Web diary August 2006

Fri 11 Aug 2006 06:57

 It's now August the 2nd and I have been elected to do the next web page.

Most of which will be about the antics we have got up to since I arrived on the

boat and Jo and Nick one month later. I arrived at the end of June , reunited with Penguin and Rob, after four months apart.


We had to make our way from Tahiti to Tonga which meant there was a lot of sailing

to do. We did have time to stop at several beautiful places for a couple of days

here and there. This usually involved, cycling round islands, swimming, drinking, eating,

windsurfing and the usual stocking up the boat for the next passage. The weather as it’s winter here was pretty wet and windy but we made it with a day to spare to Tonga. Having gone home for a rest from sailing it was not the best start but it was fun. There were a couple of occasions when I was stabbed in the butt by a lovely lady doctor who seeing when I was quite unable to escape took her chance to fill me full of helpful things for my moments of nausea with a large needle. It worked too I never said another word for hours!


We picked Jo & Nick up from the airport on the 29th June tired but well we then

set about the next six weeks together in these Pacific Islands. First thing to do was

to get to the next group of islands called Vava'u which are known to be fun and also where the humpback whales were likely to be hanging out. We also had to fill the boat again, this doesn’t mean a trip to Tesco’s  it’s several trips on foot with rucksacks to shops that have a very limited choice. But hey we manage.


On our way, we first visited an island which was a real eye opener. We were immediately set upon by hoards of young children, giggly and running round us with their only English which seemed to be bye. They lived in very basic conditions with

their food growing and living all around them including pigs of all ages. Some looking ready for the pot, some only days old. There was one shop which sold about 12 different items. Palm trees, white sand sunny skies, people trying to sell us their produce all sounds very idyllic. However, there is a sting in the tail evidence of drug problems was very apparent. Lucky we didn’t buy spaced out Peter’s papayas, who knows what may have been in them Such a shame. We arrived in Vava’u , lovely place which we based ourselves in for the next few weeks


Now here comes the first fishy tail. We took the boat out with the intentions of finding some of these famous whales to watch. It was a very calm day and we gently motored or

sailed round. We found a spot for lunch switch the engine off and let the boat drift she sort of revolved round, how cool was that a Pacific island revolving restaurant. It was getting late; lunch is usually any time between 1 and 4p.m on boats so we decided to

head back. Rob then said he would like to do a final snorkel beside a large rock so he did. Within minutes he was screaming sharks and was back on the boat like grease lightening. Next thing was Niamh jumping back in the water with Colin and Rob to get a

closer look! Niamh dropped her mask in the excitement and could only watch as it

went to the depth and Colin was shouting for a knife and insisting on taking one with him., just in case he needed to “stab it in the eye”! Myself, Jo & Nick were firmly planted on deck while the happy trio made weird and wonderful noises through their masks as the reef sharks circled below them. My conclusion to this is that one can become very strange after too many months at sea or is it that the ones on deck hadn’t been at sea long enough and were missing out on all the fun?


Keep going the next one is even better. Rob decided after several attempts at finding whales to book up on a whale watching trip. So off we went all six of us on a little boat with two locals and an American guide called Amanda. Within 40 minutes there was a group, mother, her calf and an escort. With some instruction on what to do while in the water we were all told to put on our masks,flippers and snorkels and get ready to gently get in the water. Attempt one, all off and after the whales but they swam past too fast and were gone. This was followed by two further attempts of waddling humans on and off the back of the boat ,picture seven ducks all trying to get into a pond at the same time add in the masks & extra big feet and you’ve got the idea.. Eventually the whale settled and the chase was over, all three of them settled for a rest and to feed the calf. I can’t honestly put down on this web page what the next 40 minutes was like. All of us were treated to being in the water only 20 feet or so from the most enormous gentle creatures. The mother was encouraging her youngster to breath by pushing it up closer to the surface every now and then and the escort stayed either below to the side. He was the one we had to watch, if he felt any threat he would make a move and they would be gone.  We had to stay in one group so the escort knew exactly where we were. All to soon they moved off but only to stop again and treat us to another swim with them. The tales in Tonga Bob’s [local bar] by the end of the evening were easily as big as the whales themselves, huge! What a day.


We are now on our way back to Nuku’alofa for Jo & Nick to catch their flight back on

Monday 7th to start their adventure in Australia. Just incase you think it’s all booze fun and sun out here in the Pacific here comes my final tale from Tonga.


We set off on a passage of a precise distance of 59.9 miles on one of the legs back. It all started fine, loads of wind, that’s fine. At about 6.p.m. we only had 12 miles to go.

In a lovely bay in time for tea? Ha. Old Percy our trusty engine decided she wasn’t going to play at all and get us in to the bay. Rob is brilliant at fixing the engine but he was running out of ideas. Meanwhile up on deck we were running out of space and there were reefs all around. Rob actually said which he never does this is my last attempt with Percy. Oh, yes she did fire up bless her. Trouble was we were heading dead into wind in a big sea with two knots of current against us. This means you travel at about 1.5 mph for the last 12miles. We finally dropped anchor at 3.30am having taken 20.5 hours. Three of the party were pretty ill and the poor mainsail took a pasting too.


In the middle of all this Nick who had come up on deck for air and to see if he could help shouted to his dad. “Remind me to come on a summer holiday with you again dad”. It was the most priceless timely remark I have ever heard. And tomorrow was another day.


Well it’s almost Monday the 7th now and time to send Jo & Nick off to Australia. It’s been lovely having them. A chance for them to experience life at sea and what a lovely

part of the world to do it in.


Penguin then has about three weeks here, we will patch her up and pamper her. She has come a long way and when she leaves here for New Zealand, I will fly over to meet her.

Done enough sailing for one year.! There will be a big party in the Bay of Islands for her half way mark.  It should take about 8 to 10 days to do the 1000 miles. Penguin will then spend about four to five months in NZ having a rest and some work done before she makes her way to Australia and the second half of her voyage.


On the 29th August we Penguin will have been on her trip for a year. It’s gone by so fast and the trip has taken many twist and terns along the way.


Thank you all for supporting us on our way and who know what the next year has to offer.


HLS Jak.



Sea crazy parents!!!!


Pigs rule in  Tonga!!



Oh no, Dad’s in his rubber gear again!



Squid family York


Junk rigged???




Wave from Tonga?