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"Imagine" functions as a home and a vehicle.  She brought us safely all the way to picturesque Vavau, Tonga and what do we do?  We drape her with wet laundry in the rain for a week. 

Compared to all the other islands we visited, the best sand beaches reside in Tonga.  Most other beaches along the way were coral chunks, not the white powdery sand of postcard splendor.  We found our best Tongan shells on this one.

Carter and Bennett - boys with sticks.  Building forts took first place as the most popular beach activity in Tonga. 

Almost every cruiser in the South Pacific stops in Tonga, so there were  no shortage of party guests.  Seven kids celebrated birthdays, each bash bigger and better than the one before.  Party number one, for George (La Novia) and Marco (Mahi Mahi) featured a treasure hunt and a pig roast.

Party number two in the Blue Lagoon anchorage had relay races for the kids and cool drinks for the grown ups. (That's Pete in the red shorts).  This is the anchorage where the fire set by local boys got out of control.   Pete spearheaded the fire brigade effort.  In appreciation for our efforts in saving his wife's family's land, we were provided with a cooler full of drinks and dish after dish of local food.  The amount of boats and dinghies shown is just a portion of the crowd that showed up to help Emma (Dolphins) turn 10 and Abbey (Kia ORana) turn 12.

A hazard of being in a crowded popular anchorage is that when the charterers arrive for lunch and the current or wind changes, a game of bumper boats ensues.  Count six boats (including Imagine where I'm photographing the action) in an area big enough for three.  Ocean Breezes got hit, and all the cruiser captains immediately showed up in dinghies to push the charter boat off. 

Wildlife tops our list of favorites on this whole trip.  Everywhere we go, we enjoy the local critters, big and small.  However, after all the swimming adventure we had with sea lions, eels, rays, sharks and dolphins, snakes were not something any of us wanted to encounter in the water.  (We never did.)  Tonga definitely had the best coral of anywhere on the trip. 

The Cruising Kids' Tongan Olympics Birthday Party

Parade of Nations:  Eight countries were represented by 38 kids from 20 boats.

Long Jump

 Coconut Shot Put

 Dinghy paddle relay


Gift opening and birthday cake.  Carter (6), Hugo ("Kia ORana", age 10 from New Zealand), Trym ("3T", age 12 from Norway)

Lobster number one and lobster number two, caught in Ha 'apai.  And I quote, "We can go home now."  Said by Peter shortly before that picture was taken.  The "to do" list for the trip is now complete.

All is well that ends well.  While digging for the warm clothes under the aft cabin berth, Pete did a spot inspection of the steering gear and found this pin almost worn through.  Praise God we found it then and not on the way to New Zealand a few weeks later.