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Vava'u Tonga - Cruiser Party Central and Fiji

Posted by Tim Henning on October 6, 2009 at 9:01 PM Comments comments (0)

August 17th we left Niue and arrived in Tonga on August 20th. We arrived just in time for Kathy from Love Song 41st birthday at the Giggling Whale restaurant. On the 22nd we celebrated Elizabeth’s 40th birthday on board HoneyMoon, although her actual birthday was on the 20th. We all had a blast except she made me ware a tiara !! Then 3 or 4 days later we all celebrated Allen from Love Song 50th birthday also at the Giggling Whale and had a crazy night. After a few days of recovery we went island hopping to recover some more. The first night we stayed at a rolly anchorage called the Blue Lagoon, but was nothing exciting. The next anchorage was at Vakaeitu where we went snorkeling with a few other friend boats. Then it was back to Neiafu, Vava’u. By now almost all our friends are in Tonga. HoneyMoon, Julia Max, Thumbs Up, Bravado, Trio, Zen, Follow You Follow Me, Love Song, Wayward Wind, Son Of The Sun, Brick House, Bagheera, Dosia, and Kena. Of course Kena now with only Tone` and Tomas caught a nice yellow fin so we just had to have a sushi get together.. Thursday September 3rd was day one of the First Annual Tonga Regatta. Events included the check-in and a food and craft fair and a Pub Crawl.. We went from pub to pub and that was the night that Carlee found out that her boyfriend was meeting us in Australia. We ended at Tonga Bobs where we all danced our asses off. Friday was a kids fun day and skippers meeting then a friendly sail boat race around the harbor. Saturday the 5th, was the second annual Governor’s Race from Neiafu, Vava’u to Mahina Katoa, where we had the Full Moon party. What an event with light shows including glow stick dancing group. Sunday the 6th was back at Neiafu, Vava’u with a lot of rain and a good day to stay on the boat. Monday the 7th was the “cornhole” tournament and BBQ and that night was a Traditional Tongan Feast. Tuesday the 8th was the last day of the Regatta with a cocktail party and awards ceremony But, most importantly was Aaron’s 40th birthday party at the Giggling Whale (go figure). 50 people were invited and 100 attended. 5 piglets were rotated on a spit over a fire pit. I handed out 20 tiara’s to the ladies, also I gave them a beaded necklace to ware around our wrist to put around Aaron’s neck after we sang the Wayward Wind song to him. Aaron Pierce retired from the NFL (1990’s NY Giant’s tight end). That one took a couple of days to recover from. We spent the next few days island hopping with Carlee spending a few days on board. We went to Sparrow’s Cave where we took our dingy inside, very cool. Then we went snorkeling which was just ok.

On Saturday September 12th we headed for Suva FIJI with our new crew member Carlee onboard. Our trip was Awesome!!!! The first day was a bit rolly but for the next three days everyday we caught four large (and one 50 lbs) size Mahi-Mahi.. YAHH.. The fish freezer was full baby. We arrived in Suva Fiji on the 15th of September. The city was large but it was also and industrial area so the water and air was dirty. On Thursday the 17th Geoff, (carlee’s boyfriend) arrived from San Diego just to surprise Carleee. We had a couple of fun days, went to an awesome fresh fruit and vegetable market. One night we went to a Japanese restaurant and had Shabu Shabu. Last time I had Shabu Shabu was in Japan.. We left Suva on the 21st and stayed that night anchored by a small island where we ran into Peter and Niki from Bagheera. Tuesday the 22nd both boats headed for the Fijian Resort. On the way Geoff caught a small Mahi-Mahi. We got to the resort just in time to watch the second half of Monday Night Football. I was soooo stoked.. On Wednesday the 23rd Tim and I went golfing, that’s right… On the 24th we left the Resort and went to the Musket Cove Marina. On the way I caught a small yellow fin tuna for lunch. The water here is crystal clear and the sun is bright and shinning and I got to wash our clothes in a real laundry matt with 2 washers and dryers… until later.

Tiny Island nation of Niue

Posted by Tim Henning on September 4, 2009 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Niue August 9th to August 20th (Ruth). Well we arrived in Niue on Aug. 9th, but the story really begins on the 8th. Our 3rd 24 hour day and Tim caught one of his dream fish, yep he caught his first Wahoo !!!!!!!!!!!! I bagged 3 gallons of steaks. Sunday was our first day Niue and everything was closed, so after we met with customs, we sat around at the Niue yacht club until the owner felt sorry for us and opened up for us to check in and get a beer… Then we went back to the boat for a snack and a nap. That night I made wahoo in foil packets and we went to honeymoon for dinner and a movie swap. Seth and Tim have an agreement when we travel who ever catches the biggest fish wins, but must share with the other person. When we think of Niue, we will remember a week of the whales sleeping (resting) nearly every night in the anchorage. Sometimes within 10 yds of the boat. Little startling when you get up to take a piss off the stern in the middle of the night and have a whale spew loudly within feet of you. Monday we had the rest of our check in and breakfast with Seth from honeymoon and Joan and Chuck from Tender Spirit at the Uga café. Uga is the Niue word for coconut crab. There were two specials, the Big Uga and the Little Uga, however the steak, egg and cheese Panini looked like the best deal. Then, it was off to the supermarket and back to the boat. After dinner Franz from Son of the Sun and his new friend Katie came by and asked us to go into town for drinks, so we went to this little Indian café and we just had drinks and ice cream while they had Roties, which are basically chicken or beef curry wrapped in tortillas. Tuesday we went touring with Thumbs up and Julia Max and Kerry from Son of the Sun. Yep 9 people crammed in a mini van.. Everyone except me and Ivan went down steep hill sides with stairs or walked a ways back. Ivan had twisted his ankle so I stayed and read my book and visited with him. That night we all went to the Falala Fa for awesome Wahoo fish and chips. Wednesday night we had happy hour on board Tender Spirit, which is a 32 foot monohull. Not a lot of room but we were very comfy. Thursday night we all meet at the yacht club for a fish and potluck bar-b-que. Everyone showed up. Victory Cat, Tinder Spirit, Thumbs Up, Julia Max, Honeymoon, Brick House, Dosur, Bagahara, Follow You Follow Me, Wayward Wind and Kalalua. We served up by feeding everyone with the last of our Spearfish and then Wahoo streaks. Friday the 13th we rented a mini van with Tender Spirit (Joanie and Chuckles) and toured the whole Island and saw amazing sights including the Toga Chasms. Then we ended at the Coral Gardens Hotel on the Makapu point to watch the whales from above the 400 ft cliffs and play cards while the sun set. Saturday morning we dusted off the golf clubs (yes we have golf clubs on the boat) and went to the Niue 9 hole course with Aaron from Wayward Wind and had a great time. Later that day Kena arrived as well as two other boats. During their passage from Beverage reef they caught a yellow fin tuna so we had another awesome sushi night on Victory Cat, and 6 other boats. The night was filled with stories of Kena’s shark adventures and of course Tone (pronounced Ton nay) playing his guitar and singing songs he wrote and a few others. Sunday was a low key day and a lot of cleaning up. Monday we completed our check out, stocked up at the duty free store and hit the waves… The crossing from Niue to Tonga took only 42 hours, but the log book looks like 3 days since we crossed the international dateline. We caught several 35 lbs Skipjack Tunas (all thrown back after a good fight) and two yellow fin tunas, which were eagerly filleted and put in the freezer.

Remote Suwarrow and the great Spearfish

Posted by Tim Henning on August 11, 2009 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (1)

August 1-7 (Ruth). This blog really begins on July 27, while on our way to Suwarrow Tim caught a short bill spearfish (see below details from Tim), which is sort of like a cross between a swordfish and a marlin, but much better eating. Once we had the 6 ½ ft, 80 lbs. fish on the boat, we bagged 5 gallons of fillet lobes and put it in the freezer.

We arrived in Suwarrow on July 31 the same day as our friends on Honeymoon and La Palapa. At that time there were about 8 other boats at anchor and we already knew most of them. There were Daydream, Whisper, Trio, Comedi, Nemesis and 3 other boats (Norway, Germany and Denmark) that we knew of or did not know. The next day Aug. 1st we invited all the boats to a fish party pot luck on board Victory Cat. That day our friends from Lauren Grace arrived as well as our new friend from Jazz. The party was a smashing success. The Island Park Ranger John, his wife Veronica and their 4 boys also attended.. All together we barbequed with seasons to order and fed 3 gallons of fish (30 lbs.) to 27 people all partying on Victory Cat. The party was the best ever.


The only uninvited guest were the 12 black tip sharks swimming and circling around the boat looking for scraps.. yep that's right..



The next day we went to Honeymoon with La Palapa and Nemesis to celebrate Honeymoon's 1st year anniversary and we had an awesome time. Nice way to extend a honeymoon by going sailing for over a year. The next day Aug. 3rd we went to the more remote south side of the island where it is shallow and only dinghies and Catamarans can go. La Palapa went on Honeymoons boat. Because this is a protected area the snorkeling was the best ever.. I know I said that before but this truly was the most amazing undisturbed rose coral bushes, along with a variety of coral colors and giant clams built up on 30-40 ft sea mounds of coral. The fish were totally awesome (pictures will be uploaded in Niue).





Then, it was back to the main Suwarrow island anchorage on AUG 4th for Happy Hour on board Trio (very nice French and Aussie couple). The next day on the 5th we got underway. We left Suwarrow on the 5th of Aug. and today is Friday the 7th. We plan on reaching Niue Sunday the 9th US time. TTFN.



Spearfish details (Tim). Today (July 27) fishing results were incredible. It started around 9AM when I hooked a BFF on the port side. Stayed deep and fought him for 30 mins, but lost him before we could see what he was - bummer. He took the hook with him. It was my lucky green/black feather (many tuna and the large Dorado off Hiva Oa). I fixed it up with a new hook and connected it better to ensure the hook stays on. I then deployed the green/black feather on STBD using a new trolling rod I got in Tahiti with the PLASTIC Penn trolling reel. Around 5PM, we hooked another BFF (note: Tim Moorhouse told me to get rid of this reel since I could never catch anything big with it).


This BFF took nearly the whole spool and I had to start thumbing it to slow him down (60lb test line). Started bringing him in and he was fighting just like the first one by running deep and fast. I pulled him in nearly half way three times only to have him spool off nearly the whole reel again. Finally after 30-45 mins, we started getting him closer. I had Ruth bring in the Port fishing pole and start up the Port engine at slow RPM in order to keep the fish behind us and away from the props and rudder. Then, he surfaced nearly 20 yds away. It was a Marlin type of fish (billfish) with a big sail and sword nose!!! Unbelievable and tried to stay relatively calm. He tried to take off again, but he was starting to tire and only took half the reel this time. I started working him toward the stern of the boat with Ruth adjusting the slow RPM since the fish once before tried to race head of the boat. We got him next to the boat just outside the STBD sugar scoop. Ruth handed me the gaff and she held the pole. I quickly gaffed him just behind his gill plate and below his sail. Picked him up using the gaff and pulled in a 5 1/2 ft, 60-80 lbs Billfish. Unbelievable. Dragged him into and nearly filling the cockpit. Ruth squirted alcohol into his gills and mouth. The hook had been lodged in the upper roof of his mouth and was tearing up into his sword. When I got him on deck, the hook just fell off. I would have lost him if I did not continue to keep a heavy strain on the line. My arms and back were a little tight that night;-).


After resting some, Ruth got out the fillet knife and I got out the folding table (note: table is only 4 ft long). Then, I realized I had no idea how to cut-up a billfish. I thought I could gut him and then cut large steaks. Started by cutting off his tail, but the knife could not cut thru his thick back bone very well. Finally it did cut thru the bone and got a few steaks near the tail, but this was not going to work, so I cut him up like a tuna. Had to use my pliers, but was able to skin him. We then saw this was going to work really well and cut out two nearly 4 ft long lobes on each side (four total) with very little blood line to remove. Beautiful white meat. Had to cut up each of the four lobes into 4 pieces in order to fit in the gallon zip locks. We filled and stuffed 5 of the gallon size zip locks and one whole freezer. Ruth then got busy making an incredible dinner of fresh billfish;-)

I spent the next two days trying to figure out exactly what we caught by e-mailing a fishing expert (Tim Moorhouse) and talking with Randy (another fishing expert) during the Pacific Seafarer HF nightly yacht check-in roll call as well as flipping through some fishing books onboard. Randy put us on to the idea that the fish may be a short billed spearfish. Tim sent me the description for a Spearfish and Randy compared my measured bill lengths vs. total fish length to the measurements he took off of two spearfish he caught. I found a picture in one of my books and we all confirmed that we caught a Short Billed Spearfish. I want to thank both Tim and Randy for their help. We (as well as the whole island of Suwarrow) confirmed that the rated food quality of a Spearfish is EXCELLENT. Pictures will be uploaded to the website when we reach Niue on Monday.

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