Arrived Kingdom of Tonga

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 22 May 2011 02:21
Position: 18 42.04 S 174 01.8 W
Moored Port Maurelle, Va'vau
Wind: South east, F3 gentle breeze
Weather: Mostly sunny, warm
Day's run: 75 nm

Yesterday's light and variable winds eventually gave way to something a little more consistent, though for some of the night we drifted under bare poles so as to minimise sails slatting and chafing which, despite my best efforts, would appear to have taken its toll on the new head sail. Late yesterday evening as I was attempting to find some stars to shoot in the overcast sky (I only found two) I noticed an eight inch tear in the jib along a seam in the UV strip about half way up the the leach. This is very disappointing as the sail is less than 12 months old and while Sylph's sails undoubtedly receive a little more wear and tear than the average cruiser and perhaps I am less gentle with them then I ought to be, I had hoped for better. However it looks a simple repair which, while there is no sail maker hereabouts, it ought to be within the capacity of a local canvas shop to remedy, as long as the fabric is sound which I am sure it will be.

At midnight I advanced clocks 24 hours to Tonga time, meaning we skipped Saturday and have moved straight on to Sunday. By this time we had a light southerly with sufficient pressure to keep the sails full against the swell induced roll, but as we had but a short way to go I only set a bit of jib under which we made a steady three knots; at 2 a.m we raised the silhouette of the island by the light of the half full moon. Come 7 we had sufficient light and were in a good position to safely navigate into the islands, I set the mainsail and enjoyed a refreshing sail up wind down the western side of Va'vau and into the confined waters of the small archipelago. As we approached the main port of Neiafu I attempted to call Va'vau Radio on the VHF. I received no reply from Va'vau Radio but was answered by “Lighten Up” who advised me that as it was a Sunday it was very unlikely any officials would be on duty and recommended I make for Port Maurelle, a very nicely secluded bay a little ways inside the entrance, and continue to Neiafu on Monday. This suggestion I duly followed and I was as pleased as Punch to be able tack into the small bay against a one reef breeze, in amongst four boats and round up almost perfectly onto a mooring without the aid of the engine, my only criticism being that I was pinching Sylph up a little in the last 50 meters or so of the approach and we rather crept up to the buoy rather than displaying the confident panache of approaching with sails full, a foaming white bow wave and rounding up into the wind mainsail all a flutter coming to a perfect standstill with the buoy under foot. Nonetheless as Sylph sedately approached the buoy I nonchalantly strolled to the foredeck, dropped the mainsail en route, collected the boat hook and picked up the mooring line just as it drifted slowly past the port bow, as peacefully as can be. So, while not text book, I was well satisfied.

All is well.