HAPPY IN HA’APAI

Last night we anchored at Haano Island in the late afternoon.  I was thankful for a fast sail that enabled us to anchor before the sun went down.  Haano is a sheltered anchorage and we went quite close in to the reef to find ten meters of water to anchor in.  Not a place to anchor in the dark.

This morning we had planned to go ashore early for a swim and snorkel.  But the wind and weather were against us.  The wind had sprung up at four in the morning followed by rain.  The thought of launching the pig in the wind made us decide to high tail it down to Pangai and check in with customs.

The short sail down to Pangai was done in quick time with a strong easterly trade wind blowing.  We entered the harbour at Pangai and anchored inside.  We then launched the pig and rowed ashore to find the customs post.  We found the police station and asked there for the customs, only to be informed that customs didn’t work on a Saturday.  Well we had to clear in and clear out as waiting for Monday was not an option.  The policeman offered to go and collect the customs – so we waited.  Eventually the customs lady arrived but she didn’t have the key to the office.  Another wait and after an hour we had our inward and outward clearance complete and $120 lighter.

We then headed to the Mariner café for lunch and refreshment.  I wasn’t too relaxed as Truce was anchored in the confines of the harbour on a short anchor scope and the wind was picking up again.  Sure enough, when we got back to Truce she had moved and was too close to the harbour wall for comfort.  Quickly we made preparations to get underway.  On lifting the anchor, I found it was fouled by some heavy plastic sacks, no wonder it was dragging.

Our next destination was Uoleva Island – we had heard many good reports about the place.  We sailed with just the Jib at six knots and at three in the afternoon had anchored off the Seachange Eco Resort, in six meters of water with a sandy bottom.  We were soon ashore to check it out and walk on the beautiful beach.  Dinner at the resort was Curry Chicken but we had missed the two o’clock deadline for ordering dinner – no the cook would not accommodate us.

A short walk up the beach brought us to another resort – very laid back, local backpackers type.  There the lady said she would cook dinner for us – fish was on the menu.  The dinner turned out to be very good, the fish being top drawer.  All for a reasonable price.

Its been an action-packed day.  Jessica and I are both tired and looking forward to a good night’s sleep before heading further south tomorrow.

RUNNING SOUTH TO HA’APAI GROUP

I awoke this morning to find a stiff north-east breeze blowing into Tapana Lagoon.  Perfect for our trip south to the Ha’apai Group, some sixty-five miles distant.  We dropped our mooring at seven, said our farewells to Steve and scuttled out of Tapana under half a jib at six knots.

Holy Door Of Mercy Church Neiafu, Tonga. Photo Ray Penson
Holy Door Of Mercy Church Neiafu, Tonga. Photo Ray Penson

As we progressed south the wind came around to the east and blew 25 plus knots for the first couple of hours before settling down to a steady twenty to twenty-five knots, only easing off when we were a couple of hours from our destination.  We had a fast boisterous sail.

We are headed to Pangai to clear into the Ha’apai Group.  However, I didn’t expect to reach Pangai before sunset and planned to stop off at Haano Island for the night.  We can then move on and clear into Pangai on Saturday morning.

In Neiafu I took the opportunity to buy a new fishing lure and some one hundred-pound strength fishing line.  This afternoon I slung the lure over the side and an hour later had a fish on.  As we were sailing at seven knots at the time the load on the line was tremendous.  I got the boat headed to wind and slowed down and tried to haul in the line.  Whatever was on the end was large – it felt like the deadweight of a large tuna.  After ten minutes hauling I was getting nowhere, I gained a bit of line and then it was taken away again.  Then as I was giving a good heave the line parted – the fish was gone.

The fish was too large to get on board and too large for eating – it would be too wasteful.  So, I was not concerned about the fish getting away.  The loss of my new fishing lure is bugging me.  I will have to get inventive and try and make something up from bits and pieces I have onboard.