We left Savusavu bound for Koro, wind on the nose again so we bore off for Makongai. Population 50, a former leper colony. Turned out to be an exelent choise. The reef pass was a little traumatic as, as usual the marker beacon was missing and the chart was off.
However the island now farms giant clams. The snorkeling right off the village was exelent. The Island used to be a leper colony run by french nuns. Up untill the late 60's when lepresy was cured. It produced some amazing sights, in the middle of some jungle is a cinema. Seating for aproximatly 100 I would of guessed. IE, twice the population of the Island. No wonder its closed.
Projection box end of the Cinema
As well as a disused cinema the leper colony had a prison. Those of you of a computer game pursuation may understand when I say how much this island reminds me of "Far Cry". Reefs, little islands glimsed through gaps in the trees. Etc. Disused cinemas and prisons just add to the effect.
We by shear luck we went ashore about 10 minutes before the dive boat full of American tourists. The boat had aranged with the Village that they were comming so we got to join in the traditional Kava ceremony. See the tradional dress and dancing. We also stayed after theyed left and drank more Kava. Seems to have even less effect than last time I was here. Hardly makes my mouth go numb anymore. Still tastes like muddy water.
We took a walk ashore the following day and snorkeled around the Giant Clams and played with the chrismastree worms. They are suposed to look like Chrismas trees sticking out of hte coral, if Chrismas trees where bright red yellow white and blue. "Bog Brush" would be a more apropriate description. If you wave your hand at them the draft of water casuses them to instantly fold up and duck into the tubes in the coral. After a few moments they slowly pop back out again. Great fun.
I got back from a snorkel to join the rest of the crew and the village girls playing rugby. Long time since I handled a rugby ball forgoton how hard it is.
I'm now in Suva, its a public holiday so we're here till monday so we can check in/out and shake it all about. Chris wants to go diving on Astrolable Reef, unfortunalty thats a 50 mile beat. So we're trying to find a dive boat to send him out on instead.
Went to the Cinema last night, saw Indian Jones and the Retirment home of Doom. Which wasn't good. The originals had great stunts well done. This had silly stunts badly done. It was quite fun though. Ironically the last movie I saw in Suva was "the Mummy" and action adventure with archeologists. Much better than Indain Jones 4, and almost certainly Indiana Jones inspired. Irony, I think so.
Loads more pictures are up in the Fiji Gallery.
Pefectly cooked eggs, under the jacket is a bowl of rice.
Do you know why hot springs smell of eggs? Now I do, the local hot springs in Savusavu (Vannu Livu, Fiji if your interested) are used by the locals for cooking. There a bit utidy about it wich kind or runins the effect. We forgot our stop watch, but we estimated our 4 minuted for the eggs and they were perfect. Yokes just sticky enough not to run. We'ed neglected to bring eating irons, or salt and pepper, but the eggs were spot on.
We've been in Savusavu since friday. Had a bit of a beat to get in, light wide, low draft, cruising boats like Jackal don't like beating. For beating read. Sailed one tack till as near as we could get and stuck the engine on. I like Savusavu. I've been to Fiji before but only Suva, mostly Suva docks. Wich is not a good advert for the rest of the country. Fiji has had 2 millary coups since I was last hear. It milarty government now. Not good. The main problem will be in Suva if their is any. I've just been told that the Aussie's have just offered to fly all their consular staff and their families home, and flagged up Fiji as an unsutable travel destination.
I really doubt it will be that bad. We've got to go to Suva, Christians new credit card awaits. Guess what's leaking? Go on yachties, where is the water comming in on Jackal? Yep thats right the stern gland (the seal that surrounds the propeller shaft) is leaking. They allways do, so its no biggy. Providing we don't acidentally drop the prop shaft out the back of the boat fitting the new seal. That tends to let a lot of water in and you have to get a diver to pick it off the bottom and stuff it back in again.
Wet season is still apon us, dry season soon they all say....
Paperwork, the large guy at hte back was quarantine,
why aquaratine officers always fat? Must be all that
"disposing"of food they do.
Its still raining alot, we crept in to Savusavu at 7am. The out pourings from the hot springs casusing vapor plumes in the harbour. The local marina, gave us a mooring and ferried the local officialls out to the boat. You know how it is Health, Immigration, Customs, Quarantine.... At least they came to us and it was all smooth and easy. Its cheap here too. My new rucksack was $20F my new rugby shirt £15. I've reallised I'm going to end up in Sydney in winter. Its hardly Sedbergh (sorry again mum) but I only brought one fleece and one thin jumper. By accedent I have 3 pairs of trousers. Probably mouldy by now, been under my bed for 4 months.
Everything on the boat has been damp after all the rain. We looked like a floating Chinese Laundry on the way back to the mooring on the first day, we went along side for water and fuel. Decided that the laundry would end up being 500 loads of everything from clothes to seat cusion covers. So Jackie and I hand washed everything. Water was free clean and unlimited. We had to go to town and buy more clothes pegs. Navigatiing back to our mooring was embarassing. Jackie stood on the coach roof, I stood on the bow with me head behond the washing. Alan steered blind with directions relayed around the clothes lines from me, while the whole anchorage watched.
We met a couple in the Bar, Jannine and Jorj. Ausie and Fijian respectivly. Took them out on the boat saturday, they were going to take us to the a waterfall on sunday. But the rain poured down all day, so we gave that up. Its a shame, I've not swum in a waterfall yet this trip. Wierd. Jorj brought his spear gun along, Alan tried to shoot one fish (I was swimming well clear), but missed. The visablity wasn't teribly good, esspecially after are last snorkel outing in Tonga, the sun came out briefly and we got a loverly day trip.
Snorkeling in Tonga, I'm kinda proud of this photo!
The intention was to sail 30 miles to the next island today, but we got out passed the point, found the wind on the nose and that we'd taken too long shopping and faffing with customs etc. So we're anchored off a posh hotel, wind might swing a bit in our avour tommorow. We did think of trying to nick the hotel's hobie. But its a bit crap (tiller ext too short) even for a hobie - which I concider to be a piece of obsolete junk nayway. I'm assuming they don't have a harness and everyone's gone to sleep. Hence the long blog post..... I'll leave you all alone now. Hummm was trying to teach Christian to trapeze, maybe thats why he went to sleep.
Well technically thats not true, in fact last time through here I probably passed further south as we were bound for Suva not Savusavu, what is true is we're going to cross the 180 west (or east) meridian in a couple of hours. Brighton is pretty much on the 0 meridian. Without sailing 30 degrees south aka the Screaming fifities, so called cos thery're worse than the roaring fourties its as far away from home as I'm going to get.
Which way is home? Well the GPS says its 8773 Nautical miles exactly due north of here. Which does make sence. Its just wierd, I feel I've come the wrong way sailing west all the time. Still from now on I'm getting closer to Brighton, not furhter away.
"Look out Brighton the scum's coming home!"
Cos's need hollidays too
Finally wen't up to Ha'apai group. Its raining. Still raining. We stopped at Uonukuhihifo. The sun came about for about 1/2 an hour. We went to the island in search of errr anything. Saw some cows which was wierd. Some coconuts, and since the island was overrun by pigs and (nearly) uninhabited it reminded us of Lord of the Flies. The main difference being we we'rnt marrooned there, and of course we were uncivilised before we got there.
We crept in and then after a couple of hours crept out again, doging badly charted coral without the main method of navigation in these waters, which is looking into the water with the sun well over the yard arm to see the shallow bits, grey skys and rain give the water a uniform silver reflected sky appearance. Anchorages in Ha'apai are not terribly safe in a north westery. We stopped for a couple of nights in the village of Uihai, met the ex Mayor, who unlike Boris Johnson seemed a nice guy. He gave us some fruit, incuding some very nice bannanas well I assume they were nice Alan ate them all.
Giv us a snog
John the ex mayor got us 2 lobsters took us out snorkeling for clams, which are more a sort of large cockel. There an expencive local deleckasy. We universally agree they were horibble. We dropped the live ones back in as soon as he was out of sight.
We slipped and went on to Pangai, the Capital of the Ha'apai group. We took our "interesting" customs clearance from Nuku'lofa in and it was accepted without a question. Stopped in the Mariners cafe, now run by a South African couple. We had quick beer, checked the weather, and felt our way out of the rocks nerviously. We anchoered once. Christian went for a snorkel check. And stood up right next to the baot head and shoulders above the water....... Not good!
Tonga is missing buoys. The chart shows loads, that aren't there. The pilot guide markes the missing marks. Or some of them, the one we were really looking for was run down by the ferry quite recently.
Well the suns finally come out and we want to go to the Hapai group. Customs say we cannot checkout on a Friday and leave Saturday. I.E. When the rain stops. Well we can pay 100 Panga. For a Saturday. We warn boat next door, which is the first he's heard of it. We got that info from the boat that tried to leave the week before. Who stayed till monday instead. The guy's in the fishing club, incuding the guy who has lots to do with Customs - he run the brewery, gets involved. He says its tripe no pay 100 panga. This morning the boat next door get the Ausie High commissioner up, she says its tripe and confronts the guy from customs. Incedently finding him through the Tongan grapevine rather than offical channels. He blows up, and he's a big man, threatens arrest. She backs off and says will sort it Monday. Guy from the Brewery turns up, says a bloke from high up in the dept of transport wants to take a statement. We've decided we will clear out if we can but let the Auzie's stick their neck out. Unfortunatly the guy takes a statment off us too. Damn Damn Damn, customs in the rest of Tonga are now going to love us..... We got their mate in trouble.....
Well the Guy's back now, and is intending to sign them out I belive. I should point out the bigwig is a Kiwi, rather than a Tongan , the Customs officer's a Tongan, thats going to help the whole process.... Maybe we'll clear out too? Christian has gone off with a third boat for a day sail, assuming we're staying..Its safe to say I don't know whether I'm coming or going. Nor i suspect does anybody else.
Shit's gonna hit the fan come monday I'm sure. So hope were going, the boat that kicked up the stink is going to New Caledonia, we haowever are going else where in Tonga. Suspect we'd be better off clearing out and not being here, would be happy if I was in an other country when the fall out starts. But hey it wasn't our fault.
Spot the mistake
Events seem to be conspiring against us. First Dingo arilines cocked up Jackie's flight, marooning us till she (hopfully) arrives tonight, then we can sail off to the loverly Ha'apai Group (know on board as the happy islands - mostly cos we can't prounounce it).
Calls a Taxi
Oh no we're not, just got a weather forcast, 2 systems are going to roll over us between now and friday bringing winds from north, north east north west and west. We can't go to our ha'apai place with nor'westerlies at 30kns as were exposed on the western side of the islands. We'd be safe and sheletered in the norhtern Tongan islands, the Vava'u Group. But in a northerly that would take ages to get too, we'd have to beat, posibly into 30 knots*. Tonight is North East. North tommorow then north west then west. In short we can't make it that far up wind before the nasty stuff hits. Even if we could check out now and leave asap, which we can't. Guess were staying here till it blows over. We even thought of going back to Nuie, but Alofi is wide open to the West and Norht too, even Rarotoga's harbour is untennable in a Norhterly.
On the bright side it is cheap here, the Tourist office has a huge billboard in front of it, with a map of the island. Well I say a map of the Island, actually is a mirror image of the island, conciencioulsly labled. Don't belive me look it up on google maps. So at least the map we were using was the right way round.
Also Thursday the islands got a gig, Shaggy's comming to town. That bloke's following me arround, last time I was in Antigua, another Shaggy Gig.
* this is no fun.
Ok the last gallery I uploaded doesn't work yet, nor does the video. The reason. Tongan internet (formally the best in the Pacific) is absolutly dreadful. Now a modem can theoreticaly do 56000 Bps. Entry level broadband is (in theory) 521000. My upload speed yesterday when trying to update this was in the range 300-500 Bps.
It takes a long time and many re-connections to get it done. The main cause of the trouble is Beebo. Tongan school kids on beebo. The nice internet cafe in the Reserve bank of Tonga is no more. Which is a shame. There's no wifi here, or not at the boat. I'm going to carry on blooging off line and uploading when I can, but if images etc are missing then you'll have to check back later. MUCH later.
Jackie was suposed to arrive last night. But due to a Koala on the runway in Port McQuaire. She's missed her connecting flight to Tonga. She'll be comming monday now. Their right bastards those Koalas.The net reuslt was we got trashed. Beer here is cheap as is "Rumski" the local un labled Rum. Actually quite drinkable.
Alchohol consumed in quantity can lead to stupididity. Principally pushing of people into harbour. Al and Chrisian were determied not to be the first to go in. Al came a close second. The boat, which we speant most of yesterday meticuliously cleaning. Is now liberally dribbed with harbour water. Butter from late night apocolyps snacking. I'm lucky me nice clean bedding is still that way. I had the presnece of mind while Al and Christian were wrestling to clamber round the side of the boat without getting chucked in.
Unfortunatly Chrisian's wallet is missing, presumed sunk. Incuding his card and Cook Islands Driving Licence, the only licence he's got at present.
Leaving pictures out of the post, can't deal with the stress of uploading.