Malo e lelei ki he pongipongi ni, [good morning in Tongan]
Monday morning finds us at anchor in the lee of a steep, volcanic, lush, palm-studded high island named Nuku. Ellie is lying peacefully to her anchor in crystal clear turquoise water. I awoke to find Alyssa in the cockpit reading peacefully with a smile across her face. What an absolutely gorgeous spot to anchor [Google: Nuku Island Vava’u – to see a pic]. The trades are blowing hard around the corner but we have less than 5 knots across the bow – the island providing excellent protection. We dropped the hook in 25 feet and are lying in 40. The trades are forecast to remain steady so we stayed here overnight. It was a bit restless though since every sound I heard had me checking our position on the anchor watch – we’re only 75 feet from shore and swinging on 125 feet of chain. Steep drop-offs are typical of anchorages in Vava’u; the landscape is like deep fjords cut between islands. Given the precarious anchorage we will be sailing across the way to Sisla Island for lunch and whale watching and then on to Ovalu Island for an overnight berth off a stretch of fine white sand.
The past week has been spent dealing with our latest breakage, the autopilot. I have to admit that I am growing tired of fixing things after every passage, and the cruising kitty continues to be eroded away quicker than planned. We bought a brand new autopilot from ELYSIUM and I installed it on Saturday. We had to buy the entire system as both our wheel drives are broken beyond repair and the electronic control head was not functioning correctly. It was a long install but we are very happy with the end result. I took great care to do a professional-grade install and am satisfied that the new system should last for many years to come. We started the configuration during our sail yesterday and so far so good. There are a few more calibration steps to do during the next few sails to dial the new pilot in completely. I’m just relieved to have our third crew member back aboard and functioning. It will make transiting through the treacherous reefs of Fiji a much more calculated endeavor.
Neiafu is an interesting place. It’s been inundated with cruisers and as a result the people are more westernized than the rest of the Tonga. I likened the place to La Cruz in Mexico. Many cruisers show up there and don’t leave. There are restaurants, watering holes, laundry, a market and other conveniences to keep cruisers comfortable. So they stay, and tell the same stories to each other over and over. Our friend Ryan Harrison on CARMELO calls them the “tellers.” We like to think we fall more into the “doers” category and as such, after a couple days of visiting with the “tellers”, it was time to go exploring again. If we go back it will be to hit the excellent produce market or to to have our laundry done.
We’re off to go explore Vava’u. We’ll take a bunch of pictures and upload them next time we find internet. Hope all is well with everyone.
‘Alu a, [goodbye]
Lewis & Alyssa
Monday July 27, 2015 [GMT +13]
Nuku Island, Vava’u, Tonga
18 42.921 S
174 02.670 W