Tonga!

Whoo Hoo! We made to Neiafu, Vava’u, Tonga this morning. We crossed the
International Date Line. It’s Tuesday here. We had no Monday. Weird.

When I last left you were were having nice seas and winds. Boy did
things change. The night before last we saw a squall coming at us and
got ready by reefing the main sail. Well, it wasn’t just a squall. It
was about 20 hours of wind. Big wind. We eventually lowered the main
sail completely and put out what’s called a handkerchief jib. It’s just
a teen bit of sail, maybe about the size of a twin bed sheet. We were
still going 5 knots. We tried for a while to go “bare poles”, with no
sails out, but we weren’t able to steer. The seas were big from a south
swell and then the east winds created their own waves. It wasn’t a very
pleasant ride. The winds did die down last evening, but the seas kept up
until we got into the lee of Uta Vava’u. It was a relief to start into
this island group this morning. It was gloriously beautiful. A manta ray
jumped out of the water to greet us. I missed it the first time, so he
did it again. Very cool.

We moored here in the harbor, only to find out that we had dock at the
wharf to get checked in. We went over there and got checked in fairly
easily, one “dock kiss” marring the side of the boat. The officials were
very nice. Sam talked about family in Aiea. The immigration guy showed
up in the traditional skirt like garmet with a woven matt waist piece.

Back at the mooring we quickly got a shower and went ashore. We went to
the bank to change money. One of the patrons came up to Steve and said
“I think you look familiar. Aren’t you a doctor in Wahiawa?” George was
his name and Steve had treated him. Small world.

Then we went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. Very tasty. Our
“waitress” chatted with us and come to find out she had been in San
Francisco and Hawaii recently. She had won first prize in a regional
drag queen competition. The prize was a trip to L.A., S.F. and Honolulu.
We toured Neiafu, peeking into shops and looking at menus. It’s a cute
hillside town and obviously caters to yachties. There are 75 mooring
balls here and a good number of them are occupied. The Moorings charter
company has a bunch of boats here.

We’ll spend a couple of days here, then move to take adavantage of the
spectacular anchorages around this group of islands.

We’re here, we’re safe, and we’re REALLY glad to not be moving.

P.S. I hope mom’s move into here condo went well.