Malo e lelei

Written by David Townsend

18, 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.

Malo e lelei (pronounced mah-low ay lay-lay) or hello from the Kingdom of Tonga.

Tonga suffers from frequent earth tremors, these legends have it are caused when the Polynesian goddess Havea Hikuléo moves around in her underground lair. Tongans customarily stomp the shaking ground to get her to stop whatever she’s doing down there.

Life Onboard:
Now some of you back home have been forming the idea that life is just one long party out here in the South Pacific, well your right. The night before departing Suwarrow, a small party was organised, to well, watch the sunset over another perfect Polynesian beach. There was curried cropper, BBQ parrot fish, boiled coconut crabs (a rare deliquesce), fish pasties and some world famous chilli. As the night progressed so the numbers increased for three more vessels had just arrived. After all the beer was finished, I am sad to say it was time for the rum accompanied by freshly acquired coconuts. These were duly cracked open and the coconut water used in with rum.

John, the warden, as had become the norm here now played the guitar and song Polynesian songs. The girls danced why the men drunk rum. It seemed to be a good compromise, indeed as life should be. We departed at around 23:40hrs for we had to depart with clear heads in the morning, the remaining partied on until 04:30hrs.

In the morning, Kip and Denies (SV Adelia)came to pick us up, we proceeded ashore to say our farewells. I left some books and pencils for the children. John and his wife, Veronica had tears in their eyes as we said our ‘alu a (pronounced ah-loo ah) good byes.

Shortly after SV Adelia and Pinta were sailing among the reefs on the way out of the atoll, this was an ideal photo opportunity, so we took photos of them under sail; they likewise took photos of us. Them it was time for them to head northwest towards American Soma, while we headed WSW for Tonga, via Niue weather permitting.

On day two of the passage I caught my first barracuda, around 20lb in weight and taste great, however bye day three the weather deteriorated with winds reaching almost 40kn and seas building. We were on a beam reach sailing towards Niue however with these seas Pinta was taking a pounding, that night, wearing lifejackets and clipping on we tried to maintain our heading but after being hit by wave with such force; i.e. My sunglasses normally at night hang over the GPS, this is located on top of the Port shelf by the navigation station, they ended up flying across and landing nearly in the same shelf on the Starboard side. Likewise with a torch I keep near my bunk, flowing horizontally across the boat. Pinta did not move when the wave hit us but she absorbed the energy stored within and transferred it to everything onboard.

The Boat:
This passage has been rather hard on Pinta, or should I say the sea has been. As mentioned above we had an interesting beam sea. This put a lot of pressure on equipment, being pounded wave after wave for 24 hours. A stainless steel fixture used to secure a block, which in turn was being used to route one of the steering lines from the self steering gear failed. It took me some 20 minutes to jury rig a replacement system using rope to secure the first block to the base of the radar post, the second block about 70cm higher on the same post. This was used so to clear the cockpit. A third block was then secured by forming a ‘pyramid’ arrangement by securing one end of some rope to the life line securing point (just forward of the genoa sheet winch), about 33cm along the rope I tied an eye, then from there leading aft to the Starboard cleat, taking just one turn then up to the mid aft rail, then back down to the eye.

The rope eye not only formed a purchase to which to tighten the rope but also attached the last block, this fed the steering line at the correct angle to fix back onto the self steering wheel, which itself is attached to the centre of the ships wheel.

The next failure was on the dodger, one of the tubing broke in half, I fixed a spare peace of tubing alongside acting as a splint if you like.

The most serious failure / loss was that of the fishing line, and my last ‘big’ fish lure. This was completely washed away.

The outboard engine failed on our last day in Suwarrow, a broken flywheel fitting. I will attempt a running repair now that we are in port.

Fair winds, calm seas.