Joined the coral club yesterday when we first scraped the bottom of the keel and then crashed into an unmarked reef. Came to a dead stop ending up with both of us receiving impact damage when Cheryl crashed into the bench and then the floor and I planted my bottom lip on the helm. Managed to get out without being stuck but
now need to check for damaged under. Nothing obvious inside with keel bolts, frames etc. Another lesson learned.
Still hope to get to Mangonui before heading South again later in the month.
It will be roast dinner at the Russell Boating Club tonight and catching up with some locals. Also great bar prices.
Silver Light - Tonga - The Friendly Isles
Captain Cook must have been an amazing man. I can't imagine what it would be like for Captain Cook or the Tongans to meet each other 250 years ago. Tonga has me really confused: the towns and villages are basic; Nuku'alofa has a main street that resembles a town. Everything is betwixt and between. One or two shops for the tourists are emblazoned with western paraphernalia such as window dressing displaying items that tourists may like; namely sarongs and shirts, handicrafts made of tapa cloth Read more...
The Chinese here are the most unfriendly people I've ever met. We were trying to buy some eggs from the Chinese stores and when asked if they sold them they said: "NO". End of discussion. Then I'd persevere and asked if they knew where I could buy eggs. Same response: "NO". Later, talking to a Tongan we found that we could buy eggs at the market and they would have known that. The ferry comes into Neiafu (Vava'u Island Group) once a week and this week they forgot a container of chicken and eggs on the wharf in Nuku'alofa so they were at a premium. My new Tongan friend, Mita, told me to write a list of what I needed at the market and she went and bought it for me. She told me the prices are too expensive for tourists so it's true, the Tongans and the Chinese are charging high prices. Make hay while the sun shines! Vegetables, except for yams, are at a premium. We're managing to get a supply of cabbage, carrots, green peppers and tomatoes. We're still eating tuna and mahimahi from the freezer, some we caught and some was given to us. For meat, we buy chicken, which reminds me of chicken in NZ years and years ago when we used to eat it only on Christmas Day. Pork isn't easy to buy even though many piglets and breeders are roaming streets and villages at will - definitely free range - but the tiny piglets are destined for the spit roast; a well-marketed tourist attraction is to attend a Tongan feast on almost any inhabited island. We were thinking if they fattened the piglets just a little bit, they'd get more meat and that would mean more profit, surely!
This year the King is celebrating his birthday in the Ha'apais - another reason for no food stores in the other island groups. All produce is sent to the Ha'apais so that the king can celebrate his birthday in the style that he is accustomed. A wee bit of goss from the Tongan taxi driver. The Tongan Royal Family rules that they want to keep the royal line pristine - really! And they do that by marrying within their family, including first cousins. Currently, King Tupou VI is reigning and he married his first cousin. Eek! However, his older brother, now deceased, had a relationship with two women and offspring with both but they were not recognised in the royal line. If he married a commoner, he would lose all his royal rights. But what about this - the only person he could have married was his sister!!
So, here we are, in a beautiful part of the Pacific with friendly and unfriendly locals, depending on the circumstances; some produce available but mostly not because the King's birthday celebrations are taking all the produce; western prices in shack cafes, taxis plying for trade with the roughest cars ever, and then again, we have to keep our wits about us as the Tongans have got it sussed and know how to take our money off us. The other day, a guy paddled out to sell us some bread and he didn't want money but rope; I ask you, who got the better deal?
Just in case, you're going to stay in a resort in Tonga, check it out. Some of the resorts we've seen are nothing like resorts that are in our minds.
Most of you will know that we lost our tender and outboard, life jackets and other bits and pieces. The update is that we have purchased replacements in NZ and they are about to be freighted to Savusavu to meet us there when we arrive. Yay!!
Silver Light - Passage to Tonga
Ten days at sea with a 30-hour stop at Minerva Reef (North Minerva). The trip of a lifetime with a couple of lovely cruising days, one which we had to motor most of the day but the others saw us pretty much in survival mode. The boisterous seas, like a huge agitator washing machine tossed and pummeled us as we tried to negotiate our way between the cockpit, cabin and head. Imagine this, you're standing on a 45 degree angle in the head, watching the toilet heave one way then the other, trying Read more...
The normal nausea hit me for the first few days; best position is horizontal but then again when on watch the fresh air is good. Prepared passage meals were a Godsend; one-pot meals with everything in it, pop it in the oven, heat it up, dish it up, eat and that's dinner over for another night. The very worst day I ended up getting a small block of cheese and crackers in my cabin and for a good day and a bit when the hunger pangs struck, I nibbled at the block of cheese, had a cracker or two, and washed it down with water. Did the trick and, in the conditions, it seemed like a banquet! Had one happy hour on the very last night before arriving in Tonga. Didn't feel like it before that! Can't say I made up for it but I did have two rums and they were good!
Minerva Reef was amazing for so many reasons. The first boat that got there was approached by the Tongan Navy and told the Navy was conducting an exercise and they'd have to leave immediately. Well, yachties always have something up their sleeves and they told the Tongan Navy that they were the first boat of a fleet of 30, guests of the King of Tonga, all of whom had been invited to a Royal Dinner on the 30th June and showed them the invitation. Had to consult the Commander of the Ship now - the message came back that the Navy would conduct their exercise elsewhere and for the yachties to enjoy Minerva Reef for as long as they wished. The sea-life was out of this world - painted crayfish in particular. It was pouring with rain when at low tide we jumped in the dinghy to go for a walk on the reef but it was all part of it. Hard to believe that we were standing on a reef in the middle of the Pacific Ocean thousands of feet deep!! The sheltered circle of the reef was 20-30 metres deep and a huge circumference. This shelter from the waves was a great respite in what was really a gruelling trip.
Slowly, the temperatures started to warm up and layers peeled as we travelled north. In NZ, I started with 4 layers on the top and three on the bottom; after Minerva Reef much warmer and now in Tonga very warm. When we could start moving around the boat, we found that it wasn't that watertight. We arrived with heaps and heaps of washing that Big Mama took care of at $5 per kilo (weighed when wet we found out).
Have got to say, the whole trip in perspective was great - a bit bumpy, but not that bad. Life goes on, we all survived, our boats did us proud and we learnt heaps. The sight of land was the best feeling and we arrived on a glorious day in Tonga!
Silver Light - Comms and Passage Planning
Four weeks and we're still not quite on top of our comms and downloads. Nearly there. IridiumGo and PredictWind are great but the setup is something you wouldn't believe. Ian has been working on this almost non-stop. These apps will enable us to download weather forecasts from satellites when on passage or from anywhere in the world. Very slowly, of course. Apparently you start the download, prepare and eat breakfast, then, voila, you have the latest forecast for your specific area in the Read more...
The plan is that we leave Opua and sail to Minerva Reef, sheltering and exploring in both South and North Minerva; however, it looks like the wind may die out part way up and we'll have to motor part way. Not to worry, we have 400 litres of fuel - 200 litres in the tank and 200 ltrs in gerry cans. If we stick to 1500 rpms we'll be right. After a couple of days at the Minerva Reefs, we'll set sail for Tonga. We're one of 32 boats on the Island Cruising New Zealand Rally to Tonga. This week of preparation has seen us all meeting one another and helping each other out by sharing whatever skills. A great social time as well as lots of hard work going on; not to mention purchasing replacement items and spares. Self-sufficiency has a whole new meaning!! Burnsco Marine must be doing a great trade.
At the moment, it looks like we'll be leaving Opua Sunday night or Monday morning. Just watching that weather forecast.
Silver Light - Stress free Safety Category 1 - Yeah right!
List after list after list. Then lists of lists. Rationalising lists. Striking items off lists then adding three items for every one struck off. Tetchy with the system, with partners, with workload, with weather. Just under 100 pages with 5-10 tasks to be completed on each page of the Safety Regulations of Sailing 2017-2020 as prepared by Yachting New Zealand. Other sailors saying to us: Oooohhhh, Cat 1, we know what that's like! The first time is the worst. Well, this is the first Read more...
The benefits of Cat 1 are that we know our boat inside out, we have spares from here to Africa when we only need them to the Pacific Islands!! Every mechanical item has been serviced and/or replaced and the old parts kept as spares. Sails have been serviced, repaired and storm sails have been made. (Please note we don't plan to sail in storms but we're prepared if they happen upon us.) Life rafts and life jackets have been serviced - our jackets now have a light and a hood attached but the intention is never to deploy them in the ocean. We wear them on passage though. That brings me to the 36-page manual I wrote about the boat and safety guidelines for Silver Light - who will ever read it. Nonetheless, we have it now. If you come to sail with us, it may be a prerequisite to read it before any refreshment is offered! Do you think I'm joking? Comms and navigation - all devices have been bought however the connectivity side of things took a week to get them all talking to each other and for a greater understanding of all that they're capable of. We can download the latest weather forecasts in the middle of the ocean miles from anywhere, talk to, send text messages to, and email anyone, anywhere in the world. That is, if we have time to spare in between watches, sleeping and eating. And amongst the benefits of Cat 1, I must commend the support and assistance of our Cat 1 Inspector, along with his wealth of experience and knowledge, and his availability to answer questions and queries throughout the whole process to gain this sought-after certificate.
The downside of getting Cat 1 is some of the outdated ideas and some of the costs involved however the concept is above reproach.