Tonga – unstable weather and reliable friends

We spent all day Tuesday on the boat in anchorage #11 as it was
cloudy and rainy all day long. Peter and Finn from Risho Maru
were not feeling well, so we didn’t even visit with them.
Miserable weather. By Wednesday it started to clear – at least
it did not rain much – so Ben and I had a swim around our boat
with Risho Maru. Now it was Mark’s turn to feel crappy, so he
just rested while Ben and I went over to Vera for an afternoon
coffee and cake, and then to some other boats in the anchorages
for quick hellos. The dreary weather was getting everyone down.
We have all been planning to move to another anchorage for a
“Pirates Party” with several other boats, but really needed to
have a bit of sunshine to do that. Finally on Thursday the
clouds cleared enough for us all to make a safe passage to
anchorage #30. It was only about an hour away (motoring), but
to get to the anchorage you have to pass through a number of
shallow reefs so it is important to have some visibility. I
stood up on the boom for a better view, while Ben sat in his
rope chair on the bow that he made, and Mark steered us around
the reefs. We followed close behind Risho Maru while French
friends on another boat, “Galdus” followed close behind.

Pirate's party

Some other friends have been here for a few days already and had
prepared a nice area up on a hill on the small island here for
the pirate’s party and barbecue. Several of the boats have young
kids and there were a few games planned for them, including a
treasure hunt. There were also some silly games for the adults.
Everyone dressed up as pirates (corny, but fun) and brought
good stuff to grill and there were also lots of fresh salads,
fruit and other good things to eat. It was a nice group – and
it was fun for us to have Ben with us for another party. He is
such a natural shmoozer and it is clear that all of friends have
become very fond of him – particularly Alex, Peter and Finn from
Risho Maru. The views from the party site were gorgeaus –
crashing waves on the high cliffs – and we spent the whole
afternoon and evening up there. When we went back to the beach
about 8:00 P.M. to go back to the boat we found that everyone’s
dinghy was there except ours. When we arrived at the party some
hours earlier we had tied it to our friend Vera’s dinghy – and
had not dropped an anchor in the sand as we usually do. In the
meantime Vera had had to go back to their own boat to get
something and had tied us up to someone else. Apparently that
other person had subsequently moved their dinghy and had either
not tied us up to anything or had not tied us up properly. It
was not a good feeling. If you lose your dinghy here you really
have no way to get to shore or to explore places – like losing
your car in a place without buses or taxis. We hiked back up to
the party to tell our friends that our dinghy was gone and
within minutes 3 other dinghies were all in the water helping us
find ours. Mark was with Peter and within just a few minutes
they found it washed up on the reef. Luckily nothing was damaged
and Mark drove it back to our boat and tied it up nice and
secure. Phew!

Today, Friday, we finally had the sun back. Hooray. It is really
beautiful here when the sun shines. We took our dinghy out to a
few areas to try snorkeling – and found crystal clear water –
but unfortunately the coral here is mostly either dead or it is
very new coral – and therefore there are not very many fish. It
was still great to be in the beautiful blue water with the sun
shining overhead. Now Ben and Mark are up on deck reading while
I am writing this. Tonight there is going to be another
barbecue – and all the musically inclined people here will be
singing and playing. Ben will be drumming on some borrowed drums.