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March 2009

Finding Your Boat in the Dark

There were over a hundred boats clustered on moorings or laying at anchor in Neiafu. This is the main re-provisioning spot in the northern Tongan Island group of Vav’au and a great place to enjoy café’s, book and DVD trading, musical jam sessions plus Friday night yacht races. (Someone called Vav’au “the Cruisers Playground”). Because of enjoyable evenings with cruising sailors and time ashore with our Tongan family we were often trying to find our way back to Taleisin in the dark, sometimes in drizzling rain, once in a full gale with pouring rain, usually when we were tired and ready for bed. Fortunately, every one of the boats surrounding us had anchor lights up, many of them small solar powered ones that came on automatically after dark.  Unfortunately, with so many boats relatively close together, it was hard to decide which light was ours. A few nights after we arrived, a new boat came in to take the mooring just aft of us.  As we were carefully wending our way home from another evening ashore, rowing careful through the mile-long maze of boat after boat, my flashlight picked up two bright orange blazes. As we came closer I realized the owner of this neighboring boat had used sticky-back reflective tape and put a foot long strip on each side of his masthead and also on his dinghy davits, which extended beyond the stern of his boat. My regular D-cell powered flashlight picked up the reflection from this tape from almost half a mile away. A great idea to help you find your boat at night.  It would also serve as a back up to keep others from hitting your boat should they somehow miss seeing your anchor light.

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