Vava'u, Tonga (Aug-Sept 2006)
We left Nuie on Aug 26 and had our typical crossing for the season, rain, 20 knots and 6-9 foot seas.  The morning of Aug 30 Blue Sky pulled into Neiafu Tonga, tied up to the large cargo ship dock and checked in.  The officials all came on board and drank sodas and asked for any fresh food etc.  We then picked up a mooring ball off of town.  Phoebe and Drake are in front of the Post office, everywhere we have gone we buy them stamps to collect.  In case we forgot, above right shows us the direction that LA is in.  
Our first night in town our friends on Shiraz and Sandpiper dragged us out to Tonga Bobs for the weekly Drag Queen show. 

Nothing like seeing a Tongan in Drag.  As you can see, Steve and Jim were thoroughly enjoying themselves.  Needless to say, we put the kids to bed on the boat and snuck out.   To the right is the Vava'u Yacht Club, many a days were spent swapping storied with other cruisers here.  Pictured is Allison and Paddy from s/v Zafarse and Angela on s/v Holokai, with Tom and Amy from s/v Sandpiper in the back ground.  The Yacht Club rules are to the right and Jim got busted just a few times for wearing a hat.  Tonga has been the first place that reminded us of Mexico, very cruiser friendly, with all the amenities near by ie:  Hot Showeres, drop off Laundry, internet, water and diesel.
Every Friday afternoon there are yacht races.  Our friend Paddy on Zafarse wanted to take his boat out, Steve, Jim and Tom all volunteered to be crew.  The top left is them still on the mooring with the sail up, as the boats below left all head for the start line.  Above is the boat that Phoebe and Drake raced on with some other kids we met from Lily Bolero.  Below are the defeated crew heading home.  It seems the mooring line got wrapped around the prop, oops.
The yacht club hosted a Tongan feast and dance, pictured is a young dancer.  We have found that for all the "Feast's" we have attended none of them have had good food.  The girl is covered in baby oil and the guests will go and stick bills on her body.
On the right we took Blue Sky out for Lunch hook on Lisa Beach.  Our new friends on Lily Bolero took their boat as well.  Capaz and Shiraz came on Blue Sky.  Below right is Steve  enjoying a fresh beer from our Keg.  We bought this keg in the Marquesas and having been waiting for the perfect place to drink it.  Another kid boat was there called Artic Fox, with their son Cameron.  The kids had a ball, it was a great anchorage, with a beach all to ourselves.
lThe kids above and adults all enjoying themselves.  When the kids are happy the parents are happy.  To the right Cameron and Jake chase the native girls, Phoebe and Elizabeth.  Below is Blue Sky at anchor and heading back to our mooring ball after a great day.
Above left is Blue Sky heading back to Neiafu, the photo was taken by our friend Emma, above, who is crew on the 115' Yacht Beagle V.  Her boyfriend, Alex is the captain.  We have been travelling with them since Papeete.  To the left is Chris, Cat and Lloyd, the rest of the crew.  You may remember Lloyd, as he was the one who helped fix our engine in Tahiti.  They always seem to come up behind us and pass us.  Phoebe always loves seeing Beagle V and they even gave her and Drake a t-shirt, which she wears proudly.  One night we had the honor of having dinner with Alex, Emma and Cat, it was wonderful, and Cat is a fabulous Chef.  I definitely had kitchen envy and Jim had engine room envy.   They left Tonga for New Zealand early, so we hope to see them when we fly to New Zealand in Jan/Feb. 
We went on a whale watching boat one day and saw humpback whales.  It was amazing how close the boat would get and how large they were.  They come to Tonga to mate & deliver their young. They then head back to the antartic for the summer.  Phoebe even saw a hammerhead shark.  The next week the BBC was arriving to film a Blue Planet series.  They booked the boat for the next two months. We were lucky to get a spot on the boat to see them. 
On the whale watch we stopped by Mariners Cave to snorkle, it is an underwater cave, you dive down and swim under a ceiling approximately 10 feet across.  Above we are all at the entrance and to the right is Dick from Wind Pony coming back out.  Inside was a huge cave and mist would rush in with the swell.
Above is Swallows Cave, you can see a dinghy to the left, we took the whole boat inside and snorkled, it was huge.  Phoebe is pictured with Rene from s/v Shiraz.
Sundowners on Blue Sky, above left are Jim, Tod from s/v Capaz and Steve from s/v Shiraz.   Above, Juli from s/v Capaz, Rene from s/v Shiraz and Emma.  To the left are Rene and Steve.  This was one of the nice days in Tonga, it rained quite a bit while we were there.
To the left are all the boat kids, one day we counted 15.  They are doing their Tiki face impersination, if you can't notice, they all have blue tonques from eating lollypops. Pictured are Abby from s/v Sea Kardinal, Phoebe, Jake from Capaz, Sebastian from s/v Ohana Kai, Drake, the three s/v Foam boys, James, Peter & George,  also Meg from s/v Lily Bolero.
Our friends on s/v Moorea had a sailing dinghy and s/v Lily Bolero also had one, so we rented another and all the kids had a race.  Top left is Phoebe's team, bottom left is Drake's team and above is the fleet.  Unfortunately there was not a lot of wind, but the kids had fun anyway.
To the right is s/v Lily Bolero, our neighbors.  The kids all went over to play and you can see Elizabeth upside down going between the masts.  She is a true climber and can go anywhere on the boat.
One night it rained and rained and rained, the first lightening we have seen since leaving California.  Above, Drake and the kids helped pump the water out of everyone's dinghies, right Phoebe after pumping.
The Aquarium, a local hang out in Neiafu, hosts a Full Moon party on Vaka'eitu.  Several of us decided to head out a couple days early and enjoy the solitude of the beach.  There were 15 kids and more adults.  One day we went to the beach to celebrate Matthew's 8th Birthday, from s/v Ohana Kai.  The kids had a tug of war game, the team on the left were instructed to let go once it started, it was funny watching the other team fall.  They had three chances to win, and were exhausted afterwards.
Above is Zack from s/v Capaz pulling along with Drake and Phoebe, I am surprised they did not have blisters on their hands.  Below are the spectators, little did we know that we would have to try our hand at tug of war. 
After the kids finished their tug of war it was the adults turn.  We felt bad making the kids do it three times, as once was enough for us, it was hard work!  Cold beers were very appreciated afterward.
All the kids pictured left after a day of fun on the beach.  As you can see they range from 6-13.  It was nice having some 11-13 year olds around, as they are good babysitters.  Jim and I have been able to enjoy some adult nights out, which has been nice.  It is amazing how responsible they all are.
The children did not need any sand toys on the beach.  They would make the best forts out of palm fronds and use their imaginations.  You can see one of their creations to the right.
It was Matthews' 8th birthday, here he is pictured with his mom Lisa, they are on the s/v Ohana Kai. To the right is Abby from s/v Sea Kardinal, I love this photo, as it sums up the day!  It was the best kids birthday we have been to. Phoebe and Claire enjoy home made Chocolate cake.
The kids decided to build their own beach bon fire, then for a treat Jeni from s/v Sea Kardinal had marshmellows.  The kids were in heaven roasting them!  We can't remember the last time we had Marshmellows.
We had a couple pot luck parties on the beach which were great Juli from s/v Capaz is pictured with Kelly from s/v Moorea and Bruce from s/v Ohana Kai.  In the middle is Tom from s/v Sandpiper, Paddy from s/v Zafarse and Jim, and on the bottom is the adults relaxing.  It was sad because most of our friends here were leaving and heading to New Zealand and we were going to Australia.  We had to say good bye to everyone, and Phoebe cried the day we left, because these were her good friends that we have been travelling with since Mexico.  Hopefully we can catch up to everyone in New Zealand when fly there in January 2007.