After two very nice days in Hunga/Fafoa Island we set sail for Ha'ano Island in Tonga's Ha'pai group (the next set of islands to the south of Vava'u). We had a very relaxed sail over night, beam reaching in moderate wind and on on very moderate seas, and arived here just after sunrise. By the time we had tacked up to the anchorage we had enough light to pick a scenic anchor spot between the coral (with Victoria's help, who had sailed here a night earlier). Nice coral and snorkeling and some interesting big bats hanging in the trees on the island.
09 - Pacific Crossing
After two days of high-speed re-provisioning in Neiafu (incl. a nice dinner with lots of by now familiar crews) we sailed to Hunga today, where we are now on a mooring inside the lagoon. The mooring belongs to Elke and Werner, a German couple that had retired to this island after 22 years on their 40 ft steel sloop and an extensive track across the world's oceans. They now run the official "Transocean Stuetzpunkt" in Tonga. We had a very nice afternoon and evening at their house here.
After 3 very nice days at Kenutu Island on the eastern edge of Tonga's Vava'u Group, we sailed back west to anchor off Lape Island yesterday and explore the coral gardens here by snorkeling yesterday afternoon (absolutely beautiful!). Nicky is off for a day at the local school here on the island this morning, thereby increasing their student count by more than 10% (usually 9 kids). We'll report when he gets back in a few hours. Earlier this morning I met Moe and Margaret on Wadda, who were anchored just across the bay here - a real pleasure.
Spent 4 hours beating to the east today, and then threading our way through the reefs/shallows to get to the easternmost anchorage in Tonga's Vava'u Group, just behind Kenutu Island. Once again a very nice spot where you can hear the ocean waves crahing against the reef that extends south from the island. Reminds a bit of Suwarrow.
A week in Tonga's Vava'u Group with four different anchorages and total distance between them of less than 20nm... a nice crusing ground. Had a "brisk" little sail today, from our "old" anchorage at Port Maurelle to Tapana Island, about 10nm to the East. The weather has settled nicely, so we had fun tacking upwind on flat seas under sunny skies. Had a drive-by meeting with Astarte along the way.
Sailed a whopping 3nm today, to an anchorage just outside the Neiafu bay, and are now anchored off Mala Island (#6 in the canonical Moorings Guide to Tonga), next to Adventure Bound. Had a nice reunion with Marcelle and Bruce from A/B - no more chasing each other on the SSB.
Victoria made it in yesterday morning and Aspasia today. Victoria had a very squally and rainy last night at sea, so we felt lucky to have snug in the day before.
We reached Tonga's Vava'u island at 1400 local time this afternoon but then had wait in a "holding pattern" for an hour until some rainy squalls that reduced visibility to less than 50m cleared out. The rain didn't really stop but we were able to weave our way in to Neiafu where we're now tied up to the customs dock, awaiting clearance tomorrow morning. All is well aboard, stay tuned ...
We're about 20nm off the northern end of Vava'u in Tonga, with a further 15nm to go after that to reach the harbor in Neiafu. We know it's currently 8am local time but we're not sure whether it's Tuesday, 02OCT or Wednesdy 03OCT at our current position. Tonga will be our first stop "behind" the international dateline. So after having "retarded" our clocks again and again, from utc-4 (daylight savings time on the US East Coast last summer) to utc-11 (Niue), we'll now be leap-frogging ahead to utc+13 and lose a day in the process.
Slipped our mooring at 14:30 local time this afternoon, after a last snorkel in Niue's crystal clear waters. We sailed out of the bay together with Victoria, trying to take pictures of each others' boats under sail with Niue in the background. Always a fun exercise ;-) Aspasia had left a bit earlier and we caught up with them just before sunset. Now comfortably sailing on a broad reach. After some good speed this afternoon the wind is now dropping and backing as forecast, but still giving us about 5kn of boat speed.