Monday, June 24, 2013

passage to Tonga

Five days on Niue was just enough to experience most of the hikes and to do some diving, so with a good weather forecast, we decided to move on to Tonga. But Niue is another place that we will hold dear in our memories, and we would love to come back someday. Lucky Kiwis - only a 3 1/2 hour flight for them! The forecast called for winds under 15 knots - perfect for our boat. We even ended up sailing part of this passage with an unreefed main, a first for us in the South Pacific. The only obstacle along the way was the Capricorn Seamount, where an underwater mountain comes within 750 feet of the surface. Amazing that something so far down can affect the surface, but we weren't taking any chances. We plotted a course to dodge the seamount. We also enjoyed the light from the full moon on this passage. Much easier to see our way around the boat! About halfway through the passage we crossed the International Dateline, and "lost" a day (we'll get it back when we fly home in September). We made landfall at Vava'u just before dawn on Monday morning. Impulsive, an Australian yacht completing her 8-year circumnavigation, appeared off our port side as we neared the coast. From here, we had another 2 hours of motoring around the NW coast and into the Port of Refuge, one of the most protected harbors in the South Pacific. As we entered Neiafu, we could see that the Customs dock was crowded. We ended up rafting 5 deep while awaiting clearance. Some of the other yachts were boats we had met in Mopelia. One by one, we invited various officials aboard: Immigration, Quarantine, Health, and Customs. Each had a sheaf of paperwork to fill out, and a lot of questions. We offered hot drinks and cookies to each, and enjoyed pleasant conversations with all of them. Now we are tied to a mooring in the deep harbor. Neiafu seems like a very pleasant town, with a lot of amenities for cruising sailors.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We often think of you and are happy to know that you are having such a wonderful adventure! We're envious!! Beautiful pictures! Carol & Richard