Pos 18:39.335S 173:59.007W
20130509 Thursday – New Potato!
We sail past the uninhabited island of Tafahi which is a perfect cone covered in trees with a fringe of sandy beaches, before lining ourselves up for the approaches to Niuatoputapu (Pronounced something like New Potato!) For once the marks are nearly all there and reasonably visible though some are bent through 90 degrees with a couple have sheared off. The results of the 2009 Tsunami were told.
The damage had been quite considerable and most native huts are now prefab tin roof sheds which were provided as replacements homes. The School, police station and customs have all been rebuilt on high ground and some 2 kilometres from where we are anchored so it’s a long slog in the noonday sun as we report in.
As we walk back were joined by a bunch of school boys on their way home for lunch. One of them is carrying and English book on Monsters! which they asked me to read. Shan would have been impressed as I read and acted out the words, they were and considerably amused!
Lars and I were out snorkelling when entourage of officials arrived on the dock for us to transport them to the boat with the usual wedges of paperwork for us to fill out. On the question of money and how much each would require, the response was a long discussion in Tongan which translated into $200 just for a quarantine certificate!! We are not impressed.
Life is pretty basic here, little electricity, no beer, no smoking and to cap it all they have banned the production of “Cava” a locally produced coconut spirit. What a life! Those missionaries have a lot to answer for.
We spend the morning snorkelling off a small palm cover island on the reef. It's a bit disappointing as most of the coral is broken up or dead, presumably another result of the Tsunami, but I manage to get some reasonable shots of the fish life.
The following day we take the dinghy as far as we can through the reefs as we return to get our exit paperwork. It’s sports day at the school and they’ve built a sunshade out of palm fronds where the kids sit watching the girls laying netball.
On our trudge back a nice lady in pickup truck stops to give us a lift for which we are extremely grateful.
Having given the fishermen some hooks and lures its time to leave and after breakfast we weigh anchor and head south for the Tongan capital Neiafu in the Vava’u group of islands.
The day starts with a large confused swell and 15 knots of wind driving us at 8 knots occasionally the swells contrive to leave a large hole into which we plunge, sending a sneaky wave along the decks. The seas sort themselves out into a steady 2 metre swell and we cruise relatively comfortably, although heeled at some 25 degrees.
Books are read, food is produced despite the challenges of a more than mobile galley and the day passes in night.
As the watch system starts we spot a red and a white light on the horizon our first ships! They appear to be fishing boats as there is a seamount in that area and from the chatter on the radio they are definitely local.
Its clear starlit night as we follow the Southern Cross on our course, with our ETA expected around 7 am tomorrow.
Bob the Blog