December 11, 2017
Our sail across from Nuie was uneventful with light following winds and a few rain showers. We tried fishing on our way across but did not have any luck. We radioed ahead and customs, immigration, and the heath department were waiting on the dock to clear us in. Clearing into Tonga was much easier than on our last visit here and Daria for some reason did not even need a visa this time? May is the beginning of their high season here and we were only the 13th boat to clear in of the 170 or so expected boats for the season.
Steve hit the ground running and had a plane ticket bought for Saturday which could not come soon enough for this X-High seas sailor. His new dream is of a cabin firmly settled on a mountain side.
We were able to get internet at the Mango Café and had a nice dinner while sharing stories of the passage with other sailors that had arrived.
The Vavau Group is the northern most part of Tonga a country that lies roughly 200 miles north to south and consists of several island groups and hundreds of smaller islands.
The main town sits on the NW side of the harbor and looks a little shabby. The wharf is where they unload containers and supplies. Next to that is a huge shed where the vegetable market is held daily. The main staple is taro root, sweet potatoes, bananas, coconuts, and limited amounts of fresh veggies. This season's vegetables were hit hard by a recent cyclone so there was not much to choose from. Next is the local craft market where you can buy locally woven baskets ,carved whale bone necklaces and a native grass skirt Daria just had to have.
We gave away some toys and kids were very happy and we whatched them playing with them for the next few days.
If you continue walking to town there is a small fish market along the seas wall where the local fishermen have their igloo coolers full of just about anything that swims on the reef. It is kind of strange to see the colorful fish that swam with you on the reef with all their beauty laying here dead on ice.
Tongans's are very friendly people and appear to have a minimalist lifestyle. It would be hard to find a car here with out a dent in every panel or less than 100K miles on it. Saturday fills the streets with all the locals who are in town for the supply boat from New Zealand. There are several grocery stores that have their dust covered goods on cluttered shelves. There are no prices marked and I think everyone pays a little more or less the same? But I think we pay more?
We spent a little over a week in the surrounding islands with our friends Bob, Bob and Debbie on Braveheart. One of the islands we went out to was one owned by a couple Ben a& Lisa who left San Francisco 7 years ago to sail around the world and fell in love with Tonga 5 years ago and bought and island. They are in the process (a very slow one) of building a home on this little piece of tropical paradise. We all had a potluck and poker game (Bob won!) along with Kim and James off "Doin It" who also seem to have fallen in love with Tonga and are having a hard time raising the anchor to leave.
The next day Braveheart and Downtime set sail for another island and were able to dive in some calm weather. The diving here has some really good coral but lacks structure to hold fish, so we were not able to catch lunch on our dive.
We had some great dinners aboard Downtime and one night Daria made a amazing roasted leg of lamb with roasted pumpkin and potatoes. Another night Bob brought over some roasted pork and we had taco night and made fresh tortillas in the tortilla press my son Pete Jr. bought me for Christmas. Another night we had pizza night and we made one of ours first homemade pizzas. On the way in from the dive site we snagged a Skipjack tuna by the tail and had a fresh cevichi appetizer.
There are some amazing caves along the shores of these islands and we to Super Dink on an adventure to see them. We found two that we could fit into and see the limestone formations and the arched ceilings with skylights into the jungle above. Most the islands seem to just rise up from the ocean depths and have sheer walls that drop strait down hundreds of feet below the surface.
We spent a little over a week In Vavau and decided to go to our favorite part of Tonga the Haapai Group, on our way we stopped in some pretty island. More pics are here Vavau, May 2012
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December 1, 2017
September 9, 2017
Hurricane Irma is slamming the Caribbean as category 5...
Hurricane Jose as category 3 coming in couple of days...
Hurricane Katia is category 1 in the Gulf of Mexico...
The strongest earthquake 8,1 for decades hit Mexico today...
And triggering Tsunami alerts for 8 countries in Central America...
What is next?
In June, 2013 I was sailing from Palau to Philippines on Downtime, when the Captain Pedro didn't look well at weather report... I mean he did not note some strong wind, which in reality became hurricane 1 category and we lost main sail, jib, radar, autopilot and had a crack in fuel locker... So it was a lot of action and very memorable experience. Thanks again, Pete Tuls... But smooth seas don't make a good sailor!
And to be honest I would prefer be there with friends instead of sit here in St-Petersburg, Russia, all safe and just wait news and be worry... and watch all that "apocalyptic" damage...
Hurricane Irma is slamming the Caribbean as category 5 storm. Irma's recorded maximum wind speed hit 185 mph, with some gusts of wind moving as fast as 215mph.
That makes the storm one of the most powerful ever to hit the Atlantic basin.
The categories on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale are determined based on wind speed, but that's not the only element of a hurricane that causes damage. Flooding, a metric that the categories don't take into account, can often become a costly problem, as was recently seen when Hurricane Harvey flooded parts of Texas and Louisiana.
To put this year's storms into perspective, here are 5 hurricanes that topped the charts as the strongest in the history of the Atlantic Ocean, based on wind speed and pressure.
1. Hurricane Katrina - 2005 made landfall as a Category 5 with winds up to 175 mph near Miami, before striking Louisiana as a Category 3 storm. Katrina was the third deadliest hurricane in US history, with more than 1200 deaths. It caused $108 billion in damage, making it costliest hurricane the country has ever seen.
2. About 25 years ago, the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew ripped through Fl with 175-mph winds, leaving millions without power and many neighborhoods completely destroyed. The response was so problematic that it led to major changes within the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
3. Hurricane Camille formed in the Gulf of Mexico and hit Mississippi as a Category 5 storm. Camille caused more than 256 deaths and is considered one of the most intense hurricane to hit the US based on its pressure, which was measured at 900 millibars. (The more intense a hurricane is, the lower its pressure.)
4. Hurricane Carla hit Texas as a category 4 storm in 1961, causing $2.36 billion worth of damage. Its strong winds and storm surge had devastating consequences.
5. Hurricane Mitch hit Central America with 180 mph winds in 1998. The storm led to disastrous flooding in Honduras.
6. Just a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana, Hurricane Rita formed. The storm brought heavy rainfall to the state again, and hit Texas as well, causing $12 billion in damages. It's often referred to as the "forgotten storm" of the horrific 2005 season.
7. An unnamed storm that tore up the Florida Keys over Labor Day in 1935 is still considered one of the "most intense" storm in US history, based on wind speeds and pressure. The wind was so powerful it knocked a train, pictured here, off the rails as it was delivering emergency supplies.
8. Hurricane Gilbert ripped up the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico in 1988 with 185-mph winds and 888 millibars of pressure, the second-lowest recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm left destruction in Jamaica and Mexico before moving north through San Antonio, pictured here.
9. Hurricane Wilma (2005 - 185 mph) broke records at the time as the most intense hurricane ever to hit the Atlantic Ocean. It had the lowest central pressure of any hurricane in the Atlantic basin, with an estimated pressure of 882 millibars. The Category 3 storm was especially damaging to Mexico, Cuba, and Florida.
10. With max winds of 190 mph, Hurricane Allen - 1980 holds the title as the storm with the highest wind speeds in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm hit along the Mexico-US border in Texas, traveling west. Allen had the highest sustained wind speeds ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere until Hurricane Patricia formed in the Pacific in 2015 with 215-mph winds.