Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The rest of Ha'apai

Ha'apai was great. Definitely our favorite part of Tonga. The locals seemed kind of shy and didn't seem super inclined to interact with us but the underwater scenery was fantastic and we had a lot of that "out in the middle of nowhere" feeling that I kind of missed in Vavau. We saw enough of our boat friends to be entertained but not so much that we felt crowded.

Shalimar had planned to leave for New Zealand sometime around the middle of October but the anchoring incident that I wrote about in our last post hosed that plan up pretty good. It turned out that Ryan's finger was pretty badly broken. His wedding ring had apparently got snagged by the anchor chain. With the broken finger and the lack of available parts, it took several days to repair / jury rig the damage to the boat and get Shalimar ready to sail again. I helped out a little bit because I had two fully functional hands but Ryan did most of it single handed - literally. He managed to get everything functional again except the windlass (the mechanical doo-hicky that helps to raise the anchor). Shalimar has a much heavier anchor chain and anchor than Architeuthis does (which stands to reason because Shalimar weighs about twice as much) so raising the anchor without a windlass was quite a chore. Raising the anchor one handed without the windlass is nearly (but not quite) impossible so we stuck with Shalimar through most of the rest of Tonga. When it was time to leave an anchorage, I'd dinghy over to Shalimar, pull up their anchor, dinghy back to Architeuthis, pull up our anchor, and then we'd set off. It gave me some extra exercise and a new found appreciation of our much lighter chain and anchor.

Christine and I did abandon Shalimar for a couple of days to sneak off to Tungua island all by ourselves. There was a surf break near the anchorage there that we wanted to check out. We dinghied over and had look at it. It looked rideable but ti was another fast, shallow reef break. Given our isolation and the level of inconvenience that would be caused by even a minor injury we reluctantly decided to forego the surfing. The fact that we were so out of practice played into it too. We wanted to surf but it just didn't seem worth the risk with the passage to New Zealand so close. We still had a great time at Tungua. The anchorage was a little bit rolly but the beach was beautiful and completely deserted. There was a village on the island but it was on the opposite side and we didn't see any people the whole time we were there.

Ryan's finger injury did have an upside. ...for me. As we travelled across the pacific, I'd gotten more and more into spear fishing but instead of a proper spear gun, I only had a second had pole spear that didn't even have the correct band on it. Ryan, on the other hand, has a big fancy speargun. After Ryan's injury we came up with a deal where we'd swim around together and take turns with the speargun. It only takes one hand to fire it but it takes two hands to load it so I'd do the loading and we'd take turns with the shooting. Then, when Christine and I went off to Tungua island, Ryan let me take the speargun with me. My crap-tastic pole spear only has a range of about 2 or 3 feet so I was pretty limited in the types of fish I had any chance of spearing. I had a lot of fun with Ryan's speargun and managed to get some tasty fish that I hadn't been able to get anywhere near hitting with my pole spear.

I'm sure there's more I could write about Ha'apai but I'm way behind on the blog updating so I'll just suggest that you look at the pictures and read the captions.

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