Fri 25 Jul 2008 21:29
Date Saturday 26th July
Position 21:07.5S 175:09.7W
New crew, new Islands, settled but cool cloudy weather. All has gone well since we wrote from the Ha'apai Islands. We did have a relaxed sail, with the wind aft of the beam, and therefore fairly comfortable, and arrived off Tongatapu more or less at dawn. We had a bit of a game finding the safe channel in through the outlying reefs and Islands, as nearly all of the bouys marked on the charts have gone missing, and the GPS positions don't correspond the the charts: which are all very old. Anyway, Vicky was very busy with her hand held compass, just like a real sailor, and Laurie and I , just like real men, did as we were told. We found our way to Faua harbour without incident, but it was Sunday, and anyway it did not look inviting, and there were complicated mooring arrangements. So we went off to the Island of Pangaimotu, about a mile to the northeast, and a thousand miles away in character. A real Robinson Crusoe Isalnd, with a white sand beach all round, and a wrecked ship off one corner with a lovely bar and small restaurant on the beach next to it. A sheltered secure anchorage as well. It helped that we arrived in perfect weather. We met up with other sailors, inclding the Chilean couple who helped push us off the reef in the Cook Islands. Turns out he owns a trout fishing lodge in the Southern Andes, but Conny has already given her ruling on the proposal which that knowledge prompted!!
Laurie, and then Vicky jumped ship; Vicky suffered a delayed flight, but an extra meal at our favourite coffee bar in Nuku'alofa. We had explored the Town over a couple of days by taking the speedboat ferry from the bar here: 'Big Mommas Bar and Restaraunt'. Big momma is no fool, mobile permanently on, deals with family members all over Town: including the shore based Airport Taxi Service, and so we have good travel arrangements which were tested a bit when Olivia and Hannah arrived a day late, by all our calculations, as either they or 'Fleck' had lost or gained a day accross the International Date Line. John the Taxi knew that I had made a mistake, and simply went to the airport a day later than I had asked, but without telling me. This caused a few anxious hours one morning, tempered by the knowlede that with a total of four daughters altogether, you can easily afford to lose a couple for a day or two. It has been wonderful to have all these visitors, Laurie was an ideal companion, and 'fitted into' the boat in a very natural way; if he suffered, it never showed!!
Our latest arrivals are still quite jet lagged, falling asleep into their suppers, and waking early in the morning. Our plans for sailing are on hold at the moment as Olivia wants to watch the Coronation special rugby match between Tonga and the rest of the World. I gather that the Coronation has brought the World's attention on this little part of the Ocean. It seems to be true that a large majority of the population here are at least indifferent to the whole thing, and are very anxious that planned democratic reforms do take place in two three years time. If not everyone thinks that there will be a Coup, but there are no rumours that the Coronation will not go ahead next week. We have seen the King in his converted London taxi, he waved in our direction, possibly having seen Olivias skirt which just covered a couple if inches of torso between the tops of her legs and her tum! Not at all respectable by Tongan standards: men can by fined if they go shirtless in public, heavens knows what they do to the women....