Monday, 12 October 2015

Looking south

For the immediate future, it’s all about the weather.

Some guys go bare-chested rain or shine

Each morning, like many other boats poised to jump down to the relative safety of the temperate zone before the cyclone season begins, we flutter around Gulf Harbour Radio’s signal (on 8752 MHz at 1915 utc). We’re like birds at a feeder. Ex-cruiser and meteorologist David and his chirpy wife Patricia throw out handfuls of seed and we try to make something digestible of it. Tough at the moment. There’s a nasty tropical low north of Fiji, intentions unknown, there are troughs and squash zones galore.  No time to be leaving port.

A gaff-rigged schooner sailing into Tapana

David’s not the only one trying to settle the squeals of the boaties eager to leave the tropics (don’t even try to understand, those of you who long for a steady 25 degrees day and night). The other feeding station is MetBob’s free weekly weathergram scattered far and wide on a Monday morning. MetBob (aka veteran NZ weatherman Bob McDavitt) more or less runs traffic in this part of the cruising world, and this week he’s giving no-one the green light.

This guy told us he really needed rain for his gardens...his wish was granted several days later

 In the past 10 days we’ve missed jumping through a couple of “weather windows” for one reason of another. We’ll leave Tonga for NZ when the next window opens, all things being equal.  We’re ready now. There’s not much time between systems at this time of year.

All these boats are now in Neifu harbour, waiting out the trough

No regrets about dallying though.  Alex’s back has had time to settle down, and the collateral wear and tear on our respective tempers as a result of that difficult period has healed too. We’re in a much better head space than we were 10 days ago, and that’s as important as anything when you are getting ready for an ocean passage. 

Tombs in the coral on the windward side of Tapana anchorage

Anchored in Port Maurelle, an uninhabited bay on the island of Kapa

Swallow's Cave, on the tip of Kapa (and below)

Much of the graffiti in the cave is old - whalers from Norway etc

I knew on Sunday when Alex drove Martha and me over to A’a island to drift across that fantastically clear blue water on its north ledge that this was my Last Snorkel. The weather was closing in, and we’d be back in Neiafu the following day. Did that make the pleasure of that swim more intense?  Not really.  Any swim where there’s live coral, pretty fish and good visibility thrills me, though seeing a big shark way down on the sea floor, at the foot of the deep cliff we were snorkelling along, was a good finish, I have to say.  I didn’t even flinch when Martha pointed him out to me – so different from my first shark sighting in the Tuamotus. 

It's snorkelling time...

Rinsing off. Time's up. 

The best way I can describe the pleasure of snorkelling is compare it to eating exquisite food – it’s all in the moment, and overwhelmingly sensual. I don’t over-think when I’m in the water. But nor can I carry the pleasure of the experience with me. I just have to wait until the next time. Whenever that is.

It's the colour of bliss

Enki is back on a mooring in Neiafu harbour, opposite a phone tower, which doesn't guarantee connectivity but we'll use what we can when we we can get it, and put that in the mix with MetBob's advice and GH Radio's daily feed to determine the best time to set off.  Hanging out in Neiafu isn't a hardship, but one day soon we'll slip that mooring and head south to NZ. We've run out of time to go to the Haapai group, and though you should never say never, this may be our last ocean passage on our beautiful boat. 

Hanging out in Neiafu....(and below)

1 comment:

  1. Didn't realise you were going to NZ. We get back to Australia on 8 November! Will be in Sydney till after New Year then moving up to Moreton Bay Area. Hope we can catch up when you're home. J&Axx