Posted by: catamarantwooceans | August 26, 2010

Ha’apai

17.8.10 – Tuesday –        Continued –

1500 – Windlass installed.

1700 – We sailed out of Vava’u starting with full sails. Very quickly it became apparent that we need to reef since we were going too fast to reach Ha’apai in daylight. We were actually going close-hauled for the 60 miles trip but the waves were not too big so it was an easy one.

18.8.10 – Wednesday – During the night I thought I saw a light behind us so it was no surprise that as morning came we saw a yacht about a mile behind us. Meir was resting in his cabin. I was at the helm, looking around for whales imagining the way I was going to bring him out quickly to see them. Suddenly a movement caught my eye. Whales at two o’clock! “There she blows!” I hollered, like a character out of Moby Dick “four points to starboard!” I turned the boat toward the whales and started an engine to alert them to our presence while Meir shot out of his bunk. They were quite far but we did see them blowing, exiting the water vertically, falling on their side in a great explosion of spray and doing “headstands” with their tails high up. The hope of seeing them from close range did not materialize for they disappeared and we had to turn back to Pangai, on the island of Lifuka to do the formalities. By that time the other yacht came closer and we spoke on V.H.F. She was S/V Eleni from the Nederlands.

The entrance is regarded as complicated (those reefs and shallows, remember?) but the sun was high enough so we could read the bottom and there were some marks leading to the harbor. We anchored just outside of it.

The crew of Eleny asked us to take them ashore as their dingy was being repaired and so with the four of them, Leony, Adam and the children Mees, who is not yet four years old and two years old Peter we motored ashore to tackle the local Customs. We were lucky! The custom officer agreed to do the check in and out today.

The local fruit and veg market yielded a surprise; they had peppers, green as well as red hot ones. A simple thing but it made me happy.

Hot!

We then went to a local establishment, the only restaurant in town “The Mariner café” and had lunch. The place has a visiting yachts book which was started in 2000. We put our names in it, perhaps the first Israelis to visit.

Mariner's cafe

19.8.10 – Thursday – Early in the morning another yacht arrived. It’s getting crowded!

Lifuka anchorage

We went ashore and took a walk around town. There were a lot of schoolchildren about, all dressed in uniforms. In one of the schools a teacher beat the rhythm with a baton and the kids, sitting cross-legged on mats, sang a hymn in beautiful harmony. The charts show a “Palace” in the village and one of the local ladies gave us directions. We found it to be an unguarded building, smaller than the church beside it, its fence broken, chicken and pigs roaming the grounds.

Royalty lives here

At about 1000 we exited the reefs surrounding Lifuka and sailed west to our day’s destination – Ha’afeva. We hoped to see whales again were not disappointed. At first they were far but then a couple came real close. The best was to come as we neared Ha’afeva. While we were looking the other way a loud boom sounded on our right close by. Another whale shot out of the water displaying at least a third of his bulk above the surface. This was repeated five times, with us trying in vain to catch the action on our cameras.

Whales!

Near the island we could see a two masts yacht at anchor. As we came in a woman came on the radio and gave us some coordinates for the entrance. I was late to understand that the red mark that was supposed to show it was simply not there. As we went in and anchored it started raining hard, we simply stayed on board. We invited the couple on “Bristol Rose” for drinks but the rain deterred them. Dinner was fish and shrimps in coconut milk flavored with red hot peppers and ginger. Yummy!

20.8.10 – Friday – The weather became better during the night so we took the dinghy ashore to explore the village nestling on the eastern shore. It was the typical Tongan village, at least four churches, two grocery stores – one Chinese and one Tongan. On our way there we passed through the cemetery in which many of the graves were colorfully ornamented.

decorated grave

Many people waved and said hello, children uttering the word “Palangi” (foreigner) with no malice but curiosity. A guy stopped us near one of the houses: “Do you want papaya? Coconuts?” Yes, we did and the man, Peter was his name, took a machete and signaled us to follow him into the bush. He easily climbed a palm and brought down two green coconuts, using a long stick he felled a big papaya and insisted we also take an enormous yam too. We paid the man handsomely and went back to the boat.

bringing coconuts

Peter and friend

The guys on Bristol Rose were getting ready to leave so we just spoke briefly. I offered them a half of my giant yam and found out that the same Peter caught up with them yesterday. They bought so many bananas they put some for us on the boat while we were away.

So, engines on, we started motoring to the next island – O’ua. You may have noticed that vowels play a big role in Tongan. One of the islands is called Uonukuhihifo: Uoo  Oh Noo  koo  Hee  Hee  Fo, try saying it! The way to O’ua is strewn with reefs and the entrance looked intimidating, but this time the markers were in place and we anchored inside a small lagoon protected by the reefs.

21.8.10 – Saturday – Last day in Tonga! We are going to Nomuka–iki, an uninhabited island close to – you may have guessed – the island of Nomuka, where there is a village but no good anchorage. The jungle has taken over Nomuka-iki, so when we tried traversing it to the west side we found no trail and decided to turn back.

on the beach

Just opposite our anchorage a fishing-boat that was washed ashore lay half buried in sand.

Takuo

We walked around some and went back to “Two Oceans”.

Tomorrow morning we’ll start the 408 n.m trip to Suva, Fiji. A thing to watch out for on this leg will be the many uncharted hazards between Tonga and Fiji, a list of which was published back in 1994 with points added during the years by responsible yacht skippers. The list gives out their coordinates and for some – a brief description: “Yacht hit in 1993” “Vatoa shoal 1.3 NW of charted position” “discolored water 1958” etc. We plot some of the relevant points on the chart-plotter and will look out for them. (Discolored water? Sounds like a problem with mixing drinks!)

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