Day 373, Year 1: Auto Pilot Ordered While Enjoying Nuku’alofa
Date: Thursday, October 26, 2006
Weather: Convergence Zone Hanging Over Tonga
Location: Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu Group, Tonga

First thing this morning we talked to a guy named Tom at Lusty & Blundell in Auckland, New Zealand, and he had the answers to our problem. For only $6,604.21 NZ, he is sending a new auto pilot complete plus a new motor for our old one so we will have our current one fixed as a complete backup if this should happen again. Tom was very helpful and had an e-mail to us immediately with all sorts of trouble-shooting information. It can take anywhere from three to five days to receive the new parts, so sometime late next week we will start looking for that weather window for Minerva Reef and then Opua, New Zealand. Until then, we will continue to enjoy the southern part of Tonga.

Tomorrow is our 32nd wedding anniversary and I think you can guess what our gift to each other will be. If you are thinking that it will be a new auto pilot, you are very perceptive. That will also be Christmas and birthdays for the next twenty years, so that makes future shopping very easy. You know what they say about boats-a hole in the water into which you pour money. Better yet is a t-shirt I bought for Mark at an Annapolis Boat Show-B.O.A.T. or Break Out Another Thousand. The only thing I would change is “Thousand” to “Ten Thousand”. I guess it would then read B.O.A.T.T. Actually we are adjusting to our new expenditure. It is just part of the territory out here. I know of no boat, old or new, that has not had major repair issues. Refrigeration and alternator problems are at the top of the list, and then there seem have been more broken booms and broken boom vangs than we expected. Main sails have blown out, motors have stopped running, transmissions have frozen, boats have broken loose from their anchors and washed onto reefs, and on and on. But we are cruisers and we deal. Sometimes not happily, but we do rebound quickly. Actually we are hoping to go out to dinner tomorrow for our anniversary and to celebrate the fact that the auto pilot broke down now instead of half way to New Zealand. There is a seafood restaurant here called the Seaview and it serves lobster in the following ways: natural, “Seaview”, Thermidor, Provencale, Polynesian, or saffron. Or maybe we won’t go out to dinner. Mark just called up from the cabin to tell me that our wonderful HP 8000 Photosmart printer just bit the dust. We brought it just before we left Boston last fall, along with lots of expensive ink cartridges. Ugh!

We are going to have dinner tonight with our boat neighbor, Hanoah. Roger and Judy are from Maine. When we got home from exploring Nuku’alofa late this after, they called over and invited us for dinner. We first met them in the Galapagos and then saw them again in Fatu Hiva when we arrived in the Marquesas. We haven’t seen them since. Strange to come into a port in the South Pacific and have your neighbors be from a neighboring state back home. There are very few boats from New England out here, so it will be fun to get together and compare our voyages to date.

Nuku’alofa is a city somewhat like Apia in Samoa. We meandered through town, walked by the Royal Tombs, down to the Royal Palace, and found an internet café®  Actually, that was the first thing we did so that we could read the e-mail from Tom in New Zealand with the auto pilot. We saw Chuck and Anne on the street which was a surprise. This is a couple who were anchored next to us in Vava’u last week. They were on a Moorings charter boat which usually only sail in the Vava’u Group. Therefore, we didn’t expect to see them here. They had flown in here on their way home and will be leaving tonight, headed to Fiji, and then back to California. More and more we realize what a small world it really is.

It’s time to go to dinner, so I’ll have to write more about Nuku’alofa tomorrow evening. (After the lobster dinner!)

061026 Day 373a Tonga, Nuku'alofa–Tonga's Capital City
061026 Day 373b Tonga, Nuku'alofa–Royal Tombs and Palace in Nuku'alofa