The North Side of Tonga

27 Sep

A while back I challenged readers to name a regatta that in just three years became the biggest annual festival in its island state. The answer was, and is, Regatta Vava’u & Festival.

Northernmost of the island groups in the Kingdom of Tonga, Vava’u has whales, reefs for the diving, beaches (though not as many beaches as Ha’apai to the south) and smooth, protected sailing waters. There’s even a modest charter industry, with Moorings and Sunsail facilities side by side.

I went for the racing, such as it is, with one after another cruiser “racing my house” and being rather ...

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Farewell Rich Worstell

26 Sep

SPIKE boat.jpg

I was tempted to make this heading” Rich Worstell rest in peace”. But in Rich’s heaven he is not in peace. Rich didn’t like being at peace. Rich liked to be busy and kind of agitated. It suited him. So I like to think that in Rich’s heaven he is racing about working on a  new project. I’ll bet he’s starting to build another new plane. They must fly in heaven.


Rich owned Valiant Yachts ever since Uniflyte went belly up about 22 years ago. He moved production to his home on Lake Texan in Texoma where Rich owned ...

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Bug Blog

22 Sep

jill.jpg“Bug” was my father in law’s nickname for my wife of the last 35 years Jill. She was the mischevious one of the four kids and she tells one story of her father pulling of the road on the way up to go sking so he could wash her mouth out with snow for saying something that was “innapropriate”.


Jill was/is an amazing skier. She skied on profesional demonstration teams and competed in freestyle events and once appeared on the WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS. But she fell. When she tried to teach me to ski at age 40 she ...

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Hot Diggety Blog

18 Sep

DSCN0502.JPGI have two dogs, a ten year old German Shepard mix mutt we found on the beach when she was 6 mos old, Freda and a brand new, 6 month old Portuguese Water Dog, Ruby Ree.

Ruby is our second Portuguese Water Dog (PWD). They are a real handful and the perfect boat dog. Ruby has an iron gut and eats things off the beach that give her what I call “low tide” breath.

She is smart as a whip and naughty as hell. She loves the boat, swims everyday and is very lovable. Freda endures Ruby. Ruby loves Freda. My ...

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Dolphins-Patriots, Interrupted

13 Sep

We could consider it the good news that I started out watching Monday Night Football during Tuesday lunch, live on the Tongan side of the International Date Line. The scene was the Aquarium Caf, Neiafu, Vava’u with a brace of new friends.

We could consider it the bad news that the score was 14-7 in favor of I-don’t-remember-who when the signal dorked out.

Or we could consider it the bad news that I wasn’t on a boat, sailing idyllically along in Regatta Vava’u and not caring a fig about American football. But I’ve had a shot at that. The ...

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More Regatta Stress

8 Sep

Quick, now.

Name a regatta that became the biggest festival in its island state in just three years.

Where pigs range free.

Where the King banned all whaling in 1979.

Where a Catholic schoolboy’s uniform mandates the long, wraparound skirt called a tupenu.

Where protected sailing waters know nothing of the sea state in (another hint) Oceana beyond.

If you said Regatta Vava’u & Festival, you’re spot on, and if you even know about Regatta Vava’u you’re ahead of most. This island chain in the north of Tonga is celebrated among those who know for its diving, whale watching and ...

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A Moment for Chubby Love

25 Aug

As nicknames go, “Chubby” wouldn”t sign affection

Unless applied to the S&S yawl Chubasco that helped shape the face of yachting as we know it on the California coast. South. North. Yonder to Honolulu. Chubasco was launched in 1939 and honored on Wednesday night with a modelbegun nearly half a century ago, completed at lastdonated to the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. The full-sized version has carried NHYC’s burgee, very well, since 1958.

Chubasco at Catalina. Photo by John Fuller

Along with one other vintage yacht, Odyssey, Chubasco reigns over Newport Harbor by dint of time, accomplishment, and, shall we ...

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Condesa Tsunami

16 Mar

My dad called me at 7AM: “Have you been watching the news?”

I was up, but hadn’t heard a thing. After a briefing I was in the car and off to Condesa at T minus 30 minutes. Condesa and I have been through four deadly tsunamis in the last six years, and we know the drill: Head for deep water!

Bobbing between Alcatraz and the Golden Gate at 8AM, waiting for a tsunami to blow into the Bay, I noticed the other like-minded mariners were those who make their livings from their boats–the fishermen, the excursion boats, and all the ...

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