We were hoping for cray, but after waiting for Joe to show up with a suitable allowance for Tongan promptness (1 hour later than agreed) we gave up and raised the hook bound for Pangai. Pangai is about 35 nautical away as the crow flies, but due to other island groups, rocks, shoals and reefs, the total travel distance for us is about 60 nautical.
Along the way, we passed Kao and Tofua. Kao is an almost perfect pyramid shaped volcano (currently inactive) rising some 4500 feet above sea level. Tofua is the more flat island rising roughly 500 meters above sea level. Tofua has a large central fresh water lake and has been reported to be actively smoking. Due to clouds about the top, it was difficult for us to tell if we were seeing smoke or clouds. As a historical note, Tofua was the actual scene of the mutiny aboard HMS Bounty. Bligh was put off with some crew in a longboat and landed there in an attempt to get water and food for his historic journey. Natives apparently assaulted him with sticks and stones and one crew member was killed before they made their escape to sea. Both islands are currently uninhabited.
Shortly after departing Nomuku, we put out the 50 pound class rod with a lure we call the Purple Wonder as it has yet to fail us any time we have had it out. After several tuna and the large wahoo, it is starting to look pretty beat up, but a Mahi Mahi liked it just fine – all 50 pounds of him. Nothing grows small out here. The rod and reel are taking a pretty fair beating from these large fish and some repairs will be in order this evening. I was afraid I was going to lose the reel on this one.
We have been hoping for WiFi (there was no chance of that in Nomuka) but we thought that Pangai might. No such luck. We were able to briefly get connected to our email accounts at a local cafe called the Mariner but the connection was very slow and intermittent. Pangai is home to about 4500 people and is the seat of government for the Ha’Apai island group. It is still part of Tonga but is something like a state would be in the US.
Deb was off early this morning and got to know many of the locals as only Deb can do. Steve and I stayed behind and tried to catch up on maintainence on Iron Lady – she needed a very good bath, some stainless polishing and a good check up around the engine room. We joined Deb in town for lunch at the fish market (not much more then a stall really) and did some touring. THen it was back to the boat to escape the heat of the day.
We were also told a story about the local Fire Department – these are some of their of their vehicles – only issue is that they don’t have any hoses.
Finally, the obligatory sunset.