As part of Regatta Vava'u, we raced yesterday from Neiafu to here. Unfortunately, the winds were extremely light and it made for some very frustrating sailing. Rutea held her own though and even though we wound up putting the engine on within less than a half-mile from the finish line, it was great to be out sailing.
Today is the fourth day of the Regatta and it's a low key day. The Regatta started on Wednesday with a street fair and an evening pub crawl (the Rutea crew is proud to announce that we made it to all seven pubs - upright and under our own power - I think I remember that the last pub, Tonga Bob's, had female impersonators. At least, I hope that's what they were!). Thursday were silly games (we skipped those) and Friday was a race around Neiafu harbor. We had good friends join us as crew and though we raced hard, we still got a DFL (Dead F***ing Last). A good time was had by all and we enjoyed many cold, refreshing beverages both on the boat and at the awards ceremony at the yacht club.
I've got to hand it to the organizers of the Regatta as things have been very well planned. There was a party on the beach last night, complete with a sophisticated sound and light system and even though it rained, I think it was a very successful party.
The main topic of conversation these days is the jump to New Zealand. Many have openly said that they're worried about it as it can be a very nasty stretch of water to cross. We've already contacted New Zealand's top weather guru and hired him to do a weather route for us. Even though October is too early to leave, we've instructed him to notify us of a decent weather window anytime after October 1st. Last year, many boats waited until November for a weather window and one never appeared.
Regardless of the passage that lies ahead of us, we're enjoying Tonga. Even though we're only 350 miles south of the Samoas, it's still substantially cooler here. We can now sleep with a sheet over us which was impossible to do north of here. The heavily forested islands are relatively low lying and while the water isn't as clear as it was in the Tuamotus, it's still beautiful. The people are friendly and many wear ta'ovala, a kind of woven mat that both sexes wear around their waists. The ta'ovala vary in shading, weave and length but to Tongans it's similar to wearing a business suit. Many men also wear lavalavas, a type of skirt. Since Tonga is truly an independent kingdom, it receives no overt aid from a first world country yet there appears to be no poverty or serious crime. Infrastructure appears to be adequate but internet bandwidth is very low - this keeps us from posting pictures for now.
So even though we can't post pictures of our smiling faces, know that we're safe and having fun. We've met several boats that we know from Mexico here and it's good to see them again. We think of all our friends shore-side often and wish you all well.
At 9/11/2011 2:42 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°42.27'S 173°59.32'W
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