Worrall Travel R's

Worrall Travel R's
Roz and Russ

Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

My photo

We are the Worrall Travel R's Roz and Russ Worrall. Our goal before we "kick the bucket" is to see as much of the world as we are able, learn about world cultures, experience making friends around the world, and share goodwill and what we learn with others. WE HOPE YOU JOIN US VIA THE BLOG ON OUR TRAVELS.

We started our world travels in 1969 in VW camper van in the USA, Canada, and Europe, but didn't actively blog about our travels until 2009 aboard our sailing vessel SV Worrall Wind, a 44 ft Nauticat Ketch.  On September 5, 2009 we left San Francisco and took a left at the Golden Gate to Explore the World.

From to Sea to Land
After almost 4 years of cruising Mexico and the South Pacific, we sold our beloved boat in Australia, 2013. The Worrall Travel R's are continuing our travels around by many other means of conveyance -boats,trains, planes, sometimes camels, elephants, rickshaws, and hot air balloons.. 

Russ is a retired engineer, optometrist, professor from U.C. Berkeley. Roz is a retired computer programmer/analyst, educator, (teacher, administrator, professional developer). 

Our Mantra:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Worrall Wind Periodic Position Report - Arrived in Lautoka, Fiji

UTC/Local Time +/-12: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 1100 Zulu
Latitude: 17 36.008 S
Longitude: 177 26.479 E

Update: Last passage of the season safely completed. We have arrived in Fiji.

After 4 days of dark gray skies, gunmetal sliver water, wind, waves, and rain we have safely arrived on the fifth day in Fiji. We may have seen the moon for a few seconds the first night out and then it was inky black at night. So much for sailing with a full moon.

What was that big yellow globe in the sky? We saw blue sky and blue water for the first time this morning as we came through Navula pass into a beautiful lagoon on the lee side of Viti Levu in Fiji. The lagoon is bigger than the San Francisco bay and is dotted with islands and reefs. It looked like a lake today when we arrived. The wind blowing 8-10 knots, the temperature in the low 80's. Russ said, "Now this is what I hoped sailing in the South Pacific would be like!" We are looking forward to sailing here next season.

We will be here a month at the Vuda Point Marina while we put Worrall Wind in a hurricane trench until April. As usual we have a lot of clean up and projects. In late November, early Decemeber we will be flying to New Zealand, camping, traveling, and berth surfing on friends boats in NZ until we return to Fiji to resume our circumnavigation next spring. Anyone planning on a trip to New Zealand? Let us know and we can catch up there. We'll keep submitting periodic posts to our blog. Worrall Wind will be grounded, but the 2 Sail R's will continue their exploration of the world. Keep in touch with us and let us know what you are up to. Next season, we will be in Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Australia. Perhaps we will see you out there, or you can crew a leg.

The 2 Sail R's on Worrall Wind, Roz and Russ

no footer

Monday, October 25, 2010

Worrall Wind Update - Fiji Bound - Day 4

UTC/Local Time:Monday October 25 2300/Tuesday, October 26, 1200

Latitude: 18 37.908 S
Longitude: 178 56.292 E
Course Over Ground: 295 at 7.0 knots motor sailing
Wind Direction: SE, guessing 18-20
Sea Swell: ESE 1-3 meters
Sky: 100% cloud cover
Barometric Pressure: 1016

Update: Quite a night!

Last night our anomometer gave it up. We think there must be a loose connection at the mast. We weren't getting either an accurate readout of wind direction or speed on our instrument panel. At one point, the arrow was going around in a circle like Linda Blair's head in the Exorcist and reading between 0-45 knots, whatever its possessed-self felt like.

Our redundancy plan is to check the secondary anomometer on the mizzen. No good, it needs new batteries and isn't working either. Our third plan is to look up at the Windex, the big arrow on the mast. That works pretty well if the skylight is open, but we hadn't taken the cover off, so when it started to rain, I shut the skylight and couldn't see a thing. I was totally without knowing the direction of the wind and it was shifting all around.

Russ was sleeping and I didn't want to wake him to go outside in the wind, waves, and rain to take the cover off the skylight. So my fourth plan was to watch our Nobletec monitor and when the boat started to head-up (which it does when we get strong gusts), was to help Hydie (Hydrovane wind steering system) by giving some rudder to the down-wind side, and then turn the opposite direction as soon as I hear the main do its backwind snap, and back-in-place pop when the sail fills in from the correct side. The waves not always coming from our rear created a situation where I did the rice krispie routine and counted the snaps and pops to know whether we were back winded or not.

To complicate matters, we were trying not to drop below our course line because of a marked hazard on our port side. Fortunately, we had reduced our jib to a little hanky and had a triple reefed main. We were running down wind (wind coming from our back on a port tack.) This means that that the jib was poled to starboard, and the main and boom were let way out and prevented from an accidental gybe. The problem with this configuration, but the only one that we could use given the wind direction and course line, is there isn't a lot of wiggle room when you are trying to avoid an obstacle or hazard on your port. Too much up wind - head for the hazard, too much downwind - back wind the main (this would create a gybe if we didn't have the preventer on.)

From 8:00 - 1:30 (my watch, I had to help Hydie with hand steering). When Russ got up at 1:30, we took the cover off the skylight so that we could at least see the Windex through the poring rain. The wind was howling and shifting, and we were dropping quite a ways below our course line despite our best efforts. The boat predictor line was pointing right at the hazard.

We made a plan that we would let the boat go more south and drop below the hazard instead of above it and make a course change to north in the morning. Unfortunately, going south instead of north, meant we would have unfriendly seas rolling us and slamming us. I went to bed and knew Russ would have to be hand steering with Hydie the rest of the night. When I got up at 6:00 after sleeping fairly soundly without a lot of rocking and rolloing, we were above the course line. I was amazed. Russ had discovered that the boat with the strong winds was still making 4-5 knots overground with the main back winded from the stern and the following seas pushing us northwith this strange configuration, almost a fore reach in reverse. Not pretty, but it worked.

We were still too close for comfort to the hazard by dawn and decided it was time for the iron genny (the engine). We looked at our course through our 3-D charted imagery and saw a cable running 12000 meters down to the ocean floor at the marked hazard site. Presumably this is a weather buoy of some sort. At least it was a relief to know it wasn't the top of a volcano, sunken ship, or reef.

This 3-D stuff is so cool, it's fascinating to see the contours of the ocean floor and an island like Viti Levu as a tiny mound above a huge underwater mountain. It's like playing a video game. We went out in the early morning rain, rolled in the jib, pulled the mainsail to center, retired Hydie for a well deserved rest,and turned on the engine and fired up the auto pilot. We needed to generate some power and to get the heck to Fiji. There are some more strong winds and dark clouds coming behind us that we want to beat to port. This passage is one which have chosen not to dawdle.

At this point, we are no longer in VHF contact with our fast moving friends on Sidewinder. Skylight is now slightly behind us, as they traveled quite a ways north during the night and are now course correcting to the next way point. Claudia called on the VHF to tell us she can see us up ahead of them. That's a switch! We are not used to having anyone behind us. With our motor on we are moving 6-8 knots. They too are motor saiing, but closer to 5 knots. If all goes well, we all hope to reach Lautoka by tomorrow afternoon. We are supposed to get a small respite this afternoon and tomorrow morning from strong winds and seas, so we may be motor sailing the rest of the way. We'll see. In the mean time,

All is well with the 2 Sail R's on Worrall Wind.

Worrall Wind Update - Fiji Bound - Day 3

UTC/Local Time: Monday, October 25, 2010 2000/Monday 2100

Latitude: 19 03.890 S
Longitude: 180 Crossing the dateline! 2132
Course Over Ground: 290 @ 5.5 knots
Wind Direction: 18 knots SE
Sea Swell: 10-12 feet ESE
Sky: 100% cloudy/squally
Barometric Pressure: 1013

Update: Crossing the 180 degree International Date Line!

We are just completing Day 3 of our passage from Tonga to Fiji and are between two islands Totoya four miles on our starboard and Matuku fourteen miles on our port. As the sky turned from dreary grey to black we had a visual on Totoya. We couldn't see Matuku, but know it's out there. It's been another grey and rolly day.

As I start this blog we are still in the Western Pacific. By the time I post this we will be in the Eastern Pacific on the other side of the International Date line, and all of our longitude will now be East instead of W.

Crossing the 180 degree line is another milestone, but somewhat anti-climactic because we actually changed our date upon arrival in Tonga the beginning of October. Because Tonga wanted to be the first instead of the last to bring in the millenium, the political dateline was moved to the east at Tonga.

The winds have been swirling today and the waves have not consistently been in one direction, but they have been big! Skylight about 6 miles ahead was spun 40 degrees off course by one wave causing an accidental jybe which ripped out their winch and broke a stay. Luckily neither Brian or Claudia were hurt just a bit shaken. After the initial alert and assessment, they were able to get things patched together enough to keep on moving forward. Worrall Wind, being the last boat in our fleet and the one behind Skylight was the logical rescue boat. Glad it didn't turn in to that. Before we even got them in our sight, they were back in running order.

I think all of us on this passage are glad it is the last big one of the season. The weather is changing and the water is heating up. According to the weather forcasters, La Nina is going to bring about an earlier summer wet season and the ingredients for tropical storms are in place. The forecast for the next two days looks like diminishing winds and seas and by then we will be in Fiji. Yeah!

All is well with the 2 Sail R's on Worrall Wind.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Worrall Wind Update - Fiji Bound - Day 2

UTC/Local Time: Sunday 10/24 1930/Sunday 10/24 2030

Latitude: 19 21.570 S
Longitude: 177 49.586 W
Course Over Ground: 6.5-7.5 knots 257
Wind Direction: SE 20-25 knots
Sea Swell: 8-12 feet ESE
Sky: 100% dark clouds, can't see the moon tonight
Barometric Pressure: 1017

Update: Day 2

We've been in radio contact with our little fleet today several times. Everyone is doing well despite the rocking and rolling. David on Sidewinder dumped his breakfast and I put a new twist on tossed green salad. It got tossed all around the galley and on to the floor.

We are making good time and are still only 6 miles behind the boat in front of us. The sky has been dark and cloudy all day. Really, really glad to be in our cozy pilot house even if we do go a little slower. Occasionally, a patch of light blue sky would appear and then quickly disappear. Our anomometer instrument guage is acting up, and we are relying on the windex (that's the arrow on top of the mast) for wind direction. The instrument arrow simply spins in circles. It's maddening to watch. We think the speed indicator is ok, but not sure about that either. It recorded a gust of 53 knots today. The wind was strong, but didn't feel that strong. Another boat project in Fiji!

We just safely passed by some marked hazards on our port and now are heading a bit more west and north to pass by Nuka Songa Reef on our starboard side in the East Lau group of Fijian Islands. We should be almost half way to our distination by tomorrow morning.

All is well with the 2 Sail R's on Worrall Wind.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Worrall Wind Update - Fiji Bound, Day 1

UTC/Local Time: Saturday 10/23 0730/Saturday 10/23 2030

Latitude: 18 55.549 S
Longitude: 175.23.196 W
Course Over Ground: 240 Magnetic
Wind Direction: SE 18-22 knots
Sea Swell: ESE 6-9 feet fast moving 10 seconds apart
Sky: 90% clouds
Barometric Pressure: 1016

Update: Day 1

We were up by 5:45 this morning, dressed, downloading last minute weather information, closing ports and hatches, taking off sun screens, and doing numerous little adjustments. Stew, potato salad, chicken pilaf, and hard boiled eggs are in the frig ready to eat.

By 7:00 a.m., we were off of the mooring ball and heading out the Neiafu harbor in company with Brian and Claudia on Skylight, Hareka on Serendipity, and a Swedish Boat Ahmwana (sp). Susie and David on Sidewinder were leaving a southern anchorage and would catch up with us on the course line. Another Fiji bound boat checked into the net, Sympatica. They are ahead of us by about 15 miles and must have left earlier. Three of the boats including us are headed to southern Fiji, Lautoka about 530 miles. I'm not sure about the other boats. From their course reports they may be headed to Suva.

The morning was grey and the southeast trades were blowing 15-20. The sea swells have kept us rocking most of the day. It's not going to be an easy sail. What a surprise! We have a triple reefed main and 80% of our jib out, running between a beam and a broad reach, averaging about 6.4 knots, but still the slowest in our little armada. By night fall we are about 10 miles behind the fastest boat Serendipity, and 4 miles behind Skylight. Sidewinder not only caught us, but have now passed us and Skylight. This is the first time since the Baja Ha Ha that we have sailed with a small fleet. Occasionally, we see mast lights on the horizon. By morning, we will be quite a ways behind. I'm glad we are not close to the other boats. It makes it less stressful. The moon is full tonight and when it finds an opening in the clouds, it illuminates the seascape and the rush of foam as waves rush under, around, and over Worrall Wind.

I have first watch tonight 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. and Russ is sleeping.

We are checking in with the Sea Farer's Ham Net at 0330 UTC, 14.300 USB, during our passage, and with the Penguin Net on 8104 at 0600 UTC and 1830 UTC.

All is well with the 2 Sail R's on Worrall Wind.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tonga and off to Fiji

The Kingdom of Tonga – Vava’u - Part II



Our time in Tonga is winding down.  It is Wednesday, and we plan to head out for Fiji Saturday morning.  We have had a wonderful time here in beautiful anchorages, visiting schools, snorkeling on fabulous coral reefs and swimming with whales...no kidding!  We even attended a Tongan funeral.  Here's a recap of our time in Tonga.

 

Tonga - Day 8 - Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Prep Day and Fakalaitie's

We spent most of Wednesday prepping for our outer island cruising.  Our first stop was to drop off some laundry, followed by the bank, open fruit and vegetable market where we picked up fresh mandarins, pineapples, bananas, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, kormas (white sweet potatoes), something that looked like a butternut squash but what the Vavu'ans call pumpkin.  We thought it might taste good bar-b-qued.  We'll see.  Tonga 0820

We stopped at the bakery picking up the last of my non-glutten order and paid for our mooring.  Wednesday evening, we went with Gloria and Gene from Pincoya to Tonga Bob's to see the Fakalaitie performance (female impersonators).  Transgender is very common in Polynesia, even in Tonga where everything else is so conservative.  The show was was very entertaining and attracted not only cruisers but locals as well.

Day 9 - Thursday, October 7, 2010
Earthquake and Skimmed Another Coral Head


We had a 5.7 earthquake off of Neiafu this morning.  It occurred around 8:45 during the morning net.  Russ was making a run to shore with a last trash run and was in the dinghy, so he didn't feel anything.  I was on the boat, attached to the mooring.  The boat started to bob up and down like a dribbling basketball.  Our first concern was a possible Tsunami.  We could hear all of the school children in the school above the anchorage out in the yard, followed by an all clear signal.  There were no warnings being given for a Tsunami, although I'm not sure what they would have been had there be one.  Naturally, the cruisers were a little nervous and wondering how protected they would be in Neiafu should there be a Tsunami.  It was a long way out to deep water.

I logged onto the net  US Geological Survey site to see if an earthquake had been registered.  The Internet service is very slow so by the time I finally got online, 10-15 minutes had passed.  There were as yet no Tsunami warnings, but the 5.7 earthquake only 55 miles from was posted.  The red spot indicating an event within the last hour, was amongst a closely linked chain of yellow dots indicating earthquakes in the last week.  Seems that there had been quite a swarm of others that we were not even aware of.  Since this one was so close to us and nothing as yet had happened, the cruisers relaxed and went about their business.

We cranked up our dinghy on its davits, disconnected ourselves from the buoy and were off to anchorage 16 which is Nuapapu South - Vaka'eitu, about a 2 hour motorsail from Neiafu.  Nuapapu is a circular group of islands connected by reefs.  We had had several reports that this was one of the best places to snorkel and to see whales.


The sky was beginning to cloud over, so we got underway by 9:45, wanting to make use of as much sunshine for seeing reefs as we could.

We threaded through the reefs and islands to get to our destination.  With the exception of the last 50 yards to where we anchored we had an uneventful trip.  The tide was low, Russ was on the bow, I was at the helm.  The sky was fairly cloudy and it was difficult to see the color changes in the water. 

We were giving a wide berth to starboard where we knew there was a 5'11" high spot.   Russ yelled back for me to turn hard to port which I did, but it was too late and our keel skimmed across a coral head into the anchorage.   Apparently, there was another high spot that was not charted.  We were not using our Nobeltec map plotter because we knew this was not accurate.  We were using waypoints and our gps.  It's good we were going slow, but when going slow the boat doesn't turn sharply.  Getting used to this visual-reaction-navigation takes some getting used to, and we obviously don't have it mastered yet.

Elysion with Josie and Steve (Great Britan) and Serendipity with Hareka (Nederlands), Wunderland, Pickles, and Stray Kitty were already at anchor.  There was a free buoy close to the eastern cliffs which we were able to attach ourselves too.  The water looked shallow, but we still had 30 feet under us at low tide.  Hareka helped us attach to the buoy.

We spent a quiet evening watching the clouds build.  It rained hard on Thursday night.

Day 10 - Friday, October 8, 2010
Belated Stormy Birthday Party


Friday morning was dark and gloomy.  It seemed like a good day to stay inside, read, relax, and bake Russ's overdue birthday cake.  Skylight called and were headed into the anchorage later in the mooring.  We invited Brian and Claudia from Skylight and Josie and Steve from Elysion over for cake and dominoes Friday night.  Pincoya and Trim decided to stay put in Neiafu until the weather got better.

It poured on Friday night with a magnificent thunder and lightening show.  As we were having wine and devil's food chocolate cake, we heard over the radio that a boat was sinking in the Ha'apai islands 100+ south of Vava'u.  It's a bummer to hear that someone is going down, particularly when the weather is so frightening.  We learned the next morning that the boat did sink, but the four people on board had been rescued and were on land.  It must have been a terrifying experience for them.

We had been thinking about sailing down down to the Ha'apai islands on our way south before taking off for Fiji.  They are supposed to be gorgeous, but the waters are filled with hazards, coral heads, etc.  After our recent eyes-wide open bump on coral and this sinking incidence we are reconsidering our plans.  We are pretty content with the gorgeous islands here.

Day 11 - Saturday, October 9, 2010
Lazy Saturday - Thunder and Lightening Storm


We had visitors from Nuapapu this morning.  A group of locals came by to sell us some of their handcrafts.  We bought a few items and they invited us to visit their primary school next week.    They have about 25 students ranging in age from 4- 12.  One of the men David on the boat is a teacher there.  We have been wanting to do a school visit and have some things to donate.  Pincoya with Jean and Gloria joined us in the anchorage today.  Trim and Freezing Rain are still in Neiafu.

Blue sky came out for a hour or so today.  We got in the dinghy and went ashore for a little walk.  When the tide is high, there is no beach.  When the tide is low, a golden yellow sand beach appears and wading birds take advantage of picking off fish in the shallow water.











There is a huge tree (banyon) on shore which looks like it would be a great place to build a Swiss Family Robinson tree house. 
 
The sky was clouding over and we had invited Hareka over for dinner, so we didn't stay long on shore. 

We had a nice evening, once again marveling at the thunder and lightening (our gps, navigation key, laptops, safely stowed in our oven and microwave).  Harkea left our boat about 9:30 and at 9:35 the wind started to howl and the sky opened up pouring rain.  Boats all over the anchorage were checking their anchors as their boats pulled and tugged from every direction as the wind whipped around the bay.
We were glad to be on a mooring, but were watchful of other boats.  It rained for nearly two hours.  We filled our water tanks and took 8 inches of water in the dinghy.

Day 12 - Sunday, October 10, 2010
Flying Foxes and Reef Snorkeling


This morning the sun came out and the clouds although still present were giving way to blue sky.  By 8:30 a.m. the triple trouble boat club of Worrall Wind, Skylight, and Pincoya, and passenger Hareka were in our dinghies headed across the high tide reef to a place called Japanese coral garden for a morning snorkel.  Brian had gotten some waypoints the day before from Frank on Tahina on how to thread our way through the coral heads, so he led the way and we followed closely behind him.

Once on the blue side of the reef, we found a place to anchor

 

and noticed immediately an overhanging tree filled with flying fruit bats called flying fox here in Tonga.  These bats have 2-3 foot wing span and raid the fruit trees at night.  As the sun was coming over the cliffs, the bats were waking up and flying off somewhere, presumably where it was darker.  It was exciting to see them. 



We enjoyed a wonderful snorkel.  This garden by far had more variety of coral than we have ever seen in one place.  The water clarity, despite the wind and rain, was beautiful.  There were many variety of fish, not extremely plentiful, but nevertheless beautiful.  By the time we finished our snorkel, the tide had dropped enough where it would not be safe to pass back over the reef, so wed dinghies around the island making a few stops on secluded beaches and in aqua blue lagoons.  Truly a beautiful morning!

     

 This afternoon, Russ and I are doing a few boat chores including some laundry.  I noticed the other day as we were dinghying around our boat that our solar panels weren't flat.  It appeared that one of the davits was lower than the other.  Turns out we lost a big bolt in one of our davits and there is a stress crack in the foundation bending the davit arm on the starboard side outward.  This isn't good.

Russ is trying to figure a way of supporting the davit and putting a fix on it until we reach Fiji where it will have to have a serious repair.  If he can't get a good temporary fix on it, we may need to put the dinghy on the deck and take the stress off the arm.  Always something to keep Russ busy.

Day 13 - Monday, October 11, 2010
Coral Garden West Side - Hike to abandon Resort, Dinner Party


After our wonderful snorkel the day before, we decided to go again at 8:30 in the morning.  This time we took four dinghies (Skylight, Pincoya, Serendipity, and Worrall Wind) and left early enough that we would swim while the tide was still coming in and have enough water under our keels to traverse over the reef and not have to go around the island.  We enjoyed another look at the now familiar gardens and fish. Beautiful.

   


 We traversed back over the reef.  The other dinghies peeled off back to their boats after we had a short discussion about a potluck on our boat later in the day.  Russ and I took the dinghy to shore
and hiked up an overgrown trellis trail

to an abandon resort on the top of a hill .  Built only 15 years ago, the place was deserted and from the destruction we surmised it might have been hit by a hurricane and never rebuilt.




(We learned later that the rebuild was never really completed and the property simply abandoned).

There were some overgrown gardens and fruit trees.  We were able to pickup some limes and oranges.  The bananas were a little too high on the trees (and a little small yet) for us to pick up.  We returned to our dinghy to find visitors on the remnants of the old pier.








After our hike, we returned to WW for lunch and a little cleanup for our dinner guests. As the afternoon progressed and new boats with friends arrived, we included Sidewinder and Acapella to the potluck.  Worrall Wind was going to be full with nearly a dozen people.
 (Ed and Cornelia on Acapella, surrounded by Dave and Susie  on Sidewinder),                                         


(Gene and Gloria in front Pincoya with Claudia and Brian from Skylight in the back)

Everyone arrived between 5:30 and 6:00 and left several hours later.   We had a fun evening, gobbling our way through all the contributions.    The ladies played dominoes (my first win in over a  year) and the men retired to the Lido deck for stimulating heat exchanger, plumbing, and engine talk.  Sorry to have missed that!  Not!

We were planning on leaving early the following morning and going over to Nuapapu School, but Susie and David on Sidewinder were raving about the coral gardens they had seen earlier in the day on the south side of the island.  It never seems to fail that the attraction of yet more beautiful coral has a way of delightfully delaying our plans. 

Day 14 - Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Coral Garden South Side - Nuapapu Funeral


We got up early and once again set off in our dinghies.  Gene and Gloria were having generator problems and were returning to Nieafu along with Hareka on Serendipity, so it was just the double trouble team of Skylight and Worrall Wind that vented to the south side of the island.  The tide was coming in and there were breaking waves along the reef.  We pulled up to a little beach area on the south east side of the reef were there we no waves, dropped our anchors, and dove in.

Oh my gosh!  These were spectacular corals.  The variety and colors were extensive.   We were able to float over the gardens with about 2 feet of water under us.  The water was crystal clear and the colors vibrant in the morning sun.  Hues of yellows, browns, chartreuse, pink, purple, corals and oranges; brain coral with underlayment of lime greens and spirals of cocoa brown, plate corals, staghorn corals.  You name it, we saw it!  Absolutely the best coral gardens we've seen anywhere, including the Perfect Reef in Suwarrow.  Brian and Claudia tooks some under water photos and videos that I hope to get a copy of so that we can recapture the magic of this garden.

After our snorkel, we returned to Worrall Wind.  Pincoya had left and Serendipity was just leaving.  Within the hour, both Skylight and Worrall Wind were also heading away from this wonderful little anchorage across the bay to the main island of Nuapapu.  It took us about 1 hour to cross the bay.  Over the course of the last week, we could see 1 or 2 boats maximum anchored at Nuapapu.  We were looking forward to fewer boats.

Skylight and Worrall Wind dropped anchor in 50 feet of water off the shore of Nuapapu village near their pier.   We were the only boats here, but by the time returned we had quite a few more boats in the anchorage.

             
                          
Brian and Claudia picked us up in their dinghy (our little motor was giving us problems) and we headed to the pier.  Our backpack was bulging with school supplies.  We could hear singing coming from the top of the ridge in the direction of the school.

There were some adolescent boys on the pier tormenting and eventually killing a beautiful sting ray. 

I tried not to let my cultural distaste for this activity color my opinion of these boys.    They had helped us moor the boat, climb up the pier, and had pointed the way to the village.  They had been helpful and polite.

I asked them if they were going to eat the ray?  They laughed.  They obviously had no intention of eating the ray.  They had killed the creature for sport.  It was very sad for us to see, but other than climbing coconut trees there really isn't much for the kids to do here.  Why weren't they in school?  They said their was no school today.  We couldn't quite understand why and they didn't speak enough English to elaborate.  In retrospect, these boys were attending an all day funeral that was occurring at the top of the hill and escaped for a little sport.

The four of us trekked up the hill to the village, toward the school and the singing voices.  We climbed over a few stiles
   

and walked along the ridge top through some tall green trees.  When we climbed over the last stile on to the school grounds, Tavita (head teacher and principal) came out to meet us.

He explained that the village of Nuapapu was involved in a funeral today and that the school was closed.  We got to peak inside the school rooms that were empty and were invited to stay for the funeral and to come back the following morning for school.  While it wasn't what we had come for, it was interesting to watch a Tongan funeral from the school house porch which overlooked the grave site.

Tavita explained that the person who died was an old woman with five children.  She died of cancer.  I asked how old she was.  He said she was 40.  Whoa!  We must have looked like dinosaurs if 40 was considered old. 

The village itself was probably no more than 50 people, but at least another 50 or so people had come to the village earlier in the day, feasted and had been singing farewell songs to the deceased.

When we arrived, the songs were just ending.  The body wrapped in a white shroud was laid onto a finely woven mat.  A long woven mat was placed on top of the body.  Family and friends lifted the top mat as an umbrella while younger stronger men, lifted the lower mat carrying the body.  The processional of people took the deceased down to the grave site.





Tavita explained that families were very proud of their long, fine designed mats, and that it was a sign of respect to the dead.  The Tongan funeral goers were wearing black with overlaid mats on their clothing.  Again, the larger the mat often symbolized the closeness of the relative to the deceased.  It appeared to us, that most of the people at the funeral were wearing very large mats.

The gravesite was a cement crypt.  The body was placed alongside the crypt and covered with yet another fine mat. 





                                    















Part way through the ceremony, it started to rain, and several young men materialized with a large yellow tarp on poles.  They positioned themselves around the gravesite, protecting the body and the ministers from the rain.  After more mournful singing and a lengthy sermon which Tavita translated as "death comes to all of us, so repent now and live a good life so you can be saved from hell." the deceased was raised up off of the ground and lowered with the bottom mat into the crypt.  Almost everyone was paying rapt attention.
The adolescent boys who had tormented and killed the ray sat on the hill above the gravesite.  They were not wearing funeral attire and were obviously bored and not paying attention to the "repent now" sermon.
The top mats were retrieved and folded for presumably the next funeral.  We left immediately after the body had been lowered to the ground, and by the time we had trekked back down the hill and were returning in the dinghy back to our boats, the path and pier filled with funeral goers ready to return to their villages.




We spent a quiet afternoon on the boat.  Two 12 year old boys swam out to the boat to visit.  We chatted with them and blew up some balloons for them to play with in the water.  Turns out that one of the boys claimed to be the son of the woman who died.  He and his family didn't live in Nuapapu, but Tongatupu, but his mother had come from Nuapapu originally. 

The school teacher had told us previously that the children would now come to Nuapapu to live with family and attend school.  The other boy told us that he was not from Tonga but from Vava'u.  We explained to him that Vava'u was a part of Tonga.  He looked astounded and said no, he wasn't a Tongan, but the other boy was.  He was a Vava'uan.  It's a very small world here. 

Another family dropped by in their outrigger canoe to sell us some handcrafts.  We bought some more book marks that Lisa the young lady had made and gave each of the children balloons.
        

After the boys tired of us, they swam out to some of the other boats that were now anchored in the bay.  There were now 9 boats in the anchorage.  Where did all of these boats come from?  Tavita had requested that we inform all of the cruisers that the school would welcome them all tomorrow morning at 8:30.  Russ and I dutifully went around to each of the boats, introduced ourselves and extended the invitation before we returned to the boat at sunset.  The two boys were still in the water (nearly three hours later), having made their rounds to each of the boats.

Day 15 - Wednesday, October 13, 2010
School Visit, Port Maurelle, Swallows Cave


By 8:15 a.m., there were fifteen cruisers trekking up the hill with various school supplies and resources. There were representatives from Worrall Wind, Skylight, Momo, Pickles, Gryphon II, and Sara II.   We were greeted with fresh flower leis and seated on wooden benches.  Claudia and Brian
          










Children ranging in ages from 3-12 were sitting barefoot and cross legged facing the cruisers.
Tavita welcomed us and explained that because of the previous day's funeral and three days of mourning where children are expected to stay quiet, that they would not be doing a lot of singing, but they would break the tapu for a quiet welcome song. 

     






Tavita explained that Nuapapu school was the lowest academically performing school in all of Tonga and that he had been sent by the minister of education to Tonga to see if he could make a difference.  This is his second year, and he says he can see some slight improvement. 

Given that there are few resources and no one in the village makes a living which derives income (all are self sustaining farmers and foragers), these children have very little, have no vocational or professional role models, and no television, computers, etc. to see how the outside world lives.  Expectation of academic achievement is limited and relative to their insulated world.  The classroom library had well-used picture books, nothing above a third grade reading level.  Teacher made charts in both Tongan and English lined the walls.  A motivational horizontal poster in English was mounted over the blackboard.  "If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail." 

The children themselves were charming, polite, and delighted in trying out their English and mugging for the camera.  They had each memorized a script in English telling us their name, how old they were, how many brothers and sisters they had, and what they wanted to be when they grew up. 

Nearly all the girls wanted to be teachers, and all the boys, except for one who said he wanted to be a carpenter, say they wanted to be soldiers or pilots.  With the teachers singing quietly and asking the children not to sing, the children performed some dances and hand clapping songs.
           

   
Tavita asked me to share with the children what I had brought for them.  After a short show and tell of glittery pencils, whistles (which they would receive after three days of mourning), notebooks, binder paper, pencil sharpeners, and construction paper, I brought out my package of balloons and let them choose whatever color they wanted, provided that they try to tell me the color in English.          

They actually did a very good job.  The shyest of the children took white balloons as that seemed to be a color or English word with which they were most familiar.   The cruising family from Pickles with four children the same ages as those in the children in the school were also given balloons, but they had to learn the Tongan words for the colors.  The Tongan children were happy to help them learn their words.

Another one of the cruisers who was a teacher taught the children "Head, shoulders, knees, and toes" song, except she substituted Head with eyes, and shoulder with fingers.  The kids got a kick out of that.  I think the teacher may have worried a little bit about the tapu they were breaking with all of their high energy and laughter.

Julia from Pickles sang Itsy-bitsy spider with the hand movements.  The Tongan children giggled.  They knew this song in their own language.  Tavita ask if I would transcribe the English words on the black board.  Boy!  I haven't seen a black board and chalk since my first year of teaching, having quickly replaced blackboards with white boards and markers.    I broke the chalk three times before I got the words on the board.  I wish I had individual white board slates and markers for these kids.  What a challenge it would be to teach in this school!  If we were to stay here any length of time, I'd volunteer my time.

We had a delightful time at the school.    The children loved being photographed and seeing the immediate results in the view finder.  After our morning session, the boy whose mom had died took us on a tour of the village, (just houses and a church, no grocery or handicraft stores











climbed a coconut tree for our refreshment

 and led us back down to our boats by 11:00 a.m. 

Had it not poured rain for nearly an hour, we would have left as soon as we returned to our boat.  The rain slowed us down a bit, but we finally pulled up our anchor and headed towards Port Maurelle by 12:30.  We expected something a little more commercial of this anchor with a name like Port Maurelle, but in fact this anchorage is quite lovely with no pier, just white beach, palm trees, and beautiful aqua blue water.

We dropped our anchor, busied ourselves with lowering the dinghy and doing a few chores.  As the afternoon sun was dropping down the sky, we took the dinghy to the western cliffs where the sun was now shining brightly into the caves etched into the cliffs.  Swallows cave is the most famous of the caves.  








It was misnamed because it was originally believed that the birds were swallows.  Turns out the birds are a tern of some sort that nest very much like swallows in mud formed nests hanging from the ceiling.  The birds were chirping and flying around the large cavern.


The cave is so large, that dinghies can enter.  We entered the cave to find two other dinghies inside. 
We had brought along our snorkel gear and were tempted not to mask up and snorkel as we were so enthralled with the cave above the water. The cathedral dome in the entrance opened to the sky with greenery growing over the top.



The calcium deposits and etched walls were nature's art.  They not only had their own color, but reflected back the blues and aquas shining up from late afternoon light.
                                              






We didn't like to see the graffiti in the cave, but some of it dated back to the 1800's, and we marveled at the lengths some of the graffiti artists had gone to scale the heights within the cave.  Graffiti isn't just this generation.

One of the other cruisers snorkeled over to us and told us we had to get in, as we would not believe the fish.  It was a little eery jumping into the water in the cave, but indeed the fish were incredible.  They were some sort of a small silver fish, mackerel or sardine that reflected the colors of the water with silvery shimmer.  What made them magnificent were the numbers.  There were tens of thousands of these fish swimming in synchronized schools in balls, in spheres, in spiraling planes in the cobalt blue and aqua of the cave waters.  It was fascinating to watch and to swim through the balls and with the fish.            

                                  
After Swallows cave, we made a short stop and snorkeled in a cave called Indiana Jones cave just a fifty feet around the corner.  It too had a lot of fish, but most remarkable was the top of the cave which opened to the sky.  All in all our cave experience was unforgettable.

Day 16 - Thursday, October 14, 2010
Lazy Day at Port Maurelle


It sprinkled off and on all day.  We lounged around, making one trip into shore to walk along the beach  and another trip out to a large coral head.  The sand at this beach was unbelievably soft and fluffy. 
    
Look how much our feet sank in.The coral wasn't terrific, but we did see some varieties we had not seen before (mostly soft corals) and it looked like a nursery for skipjack and red snapper.  As we motored back to the boat from our snorkel,



 we introduced ourselves to a couple on Northfork from Incline Village, Nevada - Mark and Dana, and invited them over for a glass of wine.  We had a nice evening sharing stories dreaming about our next adventures.  They too are interested in traversing some of the inland waterways of Europe once they get there.


Day 16 - Friday, October 15, 2010
Return to Neiafu


We returned to Neiafu by 10:00 a.m.  The moorage was pretty full.  We did find a spot close to the shore and next to Trim.  The water is very still here, but there is also no wind to cool us off.  As soon as we were hooked to a mooring, we lowered the dinghy and went into shore to make arrangements for a whale swim early next week.  Turns out we were able to get on a boat the following day with Endangered Encounters.  It's rainy today, supposed to clear a bit tomorrow, and then be rainy again on Sunday.  We're keeping our fingers crossed that it will be nice enough tomorrow.

Because we would be leaving early in the morning on Saturday, we would miss the Saturday market.  We decided to do some shopping and picked up some sweet potatoes, bread fruit, green peppers, and two bunches of very small carrots.

Trim, Pincoya, and Freezing Rain brought dinner to our boat this evening.  They were in possession of fresh tuna, so they made platters of sushi.  It was delicious.  Pincoya is leaving on Sunday, Trim and Freezing Rain on Monday.  It's getting a little sad to know that everyone is going in different directions.

Day 17 - Saturday, October 16, 2010
Swimming with Whales!  Bon Voyage Dinner.


By 8:00 a.m. we were on board Proteus with whale-guide Brenda and Skipper Maki and four other wanna-be whale swimmers.  The day was very threatening in Neiafu, but we could see lighter skies to southwest, so that was the direction we headed.  Over the course of the day we saw a dozen humpback whales….a courting couple, three mothers with calves, and four-five solo adults.  We didn't see any full breaches, but lots of rolling, slapping, and spy hopping.

Russ waiting to get up close and personal with Moby Dick


See the snorkeler in lower right corner?

The first sighting was a single male that fluked and dove in fairly shallow water.  A small group of us got into the water close to the "footprint slick" of where the whale dove.  He was singing!  It was beautiful.  Because he was in fairly shallow water, he was hanging upside down on a diagonal and had not gone far.  We could see him about 15 feet below us.  It was very exciting.

Small groups took turns getting into the water with each encounter.  Each swimmer saw something a little different depending on their turn and how quickly they could get their masks and fins on, slip into the water, and swim quickly with the guide. 

On one of the swims, there was a whale directly below me about 20 feet.  I was directly above his tail which was as big as I was.  My heart was pounding.  What a rush. 

The other really exciting swim was with a mother and her calf.  They dove while we were in their proximity and the baby was on the mother's back.  We got to see them descend into the depths.  The group wrapped up the day with a snorkel in Swallow's cave and Indiana Jones Cave.  We had a great day. 

Both China and Japan are wooing the Tongan government with freebies to gain fishing and whaling rights in Tonga.  The whale watching foundation is growing in strength and want to convince the government that whale watching is a better alternative to whale killing. 

The foundation has developed some guidelines for whale watchers and swimmers, that are being carefully observed.  After several years of following these procedures, identifying individual whales by their flukes, the foundation is reporting an increase in the number of whales each year.  That's good news.


  

Saturday evening, Pincoya, Freezing Rain, Trim, Sidewinder, and Worrall Wind enjoyed a Bon Voyage dinner together at the Dancing Rooster restaurant.  Russ had red snapper and I had a lobster stir fry…..delicious.  Tomorrow begins the migration south.                                                                               


Day 18, Sunday, October 17, 2010
Fiji Bound Dessert Group


It sprinkled most of the night with a couple of good downpours that helped us fill our water tank.  I took advantage of the rainy day to make a large pot of stew and bake brownies.  Russ did some chores then went ashore to watch college football on  the Aquarium's large-screen TV.

Pincoya left for New Zealand as Skylight was returning from the anchorages into Neiafu.  We invited the Fiji-Bound group over for a planning meeting and Sunset dessert. 
                                 

By 7:00 p.m. Trim, Worrall Wind, Sidewinder, and Skylight were enjoying white Russians, brownies, nuts and mixed fruits while we  enjoyed the sunset and reviewed waypoints and weather. 

Lori is flying out of Fiji for the states on October 28, so they are leaving tomorrow so that can get to Fiji as soon as possible.  Looks like the wind is negligible for the next week and they will be motoring most of the way.  Sounds perfect to me, but we have some chores to do first and Russ is determined to wait for the wind to pick up which is this coming Saturday.

The remaining three boats are striving to have all their chores and prep done by the end of Wednesday so that on Thursday, we can all strike out for a jump off anchorage and leave from the anchorage on Saturday morning.  If the wind is good, we will get to Fiji by Wednesday or Thursday of next week (Oct. 27-28).

More later.  All is well on Worrall Wind