Girls are not aloud to drink Kava !

Written by David Townsend

26, August 2007

Position 18°39’338S 173°59’007W

At anchor Neiafu, Vava’u Island, Kingdom of Tonga.

Hi dear friends, thank you for following my journey. Here is this week’s update.

Talitali fiefia (pronounced tah-lay-tah-lay fee-ay-fee-ah – meaning welcome) to the Kingdom of Tonga After a week at sea in the worst sea’s since entering the Pacific Ocean we arrived seven days ago at the island of Vava’u. Once here you can see why Captain Cook named Tonga the ‘Friendly Islands’.

Life Onboard:
We arrived here at 04:30hrs on Sunday morning, which is 17:30hrs local. The IDL or International Date Line runs at 180 degrees, although we are at 174 degrees Tonga wanted to be in the same day as Australia and New Zealand. So it is that I have sailed half way around the world from Greenwich, which, for me is still 0 degrees and not located in France since a few minor countries adopted UTC rather than (GMT).

The Kingdom of Tonga declares Sunday as a day of rest, therefore everything, including the airport shuts on a Sunday. The only places where locals are aloud to work are at the international hotels / resorts (this is also the only place you can swim / bath). Many locals visit these resorts early on a Sunday and spend the day there while others attend church services, which can last well into the evening.

There is also, like a few places I have visited on my travels, a strict dress code. Men, may wear shorts but must always ware a top, women must cover their knees and shoulders, no lower back tattoos, or navel piercing to be shown.

After putting on my ‘clearance’ clothes, which consist of long trousers, long sleeved shirt, shoes and socks Pinta went alongside the customs wharf early on Monday to clear in, I spent more time talking about rugby than boat topics as representatives from customs, immigration, quarantine and health departments visited one by one.

Later that day we visited some friends on a vessel called SV Shangri La, after a few beers, ok so it was a case of beer, we went ashore to the Mermaid bar which is home to the Vava’u yacht club. A nice grease burger accompanied by the odd local drink was followed by a Kava night.

Kava is a drink made from the ground up root of the Kava plant, a pepper species. Kava is not a narcotic, but it is a aesthetic and analgesic (which explains why at first you lips go numb, shortly followed by having little or no control over your tong), high in fibre (which explains why my crew was up all night, and well for the next three days was not himself), low in calories, a mild tranquillizer (which explains why you spend the next day just laying around), an antibacterial and anti fungal agent, a diuretic and appetite suppressant and a soporific.

Mana’Ia, a local bar here set up a Kava night for us, the setting was a cave located at the back of the restaurant, traditionally there are around six of you in a circle (there can be many, many circles), serving you is a young girl from the village. The girl’s heart must be free, the idea being that during the ceremony you are supposed to win her heart. I am sad to report that there was no young girls at the restaurant whose heart was free so one of the locals we have met here served, that is until another one of our new friends arrived with his girlfriend, although her heart was taken she very kindly offered to serve.

Girls are not aloud to drink Kava.

The following day we carried out repairs to Pinta (more in the next section). On Wednesday some friends turned up who are sailing SV Oasis so it was that we went ashore to the Mermaid bar for happy hour (16:00 – 18:00hrs) to welcome then to Tonga. They very kindly invited us onboard the following evening for a rather nice curry.

Although the Boat section below looks long, they are all minor repairs. I had several friends (five – six vessels) out at sea during the same period, all within a few hundred miles of me, they all suffered breakages, and / or losses. It was a tough passage for everyone.

The Boat:
Apart from the problems reported last week I noticed that a rivet had pulled out from our reefing stop on the main (this will have to wait until Fiji for I need 6mm rivet and gun to repair).

The dodger’s broken aluminium tubing;
I managed to find a small shower curtain rail, which just fitted inside the tubing. Once fitted I put in two screws below the break and two above. She seems to be strong enough for now.

The outboard engine;
I was unable to make a neat repair for the flywheel is totally knackered. I had to drill a 3mm hole through the top, then countersink the inside so to lower the level of the nut. A bolt was then placed so to retain the spring.

The Self-steering routing block;
Unable to improve on the jury rig, another job for Fiji.

The Solar panel;
The main ‘in-line’ fuse blow, the holder was corroded and fell apart. A work around was found; a proper solution will wait until Fiji.

Fair winds, calm seas.