The Three Fix-It Guys

Now the work begins for the menWhen Rob, David & John headed back in to Matamaka at 9:30 yesterday morning to complete the last of the repairs they were pretty confident that they would be finished up by 11:00. Marcy, Nicole and I planned to come ashore then and say our goodbyes to Fa’aki and Ben and thank them for sharing the wonderful feast. About 10:45 Rob called on the VHF to report that the three little jobs left behind the night before were nearly done, but many new items had been added to the list. Apparently when a village of not very mechanically or electrically skilled Tongans realizes they have three very talented palangis with tools in hand, they’re smart enough to get all they can from the opportunity.

Around 12:30 the guys came back out to Gannet for lunch and the six of us went back in, thinking they were near the bottom of the list. Earlier in the morning two televisions, an inverter (brought over from another village), a chainsaw, vhf player and two more generators were added to the repair list. Where the previous day’s success rate had been 5 for 5 on repairs, some of the new items added more complexity and challenged their skill sets. And there was definitely some excitement to be had when the case of the chainsaw was opened up and about 20 cockroaches came scurrying out.

John explains how to keep the generator runningThe preacher of Ben & Fa’aki’s church asked if they could make “one last stop” to repair the generator at the church. They had not been able to have any evening services for a long time, so off the team trudged back up the hill to the church. Once that generator was purring again we headed for the dinks at the beach. As we passed the tiny village store a Tongan man stepped into the path as asked the men to please look at his generator. The look on his face was one of pleading, and David replied “of course we can” with a big smile. When we saw him take a nearly brand new generator out of the store everyone was surprised. John examined it and quickly found it plugged in several places from dirty fuel.

About that time we joked amongst ourselves that maybe the only way free of the village was to split up and run serpentine back to the beach! The sun was starting to head for the horizon, and the guys were rightfully getting a little tired out. None of us had thought when we left our boats that we would need anchor lights on before we got back. In the end, the three fix-it guys have much to be proud of and show for their two days’ labor. Many houses and churches that had been dark were now lit, the store could cool foods in the freezer again, families could enjoy movies together, and solar panels were pumping amps into batteries all over the village.

All in all it was a very productive and interesting stop at Matamaka. We learned much about the Tongan culture from our hostess and made friends that we hope to come back and visit again. Gannet and Nine of Cups have returned to Neiafu, where Gannet is now waiting for a weather window for the passage to New Zealand, while Cups plans to leave for the Tongan island group of Ha’Apai further south on Sunday. We are just across the bay in a very well protected and secluded anchorage enjoying a quiet and restful afternoon.

Today on Yohelah we’re glad to have been able to contribute so much help to the marvelous people of the village of Matamaka….

The boat is here