What a cool place. We cruised in early yesterday morning after probably the best sail we’ve ever had. We flew the spinnaker right up until dark the day we left Niue ghosting along at 7 knots. The next morning I flew it again for a couple of hours till I started seeing 9.5 knots. I figured maybe it was a good idea to keep the mast standing upright and I took it down. We stopped briefly at an anchorage right around the corner from the main harbor (Lotuma Bay #5) to take showers, clean up the boat, and give a couple of other guys the chance to check in and get off the wharf before we made our triumphant entrance. We could already hear our friends from Zen and Honeymoon on the radio so we gave a call and announced our presence. It’s was like entering a reunion. All the boats we’ve met along the way and all the people whose voices we’ve heard and never met all seem to be here. Even Jeff and Julie from Flashback who we affectionately call Ma and Pa after someone mistaked us for being their children! Check in was relatively simple. The Quarantine and Health officials were standing at the dock when we tied up so they came aboard first. I handed over the papers they needed with a couple of candy bars and some diet coke hoping to speed up the process. Twenty minutes later, paperwork done, we couldn’t figure out why these guy were still sitting on the boat. They were thumbing through some of Margie’s magazines, hanging out like they were right at home. I guess they needed a few minutes to study up on the latest Cosmo and Vogue before they decided it was time to go and finally they dawdled off the boat. Next came Customs. Simple. Then I took a walk to the bank and Immigration while Margie, sitting on the boat at the city dock, somehow ended up with some fresh bread after a local paddled by and made her a deal. Ten minutes later we were tied to a mooring owned by the Aquarium Cafe with three dinghies and all our friends hanging off the side of Dosia. Nice.
Then came our first Friday night in Neiafu. Picture it. A georgeous harbor surrounded by hills and mangroves. A hundred plus sailboats, some charter, but mostly cruising yachts from all over the globe. Huge multimillion dollars catamarans with paid captains all the way down to 27′ single handers. Converted race boats, sleek lined Italian yachts, refurbished classics, and junkers. It doesn’t matter. On Friday night, everyone gathers at the Mermaid, home of the Vava’u Yacht Club for drinks. Right on the water with its own dinghy dock. T-shirts, burgees, and flags hanging from the ceiling. Happy hour prices on a selection of beers from Oz land, NZ, the local Ikale and Maka brews. Heaven on earth. After losing hope in French Polynesia and the Cooks, here it is. The perfect image of a south seas sailor bar in its truest form. It still exists. Where else can you find a 70 year old single-hander with a white beard in crocs and a tie-dye shirt arguing with a pressed linen German couple off a sleek 60 footer about the finer aspects of rum distillation? Classic.
When you wake up in the morning and can’t remember what you had for dinner or if you even ate dinner or where you might have tried if you were so inclined, you had a good night. If it weren’t for the missing cash, I might have thought we missed my favorite meal of the day. I know it was pasta and I’m positive it had bacon in it because that’s something I rarely forget. Each bacon experience should be cherished. I haven’t a clue what Margie ordered but that’s alright…neither does she. We haven’t had a night like that in a long, long time and even though I felt like a million bucks this morning when I woke, I would have preferred to not wake up belching vanilla infused rum. In order to not take responsibility for the over-indulgence, I need to blame someone else. So Flashback, you’re it. It’s all your fault. 🙂