Sailing to Ha’Ano, Tonga

Tuesday 9/10/2013 17:30 19 31.745 S 173 50.840 W Posting by Barb: It was a two hundred fifty mile sail to Tonga which we did in forty five hours. The winds were great although at the end it was very rolly. When we left Nuie we had made arrangements to stay in touch with SV’s ‘Huck’ and ‘Iolea’ using SSB at 7:00 and 19:00. It was comforting to have that check in and to be in touch with other vessels when visually there is nobody else out here. Rosemary had a rough start and was seasick an hour after leaving. She managed to get through the first day and on the second day she slept for most of the day. By the end of the passage she was feeling better and able to move around the boat with some comfort. On our way to Tonga we crossed the dateline. This means we added 24 hours to our clocks. So basically we are a day older without actually having the luxury of living the moments of the day. We arrived safely and were anchored in Ha’Ano, Tonga by 9:30 Tuesday morning. I have already seen 4 Humpback whales so I am very excited about being here!

Niue, Affectionately known as “the Rock”

Tuesday 9/10/2013 17:30 19 03.204 S 169 55.384 W Posting by Barb: We arrived in Niue at 3:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday August 27th. There are no anchorage options in Niue so we simply had to grab a buoy from a West facing mooring field. Customs was a breeze which just required the obligatory paper work all done with a smile and right by the dock, under a shaded picnic table. The dinghy docking was a different story. The dock was a large 100 x 300 foot concrete block and approximately 25 feet high. There was no place to tie the dinghy but what was available was a crude dinghy lift from the water to the dock. So here is the process: 1. Motor up to the concrete wall of the dock and if the wind was from the West then the waves would throw you at the wall. 2. The ladies, Barb, and other passengers get dropped off on the ladder and would have an easy climb up. 3. The captain, Dennis, would have to grab a large hook and attach it to a dinghy bridle and then somehow with a lot of luck jump and land on the small, slippery concrete step landing 4. Barb or some local would then push the ‘up’ button found at the base of a crane. The crane would lift the dinghy up 25 feet plus more so that we could lower the dinghy to an available dinghy cart. 5. Dennis would then push/pull the dinghy cart to an available dinghy parking spot and then push the dinghy off the cart. 6. The large hook would then have to be swung out past the dock and then lowered for the next boat waiting in line. We did get a few Westerly, gusty days so Dennis did take a nose dive into the water. But to be fair all of our male friends ended up in the water at one point or another. Aside from the daunting dinghy docking and the very rolly anchorage, the island was beautiful, the water crystal clear, the people were genuinely friendly, the yacht club was a great place to hang out and the showers were hot! Niue has great hiking trails through lush forests which led into rocky limestone terrains. In some places the rocks protruded quite high and there were plants growing in crevices which gave the appearance that somebody had strategically placed potted plants to decorate the drab gray rock. Most trails ended at an entrance to a cave or to a chasm which included some snorkeling options into underwater caves. We were able to get to the hiking trails with a motorcycle that we rented for 4 days (Dennis has a motorcycle license, not that he needed one as they didn’t ask for any Id’s). One of the things that Dennis and I love to do when we get to a new anchorage is discover and indulge on the island’s fine cuisine. The first night that we arrived we had dinner at Jenna’s buffet. The menu included local food such as coconut crab soup, meat lasagna with no tomato sauce, sashimi, chicken stuffed with papaya, papaya and taro root casserole, corn fritters, spring rolls, soya-ginger beef, poisson cruz and taro. The night ended with local entertainment and then restaurant guests (only the ladies participated) got a chance to go on stage and learn a local dance routine. One of the dining highlights was a Sunday afternoon at the “washaway Café” (it was here that I sighted my one and only humpback whale in Niue). It’s an open café nestled into a little hill facing the sea. They have a lunch menu and a serve yourself bar. Serve yourself means grabbing yourself a beer and writing it in a book which gets tallied at the end when you are ready to pay (I found that trust and honesty was part of the Niue culture and this was evident in most of our dealings with the wonderful local people). We shared a table with a Slovenian couple Anton and Vesna on SV Mala. They were a very interesting couple that has travelled all over the world by ground, air and sea. They gave us a delicious parting gift of a homemade Tuna Pate (the recipe which I will get and share).

We had a great time hanging out with Paul and Kate from SV Iolea and Joe and Heidi from SV Huck (a 43 ft. Shannon which Dennis explored from top to bottom). We also got a chance to re-connect with our good friends Rick and Kyra and that’s always a day of laughter. We will definitely see them all again in New Zealand.

After 10 amazing days in Niue we had to leave as our October 10 deadline date for New Zealand is fast approaching. We leave with three on the boat. Yes, we decided to take a New Zealand girl, Rosemary, to Tonga. She was very keen on getting on a sailboat and learning to sail so we decided we could manage to squeeze her in. I just knew that if she really wanted to sail then Dennis would be the one to teach her. Anyone that knows Dennis will agree with me. So you will probably hear more about Rosemary in future blogs.

On a last note about Niue, the Chief of Police and Dennis are on a first name basis. Our friends in Nuie want to market T-shirts with “Have you been saved by Denny” written on it. But the details of those stories I will leave to Dennis as it is his  moments to share.

Next stop Ha’Ano, Tonga.