Sunday, August 28, 2011

Passage to Tonga and many firsts

We've just arrived in Vavau, Tonga after our most boisterous passage yet. We had 15-18 foot seas with sustained winds of 25 knots gusting to 35- and Krister says the squall that gave us our first pooping knocked us at 40. Pooping sounds messier than it really is- it just means we had a wave break into the cockpit with enough green water to fill it 6 inches. The real mess was bestowed upon us by our hick-hiking booby birdie friend that I named Albert. He settled upon our solar panel and rode with us for several hours- until we were within sight of land. While there, he squeezed out a few juicy, milky treats that splattered our companion way and into the nav station and galley. It's alright though- I loved having him around.

Albert our boobie buddy

The crossing from the Cook Islands to Tonga gave us many "firsts." Our first boobie, our first sail change underway, our first pooping, my first time across the dateline (yes we are living in tomorrow now), and in the middle of the night, the first time we had to change course to avoid a collision at sea. Fortunately for us, the boat we were on a collision course with was Piko, and as Lauren and I debated how we should alter course, Krister took the wheel and tacked behind them. I had no idea how close we came to each other until I saw their stern light swing swiftly to our port side.

Tall following seas

Our yankee-cut jib used for heavy winds

To our delight, our radio traffic woke Barb on What Cha Gonna Do (Who we thought were long gone to Fiji, but have actually been waiting here for better weather.) And so, at 2 in the morning, Krister woke from his off watch nap, giggling with happiness to talk with Barb and make plans to catch up with them as soon as possible.

We arrived at dawn and cleared through customs, immigration, agriculture and health quickly and easily. Finding an anchorage was much more difficult. We eventually settled on picking up a mooring ball for $13 Tongan (like $8 US). There are several boats here, some waiting for better weather, and some waiting for the regatta, which we are joining too. We'll be racing on Piko, trying to pick up a few pointers from Lauren, the racing pro.

The town is lovely and everyone is very friendly. It kinda reminds me of La Paz Mexico, very cruiser freindly. Happy hour is about to start, and even though the internet is painfully slow, at least we have each other and a cold beer.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Britannia Med-moored in Rarotanga

Hey everybody!

We've been having our fill of Indian food, less expensive beer and hot showers. Yesterday we rented scooters with Piko and hit the pavement. It's quite a trip driving on the left-hand side of the road- even for me the south-paw. The speed- that's 50km/h was exhilerating after spending most our time traveling sailboat speed (5-7 knots/hr). On our way around the island we checked out a few beaches, stopped by Hinano's cafe and gardens, filled our bags and bike with provisions (Ramen noodles are very important to us) and finally pulled the hog up to the Roadhouse bar for a beer.

It's a Dumb and Dumber moment

This boy is crazy for Ramen noodles

And of course we found another great hike! It makes me so happy to get out into the rich jungley vegetation, get my sweat on, and get a great view. Thanks to WGD, we met a few locals that make our day extra special. Ron and his wife Gyna and their daughter Rongyna showed us around- kept us on track and added a bit of local knowledge to our trek.

Our friends from Piko hiking along with us.

Look up! There's the "needle" we sweated to see.

Can you see the trail?

Great view!

Refreshing waterfall at the end of the "needle" hike.

Our Aussie friend Ron helped us navigate the wild Rarotongan trails.

We also met the queen's granddaughter, Hinano. She runs a cafe with the world's best cheesecake with acres of beautiful gardens surrounding it. It's like going to the spa; it's just so peaceful and relaxing there. She lives right across the street and and let us lounge around her backyard (private lagoon beach) for the afternoon.

Hinano's gardens

Beach day!

Just chillin' after a long slow passage

Prehistoric plants huh?

Another day gone, but not forgotten!

It's been a lot of fun, but it's time to go!
We'll write again when we reach Tonga!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hiking in the Leeward Societies

Natural Beauty Everywhere you look

Raiatea, Taha'a, and Bora Bora

Looks fun huh?

After leaving Tahiti we sailed over night to Raiatea. It was a nearly perfect sail- great weather and beautiful scenery. After so much time in the city, I was happy to get off the boat and back into the jungle. The leeward island have provided a variety of hiking experiences. From paved walks down the road, to strenuous climbs up slippery jungle cliffs, and we've enjoyed them all.

Over looking Uturoa in Raiatea

Snail we meet on our hike to the radio tower above Uturao

Hiking trail on Raiatea

Sun beams over Taha'a

Haamene Bay in Taha'a

Hurepiti Bay

Deep in the jungle of Bora Bora

The ropes were necessary to make it to the top

Bora Bora- beautiful beautiful

Krister at the top of Mt Otemanu

We'll be leaving Bora Bora soon- too soon and heading west yet again to the Cook Islands.

Britannia on the water