Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Eve on Great Barrier Island

It is 2013 in New Zealand and New Years Eve was one for the books. I moved Ladybug from Kiwiriki Bay to Kaiarara Bay so that I could access the hiking trail to an historical Kauri logging dam. It took two trips across the bay in the dinghy to find the trail head, which is located at Bushes Beach. Liz and George had told me that many thousands of dollars have been spent on trail upgrades, but I was still surprised at how 'flash' (as the Kiwis say) this trail is. From the picnic site at the beach, the trail rises gently - a full gravel path with a drainage ditch running its length. At intervals, pipes drain water in the main ditch under the trail, and sluices take care of surface run-off. Where the trail passes through wetlands there are beautifully built boardwalks and where it crosses creeks or river valleys, both fixed and suspension bridges. Most of the work is new and to a very high standard, using either stainless or galvanized hardware and plenty of treated wood.

From the beach, the trail runs along the side of a hill above the estuary, eventually dropping down to the river, which it follows first to the Kaiareara hut and then over a suspension bridge and up to a logging dam. The damn was built by lumber men in the early twentieth century to bring down the huge Kauri logs that used to cover these 2000 foot hills. Kauri trees can live for close to 2000 years and can grow to yards in diameter. The logs were floated in the ponds that resulted from the dam. When enough were gathered, a portion of the damn was suddenly released to allow a cascade of log-filled water to plunge down the mountainside.

Past the dam the trail steepened, ascending over 1000 stairs to reach the highest point on Great Barrier Island, the summit of Mount Hobson (Hirakimata in Maori). The visibility was quite good and it was possible to get a good feel for the overall shape of the island and the location of its bays, settlements, and beaches. Later, looking at a map, I saw that the hike I was on was just a tiny part of the extensive trail network that criss-crosses the Great Barrier Forest. You could spend weeks here just on the major hiking trails and forest roads.

I met some sailors who were also hiking the trail and they suggested an alternative route down that was more gentle and passed by a hut just under the summit. We descended to what proved to be a superb 'hut', with running water and gas stove tops. Two bunk rooms led off the main cooking and dining area and we enjoyed views through picture windows back out over the valley from which we had climbed. We had lunch here, sheltered from the chilly ridge-top wind. After a brief rest, I refilled my drinking bottles from the rain water cistern and followed my new friends down the trail. This led through a forest of red-tinged ferns and blosomming tea-trees and out and along the rim of a giant bowl. The views on the descent were remarkable, looking back across what may have been an ancient volcanic caldera. Rani will really enjoy this hike and I have told her to bring tea bags and dried milk to make a cuppa at the hut.

Back at the beach, the sailors I had been hiking with invited me to join them ashore later for a New Years Eve celebration. I took a refreshing swim, rinsed off, made a batch of Burfi - an Indian sweet - and went ashore to see in the New Year. We stood around a beach fire talking about life and our plans for the next year and drinking too much, and generally doing what people do at New Years.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A hike on Great Barrier Island

To celebrate the apparently successful leak fix, I decided to move over to the next harbour over, where there is better access to one of the island's many hiking trails. I am now anchored at the entrance to Kiwiriki Bay, between an off-lying island, which is little more than a tree covered rock, and a most beautiful tree-lined shoreline on my other side. The shore is fringed by the red blossoming 'Christmas Trees' - Putukaua, I believe they are named (although I am no doubt spelling this wrong) as well as Tea trees, which are also blossoming. The bird song in the small bay just to the east is remarkably varied and I spent 15 minutes just floating there and listening in the dinghy on my way to shore.

The hike to Mount Young (it also has a Maori name, which I cannot recall) begins at a beach near the head of navigation in the bay. It follows the bay to the mouth of a river and then winds along this river valley, crossing the stream once via a narrow ford. Tree ferns as tall as 30 feet and Tea trees shade the trail and give it a jungle feeling. Eventually the path leaves the river valley and scales the side of a hill, with little thought to erosion. A few switch-backs would have made this section much easier to climb and saved the trail from destruction. The soil here is a reddish clay and prone to washing away. It was also very slippy after all the recent rains.

I met a family on their way back down who were off one of the smaller sailboats anchored at Kiwiriki. They had set out to reach Mount Young, but found the going too rough carrying a very young baby as well as a 3 year old girl. I admired them for tackling even the first section of this hike with young children. The baby seemed quite taken by the whole experience, but her older sister was obviously bored.

A little further on I met an older couple, Liz and George, who told me they are training for a hike to Everest base camp in May. As we walked together, they told me that this year will be the 60th anniversary of New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hillary's ascent of Everest. A friend of their's, who is Hillary's niece, will be there for some sort of commemorative celebration later in the year. Liz and George are on a 42 foot Beneteau sailboat anchored a few harbours over from our anchorage. It is interesting how it is mainly the sail boaters who are the hikers. There are loads of power boaters here, but they seem to prefer fishing to hiking in general.

As the trail left the river valley, the flora changed to an attractive open mix of deciduous and coniferous trees - all second growth. Liz pointed out some young Kauri trees (valuable timber now protected and used mainly for fine woodworking and boat building). She also showed me a conifer whose male version has rough needles while the female is smooth to the touch. Reindeer moss appeared in quantity along each side of the path - a sign of a very healthy ecosystem, I have been told.

At a road intersection, I said goodbye to my hiking companions and wished them luck on their trip to base camp. A spur climbed quickly from here to the base of Mount Young's summit and the rest of the path was other rock. The views at the top were amazing - all the more so because most of the trail had been in the woods with only a few sections where there was any view. Mount Young, at 371 meters gives 360 degree views around the island and I could see beaches with smashing surf on the outside and the Coromandel Peninsula guarding the Hauraki Gulf to the south.

The forests in New Zealand are remarkably beautiful. I was told that New Zealand is very much like BC, Canada, but the forests in the north are quite different from those of BC - with a pleasing blend of textures and colours and a slightly tropical feel.

The trip down was much quicker, although I had to be very careful not to slip on the stretches of slick clay where the path must become a river when it rains. This is one place that a good hiking pole or stick would be invaluable!

Back at the boat, I dived in to wash off the sweat and scrubbed off 6 weeks of growth along the waterline. I also found a healthy coating of barnacles on the propeller, which would explain my slow trip between the bays.

I like this island, now that the sun has come out and the boat is no longer doing its best impression of a sieve. I think I may stay here until next year, although by New Years Eve, I have been told there may be as many as 500 boats in this bay! It seems unbelievable, because the place looks crowded to me now with only 30 boats...

Leaks and underwater epoxy

For the second time, I dismembered the aft starboard side of the boat to try to determine where a persistent leak was coming from. In modern fiberglass boats, keeping salt-water from entering the hull is relatively easy, but keeping rain or salt spray from getting below from the deck area is much more difficult. The hull on our boat is almost seamless. It was made in two halves which were joined down the middle - 'welded' together by resin and glass fibers. The deck, while also in one piece is pierced in hundreds of places by fasteners, windows, and hatches. One area that I had not had any issues with until now is the join between the hull and the deck. This is a flange, strongly through-bolted and bedded in a flexible compound. However it turns out that this is where the current leak was located.

Fortunately on our boat it is possible to remove panels from overhead. The Coast 34's were manufactured in one yard and sometimes fitted out - that is, they had their rigging, sails, and interiors completed, elsewhere. Unlike many mass-produced boats, the Coasts do not have a moulded interior liner, which would have made getting at the hull to deck joint virtually impossible without major surgery to the interior. Instead, I had to remove the single sideband and VHF radios, the GPS, release some wiring from its ties, and unfasten the wooden panel into which the electrical panel and radio are mounted. This allowed me to slide out one ceiling panel, which lies over the navigation station. The other panel over the quarter berth requires only removal of trim pieces and some electronic wire fasteners.

Once the panels were out, I could see that the re-bedding of the genoa track had not fixed the leak. When I had last done this, it had not been raining and I had foolishly assumed that water was getting in through the track, based on a pattern of wetness on the ceiling panels and from where it ran down the sides of the quarter berth area. I should have tested this with a bucket or two of water, but I was impatient. In fact, the work I did on the track only made things worse and I ended up re-bedding a couple of bolts in the track that I had not bedded adequately.

The real culprit turned out to be an area where the hull to deck flange was broken up by a moulded in scupper. The scupper is what drains the deck water outside and there is only one on each side. At this point the flange is not continuous and I saw patches of improperly bonded fiberglass on either side of the scupper. Either someone had tried to fix this leak before or the original glassing job was not adequate and had gradually lifted away from the hull. I could see that water was leaking from a small gap behind one of these patches where the hull and deck came together.

The fix I carried out was to cut away all loosely bonded fiberglass with large and small chisels and remove the excess sealant in this area. It would have been nice to use a small grinding wheel to really clean up the surface, but the access was too small for the smallest wheel I had as a drill attachment. This is where a Dremel type tool would have been useful. I then cleaned up the area with solvent and mixed two batches of two part underwater epoxy, which I applied and worked into the gap with a Popsicle stick and my fingers. Ordinary white vinegar can be used to clean up epoxy before it cures - very useful when your fingers are covered in the stuff.

Ideally, I would have waited for the area to dry more completely and used regular epoxy with fiberglass reinforcement. However, given the weather forecast for the next week, I would be stuck here waiting for at least that long with no guarantee I would have better conditions in the following weeks. Underwater epoxy allowed me to make a proper bond in the presence of moisture. This stuff has saved my butt (and my boat) a couple of times before and was also invaluable in repairing 'C'est La Vie' after she went on the reef in Samoa. I have applied it underwater to a damaged rudder and one of our friends applied it to underwater holes up to one inch in diameter on C'est La Vie's hull. Highly recommended for you boating toolkit.

Knock on wood, my repairs seem to be water-tight. It is now raining outside and I see no signs of water dribbling over the back of the radios or into the quarter-berth! Hooray!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas at Great Barrier Island

I am anchored in lovely Wairahi Bay on Great Barrier Island. My friends, Mike and Karen, on 'Chapter 2' are anchored nearby and we are spending Christmas here together.

The passage from the North Island of New Zealand was slow but mostly pleasant. The wind died down around 1 am and swung into the SE and I tacked slowly out to the island, putting in a couple of extra tacks to avoid one end of Little Barrier Island. A 3/4 moon helped light the way and later when it set, my wake kicked up alarmingly bright jets of phosphorescence. Overnight sailing on your own is made difficult by the temptation to sleep. I took short naps starting around 5 am with the alarm clock set to wake me every 15-20 minutes. It was a good thing I did keep a watch as a freighter inbound for Auckland passed within 1/2 a mile of us around 2 am.

I dropped the hook first in Kiwiriki Bay around 8 am, having first looked into all but one of the inlets of Port Fitzroy for my friends on 'Chapter 2'. We had provisionally agreed to meet here for Christmas, but I had not received a confirmation from them and my last email to them had mentioned I would likely stay in McCleod's Bay. However, after I anchored, I tried a call on the VHF and they answered right away. They were anchored around less than a kilometer away, just out of sight of my casual reconnaissance. I pulled up the hook and slipped around the corner to Wairahi Bay.

Later that day I rowed ashore and hiked up the hill following a cow path. The trail came out on a 4WD road, which led to pastures on the south side of the island looking back towards Little Barrier Island. Much of the land here is over-grazed, with poor sandy soil that erodes easily when stripped of its natural vegetation. Several hundred acres of pasture appeared to support only a few cattle. I walked along the rugged south coast - fringed by sea cliffs, pebble beaches, and dotted with crimson flowering 'Christmas Trees'. The coastal trail ended at a pebble beach where a lone kayaker was camped, presumably enjoying a reclusive Christmas. He answered my greetings with a "How are you going?" (a common New Zealand greeting) and disappeared immediately into his tent. I found another road leading up from the beach that, by pure luck, led directly back to the pasture above my dinghy landing.

The rain began the next day as the remains of cyclone Evan passed overhead, My re-caulking job on the genoa track began to leak worse than it had before I made the repair and so far I have gone through 3 towels trying to stem the flow. Hopefully the rain will abate on Boxing Day and I can locate and caulk the leaks.

Christmas Eve was blustery and wet, but I prepared a dinner of Chicken and vegetable crepes, herbed rice, and a Greek salad which I shared with Mike and Karen. Today - Christmas Day - I spent most of the day on board 'Chapter 2', first enjoying champagne and smoked salmon for breakfast and later roast lamb and all the trimmings for dinner, topped off with a light repast of cheeses and port in the evening. In between all the fine dining, we watched a movie and discussed our plans for the next few years. I wish Rani could have been here to share this wonderful day, although she would not have been impressed by how far I have fallen off the wagon as a vegetarian!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tempting Fate

Well it is Dec 21, 2012 - the day the world is supposed to end, at least by some accounts. However, I was recently informed that while the Mayan calendar ends today, in fact, it just rolls over and starts at the beginning. So all those 5 year plans we made back in 2007 in anticipation of this being the last day may need to be re-thought...

It is also a Friday (here on the west side of the date line), so the fact that I have left on a trip out to Great Barrier island could be seen as tempting fate in two ways. I guess if the world is going to end today, I might as well be sailing, doing something I enjoy, when it happens...

I had planned to lay low in McCleod Bay, but the weather is better than expected and my friends Jo and Rob have their own plans for Christmas, so rather than be a third wheel, I figured I would make tracks. It feels great to be on the ocean again. There is a long slow swell moving Ladybug in a gentle rhythmic roll and the wind is a perfect light North Easter. I left on the afternoon ebb tide and will make an overnight passage. I will probably heave to until dawn rather than try to anchor in the moonlight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas

Rani and I wish all our blog readers a very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2013.

Rani is visiting her family and friends in England and I am still moored in McCleod's Bay. I have been having a lot of fun visiting with Jo and Rob off 'Blue Moon' who have a place overlooking this bay as well as with Holger and Roz, from 'Melody' who split their time between their boat on a mooring in Russell and an off-the-grid farm a little inland from here.

I had hoped to go out to the nearby islands for Christmas, but the forecasters are calling for a week of wet and windy weather. There is a cyclone in the area (the same one that hammered Samoa and Fiji) so I will probably stay put for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Manta Ray video from Suwarrow

The following video is from our friends Johanne and Camilla of s/v Flow. It is a beautiful montage of videography and still photos taken while the girls were free diving with the manta rays in Suwarrow. The mantas are incredibly graceful creatures, an illusion of birds flying under water.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Suwarrow Pictures

We are finally getting around to posting some pictures from our delightful stay at Suwarrow.  More information can be found in earlier posts. The pictures below are from pot-lucks, a bird-watching trip, and swimming with mantas.

Anchorage at Suwarrow - Anchorage Island

Harry and Ants (Anthony) at the Caretaker's Lodge

Ants and Harry cook in a separate shelter. Because they had no propane , they were using a cement oven and fires for cooking. The Cook Island authorities messed up their food delivery, leaving them without half of their groceries, so the yachties tried to help out with potlucks and invitations for meals on board.

Wine tasting on the beach - Chris at the bar with John and Pat of  s/v The Rose

Typical pot-luck on the beach
Great singing and strumming from Tom of s/v Barraka and friends

Harry was a professional musician in New Zealand. He played us traditional cook island melodies as well as more recent tunes.

Both Ants and Harry gave the cruisers a talk on their culture and history.

Statue of Tom Neal who lived on Suwarrow alone for many years.
Rainbow over Barraka

Damawhil - The mega-yacht that we visited. Note the scale with the very small crew-member on the foredeck.
Nesting booby

We think this is a tropic bird chick

Frigate bird colony

Baby Frigate and what we think is a mother bird

Immature Frigate Bird
Manta approaching cleaning station (photo courtesy s/v Victory)

Rani diving down to get a closer look (photo courtesy of Jan Bart s/v Victory)

"If only I could be as graceful"- Rani


Ladybug and I made it into McCleods Bay near Whangerei and we are now moored to a mooring that Rob and Jo, cruising friends from 'Blue Moon' whom we met way back in 2008 in Mexico, have let us use. Jo is a Canadian and works here as a personal trainer and Yoga teacher, while Rob, a New Zealander, is running the construction project for their new home and fitness studio/retreat. They are both in the thick of the building process and seem a little frazzled from dealing with the paperwork as well as all the subcontractors.

The trip from Wooley's Bay where I ended up the night before (just shy of Tutukaka) was done in two lovely tacks. The first tack was for three hours way offshore to the 'Poor Knights' islands (a world class diving destination, I am told). The second brought me all the way in to Bream Head at the mouth of Whangerei Bay. The winds died down as I reached the head of the bay but I was just able to catch the end of the flood and then slack tide and tack up the estuary nearly into McCleods Bay.

McCleod's Bay has an interesting history for me, being a Nova Scotian. The settlers here were Nova Scotians - Scotts from Cape Breton, who emigrated to Australia and then New Zealand before finding a good place to re-settle. I must say I do not blame them for leaving Nova Scotia as you can grow darn tasty grapefruit and oranges here, not to mention raise cattle and sheep without dealing with harsh winters and rocky soil.

I have started buying camping equipment and researching hikes in preparation for Rani's return. The local area has half a dozen coastal, mountain, river, and ridge walks that I will try in the next few weeks. I will also work on Ladybug's deck leaks and arrange to have the anchor chain regalvanized, although I hear that I may have to wait until after Christmas for the latter project.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Whangamumu and Tutukaka

Ladybug departed Opua yesterday after a brief stop to re-water at the fuel dock. As we left, 'Picara' with Mike and Marnie on board pulled in to the quarantine wharf. I believe 'Picara' is the last of our friends in the 'third fleet' to arrive safely in New Zealand from Tonga. 'Legacy', 'Beau Soleil', and 'Gato Go' had come in a day or two earlier. It was good to see them and say hello, though only for a minute, as no one is allowed on the quarantine dock except new arrivals from offshore.

The heavy winds had departed when the low moved off to the southeast and only a few dark clouds remained to remind me of the rather unpleasant few days we had just gone through. Ladybug motored down the Veronica Channel on the last of the ebb and we hoisted sail off Russell, where a very light westerly wind was blowing onshore. As we sailed through the Bay of Islands, the wind remained light and shifty, making progress slow. But I did not mind in the least.

The scenery in the Bay of Islands is stunning - picture some of the best hill walking in England combined with ocean views, sandy beaches, and precipitous drop-offs. I am really looking forward to exploring this area with Rani. Because much of it is in nature reserves, it is both protected and accessible. Hiking trails ring many islands and there are ridge walks out to the points.

An ex-America's cup boat, now under day charter, motored out of Opua behind us. She put up her massive sails and was fast gaining on us when the wind died. She got tired of the slow progress and motored past. We came up next on a robust steel ketch, painted Ladybug-red, jigging along under jib and mizzen. Flying more sail, we were soon past her and entering Albert Channel, bound for Cape Brett. I was sorely tempted to stop for a day in one of the many sheltered coves amongst these islands, but Whangerei beckoned and I hoped to catch the last day of a sale on camping gear in town on Tuesday.

The open ocean swell sets into the mouth of Albert channel and bounces around, after reflecting off cliffs, blow holes, and sea caves. We made slow progress until the wind shifted into the north and allowed us to harden in the sheets and beat directly for the cape. I decided to pass close by Cape Brett, inside of two off-lying islands. The lighthouse and buildings at the cape hang precariously to the sides of a very steep hill. The light itself has a short tower with a large light perched on top. It was this welcoming beacon we had watched for hours during the night of our approach to New Zealand.

The wind died out past the cape and after bouncing around for an hour, I decided to call it a day and motored into Whangamumu harbour. This is a lovely almost landlocked harbour with the ruins of a 1930's whaling station. The hills are full of bird song and inviting paths criss-cross open fields. I had been told this is a popular place with local cruisers, but it must still be early in the season, for there were only a couple of boats here when I dropped the hook.

When the wind re-appears, I plan to head south another 25 or 30 miles to the delightfully named Tutukaka harbour, which has a marina and good anchorages, about half way to Whangerei harbour.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Things that go bump

I ordered new life lines a few days ago from Cater Marine here in Opua. Their quote was quite reasonable and quite a bit lower than the competition. The old life lines were probably installed in the late 1990's and two had already broken in the last few years - one at the swage and the other right in the middle. The new life lines are uncoated stainless steel as is the recommended approach these days (easier to inspect and does not trap moisture). I had them use the more flexible 7 X 19 wire rope, which I hope will be more forgiving of flexing and last longer than the more rigid and slightly stronger 1 X 19 wire. One slight correction is needed to the life line that replaced the one that broke. I did not take in the pieces, but assumed that it would be the same as the one on the other side. However, the sides are a bit different in length, so I need them to shorten this one by a couple of inches. The total cost with a couple of new turnbuckles and 18 swages will actually end up less than what I paid to have the same job done in Canada in 2007 on the smaller Cal 29 - around 400 Canadian dollars. Note that this does not include the two gates and one short lifeline I had done in Canada last year, but the costs are not all that different.

The new solar panel mounts are made of stainless tube with clamp on fittings to fasten them to the stanchions and pushpit (tubing at the stern of the boat). Using fittings saved on the labour to cut and weld the bars on the boat, which was estimated at between $300 and $600.

We had some excitement this afternoon when the large catamaran, 'Gato Go' swung into Ladybug and bumped a few times along our bow today while her owners were on shore. I was down below when I heard the bumping and ran to the foredeck where I fended her off until she slipped away and drifted over towards another boat. We are anchored at the confluence of two tidal rivers, which occasionally produces strange gyrations at slack tide. 'Gatto Go' had arrived here yesterday and had swung a bit close during the previous afternoon before but Craig had pulled in some chain and thought things would be ok.

To make matters more interesting, our other near neighbour, 'Alouette', who had also anchored near us the day before, swung within 10 feet of us on the other side. I put out a call for the owners of the two boats on the VHF and another cruiser off Papillon motored over to help fend off 'Alouette'. Eventually Craig and Bruce showed up and were kind enough to move 'Gatto Go' up the river a ways. Alouette's owners showed up much later and they agreed to shorten scope. Everyone was very nice about this and there is no visible damage from the bump-bump.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Opua and Whangerei

Ladybug is still at anchor in Opua off the marina. Rani flew home to the UK a couple of days ago and is currently in Dubai doing some sight-seeing on route. I guess she did not get her fill of travelling in the last 8 months!

I am working on  much needed boat projects including replacing the life lines (one of which broke on a recent passage) and upgrading our solar panel installation from lashed on broom handles to stainless steel tubing. There are a dozen smaller projects as well as the unpleasant task of re-bedding our leaking genoa track, which requires much dismantling below decks to reach all bolts that go through the deck.

I plan to sail down to Whangerei where our friends Jo and Rob off 'Blue Moon' are building a health retreat. They have offered me the use of a mooring beside their boat in McCleod Bay. I will visit with them and do work in the boat there before heading out to the islands nearer to Christmas.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pictures from Vava'u

Some pictures from our stay in the delightful island group of Vava'u, Tonga. We stayed in a dozen anchorages throughout these islands for about 7 weeks.

Peaceful anchorage off Nuku island

Vines in the forest. We found a great walk across Vaka 'eitu island to a private surf-washed beach.

Blue Linckia Sea Star on the reef at Euakafa island

Beach walk at Euakafa island

Village walk - Ofu island

Little girls threading Plumeria flowers to make sweet scented leis at Ofu Island

A co-operative group weaving pandanus mats at Ofu Island

Children on the main road on Ofu island.  

Gathering fallen mangoes while hiking on Ofu

Typical fishing boat - Ofu island

On the veranda at the Aquarium restaurant in Neiafu, celebrating Rani's 50th

Brad and Gloria off 'Kindred Spirit' helped us celebrate Rani's 50th in Neiafu

Chris, Marni, and Mike (from 'Picara') watch the surf between Kenutu and Lolo islands

Sea weed at Kenutu island

Shells at Kenutu island

Corals at Lolo island

Tree house on Kenutu

View from the south end of Kenutu

Karen from 'Chapter 2' ready to enter Swallow's Cave

Swallow's Cave with genuine Tongan graffiti (some dating to the 19th century)

Chris, Rani, andd Mike from 'Chapter 2' in  Swallow's Cave - thanks to 'Chapter 2' for the pictures of Swallow's Cave.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pictures from Niuatoputapu

These photos were taken on Niuatoputapu, the most northern of Tonga's islands:

Chris walking in the old village of Falehau with Doug off 'Long Shot II' and Brad and Linda from 'Lark' . Note the pig and horse grazing on the lawns. If you want to keep livestock away, you fence them out, not in...

Horse, 'Long Shot II', and the volcanic cone of Tafahi

Pigs outnumbered the horses and probably humans as well.

Graves were decorated with piles of crushed corals and beautiful hand-sewn quilts

Health nurse, Monica, and her sister. We dunked Monica when she boarded our tender for the return trip to shore.

Pigs are ubiquitous.

Chris seems excited by the fresh baked bread we found in the main village. It was sold from a tiny house that was incredibly hard to find.

Picnic lunch on the beach with the good folks from'Long Shot II' - Sue, Saylor,  Riley, and Charlie (behind).

Hiking to Tafahi - actually across the mouth of a channel as Tafahi is 5 miles away across deep water.

Check out the amazing shell we found.

Woman and child gather up pandanus leaves that had been soaking on the tidal flats. 

Mormon elders Jenkins and Muffe

Kids in Falehau jump for Rani

Cruiser enjoy a traditional dinner hosted by Sia and Nico.

Sia prepares a small pig - the head has already been given to one of the Tongan guests

Traditional outrigger dug-out canoe

Drying kava roots - the drug of choice for any occasion of importance. It is grown on the sides of the nearby volcanic island and then dried and pounded into a powder prior to soaking it to make kava.

Mormon elders hanging out with a friend. The local thatched buildings are almost all gone after the last tsunami went through these islands.

We were fortunate to witness an inter-village rugby tournament, won by 'our' village of Falehau

The Tongans are very religious, beginning each match with prayers.

Chris playing his own verison of rugby with local kids

Chris's team

New village of Falehau located uphill and away from Tsunami prone low lands.

Kids in the elementary school show us their Spam tin ukes.

Weaving pandanus mats. This is done in groups and can take several days to complete a large mat between several women. Notice the empty can of spam that was lunch!