Arrived in Tonga

Posted 20 August 2011

The weather between Bora-Bora and Tonga seems to be quite unpredictable, with frequent squalls and rain. We had a pleasant passage until a big squall hit us. We furled the genoa and had 3 reefs in the main sail and this was done very fast. We were lucky as the amount of rain that was dumped on us was the most I have seen up to now. The winds was blowing 35 knots for about 3 to 5 minutes and then all was calm. It left the sea with confused swells and us having to start the engine to actually move again. This was the only big squall for this passage.

We were heading towards the north of the Vavau group of islands, but the wind changed to a more westerly direction which forced us to sail towards the south of the islands. This delayed our arrival time from during the day to night time. We were very happy with the electronic charts, in some places it is slightly off, but in combination with the radar we had no problems getting into port at night. We took a mooring buoy at 12:15 am on Friday morning 19 August and slept solidly until the morning.

We took our time having breakfast, tiding-up the boat a bit and then headed towards customs and immigration for clearing into the Kingdom of Tonga. No problems with clearing in and we manage to get the banking and some provisioning done.

On Sunday we are going for a traditional Tonga feast, but that will be another posting on the blog.

Niue Island

Posted 15 August 2011

Our passage to Niue was uneventful except for 1 night where the wind picked up to about 28 knots. Not to put too much pressure on the wind vane we reduced the genoa to quite small. We arrived in Niue at 03:00 am on Monday morning 8 th August. The bay was totally calm and with the light from the moon we had no problem seeing the mooring buoys. Our friends from Cool Cat and Micromegas arrived the previous Friday.

At 09:00 am Monday morning we all went ashore for customs and immigration clear in. It was great seeing our friends again. We were all greeted by Keith the commodore of Niue Yacht Club at the wharf. He took our laundry to be washed and dried, this was great as we got quite wet on the passage. We went for fish and chips after all the paper work was done to catch up on each other's news.

We were invited to have supper onboard Micromegas as Cool Cat was leaving Tuesday morning for Tonga. We had a lovely time. Tuesday morning Dinis pumped the dinghy so that he can fix the wind vane permanently. It was quite a bit of work, but he did managed to fix the problem.

We rented a car together with Chantal and Fredy for our day tour around the island. We picked the car up at the wharf and started our trip. We had enough food and was looking out for papayas as this fruit grows abundantly on the island. A person is allowed to pick papayas as long as it is not on private property. We manage to get quite a few papayas, some still green, which should be ready for eating in a couple of days. We also got some coconut and cut a palm tree to make our own millionaire salad (heart of palm). We had a very good picnic lunch and supper. We visited several sightseeing locations and snorkel in beautiful caves.

Niue is very beautiful, reminded me of Galapagos as far as the wildlife is concern. The bay where the mooring buoys are, are also the bay where the humpback whales come to breed and have their calves. They swam meters away from the boats, very spectacular.

We were 4 boats in the bay. Another Canadian boat came into the bay on Sunday 14 August, what a surprise to meet our friends Larry and Kim from sv Magenta again. The last time we saw each other was about 4 years ago in Vancouver. We all went for a snorkel to see if we can see the water snakes. We did see the snakes, apparently they are poisonous but there are no incident on record where anyone was bitten.

Unfortunately the wind was changing and the anchorage was becoming uncomfortable. We all are preparing to leave on Monday morning after we clear out. Unfortunately for Magenta the weather forecast is not in their favour and they will not be able to go ashore Niue unless they want to wait for better weather and be uncomfortable.

Palmerston Atoll - South Cook Islands

Posted 8 August 2011

We were 3 boats that arrived on Sunday 31 July at Palmerston Atoll, Chantal and Fredy from Micromegas and Hanuku and Darrel from Cool Cat. Our hosts Edward and Simon brought the officials aboard on Monday morning. No problems clearing into the South Cook Islands, although quite expensive, cost us $105.00 NZD. After clearing in, we all went ashore where the hosts organized a lunch at their home for us all. We met the family and had a very lovely and interesting time.

Palmerston Atoll's population is 64, where more than half are children. We went for a stroll through the village and met the school principle. She took us for a tour showing us the school. We were very impress with the amount of organization and work that goes into the school. There are currently 3 teachers at the school.

The anchorage is good as long as the wind is blowing from the S, SW or SE. As soon as it changes the anchorage becomes a lee shore, uncomfortable and not safe. We did not manage to fix the wind vane in time before the wind shifted towards the NE on Tuesday 2 August, as Dinis helped Edward to do a service on his quad's engine and also another quad that had some problems. They use quads and motorcycles as transportation on the island. Micromegas and Cool Cat decided that it were time to leave. We tied ourselves to another buoy, so that we were now tied up to 2 buoys just for incase.

On Wednesday the water tanks were full and Dinis had managed to temporary fix the wind vane, as by now the swell in the anchorage was quite bad. We decided that we will sleep the night and then leave on Thursday morning first thing. During the night we were woken by noise and Dinis went outside to investigate. It looked like one of buoys that we were tied to was not holding us anymore. The reef also looked to close for comfort to us, maybe 2 boat lengths. We decided that we have to leave, so at 4 am Dinis started the engine. After bit of a struggle for me to pull the lines to release the boat from the buoys we were released and began our trip to Niue.