Monday, October 11, 2010

Vava'u Regatta Week

September 22nd, we went somewhere where Captain James Cook was persuaded not to go. In fact, Cook was told one of the biggest navigational lies when he was in Tonga’s Ha’apai Islands in 1777 -- that the Vava’u Group situated about 50 miles northeast from where Cook was anchored was a bad place for boats, that it lacked protected harbors and safe anchorages.

But we knew better thanks to the numerous sailors who have ventured in these waters. We sailed through the wide Pule Pule Kai Passage and into the protected flat waters of Vava’u where there are more than 40 anchorages scattered amongst the labyrinth of islands. People say the area is similar to the stellar Norwegian fiords, which must be magnificent as well.

We arrived just in time for Regatta Week, a week chock full of fun activities. Friday night, we raced on Stray Kitty’s catamaran. Saturday, we raced our own Kamaya to Tapana Bay for the Full Moon Party. This was the first time we had raced heavy Kamaya and it was exciting for a little bit. After winning the start, we were passed within minutes by the elegant Jenny, a 57-foot cold-molded classy custom yacht. We raised our spinnaker and stayed behind Jenny for a while. Sadly, we couldn’t outpoint or outsail the lighter Beneteau 50, J-42, and Hallberg-Rassy and finished fifth in our division.

We turned into pirates for the full moon party.

Back in Neiafu, the main town which has a Eugene, Oregon feel to it, Maya and Kai participated in a kid’s day and had a blast with Billy, an English bloke who, before settling in Neiafu, worked in the circus. He had boat kids and Tongan kids walking on stilts, juggling and practicing for the afternoon parade.

When the young girl's danced during kid's day, people placed money on their skin in appreciation.

For the closing ceremonies of the week, my sister Tammy joined us and won first prize for best costume; the appropriate award, 12 rolls of toilet paper. Tammy practiced sitting with her legs together, like a lady.

Maya and her girlfriends dressed up as the sarong sisters.

Since Regatta Week, we’ve explored many of the magnificent anchorages. Because palangis (that’s the term for foreigners) have difficulties pronouncing the names of the Tongan islands, we use the Mooring’s Charter Guide’s numbering system. So instead of asking, “Are you going to Tapana island?” one asks, “Are you going to Anchorage #11.” That’s the anchorage with the paella restaurant and the big goat.

Anchorage #16 has a huge banyon tree, perfect for climbing.

The fantastically diverse coral garden’s where the clown fish hide amidst the anemones are just behind Anchorage #16.

Anchorage #6 and #7 are near both Swallow’s and Mariner’s Caves. Swallow’s Cave is large enough to dinghy into, watch the bats flying around, marvel at the staligtites.

Anchorage #32 has a good stomp (a term I’ve adopted from our British friend’s Bamboozle) up to the tomb of the princess and a lookout.

This is also where Tim went out spearfishing with Stuart from Imagine and Paul from Calypso and they anchored too close to the reef and flipped the dinghy. Fortunately, they were able to flip the dinghy back over, gather all their equipment and flush the saltwater from the engine.

Indeed, had Cook sailed into this area, he would have been pleasantly surprised by this magnificent area.

And, of course, he would have liked all the pigs, especially this little piglet named Janice.

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