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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 18th - Tonga Update

When I posted the last entry I had completely forgotten to include our visit to Ha'afeva Island in the Kotu Group, which gives some idea of the attraction factor of the island. It was just a one day stop for us, arriving with Morning Light, Charisma and Bold Spirit. The bay was pretty but not appealing to us for swimming or going to the beach. The head of the bay is dominated by a commercial concrete wharf that just didn't feel tremendously inviting, nonetheless, wanting to explore the island and
stretch our legs a bit we walked into the small village to discover that many of the inhabitants spoke fairly limited English, except for a very kind Tongan woman who ran the local health care facility. She had lived in the States for a while and still had family in CA. We bought some fruit from a local lady and then while getting caught in a rain storm sat under the cover of a rusty old building eating the candy that Christine had brought to give away to the local children. We watched more frolicking
baby pigs chase their mommas and entertained school children as they posed for us to take their pictures and yelled "Bye!" to us while waving enthusiastically. We have found that many of the locals only know "Hi" and "Bye", and do not necessarily know in which order to use these proclamations. So to them, "Bye" (at least we think) means "Hi". So we sauntered along waving and shouting "Bye" and handing out more candy and gum, hoping that their parents aren't cursing us as we leave tooth-decayed
children in our wake.
Kelefesia was our last stop in the Ha'apai group. The sail over was both unusual and strategic in that we had to watch for shallows and reefs that appear out of nowhere in the deepest of waters. Bold Spirit had actually grounded on a reef in the Lifuka group and Jaime (from ML) & Frank spent hours helping to pull them free. So we kept a watchful eye, giving broad clearance to the islands around and near to our waypoint. Kelefesia is inhabited by just one man. Sometime ago the King of Tonga gave
this island to his family. He has a wife and a son who for whatever reason do not live with him but visit now and again. It is the prettiest island we had visited in Tonga. The anchorage is riddled with large coral heads but also large patches of nice deep sand with great holding (secure anchoring). There isn't room for more than 3-5 boats depending on their size. We arrived with Charisma to find only one other yacht in there. The view was breathtakingly beautiful, and as always we lament the
insufficiency of our camera's ability to do it justice. Approaching the shore in our dinghy we were greeted by three tail-wagging, delightfully happy pups that were obvious pets of the island's one inhabitant. On shore we found lots of beautiful shells and an abundance of some unusual blood red coral, the likes of which we had not seen before. We walked the path to the local man's home offering him gifts for letting us use his island and anchorage. We then set out to explore the island with Allen
and Kristin, following trails that we eventually discovered were pig trails leading us deeply into the jungle where we spent a good bit of time wandering aimlessly, hacking through spider webs, vines and thorny bushes (with our hands and sticks), stumbling over fallen coconuts and trees getting more lost by the hour. None of us thought to bring along our hand held GPS's. Or bug spray! We had so much creepy crawly stuff stuck to our hair, clothing and bodies when we finally emerged onto the beach
area (nowhere near where we thought we were), that we all plunged into the water to stop the itching and to debug ourselves.
Back on the boats we were rewarded by a visit from a fisherman who had traveled from another island in his little boat to peddle his fresh catch of lobsters. We happily traded away some batteries, a cap and t-shirt and some Spam for 6 lobsters. I threw in some suckers and gum and a coloring book for the man's son just as a gesture of kindness and in return he shoved 4 more lobsters at Frank. Sally and Glen on The Dorothy Marie arrived late in the day, so that night the 6 of us pooled our lobsters
and had a veritable feast.

While sitting on Charisma that night, we experienced the strangest phenomenon. The entire boat rumbled - this is a 53 ft sailboat. It shook and rumbled spasmodically for several seconds and then went still. Alan jumped up thinking his generator or engine had developed some kind of problem although both were turned off at the time. He found nothing, and then it happened again. The entire boat rumbled for several seconds and then all was still. The cruisers on the French yacht next door yelled,
"Earthquake!" Sure enough we eventually received confirmation that we had encountered our first sub oceanic earthquake, which had ostensibly telegraphed up through the anchor chain to the boats. No one knows where it actually occurred, but many felt it for miles around. It was another strange but wonderful experience for most of us.

By the next afternoon, Bold Spirit and Morning Light had pulled in. And that night we got together on The Dorothy Marie for Karaoke. Yes, TDM has a Karaoke machine on board. What a hoot! We had a blast!

By our fifth day this anchorage was getting very uncomfortable. The winds had shifted around and waves were building, sending very large rollers into the anchorage. On Wednesday night we tossed about so roughly that neither of us got much sleep, and Destiny was actually groaning. We would have moved on sooner but the wind wasn't right and we did not have enough fuel to motor for several hours to our next destination. By Thursday we had decided wind or no wind, we were out of there at first light.
Thank goodness the winds had once again shifted to a favorable direction giving us enough to sail the entire journey to Malinoa Island in Tongatapu; the final island group of Tonga.

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