Four boats left this morning for New Zealand and five more are about to leave, the lemming effect is in full force!! We have decided that we will wait at least another week before leaving. We had planned to wait until about the middle of the month before leaving as we have been told that the later you leave it the better because it is less likely that you will get a winter storm from the New Zealand area. We have decided to contact a meteorologist in NZ and have him do our weather routing for us. He will send us a detailed set of co-ordinates to follow to go around the lows and the highs and hopefully we will have a passage without too much trauma and some wind, this sounds like a good plan to me.
Last night we had the best time we have had in a long time. Where we are staying is at a cruiser hang out that is run by a couple, the man is from NZ and the woman from Tonga. The hangout is called Big Mama’s, they have a restaurant/bar with ping pong tables, dart boards, volleyball nets, etc. It is on an island that they own, given to them by the king, and they also have some fales, or small thatched cottages for non-sailing guests. You can walk around the island in 20 minutes and there are lovely sand beaches most of the way around.
It was the owners’ 60th birthday and Big Mama threw him this wonderful party. She didn’t do anything for him when he was fifty but she promised him if he lived another 10 years she would do it up right, and did she ever. She invited all the cruisers to a traditional Tongan dinner, all you had to pay for was your drinks. They engaged the guys from the Nuku’alofa police band to play. There was 4 guitarist, 3 horn players, and a drummer. 2 palangis or white people (cruisers) joined in. on fellow on the sax and one on harmonica. It was marvelous. Everyone danced, the people that served the meal, the bartenders and all the cruisers, a cross cultural blast. I have a picture of Barry dancing with this beautiful young island girl, she was gorgeous. We took a picture of all the Bluewater Cruising Canadians that were there and believe it or not there were 7 boats and 21 people in the picture, then we all danced to Take It Easy. The Tongans let loose and danced up a storm, what fun.
We are planning on taking the water taxi into Nuku’alofa tomorrow to check out of the country and fax off our “inward” report to New Zealand. They are the strictest country that we have entered so far. There are all sorts of food you are not allowed, such as fresh fruits and vegs, fresh meat, eggs, honey, any thing that might sprout, they will examine your flour and pastas to make sure you don’t have bugs and on and on. Planning our food intake for the crossing will be tricky. We have contemplated motoring up and down in front of the customs dock and stuffing ourselves with whatever we had left and telling them we would dock as soon as we ate all the food we couldn’t bring in!!! Ah Well. We are also hoping to take a tour of Tongatapu so we will do that sometime next week.