Goodbye Vava’u and Ha’apai Islands Sailing

by Margie on October 26, 2009

We are currently about ten miles outside of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’Alofa, and should be safely anchored by the time this blog posts. We said farewell to the Vava’u group about three days ago. Usually when we leave a place I don’t look back with any sense of sadness because I’m already excited about the next place. Leaving Neiafu, however, I sat up on the bow and watched it become smaller and smaller behind us and got a little sad. It honestly felt weird to leave the harbor knowing we wouldn’t be coming back in a few days. Cruisers have talked before about spending several months in a place and I always think in my mind, “how?” I never could quite understand how someone could spend two or three months in a particular place when there was so much more out there to see. Now I understand. Neiafu and the rest of the islands that make up the Vava’u group are no more spectacular than the harbors or anchorages I’ve seen in the past six months. Don’t get me wrong…it’s waters were the brightest of blues, there were quiet anchorages a plenty where you could nestle in for the evening and not feel so much as a ripple in the water, whale sightings were as common as a drunk Georgia fan on a fall Saturday, and if you ran out of something while at anchor then town was no more than a two hour sail away or a boat coming your way who could bring you what you needed. Vava’u definitely had its perks. I think, though, that what kept us there for two months was that it was just…comfortable.
Looking out over Neiafu harbor for the last time.
We sailed into the harbor back in August and into the open arms of some whom we’d seen just the week or night before and others whom we’d not seen for several months. Literally almost every boat we’d come in contact with in the past six months came together in one place. It was the biggest “family” reunion I’ve ever been to! Man there were birthday parties, sometimes two or three a week. There were dinner parties, there were beach bonfires, there was snorkeling, there was diving, there was swimming with whales (at least for Drew), and there were beautiful sunsets. We spent the better part of our last morning in town walking to all the local businesses who had supplied us with fresh bread, good meals, cold beer, and good times to bid farewell and hug out our goodbyes. Dosia headed west out of the harbor and even though I was sad to go, more memories were on the horizon.

We’ve spent the last three days hopping our way south through the Ha’apai group on our way to Nuku. Two different anchorages became our homes for the evening and though a bit rolly, I was rocked to sleep quite quickly both nights. Night before last we had Richard & Betsy of s/v Qayak and Ian & Ally of s/v Loon III over for a birthday dinner. Yes, more birthdays. Drew and I are beginning to think that lots of parents were getting more friendly with each other during the holidays and through those cold winter months. Ally and I share the same birthday and Betsy’s is just around the corner on the 30th so I whipped up some homemade sausage gumbo, black eyed peas, and brownie cake for dessert. True southern style and it appealed to the taste buds of our west coast and Canadian guests quite nicely. Drew made me homemade pizza last night for my actual b-day dinner and we used the last of our Boar’s Head pepperoni we’d brought from the states. His family will be shocked to know it’s lasted that long on board as Drew’s love for pepperoni ranks right up there next to his love for bacon. A 4 a.m. early wake up call got us out of bed this morning and we lifted anchor to sail the last 50 miles or so into Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga and home of the royal king and queen. Despite being short in length, the trip today has been quite eventful as the fish have finally taken to our lines. Drew hand reeled in a mackerel and as I was typing moments ago his second 20-25 lb. mahi mahi of the day.
mahi #2!
As we pulled into the channel that led us to our “parking spot” directly in front of Big Mama’s, a mother whale and her calf waved hellos to us as they splashed around, enjoying the last of their days here in the warm south pacific waters before heading south to Antarctica. Truly…I don’t believe it gets much better than this. We’ll share the love and divvy out our new fish friends but the rest is for keeps and it looks like Drew and I will be the ones eating like royalty tonight!

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