In Nuku'alofa

Miss Molly 4
Bob & Peggy Wilkerson/Geoff & Merel Pettifer
Thu 30 Oct 2008 20:13
21:07.51S 175:09.91W

We got up early this morning at Numoka'iki Island to make most of the daylight sailing through the reef cluttered area to Tongatapu, the biggest island in Tonga with the capital Nuku'alofa. We had a fore reach and Miss Molly was literally pelting towards her destination, doing 9+ knots. We almost had to wear goggles!

We managed to pass safely through the reefs despite that some markers were missing - our Garmin chartplotter is doing a great job. We also managed to skim past mother and calf humpback whales coming into Nuku'alofa. That was a close up look! They must have thought we were relatives. We got here after lunch but since we got up so early with the wind in our faces and healing over for the bigger part of the day we did not do much in the afternoon other than watching the laundry dry (Merel) and making a passage plan for the next trip (Geoff).

It is a true jump off point for New Zealand here in Nuku'alofa. There are a lot of boats here we either have not seen yet or that we have caught up with. The weather here has been fluky and not everybody in the fleet is up to it. Some boats had to limp back to Tonga after they got clabbered on the way to New Zealand due to misinterpreting the weather, probably combined with not much offshore weather experience. You can never be cautious enough and one should never be cocky about the elements. So we are watching the weather closely, getting as many different forecasts as we can and draw our conclusions from that. Make sure we feel fit and well rested, so the party time of Vava'u is now far behind us. Tomorrow (Friday, in our part of the world, although we are still 5 degrees off the official date line, which is another 300 miles West from here) we will go into town to stock up on freshies one last time and deal with the formalities of clearing out (and in, since we arrived in another island group and each group requires a visit to at least the port captain). Then at least another good nights sleep and leave on Saturday.

That's the plan, let's see if the weather cooperates. Our idea would be to stop at Minerva Reef, about 250 miles from here, and wait for the right weather there to do the remaining 800 miles. The reef is a perfect O with one pass on the Northwest side. Boats have been very comfortable there waiting out storms, so it must be a great spot. Should however the weather be good to go when we get to Minerva, we will have to give that a miss.

We'll let you know what happens soon.

Cheers from Geoff & Merel