We got the call right after the cruisers morning net on VHF radio. Escape Velocity, Escape Velocity, Escape Velocity… Shipwright. We have to talk, can you come into the shop around 1330? What shop? The one behind the fish market. I thought that was Trouble in Paradise, where we had left our raw water pump to have its borrowed seals and bearings replaced. Ok but– No buts, I’ll see you then.
Soon after, Escape Velocity, Escape Velocity, Escape Velocity…Marine Power, we have to talk. It’s a day of reckoning. These guys are like doctors after the results get back to them…you’ll have to come in for a talk while they issue the coup de gras. At least it’s in the same “building”. I say building but in truth it’s a roof with a fence around it and apparently a different business at every bench.
I dinghied in and found Shipwright Alan smiling with my autopilot in his hands. Checks out A-OK so can you be on your boat around 1500 so we can see what’s going on in situ? Sure. Next up was the guy with the raw water pump. I failed to notice which bench he was affiliated with but he was holding our rebuilt pump like a proud new dad. Not too bad for a come-to-Jesus meeting and now I have a date with our Starboard Volvo to reinstall it. Hope began to fill my heart as I dinghied up the anchorage towards EV.
It only took the small book of curses to get the pump in with no leaks on the first try but the autopilot was the deal breaker. Alan showed up on time and we went over the installation and with the AP ram reinstalled, Marce put “Uncle Ray” through its paces with a complete dockside commissioning. Like the man said, A-OK!
After a short consult we decided a quick vacation from boat-related stress combined with a shakedown cruise was in order so it was off to anchorage 7 on the Moorings Charter map where they’ve numbered all of the hot spot anchorages for the charter crowd.
Anchorage 7 features your classic Tongan private harbor and beach with a cave called “Swallows Cave” that you can dinghy right into. The fish took the day off, well there were three, but with that blue grotto light streaming in it was really beautiful just the same.
After two quiet nights we ran back up to Neiafu for a little pre-passage stress and sure enough MetBob said Sunday’s the day to head out for New Zealand and he’d prefer if we didn’t stop at Minerva Reef which everyone in the know is doing these days. We’ll catch that on our way back up to Tonga in the fall…you know, the Southern Hemisphere fall which is your spring but a day earlier and depending on where you are longitudinally reading this you’d simply add or s ubtract from UTC, minding that pesky daylight saving time thing…Never mind.
Look I gotta go. There’s fuel to order, last minute provisioning, picking up the official Escape Velocity T-Shirts we ordered at Tropical Tease, not to mention the big be-skirted lads at Customs, Immigration and the Port Captain who always have a curve or two and last but not least a good-bye party at the Aquarium Cafe. The party was for Mike, the outgoing owner, and Calvin, the new one, but we took the free food and drink as our send-off, too.