Thursday, September 27, 2012


You've heard about biathalons and decathalons, but what about a tridecagon-athlon? Well, the crew of Astarte entered the Tongan Tridecagon-athlon – part of the Regatta Vava'u festivities. It's a 13-event team competition. The events were quite odd with names like: "Giants, Wizards, Elves", "Oeuf Toss", "Centepede", "Battle-Hip", "Pass the Person", "Tow the Line", "Blind Man's Bluff", "In the Bag", "How Low Can You Go", and a few others .

It was one of those fun and wacky afternoons that will be memorable. The good news is we came in first (well, the scoring was such that in the end – we all came in first!). The silly games were things like rock/paper/scissors; potato sack races, three-legged races that were actually six-legged; egg tossing, limbo, and pie eating. A few new games like hitting a big ball that hangs from a rope with your hips and moving one of your teammates along a course without using any hands. No one got hurt and everyone had a good time. Good music and a few beers helped the festivities.

We came home a bit tuckered out.

That was the Monday events. Tuesday was another regatta day and we decided to race Astarte in what was called the "Boot and Rally" race. We went to the skippers' meeting to find out the race rules which were quite unusual. It was a pretty long course, past a few different islands. . . and required you to get off the boat and go get secret words from two different places. The first place was a cave called Swallows Cave – and inside the cave on a carved tiki was a secret word. The next place would be a beach. So we invited Monique and Jan Bart (off the Dutch boat, "Victory") to crew with us. We towed their dinghy – (faster engine than ours) and as we passed the spots with the clues, Jan Bart jumped in the dinghy (literally) and took off while we continued sailing. He caught up with us with the clue and we continued along the course. It was a good plan. Some boats chose not to tow a dinghy and instead swam to the cave and shore to retrieve the clues. Astarte sailed quite well even with a main sail that is a bit "tired" and out of shape. We hit 7.8 knots at one point! The race took about 3 hours and we finished 4th in the monohull class. The hardcore racers upfront, ran spinnakers and didn't drag dinghies. But we had a good time. We ended the race back at our mooring with a champagne toast!

Later that day we enjoyed a nice presentation on whales and then an old series of historical and documentary films – including some silent films about Tonga. It was another full day of regatta fun and festivities.

In Regatta Vava'u, you get points by participating in the events, visiting local establishments and doing things like decorating your boat. We think it's interesting that most of the boats really participating in the various events are the New Zealanders, Aussies, Brits, Canadians, and Dutch. It seems there are only a few American boats that are diving in. Their loss! We are having a really good time being involved. The regatta continues through the weekend. We have met many new folks and really gotten to know some acquaintances of the past much better.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pirates and Transvestites

Now that headline should increase our readership!! Regatta Vava'u has begun, and we've decided to participate in the crazy activities and fun.

So let's start with the opening "registration festival." This is a big event for the town as well as the yachties. 2012 is the fourth annual event so it is growing each year with more activities. The registration included a crafts show by local craftspeople selling their incredible woven baskets, mats, fans etc. There was beautiful wood carvings as well as bone (mostly cow bone) carving of intricate traditional Tongan symbols. Food booths representing most of the area restaurants as well as local organizations provided a good variety of treats like breakfast tacos, fish soups, chicken and rice, kabobs, chips (that would be french fries) and gravy and spicy beef curry plus cakes of all sorts. We sampled a tasty sausage roll and the beef curry – yummy. A local youth band performed throughout the morning and they were quite good with a very unusual medley of tunes. Plus, some of the children sang (karaoke style – with recorded music) – but were quite good. There were lots of speeches from important people – all attired in very traditional outfits.

Then there was the slu'a'alo races. This was a first time canoe style race – but not in the traditional 16 to 30 man boats – but in funky row boats with three rowers. There was a men's race and a women's race. Most of the competitors were local villagers from Vava'u and then there was the "pa'alangi" team. Pa'alangi is the term used to refer to foreigners – that would be us. It was Barbara, Ann and Vanessa representing the palangi/yachting community. There were four boats in the women's race – including Barbara's, a team of Vava'u teenagers, a team of strong Tongan women, and a team of Fakaleiti. What is that you wonder? Well, "Fakaleiti" means "in the manner of a lady." They are part of Tongan culture and are men who have either made the lifestyle choice to dress and act like a woman, or are boys who have been raised as a "daughter" to help their mothers. Well three leitis competed representing Tonga Bobs, the local bar/club where they regularly perform. The goal of the pa'alangi team was to at least beat the leitis.

The race started and the Barbara/Ann/Vanessa boat was off to a decent start – a bit of pushing and shoving off from the young girl's boat – but the "yachties" maintained a second place position. The course was out into the bay, around one sailboat then around the lovely traditional, wooden double hulled Voyaging Ship and then back to the marine basin. As the basin neared, the "yachties" boat gained on the young girls – but it was too little, too late. They had to settle for a second place finish across the line. But the winner was actually determined by "applause and cheers from the crowd." The prize was $100 local Tongan dollars. The event MC however, announced that the Pa'alangis would donate their prize back to the community to help buy a traditional slu'a'alo race boat. He had hoped that would increase the applause – but the lovely young ladies of Tonga won the prize. It was fun to compete.

That afternoon, we went to the local rugby league's championship match. It was a little walk to find the rugby pitch – but we did and boy was the place packed. There were no bleachers or stands, so everyone just sat on the hillsides, in or on top of cars parked around the field, or on the sidelines,. It was mostly local folks and the game was between the two top placing teams, one of whom was the local team. They were favored to win. Not knowing much about rugby, we had a local guy help explain the game, rules and scoring to us. It is similar to football with goal posts and a football shaped ball– but there the similarities end. These guys are in shorts and short sleeved shirts, no pads or helmets and attack and tackle each other with a vengeance. The ball stays in play a long time without stoppage. A fast paced game and as much fun to watch the crowd as the teams on the field. The local team lost 19-16.

Then, it was back to the boat to get ready for the "Fancy Dress Pub Crawl." In the southern hemisphere (as well as in many British commonwealth countries), :"fancy dress" is NOT black tie and evening gowns. "Fancy Dress" IS a costume party. It started at a restaurant just a short walk away from the dock where we leave our dinghy. Of course we are dressed quite silly – so we entertain the locals as we saunter past. The pub crawl has a roaming DJ on the back of a truck so when it is time to move from one establishment to the next – the DJ truck (complete with disco and laser lights) starts to move and the crowd dances their way down the street behind the vehicle to the next bar. Each bar has special pub crawl drinks and deals. The crowd is filled with pirates (lots of pirates),lots of men in women's clothing. Many brightly covered wigs or terrible masks and the various sailors outfits, mismattched clothes, fairies, and odd assortment of ghouls, gladiators and gizmo clad partiers. The fourth stop was a poolside bar – and yes – people started to jump in the pool – though often with assistance!

We met many boaters that night – though without their costumes we may never recognize them again. It was a fun evening – the start of what seems to be a fun "Regatta Vava'u.

The next morning (Sunday) there was an informational breakfast about cruising in New Zealand. Lots of questions about services, customs, immigration etc. got answered. The afternoon event was a dinghy raft-up potluck snack event. The dinghies all met at the end of the harbour and rafted up and shared snacks and stories. There were only about a dozen dinghies – but it was a fun drift.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Check out the new (and not so new) pictures. We finally are connected to internet (albeit a slow connection) here in Neiafu. So we have been able to post some photos from past places including some cool pics of manta rays in Suwarrow (courtesy of Jan Bart from "Victory.")

We spent several great days in Port Maurelle on a mooring ball. We snorkeled and also managed to get a lot of projects completed. Michael sewed a new cover for our small gas can, repaired our dodger window zipper and built some new velcro ties. We also socialized a lot, enjoying a dinner aboard "Chapter Two" with Mike and Karen and lots of beach bonfires with all the boats in the anchorage.

It was a really lovely location where we even saw some whales in the distance. Entertainment was daily as boats came and went. We did miss a big beach event one night (while aboard Chapter Two) – one of the mega sailing yachts hosted a dinner on shore for whomever came in to the beach. They served up steaks, champagne, wine, salads and all types of treats. Oh well – we still had a blast and over-consumed with Mike and Karen!

We are now back in the town to use some internet, make some phone calls and get some stuff together for our next stop in New Zealand. The Vava'u Regatta begins on Saturday and we will stick around for that fun!

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Flying Foxes

Its like a scene out of the "Adams Family.." Giant bats fill the sky – and we mean giant. Here, these flying foxes are called peka and they hand upside down in the trees. They look like strange fruit – that moves! We went dinghy exploring today and saw a tree filled with these upside down hanging bats. When we clapped loudly they awoke and all flew away – an awesome sight. They are called "flying foxes" because of their size and their fox-like faces. They are actually fruit eating bats – so though quite large, they are quite harmless except to bananas! Of course we did decide to close up the boat tonight because we have bananas aboard! They are interesting to look at but don't exactly want one flying inside Astarte.

We are moored in Port Maurelle and enjoyed an evening on the beach with three other boats – "Cuttyhunk", "Buena Vista" and the just arrived "Chapter Two." We built a fire and enjoyed a few hours on the sandy beach. This morning, it was boat projects – cleaning the hull! Then we went for a snorkel nearby and saw some very interesting fish – some new varieties for us. The water here is very clear. We then did some dinghy exploring to a place called Swallows Cave. It is a large cave with white rumped swiftets and lots of stalagmites and stalagtites. Unfortunately when we arrived there – lots of other boats were there with snorkelers exploring the cave so we couldn't dinghy inside as planned. Perhaps we'll try again tomorrow earlier.

This is really a very lovely place and its fun to watch the boats come and go. Right now there are four boats on the moorings and four boats anchored.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Malo e lelei

Greetings from Tonga. We always attempt to learn a few simple words in each country. It is so nice to be able to say hello, thank you and how are you, in the country's language to a local resident. It often gets a bright response. So "malo e lelei" means hello.

Many of the words are quite long and every syllable is pronounced. Several letters though, have different sounds. For example a "B" is a "P" and a "D" a "T" and a "J" is pronounced with an "S" sound. If you can remember all that and the tricky "ng" - you can speak or at least read Tongan. The names of places are very long and on the charts – the islands are often smaller than their names.

The fashion of the Kingdom of Tonga is also quite interesting. It is a very modest country – probably because it is so religious. The national dress of Tonga is a skirt called "tupenu." It is worn ankle length by women and knee length by men. Women often wear a highly decorated waistband known as a kiekie. For working in offices or on more formal occasions, both men and women wear a "taovala" - a woven mat at the waist with a woven sennit cord. We have seen these woven mat skirts on both men and women around town and they look quite uncomfortable to wear. But wearing them is a sign of being "dressed up" and connotes respect for the royal family. When we walked by a local school all the students wear uniforms. The boys wear a blue skirt with white shirt and is the girls had a jumper in blue with a white short sleeved blouse underneath. The teachers were all attired in the long skirt (men and women) and many had the woven mat over the skirts or at least the decorated waistbands. It is quite a different look than we've seen on other islands so far. It is always so interesting to see the local dress and customs.

We try to be more conscious of being more properly attired when we go to town. Shirts, covered shoulders and covered knees are more appropriate here There is a fine for any man who is shirtless.

Over the last few days, we've toured around the town of Neiafu which is filled with small shops, restaurants, cafes and crafts stores and markets. We've found oil for the engine – which Michael continues to work on – changing the oil yet again. Hopefully we're sneaking up on a permanent repair. We've enjoyed some local ice cream ($1 (TP – about .60 US) a scoop; had a local beer Mata Maka, went to the veggie market; and explored the various cruiser hangouts. We also signed up for the Vava'u Regatta.

This morning (Wednes on this side of the date line!) we left Neiafu for one of the anchorages in the islands. We are now on a mooring in an idyllic location – Port Maurelle on the island of Kapa. It is the classic picture perfect South Pacific island – white sandy beach, turquoise water, palm trees and a surrounding reef. Lovely. There are five boats here.

We will enjoy being away from the town for a few days and get into the water for some underwater exploring. We may even see some humpback whales here! Michael saw one as we were heading here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Kingdom of Tonga

We are now checked into the Kingdom of Tonga – it is the sole remaining Polynesia kingdom – though in recent years it is undergoing democratic change. Tonga is comprised of more than 170 islands, spread over four island groups. We are in the Vavau Group in the port of Neiafu We arrived on Saturday morning and were required to stay aboard the boat until we cleared into customs, health, immigration and quarantine on Monday morning. We did so and were glad to have to stay aboard. It was a longer trip than we had anticipated thanks to either no wind or way too much wind. We are still fighting an engine problem so we chose not to motor at all and sail the entire way which did take a bit longer.

Upon arrival on Saturday morning, we made our way into the harbor by many beautiful rocks and islands. This harbor is way back and well protected. It is one of the few places they say you can actually sit out a cyclone. Not that we'll try! We were tired upon arrival but decided not to crash and kept going all day by tackling our dinghy repair project. The rubstrake had pulled off the dinghy and we needed to clean it up and re-glue it on. Because we needed to stay on board – it was a good excuse to get that done and let it set over the weekend. On Sunday with the dinghy completed, Michael tackled the engine project. We were still getting diesel fuel into the crank case – so that's not a good thing. He already replaced the lift pump that didn't seem to solve the problem entirely. With help from a fellow cruiser, Michael checked all the injectors and they were fine. So the mystery continued until he discovered the possibility that the diesel was coming in through the "diesel heater" for cold weather (something we don't really need). So Michael diconnected that line and capped it.

On Monday (today) morning, we left our repaired dinghy on the mooring and went to the customs dock for the formalities of clearing in to the country. We were visited aboard by four different officials – all very pleasant. After many, many forms and lots of stamps and signatures, we were done – or would be after a visit to the bank to get some Tongan money. The currency is a paanga and it currently is about .61 US cents to $1 paanga. The clearance fees (so far) were $100 paanga for health and $25.20 for quarantine. We will have to pay for a second thirty days on our Visa here and a departure based on the tonnage of the boat per month.

So today was the day to scope out the town, the markets, the local laundry options, telephone, internet etc, We had lunch where the locals eat (less than half the price of the cruiser restaurants) It was good to walk around and explore a new town. This is a popular spot with cruising boats and there are probably about 40-50 boats in the harbor right now.

We'll stay in town for a few more days until we are sure the engine is sorted out. After that we'll explore some of the islands in this group. We'll look forward to that...the snorkeling is supposed to be terrific and there are lots of whales here as well. First we'll complete our projects, then get out of town.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What happened to Thursday, September 6?

Wednesday, September 5th ended and it is now Friday, September7th. So what the heck happened to Thursday? It simply didn't happen aboard Astarte. You see, we crossed the international date line and we literally miss a day. So hopefully nothing noteworthy would have happened aboard Astarte on that day – because history will not record it! It is strange to suddenly be missing a day – in fact, there are days in our lives we would rather miss!! Who knows what might have happened to us on Thursday, 09/06/2012 (or as they write it here (06/09/12).

We continue to make our way to the Kingdom of Tonga – as this is being written we have less than 70 miles to go. It has been an interesting trip. It started well with decent winds and a steady 5 plus knots boat speed. Then, the wind just died. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. We simply drifted in the Pacific. We knew there was this big storm ahead – a trough that was part of a convergence zone (whatever that means). And we could see grey clouds ahead – this was the calm before the storm. Then about 1900 (7 pm) the winds started to hoot and the squalls started. We were ready. We knew it was coming and we had heard on a radio net that it had passed over the Vavau group in Tonga just around 1730 with 25 knots (someone else reported 40 knots). It was coming our way and we had a very small reefed mainsail centered so we could manage the backing winds that were forecast. The lack of wind earlier proved to be relatively good news. The seas didn't have a chance to build – so even as the wind was a steady 20 plus with higher gusts – the seas were not unbearable. In fact, Astarte handled the storm quite well. And so did we. We both kept watch for the first few hours of the storm and then we shifted off and on after a few hours each. The storm passed but the winds and rain squalls stayed with us throughout most of the night. About daybreak the winds just died again to absolutely nothing. This lasted through most of the morning and then picked up again. Now it is blowing a steady 12-16 knots and we are making good time – though we did have to slow down to arrive at daybreak tomorrow. It took us an extra day out here for this relatively short trip – but with no winds for so long, you don't tick off the miles quickly.

It seems the last two passages have been tough ones – but we are learning more and more about how this boat handles in big seas or big wind or a both. We should arrive in the Kingdom of Tonga sometime on Saturday morning (Friday morning for many of you!) now that we are on the other side of the International Date Line.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Course 259 degrees

We are headed to Tonga from Niue – a 250 nautical mile voyage. We departed the rolly mooring field of Niue on our way to Tonga at 0700 on Tuesday morning, September 4. We had waffled about when to leave over the last few days as there is this icky (that's a meteorological term) weather out there – but it was hard to say where and when it would hit exactly. There is some type of convergent zone coming up from New Zealand and it is supposed to cross Tonga / Niue area around Thursday. We didn't want to be sitting in the open of Niue and as the days passed as we were looking for our opportunity to leave – the weather forecast seemed to constantly change. We couldn't leave until Monday as we had not cleared out on Friday and so we would have to wait until Monday. We decided to clear out Monday for a Tuesday departure and take the opportunity to do some snorkeling in Niue on Monday.

Our stay in Niue was great – with the exception of the anchorage. The mooring balls are very sturdy and well-maintained and you do feel secure on them...but the anchorage itself is wide open and the swells do roll in. There were three nights here that were quite uncomfortable for sleeping (or even just being aboard). Luckily, we spent most days ashore exploring – but when aboard – it was hard to get anything done and sleep was almost non-existent on a few nights.

On Saturday morning, we went to one of the villages "Show Day." This is a big event on the island. Each of the 14 villages has a "Show Day" once a year. And the name is perfect for what it is. This is the Niue version of a county fair – where people showcase their handicrafts, vegetables and fruit and show off their talents and sell all kinds of food.

You have to get there early (everything on this island seems to start and end early) – so we left the boat at 0615 and got the dinghy to shore and lifted and headed to the road. The village was about 9 kilometers away so we thought we'd hitchhike. We got picked up by the first car passing who was also headed to the village. He had bought ice to keep the coconuts cold for one of the food booths.

We got there and it was already pretty crowded with people in line for the food booths. Now this isn't breakfast food – it is enormous platters of barbecue, coconut crabs, roti sandwiches, ice cream and cake and all kinds of treats. Some people were selling these giant platters of food for $40 – enough to feed a family!

One area was getting piled high with stalks of bananas, bundles and baskets filled with taro, baskets of eggs, fish, giant clams, chives, papayas...and all types of fruits and vegetables. These are judged and then sold. There was a trailer with two pigs in a cage – we figured they were also going to be judged. But when we asked later "which pig came in first?" we were told that they weren't being judged – they were the first and second prizes in a raffle! When we saw the raffle tickets being sold and asked about the prize and we were told pig, fish, and some other stuff – we thought it was plates of cooked food not a real live pig!

The handicrafts were mostly woven baskets and hats (a Niuen traditional art) and a few hand carved cricket bats as well as some floral arrangements. After many speeches by everyone from the country's prime minister to representatives of the women's group. men's group and youth group - the performances began. Lots of technical issues (even raising the village flag took a long time with some knot re-tying required) caused many delays, but soon a group of girls were dancing, followed by a group of young boys dancing. There is a weird tradition though – as the performances are going on – people from the crowd go to the stage and stick money in the kids clothes (now Michael has seen this type of action before but the women were older and more skantily clad!) There was also a big basket in front of the stage where some folks would put their cash. It was a windy day and at times, there was money flying through the air. The kids would just keep dancing. We asked about it and it is just a tradition and the kids get to keep the money that is given directly to them (mostly from family members) and the money in the basket is split amongst the whole group.

We enjoyed our day at the show and got a ride back from another friendly Niuean.

On Monday, we did our clearing out with immigration and then customs. Customs comes and picks you up in their truck to take you to their office. It was all relatively easy and cost $68 total. We then went for a snorkel to a place called the Limu Pools. We hitchhiked there and a nice old lady picked us up and took us halfway and then some New Zealand tourists took us the rest of the way. The pools are the clearest water we've seen. There is a mix if fresh and salt water – so there is this interesting blurring effect. There are multiple "pools" and the place is really lovely. They have picnic tables, benches, good steps and a cover for shade in the area as well as restrooms and showers. They really do a nice job in Niue at their sights.

We were hoping to see sea snakes – Michael saw one. They are quite venomous but not very aggressive. We enjoyed our water time here – not a ton of fish, but beautiful water, caves, arches and crystal clear water.

We hitched back – but there was less traffic so we walked a bit and then got a ride from a nice lady. Her son was the customs' guy who cleared us in. On an island – everyone is related to everyone!

We got back to the boat and got it ready for passage putting the dinghy up and tying everything down.

Now we are heading to our next country – Tonga.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Around and Up and Down the Country of Niue

It has been a very busy few days here at Niue. They claim this is the place to come for true relaxation because there isn't much to do and there is little "connection" to the outside world because of slow internet and limited phone service. In fact, the island nation has no ATM machines and very few places use VISA because they have such poor communication capabilities. But somehow, we have managed to pack our days with non-stop action.

On Thursday, we rented a car with Ivan and Louise from the sailboat Brio. They are Australians and we have had radio contact with them on the "Drifters Net" for quite some time and we finally met them here. We started at 0800. The day always starts with an adventure here because to get your dinghy ON shore requires lifting it with the crane. We have decided that rowing was too difficult in the heavy wind and swell, so we are putting our old inflatable to the test lifting it out daily with its engine attached. So far so good.

We get the car and start around the island. Niue has done a really nice job with clear maps and good signage. Signs at every site clearly explained the significance of the area as well as gave great info like difficulty of the walk and how long it would take. Our first stop was Ana'ana Point. A great viewpoint overlooking the southwest side of the island. Here we saw some humpback whales in the water. Next stop was Avatele, a little protected cut into the sea where there is a small beach and the famous "Washaway Cafe." This is opened only on Sundays and is the only "self-service" bar in the Pacific.

The road then took us around the southern part of the island to the village of Hakupu and the Anapala Chasm. You walk down 155 steps carved into the rock with, thankfully, a strong rope railing. It is a chasm that has a fresh water pool at the bottom. Fresh water! We all took a swim in this dark, very cold water surrounded by steep rocks cliffs on both sides with just a little light seeping into the holes or edge along the top. It was much deeper than it looked and you couldn't touch bottom except at either end. This is a spot where the royalty were annointed. The climb back up the stars was welcome as a "warm-up." after the refreshingly cool swim.

Along the drive there were many abandoned homes – and we aren't certain if this is a result of the decline in population on the island or the destruction of Cyclone Heta in 2004 which devastated this country. The other unusual site are the tombs that seem to be everywhere. Instead of a central churchyard/cemetery, there are single or multiple family tombs along the side of the road. Many are like little roadside attractions with roofs, fences, elaborate headstones and lots of decorations (whirly-gigs, flowers, candles, necklaces, household goods). They are everywhere.

After going through several villages, we came to Togo Chasm (pronounced Tong-oh). This was an unbelievable place and probably our favorite of the day. You first walk through the bush which is a mix of hardwood trees, palm trees and low brush (looking for uga along the way) and reach and area of jagged coral pinnacles that seem to rise out of the ground like a strange garden. There are interesting formations, natural arches and a very ragged landscape. As you trek along these coral pinnacles, you'll see a group of palm tree tops. Then you come upon a beautiful sandy beach surrounded by rocks and a grove of palm trees. You descend thanks to the help of a long wooden ladder and get to the beach. You then can climb over more rocks to a fresh water pool at the other end. This water was a bit green – so we chose not to swim here. But, while in the palm grove, Michael broke open a big coconut (having learned the technique in Moorea) and we all got a god sip of coconut water and fresh coconut. We trekked back. It was a more challenging walk – but not that difficult. Now it was lunch and we'd look for a good "Sea Track" or viewpoint to enjoy our picnic. All around the island there are these areas called "Sea Tracks" which are spots on the edge of the island you can get to to explore tide pooling or simply walk on the rocks to little beaches. Each seemed very different than the next one – some had caves and natural arches, others had great chasms cut through the bottom f the rock creating strange gurgling noises as the water came in underneath. We stopped at a few and walked down to them They are all well maintained and almost all had a small picnic table, some had barbecue grills, others had restrooms...all very well designed and clean.

We found one of these sea tracks and had lunch. Then continued on the tour of more sea tracks, a small strange "recycled" sculpture park, through small villages. It was getting late and we were "thirsty" so we looked for a place to stop. There are not many stops on the windward(eastern) side of the island – once away from Alofi, the main village. But we did see a sign for Matapa Bar. We went down this road and asked a local who was painting an old metal container (like the ones that deliver goods off big ships). He told us we were at the bar – it was his house. He said it was open and he stopped painting and got out an table and chairs and brought us cold beers. He sat with us and we found out he was a MP - member of the country's parliament (as well as a "house painter" and quite well-traveled. He had some good stories and we enjoyed some time learning about the island country from him.

Unfortunately after a beer and a tiring day of treking and swimming, we were all starting to fade. So we headed by a few other stops to just check out the sights – but in many of them we needed to be at low tide (which was much earlier). It was a full day and we still had to relaunch our dinghy via the crane.

On Friday, we got up very early to go to the vegetable market. It runs from 0600 to about 1100. But we were told if you don't get there early they won't have any veggies left. Well, we were there (at the market) by 0630 and there wasn't a veggie to be found. Lots of homebaked goods, some crafts, uga (coconut crabs), and a big social scene. Luckily while standing there talking to some locals, a truck pulled up with a late farmer and I was able to score some bok choy and green beans. Then a woman who is a local caterer and restauranteur took pity on us and sold us some of the stuff she already purchased (some cukes) and we found a bag of small local tomatoes. Everything though is VERY expensive – for example a cucumber (very big) was $5. The small bag of tomatoes was $5 as was the small bag of greens and greens beans. It seems $5 is the magic number and it wasn't just the price for foreigners – but the locals were also paying the same. Ouch. Michael then hiked to get the propane tank we dropped off the previous day that needed filling and got a ride back from Pauline, the friendly tourist bureau lady. Every time we are walking it seems people will stop and ask if you want a ride. Later on Friday we walked back to town to explore a few more sights and sea tracks. We enjoyed tide pooling on one at the perfect time of day – seeing all kind of weird sea worms, eels, fish and coral along with the dramatic caves, caverns and pinnacles of the rock formations.

We treated ourselves to very tasty ice cream in an old fishing boat converted to an ice cream shop.

Unfortunately the anchorage is wide open and there is little protection from swells. The seas have been high enough that we get a good rock and roll going while on the mooring ball. This has meant for little sleep and what you get is quite uncomfortable,

Today, we went to a villages' "show"day – but we'll save that for the next entry.