The Ferry to Pangai
We took the overnight ferry together with our box. Was crowded as we were also carrying a coffin together with a large group of related mourners for the trip back to Pangai for the funeral service. I awoke this morning to the sound of drums at about 5am and singing at about 6.30am so assume this is the funeral happening .
We had elected to take a sleeping cabin , most people just sleep in all sorts of spaces around the ship. When finally the gates were opened and boarding commenced we joined the throng. Tickets were examined and clipped , when they inspected ours they said , ” ah – Business !You go see that man at head of the gangplank” We were escorted to the very bowels of the ship were there are a series of sleeping rooms similar in size to railway sleeper cars but with curtain doors. The ship cast off at 8pm and the PA system began an excruciatingly long prayer in Tongan , presumably securing a safe journey and a fate unlike the Princess Ashika.
Was OK – but some slight fumes – maybe fuel – gave me a real headache by dawn. Barb didn’t sleep well or quickly , slightly frustrated by having to listen to me snoring in the top bunk 5 minutes after the lights went out.
The ship made 2 stops in the night with the racket of the anchor being dropped and the PA system blaring Tongan messages. Boats from islands flock around waiting for the “Palfinger” crane to drop the cargo onto of them. A perilous exercise as the small boats were rising and falling in a 1 metre sea and pitch black night. Drums of fuel and all sorts were dropped without incident. In the last hour of sailing we spotted lots of humpback whales ‘ they seem to travel in small groups , mother with calf and maybe one other.
Arrived at Pangai at about 9am and after a wait while the coffin was ceremoniously disembarked we again joined the queue. Her ladyships box looking rather like another but larger coffin was quickly swung off onto the wharf. Finally the moment of truth – with my special tool I removed the bolts to open her up and pleased to say she travelled well and all associated equipment present and counted. The box is in the care the harbour master , Deny, and fingers crossed he manages to prevent it being taken- many covetous looks from locals as building stuff is in short supply and ” packaging crates” are considered fair game.
After fitting her wheels we took her up to ” Mariners cafe” which has a local quest house attached that had a room for us.
Barb and I have spent time sorting the gear and trying to decide what will go the what will stay. We have way too much stuff to take and will attempt to find locals to get a food cache on one of the islands further down the chain.
We launch today ( Wednesday ) and this Is where the story must stop for awhile as we will have no way of getting Internet till about 20th .