LETTER from Eivind & Heidi _______THE PACIFIC 2
Moon Sea.
Moorea.
Captain on top.
Chart over Suwarrow.
Anchorage Island.
Reef on Anchorage Island.
3 good friends.
The Beach...
Night hunt.
Peder with the Samuela family.
Ready for the days firsth...
 
Norway against the World.
-not in Norways favour...
Diving Peder.
 
 
 
Moorea - Suwarrow - Tonga, Vava'u

Moon Sea is the romantic name on the sea between Moorea and Tahiti . More beautiful sundown than those we have watched here is hard to come to. On the chart Moorea is shaped like a heart, but the name means “yellow lizard”.
It is plenty of physical amusement possibilities at Moorea. The mountaintops are within reach for flabby sailor muscles. Snorkeling and diving is as tempting as on Tahiti . The nature encounters were unforgettable both under and above the water.

Our limited days at Moorea past to quick. After a few days on overtime we found the time right to sail on. With a beautiful trade wind from behind we hoisted our sails and headed for Palmerston, one of the Cook atolls – we thought…
A big low pressure made us head north for Suwarrow. A plan is to to be changed, and Palmerston could be reach later. That was before we knew that a few days at Suwarrow would turn into to weeks.

Thousands of seabirds, turtles and coconut crabs live at this historical strange and still mysterious atoll. Since 1978 it has been a national park. During the “sail season” from May to October ther are park keepers living at Anchorage Island . The Samuela family are guarding the atoll, Veronica and John and their four children Jeremiah (12), Jonathan (9), Tino (6) og Vanni (6). It is their third season at Suwarrow.
Every year the family is shipped out by boat from Rarotonga , along with food and supplies for half a year. If they have miscalculated they will be far from the nearest supermarket… Suwarrow is not a port of entry, but many boats come there without checking in to Cook Islands upfront. Sailors are welcome at Suwarrow Yacht Club for a cup of coffee and small talk around the big table.

When we got in eye sight of Suwarrow we were a little bit disappointed to see how many boats where at anchor there. This did not remind of “an island to onself”, ref: Tom Neal's book. We could count no less than 15 masts at Anchorage Island .
The current can be strong in the pass into the lagoon. After some slalom sailing between the coral heads we rounded Anchorage Island , Peder was the first to sight the Norwegian flag among all the other boats. When we sailed up close to see who it was a tousle morning head came up of the hatch. That was Frank who wished us welcome to Suwarrow. He is sailing together with Ingrid onboard Menja.
At Suwarrow there are only a few rules, other than common sense. All fish can be caught, but watch out for the reef shark, it can get to close. One of the roles says not to dump any food at the anchorage. That make sense, we do not want to attract even more sharks around the boats.

Peder experienced his most remarkable days at Suwarrow. Together with the other children he played the hole day on the island. The Samuela boys are used to take care of them self and each other. Peder could not have got better a better kinder garden, than exploring the life on the island together with the boys. The atmosphere and solidarity among sailors and Samuela family was special. Samuela maid Suwarrow a social place, usually the sailors gathered around the fire in the afternoon for potluck. Time passed and we realised that we had to forget about Palmerston. The days at Suwarrow we will never forget. We wished we could have stayed longer at this remarkable atoll among the Cook Islands . With palm crowns on our heads we waved melancholy goodbye to the Samuela family who followed us to the pass in their boat.

The 800nm from Suwarrow to Tonga was a fast and sometimes wet leg. It rained for hours in a row. The fish bit the hook before lunch every day. In the sunrise the fourth day we could see Vavu'u rising above the horizon.

At night the 17th of September Empire crossed the dateline. Suddenly we jumped 24 hours in time. Instead of experiencing the day as the last, we were now the first to great a new day. If we had sailed in the opposite direction we would have experienced the same day twice. The locals say that Tonga is where the day is born, or the land where the sun rises. Others again would describe Tonga as the country where time stands still…
Many boats visite Vava'u and the traffic on the fjord outside Neiafu can remind us of the Oslofjord a good summerday. When Peder was hoisted in the mast he couldn't count all the boats in the harbour. “Then I have to stay here until tomorrow…”, was what he said from the top of the mast.

The church bells can be heard all over Neiafu harbour. In Tonga the people are very religious. The average Tonga go to church three times a week and the day of rest is not to be joked with. On Sundays everything is closed.
In the narrow streets there are only few cars but plenty of pigs and hens. Some of the first we noticed in Neiafu was that both men and women is dressed with a “burlap sack” outside their western clothes. Later we learned that it is called ta'ovala and is made from pandanus leaves. The ta'ovala is used both for casual and celebration.

Suddenly one day Peder let go of the swimming ladder and said – “Look, I can swim”. After that it was hard to get him out of the water. His favourite activity was to snorkel with Dad and be thrown high up in the sky to make the biggest splash ever. Once more, Dad…
The two last weeks at Tonga was sunny and we finally got out to the islands. The islands at Vava'u reminds of mushrooms. The sea has eroded parts of the island at sea level, the land above is elevated above the surface. The vegetation is dense and lush with some palm trees stretching above the rest of the forest.

Bjørnar came to visit us at Vava'u, he got some sunny beach days before we sailed to New Zealand . Most important the prestige volleyball game Norway against “the World”. After some though hours on the beach Norway was beaten, we don't like it…
Sailors often talk about wind and weather in connection with upcoming passages. At Tonga that was no exception. From Tonga to New Zealand you can get into pretty “fresh” wind. The majority of boats has sailed for months in the steady trade winds and the crossing to New Zealand can be their first encounter with variables in a long time. It is said that you should count on at least one gale on your way down.

This time we have spent five months in the Pacific. We have chosen to see only a few places. It's not always quantity but quality that matters. With more time in fewer places we have experienced a lot. To look back at the season in the Pacific to try to decide which atoll or island we liked the most is difficult. We are not in doubt that Suwarrow is high up on our list. At Tonga Peder learned to swim. In Tahiti we dived and snorkelled in the clearest water. In Moorea we had the best hike. The pearls from Kauehi have become beautiful necklaces. The sting rays in Marquesas and all the animals in Galapagos are other good memories. What we liked the most is difficult to decide – to much have been fabulous. The only ting we are sure of is that the desire to sail more in these waters are great…

The coast of Vav'u has plenty of interesting caves. Diving in Mariners Cawe. Michael, Josh & Eivind.
A proud "driver". Team Bahati.
Sverre Erik's birthday,Neiafu.
Peders favourite activity after he had broken the code of swimming...
At a Tonga Feast with traditional dans, music and food - eaten with our fingers as a real tongaen would.
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