Socked in gray and steady downpour this Monday morning, 2 inches of rain in the forecast. Boat is nicely washed off and we are now filling the water tanks by collecting rainwater. Should have no problem topping off our 2400 liter storage tanks. We’re signed up for another day of whale watching, but don’t know yet if it’s a go. Tomorrow we’re pulling out of Vava’u about 4 am and sailing south to the Ha’apai group some 60 miles away. The rest of the week is forecast for strong winds – close to 30 knots – puts a damper on things but that’s the way the weather seems to have been this season in Tonga.
Neiafu locals organized Tonga’s First Annual Regatta Vava’u a bit on the spur of the moment – only coming up with the idea some 3 1/2 weeks ago – but they did a bang up job. There are 80 or so yachts in the main harbor last time I counted with many more in the anchorages. The organizing committee put together a few races with trophies along with an entire host of extracurricular activities and some 55 yachts signed up for one thing or another. We didn’t choose to go racing, but did sign up for Saturday night’s Full Moon Party which turned out to be quite the event..
The party was held on a smaller island some 20 minutes from here. We sailed out Saturday morning and anchored in a pretty spot nearby, went for a SCUBA dive on a submerged sea mount with lots of good coral and a large variety of fish, and eventually after dinner in the cockpit we took ourselves over to the party in the dinghy by the light of the full moon. First benefit was valet dinghy parking! With a few hundred people in attendance, all arriving by dinghy, the beach and dock was absolutely jammed with inflatables!
I was expecting bonfires on the beach with beer and a boom box – and was very surprised to find an atmosphere best described as a combination of Woodstock, Las Vegas, and Castaway! Somewhere a generator was hidden away – colored banners were strung up haphazardly in the trees and backlit with lights for effect. A mainsail was strung between two palm trees and served as the projection screen for ambient video. Local pubs and eateries had set up a food stand and a bar. The island had a curving hill wrapped around a flat focal point, creating the effect of an amphitheater. A deejay had a good sound system amped up and played dance music the entire night in the flattened area. Even the porta-pottie was special – built out of sticks and thatched pandanus leaves, but with a real plastic seat and toilet paper mounted on a forked stick!
Attendees including yachties of all shapes and sizes, from kids to gray hairs, and nationalities (French, Swiss, Danish, Brazilian, American, Spanish, British, Australian, New Zealanders and more), local Neiafu residents both palangis (foreigners) and Tongans, dressed in everything from glittery outfits with halloween masks to board shorts and muscle tees with handmade pandanus hats. Entertainment appeared sporadically throughout the evening – a host of dancers dressed in glow sticks for a skeletal effect in the dark, three Tongan fire dancers, a glow stick man on stilts.