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Apsara's Log: Tonga! pt 3

===================== Third of Three Tongan Logs ==========================

The Ha'apai Group
A dawn start from the Vava'u islands takes us on a 60 mile beat down to the Ha'apai Islands of Tonga, the third and last group we visited. These are great islands with wonderful beaches, few other boats, and our first look at extensive soft corals. The islands are a bit like the Bahamas but more tropical with coral, palm trees, whales, deeper water, and no one but a few scattered local villages. Friends on "Pazzo" also swam several times with humpbacks here but we never saw them any closer than a mile away. Historically, few sailors have come this way because the reefs are not well charted and there has been little information about good anchorages. Now a new cruising guide provides some of the needed information - although, as always, we navigated the reefs and anchorages primarily with our eyes. We loved it here and enjoyed about ten days in a half dozen anchorages. These islands make great isolated land-based vacations as well.

We had one troubling moment when as we hurried to our last anchorage in dying wind and failing light, the engine, and the generator which we were running for refrigeration, both stopped and suddenly we were slowly drifting toward one of those poorly charted but clearly visible reefs. With the water too deep to anchor, until we would be on the reef, and too little wind to make much progress against the swell, we repeatedly tried to bleed and restart the propulsion engine but no go. Finally, we determined that an air leak in the generator fuel system was allowing air to get into the propulsion system, mechanic Nancy figured out how to isolate the problem and we were able to restart the propulsion system and nervously power into the empty anchorage in a bight between reefs just as the sun set. (Had the problem continued much longer and the reef gotten closer, this would have been a good time to drop the sea anchor and try to hold position until the wind came back.) We stayed at anchor several days troubling shooting and finally determined that the cause of the air leak in the gen-set was a faulty primary fuel filter housing which we rebuilt. The closest real mechanic or parts were at least a 100 miles. Sure am glad that Nanc took that three-day hands-on diesel course in New Jersey.

And that was Tonga. worth coming back to.

Signed,

The Faithful Crew of Apsara

PS - this is two weeks old. After a week in Savusavu, Fiji getting provisions, fuel, and special cruising permits for some remote islands, we are now back in the Lau Group with one more whale story to tell.

~~~/)~~~/)~~/)~~~~~
s/v Apsara
www.svapsara.com

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