Thursday, September 18, 2008

Still in Vava'U

We are very saddened by the news of Hurricane Ike striking the Galveston/Houston area last weekend.  We were in a nearby anchorage and did not have internet.  Thank goodness for SSB email so we were able to receive updates from our kids.  All our family are safe but some still do not have electricity.  Aaron, our youngest son, lives NE of inner city on Lake Houston. He said they will not have electricity for probably another 2 weeks.  Hot, humid and lots of mosquitoes.  Everyone should pray for an early cold front or two.  Trey, our eldest son, lives in West University in the inner loop of SW Houston, which was on the western edge of the hurricane eyeball for a couple of hours.  Trey's house was not damaged but fence is down and trees are down.  Good thing he had recently had those huge pecan trees pruned.  The weight of all those unnecessary heavy limbs could have caused those huge trees to fall over.  Instead, they just had fallen limbs.  Until the electricity is turned back on they will have to keep the dogs inside the house -- with the doors and windows open during the day for ventilation.  It will take months to get that fence replaced because contractors will be busy on more important repairs.  Poor things -- both Trey's family and the dogs! 

The past week for us has been far less eventful.  One night we enjoyed dinner with friends who we had not seen since Bora Bora.  Went to a Tongan Feast on Ono Beach on island of Panga but had to leave before the dancing and food got started because Bill began to feel ill.  Within 15 minutes after returning back to our boat Bill felt fine again; but neither of us felt like taking the dinghy back to the beach for the feast at that point.  Didn't really matter to me because this Tongan Feast looked to be a very small affair -- nothing like the very nice Tongan Feast we attended here in 2002.  That one had great dancing by women and girls of all ages, and the men and boys performed stick war dances and fire dances.  The current feast and floor show looked to be very small and simple, with no men's dances at all.  Don't think we missed much.

We moved over to Anchorage #10 one day and took the dinghy over to Mala Island Resort.  They have a big screen projection TV and receive ESPN by satellite, so we were able to watch live Monday Night Football --- at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon local time.  Seems strange, huh?  We had not seen a football game since Super Bowl 2006, and had just recently talked about how much we would like to see a game or two.  This turned out to be a great game.  Game was Philladelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys.  Neither Bill nor I have ever been fans of the Cowboys, but since there was only one man in the place who was cheering for Dallas we decided to join him.  Couldn't leave him outnumbered like that.  Dallas won: 41 to 37, with 8 turnovers if memory serves.  Really was a good game.  We plan to return to Mala Island next Tuesday to watch the Jets vs. Chargers.  With so many California people currently cruising in this area, this should be a good time.  Think we will cheer on the Jets just to annoy the Californians.  We don't give a hoot which team wins but you can't remain neutral when watching sports on TV in a bar.

I spent the week reading cruising guides for Australia and Indonesia.  We think we now have a planned route to complete our circumnavigation.  We originally intended to visit Fiji, Vanuatu, Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and the outer islands of Papua New Guinea next year, ending up in Brisbane, Australia for 2009-2010 cyclone season.  But that has all changed because it adds a whole year to our trip.  Bill is anxious to return to the Caribbean and doesn't want to delay too long in the South Pacific, even though we both love it here.  Instead, next May we will sail from New Zealand to New Caledonia; then through the Great Barrier Reef near Mackay (north of Brisbane so as to miss the strong south-setting current).  We will then sail inside the Great Barrier Reef to Cairns to clear in, then to Gove and Darwin on the northern coast of Australia.  From Darwin we sail to Bali for a few weeks, then straight to Singapore; not planning to stop in Indonesia except for Bali.  After Singapore it is a coastal hop up the coast of Malaysia to Phuket, Thailand.  At that point we will have to decide whether to go South Africa to Caribbean or Red Sea to the Med.  We will make that decision later.

We returned to the main harbor for fresh veggies and bread and internet for 2 days.  Tomorrow we will move out to another isolated anchorage again.  We have reservations to attend a pig roast on Sunday evening.   After the football game on Tuesday we will probably again return to the main harbor; fill our propane tank; buy fresh veggies; and clear out of the Vava'U Group.

Then Wednesday or Thursday we will sail down to the Ha'apaii Group of Tonga.  I absolutely love the Vava'U Group of the Kingdom of Tonga and don't want to leave.  I could happily spend years sailing between Samoa and Tonga, but we can't do that.  It is time to start working southward.

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