position S019 44.000 W174 18.000

Ocean Rival Journey Log
Adam Power Diana Power
Thu 11 Oct 2018 10:01
Thursday11 Oct.   Ha'apai Islands Tonga.
A week back in the boatyard was sufficient to finish sanding the bottom, apply some very expensive antifouling, evict the wasps and ants that had taken up residence in our absence, and tackle a few other vital jobs. Dema, the boatyards Russian electrician stripped down and serviced the starter motor which has now done its job on at least 6 occasions without fail. Cyril, the well groomed young French shipright had cut a replacement piece of plywood to mend a rotten window lining- which I fitted and Diana varnished. The Vavau Boatyard is not only a respite for various strays, be they Russian, French, Tongan or a menagerie of rescued ponies,  dogs  and pigs, but also a very clean and well run operation. Our lift back into the briny was booked for 8.30 and we were in the water by 9.00 waving fond farewells to Joe, Alan and their friendly team. The annual boatyard bbq occured during our stay and with free food, beer and live Tongan music they seemed to host not just their paying customers but every yacht in the bay and most of the town too.  Excellent PR I'm sure- lets hope they continue to flourish without becomming too commercial.

We re-aquainted ourselves with  Neiafu town which is a 10 minute bike ride over a hill from the boatyard. Philip the sail maker has stitched up the sprayhood, Greg at Cafe Tropicana was helpful as ever with useful New Zealand info, the ladies in the market helped  with our provisioning, advising which papaya or bunch of bananas to ripen at the correct time. Diana re-visited  the craft co-op and had some more essential trinkets made to order. Finally the customs officials gave us a really friendly send off. We felt that leaving Neiafu was like parting with an old friend.

We made an overnight passage to the Ha'apai's -too fast with a nice 15Kn easterly for a planned dawn arrival, but dawdled the last few miles so that we could spot the reefs and avoid a quick return to the Boatyard. The Ha'apai group are low lying strips of sand, coral and palm trees -a style of tropical island with which we are now quite familiar but these are surprisingly well groomed after recovering from a devastating cyclone a few years ago. We booked in with customs in the main town and have now anchored near the north of the main island for some further exploring tomorrow.

We had been warned to be careful not to run into a whale so were dispointed only to briefly glimpse two black hump-backs on the way down. We have heard of so many close encounters on the commercial whale trips that we may have to swallow our sailors pride and join a speedboat trip to have the full Tongan whale experience.