Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Sat 2 Nov 2013 23:57
To Port Maurelle, Vava’u Group, Kingdom of Tonga
Chores done, Baby Beez hoisted, we left buoy thirteen and bade a very fond ‘farewell’ to the beautiful island of Niue at midday, soon disappearing from view. We had a go at goose-winging (sail out on each side) for a while, but the wind shifted. The only notable occurrence during the two hundred and forty seven mile journey happened when Bear went forward to take the genoa support pole down. A rope flew toward him to bite his head and succeeded in whipping his shades off, last seen flying to a watery grave. Darn and words like that were uttered, but I won at backgammon as if that was a booby prize..........Grrrrrrrrr. Don’t you be growling and gnashing teeth, you won. I’m still growling about my shades. It’s the Visa card that should be making the noise.........Mmmmmm.
The other thing was Bear being robbed of a day of my life, never to get it back. Yes dear. Tonga is New Zealand time and therefore beyond the International Date Line. We left on the last day of October and at midnight I put the clock forward, same time but on the second of November. The first twenty four hours of our journey we completed one hundred and twenty seven point eight miles.
Our second day at sea was unremarkable but as the third day dawned it was clear we would have to motor sail the last bit. I got up to see Tonga just in sight – time for our third flag ceremony in as many weeks. I lost at backgammon AGAIN, so I did a bit of growling....
Tonga surrounded by gorgeous coloured water.
The captain had forgotten about date lines before he planned our date of departure, meaning we would arrive on a Sunday. It was decided we would head to Port Maurelle and anchor, then Monday morning do the five miles to Neiafu to clear in. The Kingdom of Tonga is made up of three main groups – Vava’u, Ha’apai and Tongatapu, spread over one hundred and seventy one islands, many uninhabited. The Vavu’u group of islands are shaped like a jellyfish, as we rounded the ‘top end’ the many ‘tentacles’ appeared (sixty one islands)surrounded by deep water. Known as one of the great sailing destination of the world, one or two anchorages, so plenty to explore before we make our final journeys of the year throughout the groups to New Zealand.
Time at sea provides plenty of time for ‘planning meetings’ and it was exciting to think about our long overdue trip to the UK. A bit of discussion led to next seasons stomping grounds – Tonga as a jumping off start to:- The Samoas, Wallis, Tuvulu, Fortuna and Fiji before heading back to New Zealand for the following cyclone season. Marvelous. For now we can sit back and enjoy these islands, rugged beauty and sandy beaches.
Interesting shapes all around us, three hundred feet of water below us.
The dinghy next to this stand alone rock looks tiny.
Always amusing when Beez decides to settle on dry land.
A happy, perfectly still and quiet anchorage.
As we approached yachts we recognised all the yachts – To our right Wind Witch (last seen in the Galapagos), in front of us Tribe. To our left Almacantar, Gallivanter, Millennium and Sonsie (all in a variety of places along the way). John on Millennium came whizzing over to act as the welcoming committee, lovely to catch up. Steve and Clare (Almacantar) popped over on their home from diving. Time for a swim, just in front of Beez, Bear can be see snorkeling over the anchor. I snorkeled over to Gallivanter, where Jim from Sonsie had joined Adam for a beer o’clock. En route home I popped over to Tribe to say hello. Everyone said tomorrow was a Bank Holiday, so here we will be until Tuesday. Caves nearby are full of swiftlets and the island has massive fruit bats and green parrots, that will do for our spuddle tomorrow. Not really allowed ashore until we check in – everyone reassured us that the islands here are “very laid back”, half the boats here are already check out awaiting their weather windows for onward journeys. We stayed in the water and began a good scrubbing session on Beez bottom and then it was time to shower, have supper and for me to get my revenge. A follow up five nil and the captain declared, time for a film. No arguments from me.
ALL IN ALL CANNOT WAIT TO EXPLORE