Monday, October 31, 2011

Back in the USA

Well, we had a busy last week in Tonga preparing to leave Soggy Paws. We stripped her completely in case an early-season storm brews up while we are gone--roller furling sails down, mainsail wrapped tightly with rope, solar panels down, dinghy lashed on deck, all the misc deck stuff removed and stowed below.

We spent about 2 days with Larry, the guy who rents the moorings, surveying the moorings and helping him do a little preventive maintenance. We added a second heavy line to our mooring, and carefully inspected the existing setup. Fortunately, our friends Roger and Amy on Shango had a hooka rig (a setup that provides a constant supply of air to a diver, from the surface), which made working on the moorings much easier.

We left Soggy Paws a couple of days ago and started our 40 hour journey back to the States. Our route took us first by dinghy, then by taxi, then small turboprop from Neiafu to Tongatapu in Tonga. We had a 6 hour wait at the aiport in Tongatapu, and then on to Fiji, where we caught a 747 that took us overnight direct to Los Angeles. We had been braced for a 10 hour layover in LAX, but our flight from Fiji got in 90 minutes earlier than anticipated (must have been a helluva tailwind out there!), and we managed to catch an afternoon flight from LAX to Atlanta.

Everything went pretty smoothly, and we actually managed to sleep some on the plane. The only hitch was that our bags were a few pounds over the limit--we took the opportunity to offload some stuff from the boat--and we paid some overage fees. None too exhorbitant until we tried to check in on Air Tran in LA. They wanted $46 EACH for bags that were about 2 pounds over the limit. Naturally we rummaged in the bags and took out a couple of books and hand-carried them aboard, avoiding the overage fees. We also found that we couldn't activate our insurance on a weekend, so got my sister to come pick us up at Atlanta airport instead of renting a car then.

We fortunately were not affected at all by the big snowstorm that hit the NE US (watching the news about one plane where the passengers got stuck onboard for 8 hours on the ground).

So this week we plan to make our way from Atlanta through North Carolina and down to Florida. Since our car was totalled last year just before we left (not our fault), we are in a rental car until we get a chance to buy something appropriate (anyone in FL have a small SUV for sale?)

We WILL be at the SSCA Gam in Melbourne Nov 11-12-13. Dave is giving a talk on Friday, entitled 'Pacific Crossing Primer'. After 3 years wandering the Pacific, and getting most of the way across, Dave feels pretty qualified to share some advice with other cruisers.

Hopefully we'll get a chance soon to add some pictures to this year's blog entries!!

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