Monday, October 13, 2008

More Vava'u

It’s been almost a week since Steve, Mary & Shayna left and we really miss them – Tonga is just not the same.

I spent two days completing my PADI Open Water dive course, the one I started in California. You may remember that Jay and the girls were certified last October but I just couldn’t do the ocean dives at that time. I must say, that Tonga is a much nicer place for ocean diving as the water is warm and clear.

Jay, with the assistance of our good friends Dave from O’vive and Steve from Orca III have been working around the clock, it seems, to resolve the problem with our auto pilot. After numerous diagnostic tests and troubleshooting, they replaced the hydraulic pump which seems to have “Otto” working happily once again. Good thing, because none of us wanted to hand steer all the way to New Zealand. Special thanks go to Tom from Warm Rain and Dave from Baraka for their help as well – you guys are great!

The kids have been thinking up ideas to occupy themselves such as swimming at the Paradise Hotel, doing a photo scavenger hunt and going for hot fudge brownie sundaes at the Aquarium cafe.

Jocelyn & Emma at the Bounty Bar
Jocelyn & Alec at Tonga Bob's
After spending a few more days in Neiafu, we decided to return to a nice, clear secluded anchorage just a couple of miles out. We’ve had a few very nice days and the kids have been swimming and playing on the beach as well as flying kites and sailing Orca III’s little sailing dinghy. It’s been a very nice change from the busy harbour.

Jay, Dave, Nathalie, Jocelyn, Emilie and I have been out scuba diving which has been really fun. I have sure enjoyed pointing out some of the things I saw on my test dives. Going with a guide who has local knowledge is great as they can point out some very cool things that would otherwise be overlooked.

A couple of things I really liked were the sea feathers which open up when you tickle their legs and the sailor’s eyeball – both things I’ve never seen before.
Sailors eyeball
Sea Feather - when you touch the leg the feathers bloom open.

Emilie & Jocelyn

Jay comes face to face with a protective clown fish.


Straight up from 75 feet deep!

It’s been kind of tricky for us managing our provisions while here. New Zealand really restricts dry goods such as grains and cereals, crackers and pasta as well as popcorn and spices. As a result, we’ve all been trying to use things up and not buy replacement supplies. In anticipation of our week long crossing from Tonga to New Zealand, we’ve ordered an assortment of meals from a local restaurant so we won’t have to worry about cooking and having supplies on board. We’re looking forward to the yummy lasagna, quiche, chicken pie and sausage rolls from the Crows Nest Bakery. It’s a nice consolation since we’re not particularly looking forward to the passage.

One rainy day, Dionne and I along with Sally from the Dorothy Marie had planned to walk to the “American Store” (don’t get too excited, it just means they have Cadbury Chocolate and a few Costco items but it’s still a very small store) to get some munchies etc. and while on our walk, we decided that we may as well swing by the “German Store” as well. As usual, this small shopping trip which yielded me eight chocolate bars, four bags of chips, a pack of chicken breasts and a piece of salami, took us three hours. Just like Mexico, everything takes longer than it does at home and I’m envious of Steve and Mary who have written about shopping at the Langley Market and Save on Foods…..LUCKY!
On Monday, two crews of kids: Jocelyn, Alec and Maya and Jenny, Kyle and Emilie took shifts sailing Orca III's little sailing dingy on the three hour trip back to Neiafu. They had a great time and did a great job of sailing that little boat without incident right up until the final 100 metres. Just before they arrived at Orca III, the mast snapped! I think that will be today's repair job.

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