Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nuka'alofa, Tonga

May 14, 2009--Our last two days were a struggle as we had very light winds; however, we arrived yesterday right at dawn. I came up to relieve Steve at 4 a.m., but he decided to stay in the cockpit because we were approaching Nuka'alofa, and we needed to watch carefully for Duff Reef. We were also concerned that local fishing boats would be in the area during this time.

As we approached the entrance to the pass right around 8 o'clock, we were thrilled to spot a whale not far from the boat. We then proceeded through the pass and headed for the yacht moorage area inside the breakwater. When we entered the breakwater, we saw that we would have to drop our anchor in the middle of the harbor and then back up toward the breakwater where we would then tie a line from the stern of the boat to the shore or in other words "Med moor" the boat. Believe it or not this is the first time that we have had to perform this feat. Luckily, all went well especially since another cruiser came over in his dinghy and took our line to shore for us. We made this passage in 7 days, 23 hours, and 45 minutes.

As soon as we were tied up, Steve went to clear in with the Customs officer, who was waiting right on shore. We then had to wait for a few hours before Immigration and then Health came to finish our check-in. After they left, we picked up the boat and then fixed corned beef and cabbage for dinner. By six o'clock Steve was in bed sound asleep since he had slept for only 2 hours the night before, and I did not last much longer. Needless-to-say we both slept very well that night.

On Wednesday, we took a taxi into town to drop off our laundry and go to the bank to get some Tongan money. We then enjoyed just walking around looking in shops. We found the Visitor's Information Center, and I saw an add for the chance to purchase original engravings, which are approximately 200 years old, of Captain Cook's voyages. We went by to look at them and really liked two of the pictures. One was of Captain Cook landing in the New Hebrides and the other was of his two ships anchored at Fare Bay on Huahine in the Society Islands. We also anchored in Fare Bay in June of 2008 so we especially liked that picture.

I had a close call in town as we were walking down a narrow sidewalk. A government building had placed lava-like rocks in concrete right up to the sidewalk. We were busy looking ahead for a specific building so I wasn't watching where I was going. Suddenly my right foot hit one of the rocks, and it threw me off balance. I picked up my foot to gain my balance but only succeeded in catching another rock. Both Steve and I knew that I was going down. The only thing that saved me was that I was holding Steve's hand, so he pulled my left hand as much as he could, and I was able to roll a bit so that I landed mostly on my right side. Steve helped to take most of the momentum out of the fall, but we were both amazed that I did not end up breaking my right arm or injuring the elbow. Luckily, I just have some black-and-blue spots and a few sore muscles.

We visited the central market where I bought a tapas, which are made from the bark of a mulberry tree, of a turtle, and we also bought some vegetables. We then found a bakery with delicious bread and baguettes. We met our Taxi driver David who took us to pick up our laundry and return to the boat. We were both still not fully recovered from our lack of sleep so we took it very easy for the rest of the day.

Steve spent today going to the fuel station to fill the jerry jugs with diesel, while I cleaned the boat and put away the heavy clothing that we had worn on our passage. We are optimistic that we will not need them for quite awhile. We will be here for a few more days before we go out to anchor at some of the islands that are nearby as there are still a few things that we want to see on this island before we leave.

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