July 2017

Sunday 2nd

Neiafu, Vava’u, Tonga

Having left Niue on Monday 26th June we arrived here around 0900 on Friday 30th.  Now it isn’t that far from one island to the next so why did it take (apparently) four night at sea.  Well the last night was spent hove to having arrived off the west coast of Vava’u at around midnight and not wishing to do a night entrance.  The other, “extra”, night is accounted for by the fact that we crossed the date line and lost a day.  Which one?  Thursday, I think.

Clearance here is very quick, easy and relatively cheap, about £40.  We rafted up alongside REAO who had arrived an hour or so before us and before lunch were on a mooring ball in Neiafu harbour.  This is the first place we have been since the Caribbean that really seems to understand and cater for cruisers. There isn’t much in the way of yacht facilities although you can haul out here.  There is no big chandler and no large marina but there are a lot of local businesses that provide services.  It is easy to get laundry done (almost impossible in most of French Polynesia), easy to get gas tanks refilled, easy to dispose of old engine oil, reasonably priced provisions including good fresh fruit and vegetables are available.  The waterfront bars/cafes are moderately priced and serve good food, almost without exception.

Neiafu Harbour, Vava’u. Neiafu is top left of the shot and the mooring field is centre. The approach channel is in the foreground

Friday 7th

Vava’u, Tonga

We’d left Niue behind DUENDE and stayed in touch over VHF for most of the passage.  However, on the last night we lost them.  It turned out they had gone south about Vava’u whilst we had taken the more direct northern route.  They arrived a few hours after us.  Here is DUENDE a few days later…

Now for a short boat lesson…

DUENDE is a yawl and EMMA LOUISE is a ketch.  They both have two masts the after one, the Mizzen, being shorter than the forward one.  So far, so equal, so whats the difference.  Well imagine where the top of the rudder is in the picture above.  It’s just behind Steve who you can make out in the cockpit and that means the Mizzen is behind, or aft of, the rudder stock.  That makes DUENDE a yawl.  On a ketch, like EMMA LOUISE the Mizzen mast is mounted forward of the top of the rudder.  There, more education!

As well as both having two masts the boats have something else in common, crews that like to party!

Yours truly and Mark, S/V DUENDE. Note, by the way, I am wearing a warm top as it is cool here in the evenings. Mark left NZ in the winter time so is used to it!

Friday 14th

Vava’u, Tonga

It was my birthday yesterday and we spent it quietly at anchor off a lovely little island that is reputedly the King of Tonga’s favourite, Nuku.

Sheryl made me a crown and we enjoyed a Hendricks martini, hmmmm…

After the martini we went ashore to join the other cruisers in the anchorage for an impromptu sundowner session, not an unusual occurrence in the cruising set!

I should also mention the British and Irish Lions historic victory over the All Blacks last Saturday night! One game each and the decider tomorrow night.

Monday 17th

Vava’u, Tonga

We went back up to Neiafu on Saturday to watch the final All Blacks v Lions rugby match.  I think we were the only Brits in a bar full of Kiwis, amazing fun and great banter.  The result?  Unbelievably a draw after an epic game of full on rugby from both teams.

Whilst here we are having some small repairs done to the mainsail and the zip on the main lazy bag re-stitched.  I’ve probably commented before on how UV degrades everything, including the thread used to stitch sails.

Thursday 27th

VAVA’U, TONGA

Another birthday party yesterday, this time our friend Aron’s, from REAO.

Crews from CALYPSO, PHYLIS, REAO, DUENDE, EMMA LOUISE and a.n.other whose boat name I’ve forgotten.

After the drinks on board REAO we all went ashore to a genuine Spanish tapas bar for dinner.  Oddly the photos from later in the evening are all blurred.

A lot of the people we have met this summer are Kiwis and as a nation they have to be up there challenging the Canadians for the nicest people on the planet award.  We have hardly met one who hasn’t invited us to visit them when we get to New Zealand and they are all strong advocates of whichever part of their country they live in.  As part of our preparations for arriving in NZ we have been learning to speak like them.  English has been streamlined by this nation of only about four million and the number of vowel sounds reduced by one.  The letter E has been eliminated in such words as “yes” which is pronounced by a Kiwi as “yis”.  Similarly the name of young lady in the centre of the photo above isn’t Jess, as it would be in England, but Jiss.  Am I ready to go? Yis!

Onto August here.