Dolphins-Patriots, Interrupted

We could consider it the good news that I started out watching Monday Night Football during Tuesday lunch, live on the Tongan side of the International Date Line. The scene was the Aquarium Café, Neiafu, Vava’u with a brace of new friends.

We could consider it the bad news that the score was 14-7 in favor of I-don’t-remember-who when the signal dorked out.

Or we could consider it the bad news that I wasn’t on a boat, sailing idyllically along in Regatta Vava’u and not caring a fig about American football. But I’ve had a shot at that. The mission of the moment was to update the ‘Times, and my geriatric laptop battery was spinning downdowndown by the time I got through reading that portion of my email that I could manage to load via the Aquarium’s wifi. The table that includes access to electrical outlets was staked out by people who looked as determined to stick tight as I would have been had I made it in—the Aquarium’s dock is a primary welcoming and tie-up point for visiting yachties—so I wandered up the road a piece (a fair piece) from the charter-boat neighborhood to downtown Neiafu and the Tropicana, which does not have a big screen and had plenty of tables and power.

You see how it goes.

Not that the internet was cranking-typed cranked.

You see how it goes.

If you have to have everything in a New York minute, find another island. You are not needed here.

The third annual Regatta Vava’u has wrapped up, and it’s just possible that I’ve seen volunteer race organizers putting in even more work and spirit than I’ve seen back home and that’s saying something. We’re counting down the hours to the awards party here in this island chain in the north of Tonga, celebrated for diving, whale watching and smooth, protected sailing waters. With 81 boats/crews participating—though not all of them actually sailing the races—and with most “raceboats” towing dinghies and such—and with enough partying to buffer the local coffers for the rainy season that begins in November—and with a few boats already departed for the next leg of the South Pacific Milk Run, Fiji—and with a sense that we’ve all lived more than five days worth in five days time—I look at the harbor and I see holes.

There is no SV Relapse.

For example.

The family that I sailed with for three days (it’s amazing how quickly I moved in, mentally) put me ashore when they saw the weather window they wanted and shifted into passage-think.

Well, imagine that.

Mark and Catherine Edwards and their sons, Ash and Cameron, set sail yesterday, aiming at a seven-knot average and a morning arrival at Savu Savu after three days on-passage. Just sailing along in buddy-boat neighborhooding with friends on Riada II and Ruby June. Or whatever happens, because in the cruising lifestyle you have to be comfortable making frequent adjustments to expectations. Your only option on that is to be uncomfortable most of the time.

I sailed two races on the Edwards’ 50-foot Relapse, and in both we crossed the line first in our section sailing under a working jib, second overall to Mistress, a Swan 54 that went racy with big headsails and spinnakers, cruisy with a dinghy towed behind.

As I write, a cruising couple is being briefed by Tropicana’s proprietor. Yacht services and sage counsel are on offer along with meals and coffee. The chap at the next table is studying charts. Back at the Aquarium, the focus is shifting to World Cup Rugby, and next door at Mango’s they’re setting up for the shouting for Regatta Vava’u.

I’d share a larger story, via images, but the “Times website is choking on the file transfer time. So we’ll wait on that.

You see how it goes.

Local translation: Faka Tonga.


Suns New Jerseys