Monday, October 29, 2012

Tapana part 2

The anchorage at Tapana (#11 on the Moorings charts - S 18 42.5 W 173 59.2) is most things one would want in an anchorage. Good shelter, a bay in which you can sail a small dinghy on flat waters but with good breezes, sand beaches, some snorkeling, access to Neaifu, about 5 kms away by paved road, a nearby (Spanish) restaurant, and good holding in sand.

An American couple has operated a floating art gallery here on a little houseboat, along with 9 moorings that you can hire if you would rather not anchor. This operation is now for sale as the couple has decided to retire. I hope for the sake of the cruisers, who use these moorings as a hurricane-safe place for their boats, that someone buys the operation and keeps up the moorings.

Going ashore on Ano beach, you can scramble up a cliff to the right of the beach and hike through tall grasses to a dirt tractor road that runs along the peninsula of the main island. The road takes you through small plantations of coconut, mango, taro, potatoes, and pineapples. We even saw a garden with tomatoes and pepper plants. Many of the mangos were picked for shipping to the capital last week, but there were still enough wind-falls left to make another batch of mango chutney yesterday.

To some New Zealanders, Tonga serves the same purpose as Mexico does to a west coast Canadian cruiser. It is a wintering place where you can pretty well be guaranteed good weather and warm waters while it is wet and cold at home. One of our neighbors, Mike, lives here 6 months of the year and spends the other 6 in New Zealand. He is actually a Scott from near Aberdeen, but is retired and has been living this lifestyle for 5 or 6 years. He lives on a 40 foot plywood/glass boat that has 800 liters of water tankage - enough to last him for several months without refill. Our other neighbors here are also on their way back to New Zealand. They sail a similar boat to Ladybug - a 32 foot double ended WestSail. This year, one of the owners sailed her solo non-stop from New Zealand to Victoria, BC - our home port. This was about a 60 day passage! He sailed due north from New Zealand to somewhere around Midway island (about 1000 miles west of Hawaii) and then turned and sailed for Juan de Fuca. His wife, sensibly, flew across and after the season in BC they turned around and sailed her back to Tonga. This makes our passages look puny by comparison.

We are now waiting for some wind to sail south - probably around the end of this week.

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