Ocean, ocean, ocean for days and nights? This is a feeling not-to-forget-ever! Have you ever hitchhiked from Tonga to Fiji? ;)
People in Tonga were telling us: – It’s very hard to find a boat here at this time of the year, you should wait a month or two. Then, they were telling us: – But even then it will be hard to find a boat without a serious planning in advance. Then, they said: – And even if you would find any, come on!, you think anybody will take 4 of you?! Hitchhiking a sailboat with kids?!?
Ah, impossible is nothing, if you really really want? We crossed the Pacific Ocean between Tonga and Fiji on an amazing catamaran boat, with the nicest people ever!
And you know what is the most funny? That we also had two other options of sailing. It just needs some charm, talking and willing to do it.
In Neiafu, the main town of Vava’u group of north Tonga – there is a very safe and beloved by sailors harbour: Port of Refuge. People say there is around 500 boats a year passing by, but I have a feeling that there must be more. Every day, while having a walk in the little town, we saw new masts and new flags. We were interested in them, because since long we had this dream to sail the ocean, during our trip on the Pacific.
So how to find a boat to hitchhike on? Talking, talking, smiling, talking! Tom is really good in it. He was going to the sailors’ bars, talking by radio on the sailors’ channel (in Neiafu there is just one cafe with ok internet, it’s called Cafe Tropicana – and you can get all the info from Greg and Lisa), meeting the captains and trying to convince them that we will be a good and easy crew.
But wait a second. Would YOU take us with you? People with boats usually take others (if they take strangers at all), who might be useful on the way: who have some capacity to repair diesel engines, who are good navigators, who have medical skills. Or at least some sailing experience. Hmmm. How to say? ¼ of us – had. Tom is a great sailor, he loves it and was navigating different boats in his life but.. never on the ocean. What can we offer in exchange? Singing the kids’ songs?! Sometimes even I couldn’t believe that this dream has any chances to be fulfilled.
We even bought a flight ticket from Tonga to Fiji, just in case of a failur. But… we still didn’t give up. All what happened next was just a week.
The first serious option was a huuuge 3-masts-sail ship, 179 feet long, which can take around 50 people on the board (Picton Castle training boat – for the interested ones!). Dream, amazing sails!! But here we would have to organise safety equipment for the girls. They never take kids with them and in Tonga buying things like this is more difficult than buying chocolate. We had discussions with managers of the ship in Canada, we were sooo close to the success. Ok, but if something is almost possible – that means that the thing is possible!
On the next day, Tom had a sweet speech through the yachties’ radio channel. He said honestly what is our situation and what our dream is and we immediately had an answer: a Dutch single sailor would take us with him. We met, we ate ice-cream together but then.. his brother suddenly died and he had to go back to Europe instead of sailing to Fiji. But we were again one step closer to the sailing!
Third time lucky! On this sunny morning, when we were having our daily walk through Neiafu – we saw a new, catamaran boat in the harbour. With…. can it be true?!?…. a Polish flag! We literally run to the waterfront to meet them. – Hello!! But why do you have a Polish flag on your boat? – I asked. – Because we are… Polish? – Ewa answered with smile. – Dzień dobry!!!
Who would ever expect Polish couple in the middle of Pacific? Who would ever expect such a nice Polish couple, with whom after few hours we felt like a family?
Ewa and Janek are Polish, but they live in Canada since many years. Since few – they are fulfilling a dream of sailing around the world. With little breaks: to spend time with their… six grand kids. Could it be anything better than a couple of lovely grandparents, with a box of toys on the board of the boat, with Polish-kids songs at the laptop, with hundreds of interesting stories to tell and with a big, warm heart?
We were sure from the beginning on that we would love to sail with them. And we were so afraid to ask! But them, after listening to our stories about looking for a boat, they said immediately: – But why don’t you go with us?
They still wanted to sail in Tonga a bit and still had to repair some parts of the boat, but we agree on the date and we had our transport fixed in a bit more than a week! Perfect!!!
Water, water and water. Incredible, unimaginative amount of water. And you sail and sail, days and nights and there is nothing more on the horizon than water. Sometimes bigger waves, sometimes darker, up and down, up and down. What a feeling! How big is this word! How many drops of this water is around. You sail and sail, not seeing any boat, not seeing any other people than your crew. The wind, and the sun, and rain sometimes. And water and water and water.
The days on the boat are short. Much shorter than I would have ever expect. I was afraid: what will we do for so many hours in one place, will the girls be bored or not, will they get sick? But life on the boat is like life anywhere else: you need to prepare the food, to eat, to talk, to play games, to read, to have a nap, to sleep. And in the meantime: to watch the ocean, change the sails, get wet during the storm, collect some water for washing, feel sick, feel good, feel happy.
Ewa and Janek were a brilliant company. Very confident about their boat, great cooking, being friendly, open and understanding. And when they turned on my old family songs in Polish or when they suggesting playing our favourite family board game – I thought that it was not a coincidence that we met.
This post is also available in: Polish
Our first book is out!
We have published our first book (for now just in Polish:) about our Central America Trip.
See, read and order here »