Jerry's Cruising Poems

Neiafu Farewell

It is time to sail over the sea,
Leaving Tonga to cruise in Fiji,
On behalf of our crew
Here’s a little “thank you”
To some people we’ve happened to see.

Tongan people are wonderful hosts.
Of their feasts and their baskets we’ll boast.
Island plantations teem,
They’ve a great King and Queen,
And “malo” is the word they use most.

One of Utulei’s treasures is Pat,
Mind and tongue both as sharp as a tack,
Fifty years in her home,
Books and garden reknown,
Even royalty comes for a chat.

There are people who speed on their quest,
Never stopping to savor a rest.
But the cruisers who come
For a full season’s fun
Are the ones we’ve enjoyed meeting best.

“Jakaranda” makes awnings and sails
That can handle those New Zealand gales.
No one’s nicer than Sandy,
Unless it is Andy,
Their hearts are as big as a whale’s.

There’s a man with unusual whims.
When we hear him we break into grins.
Buttered toast and a cat,
Lots of rain, science fact,
Then we know that he is “Passing Wind.”

Vava’u has a mean little bird
Who can’t tolerate poetic words,
Pressing down his mike key
He transmits graffiti.
And reveals that he’s simply absurd.

There is an old man from Cornwall
Who on quiz nights can keep us enthralled.
He has junk sails of red,
A straw hat on his head,
And his motto, it seems, is “tell all.”

There’s a woman that everyone sees,
So efficient and able to please,
With her burgers and beer
She distributes good cheer,
So let’s all applaud lovely Louise.

This was written in 1999 and read on the VHF radio by “Windbag” just before we left Neiafu. “Malo” means “thank you” in Tongan. Pat Ledyard came as school principal, married a doctor, and stayed over 50 years in Vava'u in the village of Utulei. We had dinner with the “Queen” (the King's wife) of Tonga at Pat's house. Some cruisers stopped only for one or two days in Tonga and then rushed on to complete scheduled circumnavigations. Andy and Sandy knew our schooner in the Bahamas and were good friends of the schooner's original owners. They stayed many seasons in Vava'u working as sailmakers, and then became full-time residents of New Zealand. “Passing Wind” was the nom de plume of a cruiser who often read amusing bits on the VHF radio. His nemesis was an unknown radio user who would hold down his microphone button and create static to block out poetry or other humorous stuff. The man from Cornwall was our English friend Roger, who singlehanded the steel junk-rigged schooner “Irena.” Louise ran the cruisers favorite restaurant in Neiafu, Vava'u, Tonga.