Day 361, Year 1: Move to Tapana Island, Anchorage #11
Date: Saturday, October 14, 2006
Weather: Reinforced Trade Winds Are Still Blowing
Location: Tapana Island, Vava’u Group, Tonga–Anchorage #11

We left our secure mooring off Kapa Island early this morning and headed around the southern end of Kapa and on to Tapana Island. Although we didn’t feel it in our anchorage, once we got out into the water between the islands, we could really feel the impact of the wind. It is still blowing about 20 to 25 knots, but the skies are starting to clear and we had lots of sunshine today. It only took a little over an hour to get here to our new anchorage. There are a few inexpensive mooring balls here, and we picked up one of those rather than try to anchor in the wind. Once we tied up to the mooring ball, we were snug and secure. The mooring balls here are maintained by the owners of the Ark Gallery. This is a floating art gallery that looks like a little blue box floating on the water. We were delighted with our location as we are not far from shore and the reef between two islands. Quantum Leap and Wind Pony are here and it is always fun to see good friends. We are in about 18 feet of crystal clear water and you can easily see the bottom. It is the kind of anchorage that beckons you to jump into the water and explore.

We had come here to attend the Tongan feast tonight, but it has been cancelled. That was disappointing, but they canceled so they can do one mid-week after the mourning period is over. That means that there will be dancing and singing, so we have already made our reservations for that. We will either come back here by taxi on Wednesday night, or came back by boat. Tomorrow afternoon or early Monday morning we head back to Neiafu to get fuel and provisions for the New Zealand passage. Once we have done that we might come back here. We’ll just have to see how things go-mainly the weather.

We took advantage of the sunshine to do a little outside maintenance today. Mark worked polishing the stainless and I cleaned the rubber dinghy and put on two coats of UV protectorant. About the time we were finishing up we heard from Kathleen on Quantum Leap that it was time to take a walk, so off we went. We walked on the big island of Pangaimotu. We walked through grass up to our waists along a farm road. It appears that much of the island was clear cut to make fields and the green grass in those fields were swaying in the wind today. It was very picturesque.

When we returned to the Quantum Leap, Kathleen picked up her snorkel gear and invited us to follow her to visit Nemo and his family. We snorkeled from our boat as it is nearest to the reef, and sure enough, lots of beautiful little clown and tomato anemonefish live not far from Windbird. We also saw beautiful feather stars, lots of big brown sea stars, as well as the beautiful bright blue ones. There were Moorish Idols, lots of butterfly fish, surgeonfish, neon blue chromis, little black and while humbugs, and a host of other small fish. We saw one “crown of thorns” starfish-not a good thing. There were these tremendously long things that looked like sea cucumbers, but we’re not sure what they were. And closer to shore, there were quite a few sea urchins. All in all, it was a great snorkel.

We returned to Windbird and another neighbor that came in today stopped by for a visit. Franz is from Holland and his wife is from England. Dillon, their little boy, is not quite two. They are in their early thirties and have been sailing between New Zealand and the South Pacific for seven years now. Dillon had a great time exploring the deck of a new boat while we had a nice visit with his parents.

The day came to an end and I found that I was exhausted. My snorkeling fins are very heavy and when I snorkel for a long time, I find out just how out of shape my leg muscles really are. We decided not to go into the Le Paella Restaurant tonight and have a quiet dinner on Windbird. Early tomorrow morning we are going over to Pangaimotu Island by dinghy and take the Road Runner taxi into Neiafu for a special church service honoring the new King. I think I will just sit back and people-watch as everyone arrives in their mourning dress. I can’t wait until the mourning period is over on Tuesday, so see how things change here.

061014 Day 361 Tonga, Vava'u–Tapana Island Anchor 11