Daily Ramblings - Wednesday, October 29th to Saturday, November 8th

With great anticipation we greeted Bruce and Augusta Droste, Andy Modell, Rebecca Doane and John Sweeney at the Vava’u airport.  Special friends from the Aspen valley, they brought the promise of a week filled with laughter, politics, diving and fun filled conversation.  We were not disappointed.

Originally planned for a week in Fiji, we surprised them with commuter flight tickets to Vava’u through Nuku’alofa.  Fiji receives hundreds of thousands of tourists each year…Vava’u, less than ten thousand.  The diving and fishing are under explored and exploited…the Tongans and ex-pats, our new found friends, a total joy.

What a week of diving.  Each day was filled with one, sometimes two dives.  And when not diving we fished, sailed, played on the Wave Runners…it seemed like a group on steroids determined to fit in every second with activity.

Wednesday night, the day of their arrival, we pulled off a birthday surprise on Captain Walter.  During our safety briefing a Tongan canoe pulled up to Major Wager with a maiden calling, “Walter.  Where’s Walter” Delivering him to the canoe he disappeared as the maiden drizzled flower pedals over him and the two villagers paddled the canoe away.  We all joined in the fun a bit later at the Tonga Beach Resort and celebrated with a Tonga feast and native dancing.

Thursday evening we did “sundowners” on the deck of the Princess’s home and enjoyed the native music of a local string band – of course seated around a Kava bowl!  As always, Grey was ever attentive.  He has been an incredible host at every turn throughout our stay.

We fit in a long morning of whale watching – hoping to be able to actually swim with a mother and calf.  But the seas were a bit rough and the mother and calf we found were unsettled.  We contented ourselves with photos of them swimming. 

And the evening brought us Halloween.  What fun.  Molly as Sarah Palin, Tom and Bruce both as Joe the Plumber.  Augusta was a pig with lipstick….pictures tell a thousand words, we hope you enjoy the photos of all our guests and crew on this crazy night. 

Saturday morning the guys rose early to chase the Marlin.  What a day.  Not only did we catch bunches of Yellow Fin Tuna and Skip Jack…but a huge Marlin came flying out of the water just 20 yards from the back of the boat. John was bringing in a Skippy and all of a sudden a Marlin exploded on his bait, dove and then came surging out of the water, scooping up the Skippy. The boat was chaos as John screamed at the top of his lungs, “What the _ _ _ _ do I do now?”  As we were fishing with light lines the probable 450 pound Marlin broke through our 30 pound Fireline and left us shaking in amazement.

Saturday evening we visited the island paradise of Allen and Lynn.  They invited a neighboring village to join us and serve their local food and provide music – of course accompanied by the Kava bowl.  The families brought their children.  It was a night we will always remember.

It being unsafe to dive the day before flying, the entire group went offshore fishing on Monday, their final day with us.  What a hoot.  Everyone caught fish.  The seas were calm.

As always, it was a sad morning bidding our friends good bye.  They departed Tuesday morning.  We are grateful they took the time to share this week with us in this special place.

On Wednesday we watched the election returns.  Being on the other side of the International Dateline, we are a full day minus 4 – 7 hours ahead of the States. In a separate journal entry we have shared with you our experience on election eve.  We shared this historic evening with Cindy and Nigel, friends that found themselves in Tonga several years ago and then found each other.  They have never found a way to leave!

Thursday evening we entertained over twenty of the locals on board Major Wager.  We hired a band and the crew, Molly and Tom hosted a big thank you for all the kindnesses that have come our way during our three weeks here. We were honored to help Derek and Sue celebrate their marriage less than a week new.  They have been a magical resource to us every step of the way.

On Saturday we fly to Sydney, Australia for a week.  The crew is repositioning the boat to New Caledonia.  We will re-board on the 18th.

We are enormously grateful for our experiences here in Vava’u.  For us, it has been a paradise…a place we will always wish to return to, and will.