Thursday, September 27, 2012

Swimming with Swine

Our check in with customs, immigration, and quarantine was a bit of a debacle. We initially anchored at the wharf, but the officials did not come that day. When they did arrive, we had anchored off and had to row our small dinghy in and ferry them out to Ladybug. The two women were in formal long skirts and did not have an easy time getting in and out of our dinghy. Still, we had a nice chat with them on board where we served them cookies, coffee, and tea.

When it came time to leave, however, I did not do a good job of holding the dinghy as the nurse, Monica, boarded. She hung onto Ladybug while the dinghy slipped out from under her and then fell face first into the water. This did not improve her mood. We fished her out using the stern ladder and help from the quarantine officer. I poured a container of fresh water over her while Rani fetched a towel. I then rowed her ashore, apologizing profusely for the incident. We have since visited with Monica at the clinic and brought her a jar of home-made mango chutney by way of apology. Rani told her that my Mum had a similar incident on another boat I had owned and has refused to go near any of my more recent boats. Monica thought this a most sensible course.

Niutoua spring is in the village of Hihifo. Slightly sulfurous, it has lovely clear water in which a sizeable number of fish make their home. The local horses graze on its banks and the first time we visited, a pig joined us at the shallow end for a nice wallow. The spring is located near beaches and a smaller island that can be explored by wading across a shallow channel. We visited the spring twice - once on our own and once with our friends on Long Shot II. Long Shot II is home to a family from Victoria BC - 2 boys - Charlie 13 and Riley 11 and a girl named Saylor (5 1/2). Their parents Doug and Susan are a lovely, warm couple who came ashore to help us tie up when we arrived and have been generous in their hospitality since then. It has been really fun spending time with this family who can make any outing into an adventure.

Near the spring is a bakery. It's location is almost impossible to describe - down a small path through someone's yard and through another yard where a ramshackle bungalow sits under a gigantic mango tree. There are no signs and the house looks completely private, so we had to ask a local for assistance despite having the above directions. The bread however is very good, despite being without salt or sweetener of any kind.

We hiked yesterday across the island to the outer reef where a large swell was smashing itself against the reef edge. The breakers were impressive and the beach - miles of white sand - completely deserted. The only thing to mar the scenery was the extensive plastic debris washed up on the beach and lining the plantation road along which we approached the shore. Disposing of plastics and other long-lived garbage on these islands is a problem and we will pack all of ours off to somewhere that has a landfill or incinerator.

We will check out tomorrow and sail south towards Vava'u over the weekend.

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