Arrival in Vava’u

We made the 621NM in five days, arriving to meet up with a gaggle of yachts off Vava’u, which were part of the ARC fleet, mainly retirees sailing together for security, convenience and to meet new friends.   We let them get ahead and entered at their rear but made our way to anchor off a delightful beach before clearing in as we thought it was Sunday and wanted to avoid the extra charges levied against boats arrive outside working hours.  However, we failed to note that Tonga has adopted the same time as Fiji some 500NM to the West which is 12hrs ahead of Greenwich making us one day early.   So in reality it was Monday, but we cleared in the following day and adjusted our clocks. 

The first Sunday in Weslayan church

Colly – We decided to find the Methodist or the Wesleyan Church, In my heart I felt a real need to share and express my gratitude on behalf of my people in Milne Bay, to thank them for sending their Missionaries with the LMS in bringing the Gospel to Papua New Guinea.

The Wesleyan Church

Especially to my island of Misima remembering Esikeli Hau-ofa and his wife Mele , I’ve asked few people  I met if they knew any of the family or relatives or know the place where Esikeli Hau-ofa and his wife come from with no success, the others whose names are not mentioned here, many of them sacrificed their lives some died of sicknesses and diseases because of the lack of medication during that time, others endured long periods of loneliness as a result of the isolation from their loved ones and families but these we all know as being part of the cost of the call.   Tongans, Cook Islanders and Fijians all joined the missionary outreaches that made such a great difference to the lives of the natives of SE Papua.   There were at great risk to their lives as many communities’ practices cannibalism, headhunting and witchcraft and many of them never returned home and I’m sure that they surround us with the other witness fully looking for a country whose builder and maker is God and in line with Rev 12:11.   

Guy – In this present anti-Christian age where every aspect of Christian faith is challenged with humanistic ‘scientific’ claims and assertions; it is lost on them the quality of many of their compatriots who went out from England and laid down their lives for the Lord who they loved and Who saved them.   This is not the case with the South Sea Islanders because the Wesleyan Church at Neiafu welcomed us and Colly was able to pass on that honour with which they were so moved and the memory of those who had gone to Papua was still very much with them.  We were invited back at 4:00pm for the afternoon service and that’s when we were given the opportunity for Colly and I to share.   Lasam, Rose, Gelly then joined us and sang a pidgin song, one of the unique things about the South Sea Christians is the Sol Fa style of harmonic singing and the nature of their voices so that draws us into the presence of God. Now amongst the Wesleyan church we saw this man called Mana and his wife Olivia, they both were Spirit filled born again Christians, his wife speaks in tongues, she was so happy to know that we are from Papua New Guinea and we were blessed to hear from her and know that one of her family member was one of the first missionaries who came to Papua New Guinea in the 1880’s. In the service he preached with the anointing of God and we recognised that they both are Spirit filled Christians.

Elder Mana and his wife Olivia

This elder, Mana and his wife Olivia, actually had forebears that came to Papua in the 1880’s so it was a special touch-base time for all of us, we had a little talk with them and they said they will visit us on board Living Water which they did on Tuesday and guess what, in the spirit of true South Sea Islanders, they came with baskets or bags of fruits and coconuts and vegetables, papayas, pumpkin, bananas, etc… to help us on our way.

We had a great time sharing with them and had our morning devotion as usual with them and Mana was given an opportunity to share or if there is anything the Lord has placed in his heart, which he did. He shared a very encouraging Scripture on Isaiah 52: 7 which reads; How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who bring good news.

Colly – It was a really lovely time we had, we felt the presence of God through the sharing of the Word and as we sang the song from that scripture our heart swelled with joy unspeakable and faces lit up with big smiles on our faces and with tears of joy. What a moment! We also encouraged them and prayed for them that the Lord will use them to bring revival in their Church. Olivia is a women of Intercession, she kept saying; I can feel the holy Spirit in here! With tears in her eyes as we waved them goodbye!

We also met Carol from Misima / Brooker Island and her husband the Tongan man; Carol continually blessed us with a copious supply of coconuts, vegetables, plantain bananas, bread fruit, and aibika , they also prepared  a roasted pork with mumu giant taro.  

What love!  One good thing about the Melenasian culture is that, although you don’t know the person from a bar of soap, as soon as they know you are from the same country or province or island, the connection is already there, the bond is just like that! and when they come to visit, they don’t come empty handed, they come with something, like shopping or anything. As did Olivea and Manna of the Wesleyans.  

Guy – We have found Polynesians to be the friendliest of people as also were many of the yachties and we had some good times with many of them too.    Chris had some tutoring in mathematics from Mark who was very generous with his time and we also met John and his son Andrew who were sailing together.   We met them initially in Palmerston but they had sailed to Niu and then on to Neiafu.   John was an ex test pilot/trainer for European Airbus and as we left Neiafu for Fiji he sped up to come alongside to wish us farewell.

While at Neiafu we found that the great depths in which we had to anchor required a lot of very hard work cranking up the 80kg anchor and ½ chain which was very tiring and Stan who had injured his back falling out of a coconut tree some years ago hurt his back and we only managed to get him ashore on our last day in Tonga.   Chris and I were thinking, and praying, that a refit for Living Water could include a powered windlass which would cost at least £2000 plus fittings, etc., but that would be additional to quite a number of things like ventilation, relocation of the mainmast lower shrouds; welding solid railings to replace the vulnerable staunchion/wire rails; all of which need to be done on the slip when we need to antifoul paint her afresh.  

A very helpful man

Colly – We managed to pick up a lot of Christian videos from the proprietor of Tropicana in Neiafu, a NZ chap called Greg who was a hub of the cruising community and locals as well.  If you go to Vava’u and need anything, Greg is the man of the moment and we are grateful to him for the help he gave us. Bless him. 

A hike to the cave

Everyone was happy and were glad to be in Tonga, One thing they love to do is to explore the land whenever they find the chance to, using our little tender. Chris is always the first person to do that. He likes his ‘me’ time exploring the land on his own with his bare dim-dim feet,

I sometimes wonder if his feet hurt at all, because I can’t walk the long distance on my bare feet, and then the next time he takes others with him, this time he took the girls Gelly and Rose for a hike to the cave, I gave them their lunch money and Chris bought a water melon too, while Guy went off to do his interneting. Stan Lasam and I stayed back on board but when they didn’t return quickly, I was started to get a little bit concern as I couldn’t get hold of them on their phone and the place was getting dark, clouds were building up and I knew it would rain soon. I keep wondering whether they are back from the cave to the town or are they still in the cave. Thank God they all returned with no harm but just late. Maybe this is just a motherly concern. .

Ciguatera poisoning

Gelly is the girl who loves fishing, it’s her hobby and no one can stop her from fishing, she can even fish the whole night through! At one time she fished until 2;00 am, the next night I fished with her till 12 midnight and filled two buckets of fish. She caught a shark too, I caught a snapper unfortunately the tail was cut off by the shark.  One afternoon while returning from the land, Gelly cast her fishing line off with the left over bait from yesterday and caught a snapper, here’s the picture of the snapper that has got Ciguatera .

The fish with ciguatera…

So the fish was filleted and been frozen however we didn’t know that it was toxic.   Now because Rose doesn’t like pork, she took the fateful fish out of the freezer and defrosted it for her evening meal while everyone else had the roast pork. After we all went to bed, poor Rose got the runs, started vomiting and feeling very sick. I was awoken by Gelly in the middle of the night to pray for Rose so I had to get Guy to help us pray for her. The next day Gelly having returned from the shopping she hungrily had the other half of the same fish and the result turned out that she too was sick involving vomiting. 

 Guy –  Rose and Gelly ate a snapper we caught at Palmerston and we were all surprised to note that they had eaten a ciguatoxic fish!   Now we had eaten snapper before, perhaps not so big but with no negative effects.   Ciguatoxins are initially developed in dinoflagellates which are eaten by reef fish which are eaten by groupers, barracuda, snapper and many other fish-eating species.   The main thing is that it is location-specific and not general.   None of our people have ever heard of ciguatera or of fish that make them ill.  Indeed, some places really suffer from it and cautions are recommended.    However, other places have little or nothing.   Anyway after an initial dramatic vomiting, etc., and some bad dreams; our girls started to recover but they suffered some numbness and itchiness for a week or so afterwards. 

We cleared for Fiji from the main wharf but found we could not wait longer for fuel which arrived 5 ½ hrs late and after our clearance time.  We had sufficient fuel but I always feel it is good to top up when possible, but not today. 

Gradually Vava’u and its islands sank below the horizon and the P&O Cruise ship lit up a spot on the horizon as the sun dropped below the horizon.   The wind varied only between F3 and F4 but the swells meant we could not use the main or foresails.  Still we averaged about 4.8kts until we came inside Fiji territorial waters when it dropped to F1-2 and we started the Main Engine.  As we closed Totoya Island the visibility dropped and the rain began night fell and early next morning Moala Island was abeam.   So the motoring continued until we arrived in Suva Bay.   Clearance was effected via the Royal Suva Yacht Club who escorted the Customs; Health, and Bio-Security Official on board to examine our 14 pages of forms.  They were happy and left us in peace with the admonishing that the F$253 (£110) need to be paid at shore addresses and the receipts needed for our outward clearance.

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