Sep 222008
 

Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been in Tonga a month already. This is definitely the type of place I could stick around for a long time. I haven’t got a blog post up in a while as we’ve been mainly doing more of the same. Lots of playing music at different bars and on different boats, lots or racing, lots of snorkeling and unfortunately lots of rain.

Greg, Bonnie and I at the Bounty Bar:
Greg, Bonnie and I at the Bounty Bar in Nieafu Tonga

This place has been the rainiest spot since leaving the Pacific Northwest. Apparently they were having drought conditions before we showed up. This did inspire me to make a new awning replace my old UV damaged sailcloth one. I was really disappointed in how quickly the UV broke down the old awning. It really only lasted a year. This year I’d had to repair every couple of weeks. So I finally got around to using the 5 yards of sunbrella that I’ve been toting around with me for 2 years. It took a good solid three days effort, but I’ve got a great new awning now complete with side curtains and a water catchment system. I got it up just in time to catch a massive deluge where I collected 28 gallons of water in 4 hours. Since then I’ve been able to keep my tanks topped off all the time and even take fresh water showers on board.

My new awning sucking up the rainwater:
Awning

The other new addition the last week or so has been Greg’s penchant for Kava. He’s been getting it in powdered form from the local market and doing post coffee Kava mornings. Personally I can’t quite stomach the stuff and the only sensation I get is a mild post dentist’s office novicane mouth, but I’m not drinking nearly enough. Apparently you need to drink 8 or 9 bowls to really feel something, and I can’t do more than 3.

Greg making up Kava in the French Press:
Kava

I just said goodbye to Greg and Bonnie this morning. They’re off to Fiji to haul Willow and deliver a 57 foot catamaran to Thailand. We’re definitely going to work out a way to meet up next season, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be getting Willow down to NZ this year. They’re certainly going to leave a big void in my life out here, but fortunately my good buddy Tate and his Gold Tone banjo are flying in tomorrow, and so the party goes on!

Naiomi playing my Bodhran on Fearless:
NaiomiJason

Going away party for Greg, Bonnie and Frank on Fearless:
GroupFearless

 Posted by at 4:19 pm
Sep 092008
 

This was the scene in Tonga more often than not for the first week
Rainy Day in Refuge Bay

Between the blog being down and the cold rainy weather for the first week in Tonga, I haven’t got a post off in a while. Even with the bad weather, Tonga has been an amazing stop. There are 42 “official anchorages” and probably many more all within 15 miles of the main city of Neiafu. Tonga is split up into a series of different island groups. I’m currently in the Vava’u group in northern Tonga and will be traveling south to the Ha’apai group and then to the capitol in the Tongatapu group before taking off taking off for New Zealand sometime in late October.

I’ve spent most of my time so far in Neiafu. It’s an easy place to get sucked into. Greg and I have been playing music in two bars and there are a few more that we could go and play in. There are 2 bar/restaurants that you can dinghy to from the anchorage. There’s a great market with inexpensive produce and yummy samosas. On the whole groceries are still pretty expensive, but beers in the bar are only $2.50US, so we can actually afford to hit the bars. Even better, for the first time since Mexico, all the alcohol is free when we bring our instruments with us. To top it all off there’s a Friday night friendly race which we entered Willow in two weeks ago and entered Bodhran last week. There’s no handicap, so it’s kinda unfair having our full keel, very non-performance boats take on some very fast race boats, but good fun is had by all and everyone gets a prize. Fortunately the prizes are selected at random, so sometimes the boat that comes in last gets the best prize.

We ended up losing to the 16′ longer that Bodhran Night Wind in a photo finish, but we were reeling them in nicely in this picture:
Reeling in Night Wind during the friday night race

The Vava’u yacht club at the beginning of the after race party:
The Vava'u Yacht Club after the friday night race

When the weather finally broke nearly half the anchorage cleared out and took off for the islands. This place is a sailors paridise, with good wind, protected waters and numerous anchorages to swallow up all the boats and keep things from getting too crowded. On top of that the snorkeling is fantastic with tons of caves to explore and lots of new fish and coral I hadn’t seen further East.

Snorkeling through a very cool cave near Port Maurelle:
Snorkeling through an underwater cave near Port Maurelle

Jeremy, from Madeline, in front of Swallows Cave:
Jeremy from sv Madeline in front of Swallows Cave

Willow sailing through the Vava’u group:
Willow sailing through the Vava'u Group

So Willow and I spent 5 days out sailing through the islands. We had a beach fire one night and played music on one boat or another almost every other night. We sailed by some humpbacks on the way back to Neiafu. Life is good, but alas things can’t last. Willow has to take off for Fiji in a week to haul out and get on a 57′ catamaran that they’re delivering to Thailand. It’s going to be a sad day when our fellowship is broken, but we’ll definitely be getting back together next year. Fortunately for me my good buddy Tate is flying in with his banjo sometime around the 23rd, so my musical rambling won’t be ending, but I’m going to miss sailing with Greg and Bonnie.

Bodhran sailing behind Willow:
Bodhran sailing through the Vava'u Group
Bonnie snorkeling by some amazing coral formations in the Vava’u:
Bonnie snorkeling by some amazing coral

Ben, Bonnie and Greg posing:
Updating my blog at the Vava'u yacht club

 Posted by at 11:58 pm
Sep 092008
 

Updating my blog at the Vava'u yacht club
Trying to upgrade my blog at the Vava’u yacht club in Nieafu

I’ve been having a great time out in the islands and even better when I got back I got an email from my brother Alex cluing me into a much more clever way of upgrading my WordPress software. So now my blog is back up and running. I’ll try and get a Tonga post up in a little while.

 Posted by at 10:42 pm