| 7:40 local time Tuesday, July 10th. (0640 July 10th UTC) 18 04 S 175 49
W. Temp. 84, Humidity 72%, cloud cover 20%. Seas S 15 meters. Wind S 6k
Greetings from the crew of Maverick.
We're at sea enroute from the Kingdom of Tonga to Fiji and hope to arrive
this weekend. There's very light wind and we're making about 2.5
Last Friday night there was another race. We still blew the start, as the
race committee decided to use some unusual timing for the shapes and we didn't
pick up on it. Still, by the second leg we had put away
the Beneteaus, and with Master Helmsman Terry Shrode at the wheel on the third,
downwind leg we passed the only boat that gave us trouble,another cruiser, ½
mile from the finish. We got the two bottles of wine for first but fortunately
had to share them with two extra crew, some Kiwis we invited along who of course
claimed credit for the win when all they really did was talk in that silly
Otherwise, we've occupied ourselves doing boat chores and renting bikes to
see the islands. Back in Niue, which is flat, we got 21 speed aluminum bikes
with good brakes. The best we could do here, where it is
quite hilly, was ten speed steel bikes with bad brakes.
As we've noted, everyone on Niue is friendly and on one of our bike rides
we were invited to join in a church picnic of traditional fare, including taro,
curry, smoked fish in coconut milk, and tapioca.
We observed that some of the native people preferred spaghetti-o's and a
Polynesian favorite, canned corned beef. As for the Captain, he cannot really
recommend taro as a foodstuff. Nevertheless, it was very generous
of them to invite us to eat, and the sweet lady who was apparently in charge
gave us her email address so we can tell her what's going on in her native Fiji
when we arrive.
Tonga is quite a bit poorer than Niue or any other place we've been, yet
in the countryside the native people are just as friendly. In the small city of
Neiafu, however, they are often quite curt at the
commercial establishments. We have come to believe that Polynesian culture does
not easily bend itself to the demands of commerce. There are traditional,
pre-capitalist customs here about how trade is carried
on. They make as much sense to the people here as our culture does to us, but
they are not particularly conducive to the efficient operation of small
businesses. Whether or not the efficient operation of small businesses is the
sine qua non of civilization is a question which is beyond the Captain's
mandate. In any case the result is that Europeans run most thriving shops, even
on the islands like Niue and the Tonga group which are governed by the native
In the countryside of Vavau people come out of their houses to say hello
as you pedal by. We came across some young vintners, who gave us a sample of the
latest batch of what they called "brown wine." The Captain cannot share with his
readers the ingredients, which, even though they gave them to us, are secret,
but in any case a feeling of general conviviality was the result.
We also took in a native feast on Tonga. The Captain prepared himself for
the worst sort of tourist spectacle but what we got was the most unaffected
entertainment imaginable. There was great singing, primarily by a quartet of
middle aged men featuring very pure harmonies, but often joined by the ensemble.
The dancers, mostly between the ages of four and fifteen, were in all stages of
learning the movements but this in no way detracted from their charm,
particularly considering we didn't know what the movements were supposed to be
either. The food was interesting if indecipherable and the Captain was
discovered trying to eat one of the utensils. After we dined we were serenaded
by the quartet who joined us in drinking kava, about which the Captain may have
more to say anon.
In addition to these amusements we enjoyed the many interesting features
of the island group including a place called "mariner's cave." In order to get
inside, you swim up to a cliff face in the open bay and
dive down about three feet where you find a tunnel through the rock. You must
swim through this for about twenty feet in blackness underwater, gaining the
surface again on the inside, where you find yourself in a large cavern. The
ceiling towers overhead, and the bottom is visible deep in the water below. As
the swells cause the water to rise, increased pressure creates a fog, which
disappears as the swell recedes.
The Captain was too blind without his glasses to enjoy this phenomenon, but
eagle-eyed Shrode has verified its existence.
Keep those cards and letters coming to firstname.lastname@example.org
PS to Rich Oba: Congratulations! But however much we may applaud your bold move,
the crew of Maverick takes no credit for it at all. Best of luck!
PS to Hank Strauss, a very interesting guy who, among many other things, took
soundings in the Solomons during WWII for the charts the Maverick boys will soon
be using: I hope you didn't screw up! In any case, if we
bump into anything there we'll know whom to blame.