Monday, October 1, 2012

The Race to the Party

"Regatta Vava'u" is over and it was a big finish! We left this blog off at the Wednesday let's backtrack to Thursday. It was a rainy – in fact pouring wet day. The "Treasures of the Bilge" swap meet took place early in the morning and Michael headed in to find treasures and to try to sell a part we've carried around for more than three years. We came out ahead by selling and managing not to buy! Then we went on to the VEPA presentation (Vava'u Environmental Protection Association) which included making a recycled pop bottle planter and seeing a presentation on coral. After that, it was off to learn more about facilities and cruising in New Zealand at the "Sausage Sizzle" aboard the barge "Marnis." They provided sausages from New Zealand (quite yummy) and a few brews and lots of great information.

That evening was the "Whangarei City Challenge Race" - and we decided not to sail Astarte around the short course but rather crew on a very fast catamaran named "Citrus Tart" (you'll see a photo of the bright yellow catamaran on the photo page). Steve and Michelle are Australians and quite fun. They built the boat themselves and it is FAST! And very yellow (thus the name!) We had a great time because we finished first in the catamaran class. Yippee!!! We celebrated with a bottle of champagne aboard before heading to the prize event.

Friday was the BIG race from Neiafu to the finish line at Tapana . . . or better known as Anchorage #11. We entered this race and there were three classes: catamarans, monohull boats under 40 feet and monohulls above 40 feet. We were in the above 40 foot class with the toughest competition.

But we held our own – coming in to the finish line ahead of some and behind a lot of others. There were about 22 boats in the entire race and it was fun and Astarte looked great and performed quite well . . but it was exhausting with only the two of us. The wind was perfect and the course forced you to sail at every point of sail – ending in a lot of tacks down to the finish line.

There was the big prize party at the end of the race and we won a prize for the "Most Spirited" boat during regatta. We had "dressed" the boat daily with a different message in signal flags and participated in many of the events. So we were given a very nice book by Jimmy Cornell, "World Voyage Planner." We also won a bunch of fun prizes like beers, bread, ice, a T-shirt and DVD.

The final party, called the "Full Moon Party" took place on Friday night and themed "Fire and Water." We decided we wouldn't dress up (costume) for this event. The evening started with some pre-party wine aboard "Chapter Two," followed by the party. Music, lights, dancing, performances all made for a fun evening on the beach. This is a big event for locals as well as the yachties so it was packed. Late into the night, they did a beach performance with fire, dancers and then lit a giant "burning man." Very cool.

It was a fun, well organized regatta and we enjoyed participating. We got to know many of the boaters much better and will enjoy spending more time with many in New Zealand.

Because we couldn't end the fun, on Saturday night, we enjoyed a potluck feast aboard "Super Ted V" with Matt and Jean. The crews of "Cuttyhunk," "Barraca," "Victory" and "Gato Go," were all there and we feasted, laughed, and enjoyed a musical festival with Tom from "Barraca" on guitar and musical lyrics on three computers in the cockpit. Oh times have changed!

We again stayed out well past midnight (two nights in a row). That was probably not such a good idea as some big squalls came in at 0400 (4 am) that included a wind reversal. That meant that many boats were suddenly stern to the shore with big winds blowing. We got close to some local moored fishing boats and had to bring in some anchor rode – but we held well. In the morning though, we decided to leave at first light and find a better anchorage for the new direction of wind. The anchorages we tried though were all packed so we headed back into town. As did a lot of other boats!

The good news is, we can post some pictures and check some e-mails. The bad news - we are back in town. We'll leave again tomorrow for an outer anchorage as it is again a very rainy, squally day today.

Regatta is over – now time to find the quiet place and snorkel and relax while we wait for the weather window to start our way further down the Tongan chain and prepare for the trip to New Zealand!

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