***internet is too slow to upload pictures to WordPress. I was able to upload some photos to Facebook, but I’ll upload more later.
We anchored in Port Muerelle with Carthago and La Vagabond and quickly made new friends. Our friends Jordy and Julia on Ritme were there (we met them in Taha’a), and we met the boat My Dream, from Italy, with the family on board being Claudio and Augusta with their 4-year old daughter Maeva. They have crew on board – Ina from Germany and Frazer from Scotland. Next we met Roberto (Italian) and Ivon (Chilean) from S/V Hansen. These three boats (Hansen, My Dream, and Ritme) have been traveling together for a while. For three nights we were the only private boats in Port Muerelle.
As there is a fuel shortage, we have pretty much suspended our use of our outboard, preferring to either row LD or take our kayak, Aquila.
The three days in Port Muerelle were filled up with snorkeling, kayaking and socializing. Almost every morning I took Aquila out to paddle over the crystal clear water in the lee of the island. Here are some of the highlights I saw in the water:
- Blue sea stars
- Cushion stars
- A large speckled moray eel
- Red slate-pencil urchin
- Green fish sea cucumber
- Spotted worm sea cucumber
- Lion fish (my first one in the Indo-pacific!)
- Two baby stingrays
- Golden guineafowl puffer
Nature is so fun!
Wednesday night after dinner David and I went ashore to try some night photography. It is interesting to compare these photos to the one we took in Dominica. In this case, there is hardly any light pollution, but that means we can’t really see the boats. Also, it was hard to tell with the naked eye, but there were still clouds off to the west and they reflected the setting sun, creating an orange glow.
Thursday I took Aquilla out for a paddle, then Julia and Augusta swam over and I swam to shore with them. Augusta’s daughter was already onshore with Frazer, so Augusta and Maeva snorkeled around while Julia, Frazer and I walked to the “town”. Just parallel to the beach is a small road, and the town is a cluster of houses. We didn’t see a single person!
Some of the men had gone spear fishing and returned with two snapper – one about 7 lbs and the other closer to 15! That evening, a bonfire was built. Ina and Roberto found coconuts, husked, grated and squeezed them for milk. The fish were thrown on a bonfire, one in foil packets and the other just laid on a grate. The whole fish was charred and the meat picked off and mixed with the coconut milk, rice, and curry. Sides were brought, dinner was delicious, and music was played.
Friday night we had everyone over to Starry Horizons for drinks – 15 people, including Maeva. She’s a little spitfire. She ran around our boat, exploring, causing no trouble. Occasionally an adult would stop and play with her, tickling or playing keep away with a balloon. At some point we must have all tired her out, as she asked for a cartoon and I put on a Disney movie for her.
Saturday morning six of us got together on the beach and Ina led a yoga session. Later, we watched as our five friend boats filtered out to anchorage number 11 – Tapana. We would join them that afternoon but first we hiked to the town together. This time, we saw people – school kids running around asking for lollipops or books and men working on installing a new water cistern. We walked all the way down to the dock and beach on the other side of the island.
Anchorage 11 was more populated. There are about 10 moorings here, managed by the Ark Gallery, a houseboat-cum-art galley. There isn’t much on shore.
We kept quiet Saturday night, but Sunday I paddled around our new anchorage for a few hours, then stopped by My Dream and picked up Maeva to come over to play. I stalked her around our boat keeping an eye on her as she climbed all over and ran around. It was so fun to watch, she is so comfortable, and was like having a monkey running around!
Sunday night Gina organized a ladies’ movie night on Carthago. All 7 ladies came and we shared popcorn and watched Chocolat (one of my favorite movies). The guys gathered on La Vagabond for a poker night.
Monday we all picked up and headed to Neiafu. The week was spent running errands and socializing. I joined the ladies luncheon at Vava’u Villa, were 46 of us had a fantastic three course lunch and I was able to make new friends (Eileen from Wavelength, Miri from Enough, Gita from Aros Mear, and Gail from Cetacea) as well as catch up with old friends (Marg from Margansie and Lilah from Privateer).
One morning I went for a run with Simon and Marg. Cetacea is from Nassau Bay, just 10 minutes from our old home, so we had them over for drinks one night. We had drinks and dinner ashore with Julian. We caught up with Lanny and Ginger from SwiftSure over drinks (we originally met them in Panama). La Vagabond came over for brunch, Margansie had us over for dinner. You get the picture! It’s hard to be a lonely cruiser in Neiafu.
The community here has been fantastic, And there is so much going on. We want to especially thank Sandy from Vava’u Adventures. Sandy is the go-to person on the VHF for anything and everything. We heard three medical emergencies while we were in Vava’u, and Sandy helped each one out. Sandy won’t hesitate to call anyone for you or help you with anything. Sandy, you are awesome!
We got all of our formalities taken care of, and the wind has filled in a little bit. Tonga does NOT give you 24 to leave after clearing out. They will ask when you are leaving and if you give them a time on the weekend or outside of office hours you have to pay an overtime fee. So, we are taking off for Savusavu!
The only words we learned in Tongan: Mālō ‘aupito, Tonga! Thank you!