Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Culture shocks, terrible cars, the King, plans to head west and worried about Stormvogel

We're planning to set sail for Fiji tomorrow so this is our last full day in Tonga. We'll miss the place, actually, having got used to its slightly chaotic ways and having met some really nice people but we're looking forward to seeing Fiji. We'll be heading to Savusavu on the eastern of the two big islands, Vanua Levu; it's just over 400 miles from here so we'll leave around lunchtime tomorrow (Tuesday) and aim to arrive on Friday morning.

A few last photos of Vava'u to illustrate some of the quirky aspects of life here:

A P&O cruise ship arrived for a day last week so the town was suddenly full of pale-faced, perspiring overweight tourists who looked uncomfortably out of place. 

2000 passengers arrive in Neiafu
But some stayed aboard to watch the football!

No doubt the visitor were as entertained as we are by the wide array of fine sporting motorcars on the streets.

Held together with duck tape!

A small chip in the windscreen 
A secure boot
Since the ship left, the tempo of life has suddenly increased here. There's a big church conference over then next few days so about a thousand people have arrived from other Pacific islands and from as far away as the USA. We keep meeting little groups of ernest-looking God-botherers in matching polo shirts with catchy logos such as "Tonga Mission 2014" as they crowd into the internet cafes in search of a signal from above. The most exciting aspect of this very exciting event has been the arrival of the King of Tonga.
The roads were swept and bunting put out and a slightly rickety archway has been constructed over the main street in Neiafu with a welcome banner for His Majesty. With typical Tongan efficiency, it was completed the day after his arrival but he's here for ten days so will get to enjoy it. We were walking towards it on Sunday morning when the royal motorcade swept past:

The royal 4x4
Must be the King!

We'll try post an update or two from sea but, finally, our thoughts are with Peter & Heidi aboard Stormvogel. They reported on this morning's SSB radio net that they have a serious problem; last night they found water leaking in from the axle of their lifting keel and it seems one of the bearings (newly-fitted in New Zealand) has broken and there was a lot of water sloshing about in the bliges. At one stage they issued a Mayday emergency call but have now withdrawn that, having managed to reduce the water flow to a rate that they can keep up with using their bilge pumps. Thankfully they have 2 other boats, a sailing yacht called Oda and a motor yacht called Southern Star, standing close by with them and they have a call every 2 hours from the Australian rescue centre to check on their progress. Stormvogel has about 800 miles to run to Cairns in Australia so we hope that they can keep on top of the leak until then. We'll update this blog with their news as we get it.

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