Action Packed August

I don’t know about where you are but here in Tonga we’ve had an action packed August so far.

It started in late July actually, when we took a couple of Canadian guys who are running a restaurant here out for an overnight sail. They have been here for a couple years and haven’t seen much of the outer island and we had a good time with them despite it blowing a westerly. The weather had been unco-operative the whole week so by the time we actually made it out it was my birthday. The boys did good and surprised me with a new Bodem (I had just broken mine and was suffering caffeine withdrawals) and a can of Tim Horton’s coffee (although I am not a big fan it was a nice Canadian treat). They also brought a cake and, thanks to Steve’s prompting, announced by special day on the morning cruisers VHF net. Gee thanks!

Steve surprised me with an amazing pig tusk necklace, photos attached. That Friday we participated in the friend Around the Harbour races and took the two guys and their Tongan staff out for the fun, costumes were not optional of course. Not only did we have fun but won $50 at a local restaurant and 12 beers, six of which were for best dressed (maybe because we were the only boat that dressed up!).

After recovering from entertaining we went back out to enjoy the quiet islands and finally found the humpback whales that were rumoured to finally have arrived. They come here each year to calf but have been rather elusive this season. They visited us at our anchorage the other day, Steve snapped a good one of Kate and the whales that I have sent along. We were woken up at 3am the next morning when they returned to swim around us once more, and we’ve seen them countless more times in the same are while sailing. In fact, since the wind is predicted to be quiet light for the next few days we’re heading back to that anchorage and hope we’ll get a chance to visit with them again.

Now the really exciting stuff.

Very early Tuesday morning we were rustled out of bed by our next hull neighbours. A boat had run aground somewhere nearby and lucky someone sleeps with their VHF on and heard their “Pan Pan” distress call (Pan Pan is what you say before the situation is so bad that you have to give a Mayday call). After the boat lit a flare we realized they were not only close they were actually just on the other side of an island we were moored at.

Steve jumped in the dingy and went out to see if he could lend a hand.

And that he did, along with a couple other boats who were close at hand, but they were unsuccessful. Without proper towing lines and racing against a falling tide the sailboat was high and dry and listing more than 50 degrees by the time everyone threw in the towel at 9am. The next day some heavy duty lines were donated by a visiting super yacht and on the morning of the third day when the high tide was after sunrise they were successful in getting her off the reef.

Amazingly, and luckily, since the boat is aluminium she came off with only a few scratches and some damage done to the interior due to flexing, some rudder damage that is repairable and some diesel that leaked inside that needed to be cleaned up. The owners are a little shaken up but as of now are going to continue sailing. It was an amazing team effort and hopefully a stern reminder to sailors around Tonga not to trust your GPS- the charts are notoriously off.

Yesterday we went to the annual agricultural and saw the King of Tonga who was in town to judge and award prizes. There was the mandatory pomp and circumstance, prays and bows and longwinded speeches all in Tongan but it was interesting to see all the weaving, handicrafts, vegetables and displays and see everyone dressed up in their finest in hopes to actually get close to the King.

And finally.

After watching so many pigs cavort around the islands (there is an overwhelming pig population here, all of which are privately owned and raised for food, pigs are the feature in any Tongan feast) I finally got to pick a little one up.

She was rescued by a local Tongan man who owns a bar here, he refused to walk on by when he spotted a group of children abusing the piglet who was obviously taken from her mother much too early. Her name is Angel and she is the second rescue pig in the bar, Charlie was found almost a year ago and is now a healthy 150 or so kilos. Surprisingly neither are going to make it into the umu; the underground oven used to roast pigs during a feast, but will live a happy and apparently fairly long life as family pets.

So that’s the news from Tonga! So much excitement it is hard to imagine what will happen this week. Hope you enjoy the pictures; love to hear what has been happening in your neck of the woods.


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