Sunday, November 23, 2008

Port Maurelle 9/11/08 Thursday

Tongan Beach Resort is a really nice place to anchor overnight - slept good -could have been the Kava from last night's feast. Watched the pigs rooting around the shore as we had our coffee. Lots of roosters waking up the island. Motored to Moorings so we could fill up our water and get some ice. Had breakfast at the Aquarium but it was really slow today. Sailed over to Port Maurelle - nice sail, not too windy.

Port Maurelle is so beautiful - so glad we're coming back here to just chill out for our last day. Dan, Sally and I snorkeled to shore. Sally took the best route - the rest of us got stuck in some really shallow water with only coral so you couldn't just stand up and walk on it. Floated across as best we could and not get all scraped up.

Beautiful beach. Played a rousing game of Tongan horse shoes (empty water bottle, stick and coconuts) Boys against the girls. Girls won first game, boys the second and the girls were ahead when Ed hit the bulls eye and won the game for the boys. Hot and Sunny - getting way too much sun but it feels so good.

Swam back to the boat. Went under the keel - what they told you to do to practice for Mariners Cave. Very glad I didn't do the cave because just just the keel was really tough - couldn't clear my ears and was fighting for air as I came up.

My hair is one big knot - need to find another solution.

Had left over spaghetti for lunch and layed around for hours sipping wine and talking. So relaxing and just what we needed for our last day.
The family that we bought the love god and turtle from came over and we gave them all of our left overs that way we didn't have to throw them away. We had a lot of leftovers. I accidently gave away all of our oil so no popcorn tonight.

Sailed back to port - with lots of rain and really strong wind. Ed made it to 8 knots. I really didn't like how rough it was. Back to Moorings for our last night on the boat. Packed up a bit and had our last meal at the Mermaid (where we had our first dinner). Great music and food - I had chicken salad with french fries.

Uno and Beng Bengs (a dessert snack) - Ed won this time.

Swallow and Mariners Cave 9/10/08 Wednesday

Slept OK - wind crept up but it provided a nice breeze thru the windows. After coffee and great barbequed toast and peanut butter (great way to make toast by the way) we set sail back thru the Fauna Tapu Pass - much easier this time with the sun at our backs and calmer seas. Found the 3rd red buoy. Sailed over to swallows cave - very creepy dingy ride into the cave (Dan,Sally, Ed and I ) We didn't stay long. Dan brought Bryan and Collette over - they snorkled.

Motored over to Port Maurelle - this was one of my favorite spots. Ed made a cold noodle salad and crab salad with pinapple spicy sauce on the side. Very good. Sally went up in the Bosun's chair and took some fun pictures. Dan also took a turn at it.

Motored over to Mariners Cave . I was pretty nervous about trying to get in there but was going to give it a try. Saw some spinner dolphins just as we got to the cave. I tried my best but just couldn't get up the courgage. Bryan went in first then Ed checked it out for me and confirmed that it would be too much for my ears. It's about 6 ft under and then another 12 ft swim to get inside. They said it's really cool because a fog forms when the waves come in. Maybe if I had a tank. It was a gorgeous snorkel though - I only need my body glove shirt. Very warm water today.

Over to the Tongan beach resort for a Tongan Feast.

After a Mai Tai and some gorgeous pictures we dug in. Feast was good - salad, potato salad, yams, taro root, octopus, muscles, chicken, taro leaf with corned beef, sukiaki, Ota Ika and great desserts (ice cream).

Had some real Kava - wow, that stuff really made my tongue numb. Really fun band and dancing from the staff. Did a lime dance - Bryan and Collette beat us. Dieter Dyck, the owner, was a character - we bought a book he just published on his life and setting up the Tongan Beach Resort.

Another round of Uno without Sally though - too much Kava (+dramamine). Bryan won this time.

Pangaimotu and Fauna Tapu Pass 9/9/08

Up first again and boy do I wish I had a cup of coffee. We didn't setup the coffee last night - too much fun playing Uno. The others slept with their doors open because they were creaking all night. I don't want to wake everyone up so I'll just be quite for awhile. Ok - I am going to make coffee - I'll be quiet - stepping on the beams helps keep the noise down.

Really nice morning again - sun's out and it's not raining. Bryan and Collette made banana pancakes - very yummy.

Sally and I swabbed the deck - my hair is everywhere. You get a really good workout pulling up a heavy bucket of water.

We took the dingy over to the tip of Pangaimotu to search for the village there. We hiked up a road but instead of a village we found a plantation - cows, cocunut trees, pinapple, lots of grass hoppers. The people we saw didn't seem as friendly but I think they can drive from Neifu so this wasn't a village. Really nice hike and dingy ride around the harbor - beautiful fish/starfish, coral.

Set sail at about 11 over to Old harbor for guess what - more provisions - we are out of beer -oh by the way don't get King Fisher - it foamed really bad. Also, boxed wine isn't too bad for a light drink during the afternoon.

To get to the Old Harbor whe had to go through Fauna Tapu Pass. The book said to go at high sun - look for 3 buoys and we only could see 2. Almost turned around becuase it was really clouded and raining off and on but....we went for it. Lined up with the green buoy and crept. Dan was on the bow and I say up front so I could relay Dan's coral head sightings. Never found the 3rd buoy but made it safe and sound.

Anchored at old harbor and dingy'd into Neifu for our needs. Very hot but it felt good to stretch out legs. Beer, Water, Wine, Cheese that's all we need oh and our precious ice.

Another tricky ride over to Kenutu. Only 3 boats there - another showed up later. After the best Mai Tai's and popcorn ever we set out to find the other side of Kenutu - the book said there was a trail. We wanted to see the coastal waters of Tonga and the Tongan Trench. We knew it was going to be spectacular because we could see huge waves crashing over the ends of Kenutu

Sort of found a trail - lots of growth. VERY fun and what a great site when we got to the top. Waves probably 30 ft high crashing on the rocks. Thick grass up the the edge of a very steep drop off. Everyone was really happy and enjoying the adventure.

On the way back we unfortunatley ran out of gas on the dingy but one of our neighbors immediately jumped into his dingy to help. He was from Austrian sailing for almost 3 years with his wife. He came aboard for a beer then we all showered while Collette started her dinner of spaghetti, salad and garlic bread with brochetta appetizers.

Uno again - the crew is getting brutal.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mounu and La Paella 9/8/08 Monday

Slept like you know what last night - it was very windy so rockin and rolling all night. Poor Bryan didn't sleep at all. Sitting here now watching a kite surfer off of Mounu Island having another cinnamon roll. Only 4 days left - do I want this to end - yes and no. I love this relaxed feeling -Oh yeah, Denise text'd yesterday and all if well. Still very worried about Angel but keep trying not to think about her. I am getting tired of the boat, wind, stickiness but how many people get a chance to go to Tonga? Not many, this has already been the adventure of a life time.

Today was nice and quiet - we needed it after last night. We went to Mounu at about 9 and walked around the entire island (which only took about 20 min). We got to see one of their 5 Fale's (rooms) - it was very cute - open air with a mosquito net around the bed and a bathroom. Right on the beach so you could hear and see the water. I could stay there for a week.

Sally and I did some more exercises - walking lunges, push ups.....back at the boat I got our the exercise band while Dan and Bryan snorkled. You can do a lot with that band - I need to write those up.

We sailed back over to Achorage 11 - ark gallery because we were able to get reservations at La Paella. It's a restaurant the is owned by a Spanish couple who prepare paella every night. We have heard lots of people talk about the after dinner shows - one guys told us he came out in a cape. It was a really nice sail - I did a good job. Moored by La Paella but it was really windy - we layed on the deck for awhile but it was too much so we went back to where we had been the first night....much more protected from the wind.
Read a little and took a small nap - nice lazy afternoon. Showered and on deck with a nice glass of wine - a Tongan family drove up in a boat and I went shopping - bought a Tongan love god carving and a turtle for Tom and Denise.

The Dingy ride to dinner was long but fun - everyone in a good mood and ready for a great dinner...and that we got. We were first greeted by Chiquita - the goat and Dorito the dog.

How cute. Dinner was fantastic and I ate way too much. Feel bad for Collette - she hardly ate anything. We had smoked fish, croquettes, cheese, bread, fish pate, and the best paella - dessert was a simple pinapple with whip cream. At that point everyone got really tired.
The owner came out in his PJs and slippers and sang us a few songs as his dog lay by his feet - what a character.

We came back and played our first game of UNO - I won!!

Hunga 9/7/08 Sunday

Slept better last night - so peaceful in the Hunga Bay. Really good cinnamon rolls for breakfast - just relaxed on deck - my favorite thing.

Got on our Sunday best for Church. Oh My Gosh!! What an experience. Met Cia and her dog and we all went to the Church which looked like a very old barn. Inside was very nice - mats on the floor and folding chairs. Mostly women and children. Women all wore black and the kids were just like you see all around the world. They were running around, mis behaving and getting scolded by everyone. Hard to tell who was the mothers of each child. We couldn't understand a thing because it was in Tongan but it was very powerful - the best part was the singing. The first time I heard it my eyes teared up. The best part was when it came to give an offering - we're used to them passing around a basket. At this church they did role call and each person came up to the front and it was documented what they gave. We gave them $50 Pa'anga and they were so appreciative.

Then we went to lunch at Vaha's - Oh my again - he lived in a house that was about the size of our master bedroom. It was nice - mats on the floor and the outside garden area was beautifully done.

For lunch we had Lu - which is taro leaf with either fish or corned beef, Papaya and banana mash - which was warm, fried bananas and a drink made of coconut milk, water, sugar and papaya - so good.

Vaha and his wife and grand daughter did not eat with us? Felt very strange but ate and even took a little more (because it tasted so good) and I wanted them to know that I really enjoyed it. We didn't eat it all so at least they could have some and all of us left some money under the plates. Vaha gave us some more necklaces and Ed gave him his knife. What an experience - something I will always remember. Picture is of Vaha and his Grandaughter

I got to take us out of the harbor- so scary. Not more than 8ft of water below our keel. Took it slow. Once we got out the wind was super strong and the waves very big so we just motored all the way to Sisia. The guys snorkeled while Collette and I just laid on the warm sand. Sally stayed on board.

We motored to Mounu Island resort (called ahead and they had room for dinner). This was a great little island and a very cute resort. They had printed up the dinner menu with our boats name on it - how special.

We had bread fruit chips as a snack - yum. Dinner was just as good - Oka Ito (which is like ceviche except with coconut milk), Tuna, couscous, pumpkin.

Very sleepy when we got back and starting to get a little sick of the boat - hit my head for the 10th time and the bed is sandy and sticky. You just never quite feel clean when your on the ocean. The wind has really kicked up so it may be a rough night - we are anchored so a little worried about slipping. OK stop complaining - I AM ON VACATION

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vava'u and Hunga 9/6/08 Saturday

Up again at 6 and we even stayed up late last night - almost to 10PM - Wow. Nice morning again. We can hear beautiful music from the church in Neiafu. Guess what - more provisioning. Ed and I went to the Saturday Farmer's Market - wish we would have gotten a picture. We were the only Americans to be seen. So much culture and so much great produce and lots of trinkets to look at. Ed bought a sharks tooth necklace.

Now we're sailing again - we have a full water tank - we hope. What is in store for this great Saturday!!

Sally took us out this time and we sailed all the way to Hunga. The seas were big and it was very scary sneaking into the bay of Hunga. You can only get in there at high noon /high tide. The water was to bluest I have ever seen. Stopped at Ika La but they had no food for us so we just hung out and made cheese and tomato sandwiches - so good. I tried to take a nap while we motored to the village but couldn't sleep. Have not got a good nap in this whole trip - wonder why.

Everyone but Ed set out to meet the Hungan village. Up a steep slope that wasn't very inviting but we kept going. First person we met was Cia and her dog. She warmly greeted us and quickly invited us to church the next day. Told us to wander around as much as we would like. Found pigs everywhere. Bought vanilla beans from a local women as her naked son ate a mango. Found wild basil growing - smelled so good. Brought some back for cooking.
This was Bryan and Cia.

Back at the boat Vaha, the self appointed host, came aboard and had a very nice conversation. We bought a few necklaces and learned some Tongan phrases:

O Fatu - Cheers or from the heart
Malo Le le - hello
Malo alpito - thank you
FeiFei Hake - how are you
No Fua - Good buy if you are the one leaving
Alwa - goodbuy if you are the one staying

I can't remember all we talked about but he was so appreciative that we were interested in what he had to say.
All this time Ed was down in the galley making Tongan Enchiladas. I came down to help and we really had fun and they were sooooo good - I'll post the recipe later.

Euakafa 9/5/08 Friday

Thought that Kava would have helped me sleep better - it rained in the middle of the night. I woke up at 3 but fell back asleep until about 6. First one up. It's one of my favorite things to do when we are sailing - get up before everyone and just sit on the back of the boat. I see tons of things in the water and watch the port slowly waking up. This morning is really nice - beautiful sunrise.

The bad part about being the first one up is trying to make coffee. The boat squeaks as you walk around. Sally made up the presses last night so all I had to do was start the stove and get the water boiling - look at her thinkin!!

Reflecting back this was a great day - we sailed out to anchorage 32 on the island of Euakafa. Nice sail - not too windy - beautiful beach and not a sole in sight. Was a little tough dropping anchor. Lots of coral heads we had to be careful of. We all dingy'd to shore. Bryan was nervous about leaving the boat so he and Collette stayed behind while Dan, Sally, Ed and I went in search of the tomb. This was amazing - something you see on the show survivor. 1.5 hours walk along the beach and up the hill, through the jungle - spiders and palms growing out of coconuts lying on the ground. There was a trail but it was hard to find and hard to follow - Dan was a great guide.

This was the tomb we almost didn't find.

Walking back a great photo op with the Sapphire Seas in the background.

Sally and I did a workout - lunges, walking push ups, crab walks, bear walks, very fun - we must have looked stupid but we didn't care. Had to work off that great dinner from last night.

Collette sailed us out with VERY strong winds over to swallows cave - on the way we saw a group of boats and then there they were - WHALES!!! So beautiful it made me cry.

Swallows cave was busy so we went over to the Tongan beach resort. It is a very cute/quaint place. Wasn't a good spot to anchor with the winds we had so we just headed back to moorings.

OK - nice long shower and dinner at the Aquarium Cafe -yummy chicken and vegetable skewers and Ed had some of the best Tuna sashimi I have ever had. We even splurged on a banana dessert. I don't care I AM ON VACATION.

Sunny day in Tonga 9/4/08


Now sitting on the deck with the sun in my face - even sweating a little. Drinking coffee and listening to the roosters.

More provisioning - the third time now - we are getting really good. We should have plenty of food and drinks now.

Set off at about 10 AM - had to listen to the 8:30 AM weather report and morning show!!

I took us out of port - very nervous but Bryan was right there with me.

Wind was good - only put up the Genoa. Sailed to Nuku Island - anchored at anchorage 8. Dingy over to Nuku to snorkel. Water was chilly so I wore my wetsuit - glad I brought that - only 1 mm thick but it kept the chill off. Used my Scoobado rag too!! It did not work BTW. My hair was a tangley mess when I was done.

This is one of my favorite pictures - you can really see how blue and clear the water was. This was just off where we anchored before going over to Nuke.

Saw so many great colors and fish - blue starfish every where, cow fish and a bunch of huge slugs.

Sat around on the sand for awhile then back to Sapphire Seas for a chicken frank lunch.

Great sail over to the Ark Gallery. This is floating house boat that Larry and Shari live in with their cat Cheeto. Shari sells her art there. We dingy'd over and bought a painting after being greeted nicely by Cheeto. Got a great shot of Cheeto taking a dingy ride.

Back to the boat for a shower and nice relaxing dinner - Sally made Oyster Beef and Chinese noodles.

We drank Kava for the first time - it tastes like muddy water and makes your tongue feel numb. I don't think I felt anything other than that but I may have had too much wine with dinner.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Neiafu Vava'u 9/3/08

Rained like crazy last night, thunder and lighting right above us - hardly slept at all.

Chart Briefing with Sandy (Ed, Amy, Bryan and Collette). Dan and Sally off to find more provisions. He gave us the basics; tides - watch them, Keep garbage on board and throw all organics into the water, No water on the weekend - maybe Sat in the AM, Sunday church services, Whale watching - illegal to swim with them if there is guide boat but if you're out on your own - jump in if you see one! Went through the entire chart - where to stop, where to eat and what to see. Took 2 pages of notes

All of us (except Bryan) bundled up and walked into town. Was so thankful I brought Denise's raincoat and my keens - rained the entire time but it was amazing the supplies we found. Steaks at the first market PB and Sons, Oil, wine, then to the bakery for hot dog buns and cinnamon rolls, then found the farmers market - wow, fresh fruit and veggies galore. Rained and Rained.....

Back in one piece then had a wet lunch at the Aquarium Cafe. Great soup and hot tea. Decided to stay in the harbor that night - just too much weather to venture out our first time.

Kicked back on the boat and napped, learned how to play cribbage then Oh Hell. Sally made a great pinapple dip with tortillas she bought from the Aquarium Cafe. Showered and to Mangos for dinner. Had on my pancho and Denise's jacket, almost didn't bring either of them - Dingy ride was very wet! Dinner was just OK - veggie pizza. Ed's spaghetti was yuck. Power went out this night too.

No rain on the way back to the boat!!! I even see stars!!!

Tongatapu and Vava'u 9/2/08 Tuesday

Finally on the boat - let me recap

WOW - what a day yesterday. Up at 3AM - we left for the airport at 4:45 had over 1.5 hours at the airport for an amazing cup of coffee and yummy banana bread. Ed bought us some Kava. FIJI airport was great. Nice shops - a ton of them. Flight was perfect - breakfast and a funny show on the video system.....

Then BAM - Raining like crazy in Tongatapu. Had to get a transfer over to the domestic terminal (which looked like something you would see in TJ). Looking around at the open air terminal there are no computers and two counters - At our airline counter (Air Fiji) there is no one there - were they just out to lunch, no, they were out of business.
Thank goodness for Edward tours (that's him above) - he came to save the day. He packed up our bags and took us to the travel agency downtown. Got on a flight going up to Vavau that day but will have to come back on the 12th not the 13th. We have to stay the night in Tongatapu on the way to Fiji. Had a nice lunch at Friends cafe. Little tour around the town - King's Palace. Got to the airport at 1 - flight at 2. Absolutely gorgeous views from the airplane. Vavau even more rural - pigs and dogs everywhere.

Moorings was right there waiting for us. Marina is a lot less than the BVIs but OK. Our boat is called the Sapphire Seas II

Girls took off to gather the required provisions and to exchange some money. Shopping....OH MY!!! There were slim pickens. Got the important stuff - Vodka, Beer, Wine, Rum. The chinese store (not sure why it was called this) had chicken franks, spaghetti and Dan's diet coke. Sally got a lift in the stores truck while Collette and I headed off the the bakery. Then it started to pour - the bakery let us borrow umbrellas thank goodness. We still got soaked.

Ok - we're fine now. Packed it all up and had a great glass of wine to relax and reflect. Provisioning is going to be a challenge.

Showered, then our first dingy ride off to dinner at the Mermaid in Neifu. It was a really cute outdoor restaurant. Raining hard and took a long time to get our food because the power went out. Ed had a good burger and I had soup - good but salty.

Back to the boat for our first night - it's going to be tight quarters but WE'RE ON VACATION

Nadi - Fiji 9/1/08 to 9/2/08

Now at the Tanoa Hotel in Nadi Fiji and it's Tuesday 9/2/08 very early in the morning. I didn't do much journaling yesterday. It's 3:42 AM (8:42 AM at home) - sitting here drinking a really good cup of Fijian coffee. I feel great --> got a really good night sleep. We all went to bed at about 8. Yesterday was very relaxing. Slept ok on the plane but was still very out of it. Got to Fiji at about 5AM but did not get to the hotel until 7. Lots of news about Gustav on CNN - praying for those poor people in New Orleans. Nice hotel, small, quaint. After a good shower and breakfast the girls trekked over to the Westin to drop off a bag for our stay after sailing. Country side is beautiful but they are in the process of burning the sugar cane so it's really smoky. Our Taxi driver Mohammad gave us a nice tour on the way over - BTW the Westin is beautiful and look forward to staying there.

Layed by the pool and tried to nap but just couldn't. Got a great workout in and then a nice walk around the facility. Drinks and a great Indo Fijian dinner.

It's going to be a long day but WERE ON VACATION

Our adventures in Tonga begins - 8/30/08

We are off - sitting at the gate waiting for the rest of our sailing buddies. I am so nervous - did I get everything done, did I pack the right things, is Angel going to be OK? We are going to be gone for almost 3 weeks. I have to stop and enjoy this trip. Don't let that little kitten ruin this trip for me. Just so much anxiety - I am really so lucky I can't believe it.

Worked really hard getting ready for this trip - working out, watching calories, shopping, packing, re-packing, reading blogs/travel sites, getting instructions for the house done.

Goals for this trip - #1 Relax and Reconnect with Ed - it has been a crazy summer. Have fun, don't stress out about work or weight or the house or lists or what to wear.....Really want to enjoy every moment

It's now 9:50 PM Hope they make it - we have a long flight ahead of use - almost 11 hours to FIJI See you in FIJI