Blog 54. 17.40.52S 177 27. 11W. At sea en route for Vanua Balavu

David Batten
Fri 10 Jun 2016 05:32
Today is Friday 10 June, we are approx 59 nm from the way point giving us a safe arrival point off the coral reef surrounding Vanua Balavu and the pass through the reef. It has been a few days of classic sailing dilemma. Do we leave Tonga as planned after clearing out on Wednesday with a forecast of strong winds and rough seas, the latter being an issue rather than the former as the winds are in a very favourable direction. Or do we wait for the gale to the south to pass south east of us, by which time, there will be very little wind. We had decided on a compromise and with permission from Customs and Immigration to stayed another day after checking out. We hoped to have at least 24 hours of favourable winds, a promise of reducing seas and, hopefully, calm weather for getting into the pass and negotiating the reefs and rocks in the lagoon.

So Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning have passed in a flash, what with stocking up on fresh fruit and veg in the excellent market, Skipper's briefing, the dinner and wretched prize giving which was just painful. The only really good thing this time is that Wishanger was third in class A and the boys, Ben and Sam got well deserved recognition from Mearra Nieida's crew for all they did in Suwarrow. It was here that they cleared five anchors chains that had got wrapped around coral.
We used the time to get the boat ready to go to sea in rough conditions, finding some Kava as presents for the village chiefs in Fiji, and endlessly discussing the weather. The local weather forecast was 40 knot winds and very rough seas and small craft to stay at home. In the end, we decided to stick to leaving Thursday while there was still some favourable wind and hope the local forecast was only for the southern part of Tonga.

Last night it was quite rough, but not horribly so and we all had good fast watches with only fairly benign squall a until the early hours, when it was 28 to 34 knots

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