Elizabeth
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At 10/30/2014 5:30 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 21°07.70'S 175°09.63'W
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At 10/30/2014 5:30 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 21°07.70'S 175°09.63'W

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