Thursday, October 14, 2010

Paiges Birthday

Paige's first Birthday Celebration at The First Landing Restaurant.

Paige had a song sung just for her!

Yum, Cheese Cake.

Happy Birthday Page!

It was so good she had to lick it clean.

On the day! Our big 9 year old girl, dressed in her birthday present from Kaparangi and with her new toy from a new friend.

Paige's Birthday Cake. Green on the inside with green it looked like grass!?

Ice Cream.

At the end of a very long day!

As we are never sure from day to day exactly where we are going to be we decided that we were going to celebrate Paiges birthday on the day of Uncle Andy’s arrival as we were in a marina with a resort next door that had a good pizza menu. So for the second time since we left NZ we dined out at a restaurant which was just lovely. We had pizzas and chips and fun milkshakes for the kids with BULA written on the side. Paige made sure she let the staff know that it was her birthday, so after our pizza was cleared away the staff came around with a piece of cheese cake and “Happy Birthday Page” written in sauce around the plate, singing Happy Birthday with an extra verse of “Long Life to you” in the same tune. It was very cool and unexpected.
A couple of days later on the “actual” day we were in Musket Cove. We had shopped in Lautoka and bought party food of cookies, chips, dip and a cake mix so spent the morning creating a birthday lunch. Paige invited a couple of friends that we had first met in Whangarei to join us so it was just like a real NZ party. Paige had a few pressies to open, some from her friends in Tonga (Thanks Kaparangi and Ocean Jewel) and some from cruisers in Musket who Paige had told about her birthday the day before. These really made her day and Mum and Dad were grateful as they didn’t have a present to give her, but have promised her ear piercing on return to NZ.
The afternoon was spent in the resorts pool with 10 boat boys and Paige. She was the only one that got to play on the blow up dolphin. Then we took three very tired kids to dinner in the restaurant (again) but we didn’t have to go far as it was right next to the pool. All the kids had fish and chips and caramel milkshakes. Ice cream for dessert of course!
Paige said that she really enjoyed her birthday and thanks to the people that gave her presents and sent her messages via email. And a special Thank you to the First Landing staff for surprise cake and song.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tonga to Fiji

Just as we had come through the pass at the bottom of Fiji we had our first visitor.

Perched on one of the kids fishing rods.

We caught at least three flying fish, of course unknown to us until we went up on the tramps in the morning!

Poor Rylee had leaking ears and his lovely long hair was all stuck together, so he decided that it all was to go.

He even had several dreadlocks that he had managed to grow in Tonga.

Our visas were once again at an end and we needed to decide what to do. We figured we had three choices, stay for another month, head to NZ, or head to Fiji. We felt we didn’t need to stay in Tonga any longer but also didn’t feel we would be ready for a passage back to NZ with the busy weeks we had just had so Fiji won. We also figured it was cheaper for us to check into Fiji than renew our visas in Tonga and Dan’s brother Andy had also said that if we were there he would come and see us.
So a couple of busy days getting water, food and loose ties sorted in Tonga, saying goodbyes and we were ready to go. We left on Friday morning (1st October) Spinnaker up. As we were coming out of the pass we saw a boat sitting , not sure what they were up too, but as we got closer realised they were whale watching but we were not able to really change direction and we started busily looking around for any whales so as not to hit them. Next thing there was a mother and calf just out behind us surfacing and blowing. What a perfect way to say goodbye to Tonga.
We headed in a generally WSW direction to go around the bottom of the Island group as we wanted to be on the West Coast of Viti Levu, as this is where Nadi Airport is for picking up our visitor. The passage was very uneventful apart from poor Rylee who had been complaining of ear ache a couple of days before leaving Tonga. A couple of days into the trip his ears actually started leaking pus and he was generally unwell and slept a lot. Never having had any of the kids with an ear infection before I wasn’t too sure of the antibiotics used to treat them so didn’t start him on the ones I had on board as even though he wasn’t himself he didn’t seem too sick. On an interesting note Oliver’s energy output seemed to double while his brother was ill, which caused us some issues in keeping him occupied. But overall the kids did really well considering this was our first passage with just Dan and I doing all the watches day and night, so if we weren’t steering we were trying to sleep, feed and entertain kids.
On Tuesday morning (5th October) we came through the pass in the reef at the bottom of Viti Levu and headed up to Lautoka. This took us all morning as the wind was nonexistent and we ended up (reluctantly) motoring to be able to get to Customs and Immigration at a good time, and hopefully find a Dr. to look at Rylee. Fiji has an advanced notice of arrival form and you need to put your ETA on it. Dan had put 12 noon on the 5th October and he walked into the office at five to twelve. Dan found the process of checking in very painless, the people were very friendly and helpful, advising us to take Rylee up to the local hospital. When he got back to the boat we had a quick lunch then went ashore to get a taxi. When we got to the hospital they dropped us at the ED and Dan went “Oh dear, is this where we want to be!” The place seemed packed with people all waiting around. I found a Perspex window with a couple of holes in it, so we lined up there to ask for information about getting seen. They asked if we had a hospital card, which we didn’t, so I handed over our passports and Rylee and I were given Fijian hospital cards. We were told it would be $16.00 for the consultation which seemed very reasonable to me. We were then ushered into a side waiting room, and we no longer had sat down, when the triage nurse called us over and checked Rylee’s temperature, then again ushered us into the next waiting area. Less than five minutes and we were in with the doctor, a quick check of the ears, “Yes, ear infection”, prescription written out, and we were escorted down the hall to the pharmacy. The longest part was waiting for the medication, which did end up being the same as what I had on board anyway. The whole experience was amazing especially as we were dreading trying to get help.
On the way to the hospital we had passed a great coloured playground which we stopped at then on to a supermarket before another taxi back to the boat. We stayed the night in Lautoka harbour and the next day Dan and the kids headed back into Lautoka to send a couple of emails, finish off checking in and have a look around. That evening we did a short hop to a small bay for the night to make the next day a little shorter as we were picking up Andy from the airport on Thursday and needed to get into the marina at Vuda point before we figured out how to get to the airport. Vuda Point is a circular marina where you tie onto bouys in the middle and then tie up to cleats in the basin. It took a bit to get our mooring lines right to prevent hitting the boat beside us or the concrete wall behind us, but after some fine tuning we were sorted. A quick lunch then off to the airport to collect Uncle Andy, Yah!!....and that’s the next instalment.

Last Tongan Pics

The kids took off to the boat moored next door for several hours. I did see them every now and then, usually hanging from the rigging!

The kids have figured out that the targar bar is a great diving platform!

One of the ladies from the market.

One of the fish from the bill fish tornament.

Another of the catch.

Regatta Vava'u Pics

The view from Mt Talau, looking South West over Neiafu Harbour and the Vava'u Island Group. We did this walk to get points for our Passport for Regatta Vava'u.

The kids and I with one of our guides after our hour long walk up to Mt Talau with our friends from Kaparangi.

Rylee's facepaint from the first day of Regatta Vava'u.

Paiges rainbow.

Olivers Dragon, Chinese style.

The Tongan School Kids performing at the end of the kids day parade.

Paige in her marching outfit.

Paige and Oliver posing with the mural they helped paint on kids day. This will beautify the market place in Neiafu.

The kids in all their glory, costumes made from all sorts of materials.

The Boys on the march.

The drums used by the local performers were empty 10 litre buckets, or a piece of corrogated iron! And they sounded great!

Div II racing hard, coming up behind another boat who kindly took these pics for us.

Div II passing the fleet!

Rylee dressed in pirate mode for the full moon party.

Oliver also in full moon party mood.

Regatta Vava'u

The day after Dan flew back into Tonga after helping with a boat delivery to Fiji we were into Regatta Vava’u festivities.
The regatta consisted of two yacht races, a street fair, a Cornhole tournament, a kid’s day, a pub crawl, full moon party, pot luck lunch, tridecagonathon and prize giving party. As well as all this there were daily talks from Port Opua and presentations from Whangarei Marina Group as well as meet and greet with Yacht Domain Boat Brokers. Phew, what a lot of stuff to do.
The Division II crew signed up at the street fair and enjoyed walking around the stalls and talking with friends and meeting lots of new people. We talked to the guys from the Vakas, the two hulled waka that were built in NZ and sailed from there in April to various places in the Pacific. Two of them are now based in Tonga, doing Whale watch tours and they have hybrid electric motors! I talked with the Vava’u family health staff on their stall. They provide a wide range of service to the community, mostly based around child and family health, but also looking at sexual health and safety also. They get international funding to provide contraceptives, condoms and pregnancy testing. They go into school and communities for education sessions and health clinics. All of their funding is filtered through from Nukualofa, but they are trying to get their own direct funding so they have more control of how the money is spent, as they have a vehicle to try and maintain, and they find funding the outreach to isolated communities difficult.
There were lots of food stalls from the local restaurants and craft stalls also. I tries octopus with a coconut sauce served on manioke all for a huge $3 TOP and Dan had a Tuna Burger which he said was great. The kids enjoyed the homemade ice cream with flavours like banana, coconut, papaya and watermelon. They were also very wise not to get their faces painted until after their ice cream.
Part of the regatta was having a “passport” which you got stamped at various businesses and for attending events, so we were off to a great start getting our book filled with marine themed stamps. The stamps earned you points and at the end of the regatta prizes were awarded accordingly.
Also at the fair I was approached by a lady complementing me on the dress I was wearing that day. This was Helen who was there with her husband Wayne from Yacht Domain, a boat broker based in Bundaberg, Australia. They were a great couple and ended up joining us on Division II for the Friday night race as well as meeting up at several of the other events. So a wee plug for them, if you are thinking of selling your boat in Australia, get hold of Wayne as I am sure he will do his best for you!
On the Thursday was the Cornhole Tournament, which we didn’t take part in but was about throwing beanbags into small holes. It was a knockout competition and from what I heard, lots of fun. That evening we went to a presentation from the Whangarei Marine Promotions group, which was a fundraiser for them for a local kindergarten. Dan's boss from Norsand was there, so we invited him to join us for the Friday night race, if he didn’t have another boat to go on. The presentation was an opportunity to ask questions about trip planning and weather for Tonga to NZ as well as answering enquiries about customs and immigration in NZ. We didn’t stay long, but did enjoy our complementary beer and BBQ food.
On the Friday was the Kids Day. The kids took part in creating costumes out of all sorts of colourful things. Making ribbon banners and shakers to create as much noise as possible for their parade in the afternoon. Dan and I were kept busy helping make juggling balls out of balloons and sand, decorating the area and helping the kids on the stilts. The kids all helped to paint part of a mural just down the road in the market area. The organiser led some games and taught the kids a short skit to perform and after lunch we were joined by local children from a couple of schools for the parade into town and some performances from all the children in the street. By the time this finished the kids were really tired but there was no time for a break as it was straight back to the boat to get organised for that evening’s race. Dan headed over to the skippers meeting and to pick up our crew and we ended up with 13 people on board. This was Division II first race ever and it was an experience for all. We stalled on the start line, in amongst the moored boats but got underway about second to last over the line. At the end of the first leg we had an impromptu haka from the men on the Hinemoana Vaka, which stirred us up and on the second leg we started passing other yachts. We had our friend Geoff on the helm so that Dan could be Tactician and I did as I was told. We had a backpacker Andrew from Australia on look out and the others were on childminding and rope/winch handling. Coming up to the second mark we had just past two other yachts but again completely mucked up the gibe and ended up using a moored boat as our mark instead. The commentator came on the VHF and asked if we were even in the race. This didn’t matter two much as we did manage to pass them both again. At the finish line we just went on the wrong side of the line but put in a protest of being distracted by Pedlar throwing water bombs at us. All in all a fun hour and not a bad effort for our first time out among so many other boats, both moving and moored! A quick drink on Div II then on to the prize giving, where we were second in the multihulls and got a free Norsand T-shirt!
On Saturday was the Vava’u Cup race/regatta, which was from the harbour around to Tapana Island, about 12nm. They organised the start for the three categories of yachts to be starting ten minutes apart, so we were off to a flying start at 1120. We had a much improved beginning and we excited to be the first multihull to the first mark. On board we only had one extra, Murray from Norsand, so he took the helm for us at this point so that Dan and I could raise our ‘new to us’ Spinnaker. This did us proud and we soon caught up to the tail enders from the 35’ and over class, whilst holding off our competition from a 50’ St Francis Catamaran. Around the corner at Swallows cave, down with the spinnaker and into the wind. This was really cool for us as we were able to stick with the monohulls, past quite a few more of them and had really good angles, which meant only one tack and on to the finish line, first multihull and third overall. Our advantage over the other multihulls was that we could point so much higher than them without losing speed.
After a couple of hours rest we got our selves organised and dressed up as pirates for the Full Moon Party. This ended up being a bit of a logistical nightmare for the organisers as they had many more people turn up than expected. The plan was for us to park our dinghies at one beach and be ferried to the Party Beach, as this was not a safe place for lots of dinghies to be due to the reef, but because of all the extras it took a lot of time for everyone to get from A to B. We were lucky as they did start putting on extra boats and picked us out of the line because of the kids. Unfortunately they were very tired even before we got there and after a quick look around decided that they wanted to leave again. We were not ready but friends of ours with younger children also needed to go so very kindly took our three as well. This was a real treat and we ended up dancing and catching up with friends until the wee small hours.
Sunday was a rest day so we slowly made our way back to Neiafu after lunch stopping at a couple of places to take our photos for extra points in our passport. On the Monday they had the tridecagonathon, which was a fun day of 13 different events including the limbo, egg toss, five legged races and pie eating competition. We didn’t take part but had a great time watching all the bribery, corruption and cheating going on between the 6 teams and the “Judges”. On the Tuesday we went to a presentation about the Humpback Whales which was really great and included some amazing video footage of these fantastic animals. That evening was the Prize Giving where we got a couple of vouchers for our efforts with our passport and our carved wooden hook for our first place in the Vava’u Cup.
All in all we had a great, but exhausting, time and I am really glad we hung around to experience it. We met lots of new people and had a great time taking part, so if any of you are thinking about being in the area next year, look up info.