DRINKING RUM WITH OLD FRIENDS

The rain from yesterday evening continued overnight, finally giving way to some sunshine mid-morning.  I spent a few minutes bailing out the pig before we could go ashore – amazing how much water collected overnight.

By ten I had visited the customs and port office to clear out from the Vava’u group.  The tonnage dues came to less than ten dollars, all up the clearance into and out of Neiafu cost one hundred and thirty-one dollars.

Next on the ‘to do’ list was getting some fresh fruit and veg Fresh veg, eggs and topping up on a few dry goods.  The market down by the wharf has an excellent selection of fresh produce where we also got fresh eggs.

On the way back to Truce we decided to have an early lunch at Indigo café.  Our favourite café as they also seem to have decent WiFi.  Eggs and bacon for me and BLT for Jessica.  The bacon here is so good – unfortunately we forgot to buy some in the store.

Just after one in the afternoon we dropped the mooring and headed out of Neiafu harbour with a stiff breeze behind us.  We headed to Tapana Lagoon where a friend, Steve, was moored.  I met Steve last year at Warm Springs Bay, Baranof Island in Alaska.  Steve is also headed back to New Zealand but at a far more leisurely pace than mine.

At three in the afternoon we entered Tapana Lagoon and saw Steve’s lovely yacht ‘Rhapsody’ tucked up in the corner, nicely sheltered.  We were fortunate to find a vacant mooring close alongside and before long we were securely moored in a beautiful peaceful little bay, completely sheltered from the easterly trades.

The evening was spent on Rhapsody, chatting, eating and drinking Rum.  We were joined by Linda, a charming Australian lady who is sailing her yacht single handed.  Steve produced a surprisingly good Spaghetti Bolognaise – a great night was had by all.

Tomorrow morning we will rise early to head south towards Pangai in the Ha’apai Group.  We need to keep heading in the direction of Nuku’alofa to make the connection with Jessica’s flight back to Melbourne on the 29th.

HUMPBACK BREACHING

Thank you Warm Springs Bay, I had a most enjoyable stay and the weather has been fabulous.  But after three nights alongside the dock it’s time to move on.  My friends, Steve, Bob and Noel have departed north and south and I was in the company of fishing boats and their crews last night.

We sailed at eight this morning to ride the tide up Chatham Strait.  The forecast was for southerly winds ten knots.  As it was a light wind forecast I left the dinghy in the water.  When we got out into the strait the wind picked up and the short seas from the quarter made life very uncomfortable.  It was obvious the dinghy had to get on deck or she would be lost.  I ran for shelter into Takatz Bay and in calm water hoisted the dinghy on deck and set off again.  What a relief not to have the pig dragging behind threatening to destroy the self-steering.

Once out in Chatham Strait again the wind increased and the rain arrived.  I knew it would rain, the forecast said ‘Chance of showers’ in Alaska that means it’s going to piss down.  Under the jib with wind from astern we made six knots and this attracted the Dolphins who came to play around the bow.  These were the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin variety, real show offs.  They stayed for about twenty minutes, I say on the bow shouting and whistling at them, which I am sure they appreciated and enjoyed.

A little further on I was surprised to see a Humpback Whale breach about a mile ahead.  A few minutes later it breached again but closer, we were sailing towards the whales who were moving slowly in the same direction as us.  I got a couple of photos, but when the whale breached very close by the camera didn’t take the shot.  Maybe I was too excited and didn’t tap the screen hard enough.  What a shame it would have been an excellent close up shot.

Humpback Breaching Photo Ray Penson
Humpback Breaching Photo Ray Penson

In all my time at sea I have never seen a Whale breach.  Being on a small boat close to the action makes you realise what a huge event this is.  The power required to launch that huge body out of the water is immense, the splash on re-entry is huge and the sound like thunder, crump.  A truly awesome experience and I feel privileged to have witnessed it.  I don’t know why but Dolphins and Whales make me feel so happy.

Tonight I have anchored in Appleton Cove at the top of Baranof Island.  Tomorrow I will plan a transit of Peril Strait and then down towards Sitka.  Total voyage distance 1,173.9 miles.

Logged 20th June 2016

CROSSING CHATHAM STRAIT

This evening we are anchored in Reb Bluff Bay on Baranof Island.  The cruising guide describes this bay as a spectacular location – it is!  The bay is surrounded by high snow-capped mountains with cascades falling down the steep sides for hundreds of meters.  This is a room with a view.

This morning we pulled the abhor and motored in flat calm and sunshine.  In the distance I could see fog lying over Frederick Sound and as we passed through some small islands the fog enveloped us.  Visibility was down to about 50 meters and I was rock dodging, not nice.  After an hour the fog cleared and the wind set in from the South West.

The engine went off, the jib unfurled and we were off on port tack across Chatham Strait.  The wind backed to the south and the wind vane followed it around and we managed to lay the entrance to Red Bluff Bay without tacking.  The sea in Chatham Strait became quite boisterous, in about forty minutes a nasty short chop had built up, made worse by wind against tide.  Unfortunately, my coffee plunger took a dive and cracked.  The box said it was shatterproof, obviously not crack proof.  I will have to devise another method for brewing my morning coffee.

On arrival at Red Bluff Bay there were two small expedition vessel anchored with boats out doing tours and passengers paddling about in kayaks.  They both departed in the early evening and a large, good looking, American Motor yacht arrived.

Of the three route options this morning I went for the west.  I will now work up the east side of Baranof Island.  Tomorrow I will try to get up to Warm Springs Bay.  I just hope there are actually warm springs there, a warm spook would be welcome.  Total voyage distance 1,114.8 miles.

Logged  16th June 2016