On Monday the weather was nasty with rain squalls off and on all day. The wind began to pick up by late afternoon, which meant that a low was passing. By seven or eight o'clock the winds were gusting at 45 knots and our boat was heeled over. Luckily, we had seen the weather forecast and decided to stay in the inner harbor. We had run an additional line to shore earlier in the day, and our stern was to the breakwater and the direction of the worst winds so we were pretty well protected. Everything began to settle down by ten o'clock in the evening so it wasn't bad at all. We did get a lot of rain and were able to put quite a bit into our water tank.
A rally of boats came in to Nuku'alofa just as we did and all anchored out at Pangaimotu Island, which is quite close to the harbor. We listened on the radio as they told of winds in excess of 50 knots and several boats dragging their anchors. A local ferry boat was also coming quite close to several of the boats, causing them some tense moments. The good news is that everyone survived just fine.
On Tuesday morning we were preparing to leave the boat to go to town when a sailboat came into the mooring with their head sail completely shredded. We thought that it had happened during the blow, but they told us that it had happened on the way into Tonga. They had been at anchor for three days waiting to clear in. They finally came into the mooring area so that they could walk to customs and clear in. Also on that day we found out that sv Elusive with Steve, Wendy, and her son aboard had sunk while crossing from New Zealand to Fiji. Elusive had made the crossing with us this past year, and we had enjoyed spending time with them on several occasions. Luckily, they were with a group of boats, and Scarlet O'Hara with John and Renee aboard went to help. The information we received was that there was water coming in, and Steve and John simply could not find the source so they had to abandon ship. Thankfully everyone is all right.
We went to town and ran errands to the bank, the post office, the market, and the bakery. We enjoyed curried chicken for lunch and then returned to the boat. That evening we went ashore to enjoy a dinner at the Road House Bar and Restaurant. Unfortunately, it was more a bar than a restaurant. After a very long wait for prawns and potatoes, we got our meal all four prawns! It was a bit disappointing, but we still enjoyed the night out.
On Wednesday we left the anchorage in the morning and went out to Fafa Island where we anchored off the surrounding reef in about 40 feet of water. We enjoyed lunch and then got into the dinghy to go ashore. Our first trip out we couldn't find the pass through the coral so we returned to the boat to get our hand-held GPS with the coordinates. We left the boat, but our dinghy engine died almost immediately so we rowed back to the boat. Steve got the engine running so we took off again. Just as we approached the entrance to the pass, our engine died again. Luckily, the wind blew us away from the reef. A local fishing boat came by to ask if we needed help, but we told them that we were fine. Steve again got the engine running, so we proceeded through the pass and beached the dinghy. Fafa is a lovely island with many fales or guest houses, but we still enjoyed a walk around the island. We returned to the boat, without the engine dying, to swim and shower and enjoy the sunset.
This morning we left Fafa at around 8:30 to motor over to Pangaimotu Island. Most of the rally boats are now gone, so there are only five of us here. This is another beautiful island. Tonight we will go ashore to have dinner at Big Mama's Restaurant. We then plan to check out in the morning and head up to the Ha'api group, but another low is moving our way so we will have to see what the weather forecast is before we leave.
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