Slipped the bonds of our mooring and returned to babelfish's natural motion; that of the sea

tony zwig
Fri 21 Sep 2007 21:28




Slipped the bonds of our mooring and returned to babelfish’s natural state; the motion of the sea


Well, finally, we are off. After sometime thrills and chills, and Thom saying good bye to everyone, (I think he was mayor of the town of Niafu) Babelfish slipped her moorings at 7:30 this morning (Saturday) (only an hour and a half late on the skipper’s plan; but it was just a plan and just the first day).  First thing we had to do was calm Dick’s blood pressure because he was sure we were cruising to imminent doom, or worse, by leaving the harbour and passing a green mark on our port.  He kept repeating that according to “red right returning” the green should be on the right, as we left.  We pointed out to him that, we were not in Kansas anymore, and red right returning  was only in places like U.S. and Canada.  He has returned to his normal calm state, for him.

I was edgey to leave.  We arrived Thursday and while the little necessary jobs had to be done I was itching to go.  Now that we have finally left, I already feel calmer and a sense of well being and that we really are on our way.  Right to the last minute there were challenges to us leaving.  When we tried to remove the outboard form the dinghy, we found the anti theft lock had corroded and wouldn’t open. First we had to get a saw and then wait until a store opened to buy a replacement. (This is likely last bit of civilization for a while)

But, as in the vernacular, I am getting ahead of myself.

As planned, Ken and I met at the airport  in Toronto and flew to LA.   I am learning that flying with Ken is always interesting. During the flight he introduced me to his seat mate who was so taken by his natural charm that this person offered to work for us in the wind business for free.  Ken pointed out that Daniel Langlois, the musician, was sitting near me.  I wasn’t able to get him to offer any free services. We arrived in LA safely.  As we tried to slide invisibly into the Air New Zealand lounge, the friendly no nonsense lady informed us we would not be allowed on the plane without a flight ticket out. All explanations about having sailed in on our yacht some months previously, and laying out lots of official boat registration papers and crew lists going back to Tahiti were to no avail.  All the guide books described Tahiti as being anal about this, but I misjudged  Tonga, or Air New Zealand.  It got worse because the airline asked the LAX Tongan immigration official who repeated the party line.  We solved the problem by buying a refundable air ticket to Fiji.  So all was well.   I worried that there would be trouble for our third friend  (who must be nameless at this point because we don’t know who is reading this) when he arrived in Tonga.  It was for no reason.  We all sailed through immigration without being asked for our onward air tickets.

Then good things happened.  My cab driver in Tongatapu, David, met us and whisked us over to the domestic terminal where we would try to get Dick and Ken on the same day flight as Tony. We got there and all were put on the same flight the same day. David took us into town where we had a nice breakfast in the Friends Café and we returned to the airport for our noon flight (It was then Thursday; we had left TO on Tuesday)

For the uninitiated, Tonga is 17 hours ahead of TO time, or more simply figured; Tonga is 7 hours behind but a day ahead.  It really does work.

In the domestic flight we flew low over the Tongan island chain and saw the beautiful turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and tiny islands we are now setting out to visit.  Arrival in Niafu was uneventful except that Thom had sent a driver to surprise us and pick us up at the airport but we had left in another cab before he arrived.  The driver was on the look out for Thom until he made reparations.

The town had not changed; looked a little more tired than when I left.  So did many of the  people I had met previously.  Maybe they and the town were less glamorous to me, maybe many were just worn down by the season.  Babelfish looked beautiful, but alas, she is wounded (again). The generator won’t work and defies all the experts and our hot water tank seems to be leaking.  We decided to disconnect it so it won’t continue to drain the tanks. The boat gremlin is still delivering hot water.  Go figure.

We are motoring (no wind) about 10 miles to the island of Ovalau for anchoring, snorkeling, and just kicking back.

My new crew, Ken and Dick are great; great companions and into joining me and Thom on this leg of our journey.  I am happy they saw fit to join me and I hope we all complete this leg with images and experiences memorable and positive.  We have to figure out how to mainline caffeine into Ken.  NOrmalk coffee is too slow for him so all our coffee paraphanelia I am proud of, percolator, drip, bodo is for nought.  Dick is his effervescent normal self and hooked himself up to wifi for the one day we were in town ( no more).

We are approaching the anchorage so I will end now and see about negotiating ourseves into what looks like tiny tiny passages into sand surrounded lagoons of azure and turgoise waters for our stop.  Today’s run will be a record breaker 10 miles.