Saturday, May 14, 2016

Problems in Tonga

We have 4 very large batteries on the boat to run all of our stuff (lights, refrigerator, chart-plotter, radar, radio, …). They should have been fine when we returned to the boat, but something had completely discharged them. We suspect it was a bilge pump with a stuck float switch. After being discharged for a while, they could not hold much charge. We could run the lights and radio, but no fridge or freezer.

We spent about 10 days in the harbour in Vava’u, eating at restaurants and using the Internet to figure out what to do about getting new batteries. Dina caught a virus (probably Zika) and spent three days in bed. She had body aches, joint pain and a full body rash, but there were no lingering effects. Fortunately, Malcolm didn’t catch it.

After much searching online, it was apparent that we couldn’t “shock” the batteries back to normal. They needed to be replaced, and new ones would have to be shipped to us. The owners of The Boatyard confirmed that getting things shipped to Tonga can be problematic. It looked like we needed to get to Fiji or American Samoa.

Thanks to some other friends, we connected with another cruiser in Fiji who had just ordered some batteries from China and he suggested we could share shipping costs if we ordered ours quickly. After a few more hours online and several emails around the globe, it looked like a great option. We went ahead and ordered them and then sat down to figure out what to do for the 7 weeks until the new batteries arrive in Fiji.

The plan we came up with was to sail to Fiji right away, see about buying one new battery there as an interim solution, and then start exploring Fiji while trying to get along with limited battery power until the new ones arrive.

We spent the last few days in Tonga going to each of our favourite restaurants and saying good-bye to the staff at each.