This morning we headed into Neiafu to clear into Tonga, arriving at the main wharf at eight. Customs opened thirty minutes later and we started the clearing in process. This consists of completing around ten forms, answering the same questions multiple times. The whole process took a while, there was a flight arriving and available manpower had been diverted to the airport. Finally, at one in the afternoon the last check, Sanitation, was complete and we headed off to find an anchorage.
The anchorage turned out to be a mooring buoy just off the dinghy dock at the moorings, a convenient spot. Without delay we were moored and the pig in the water. By two in the afternoon we were sitting on the Mango Café deck snacking and drinking cold beer. A fitting end to a long voyage from Christmas Island of 1,648 miles over 13 days.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around town and soaking up the Island pace of life. In the morning, when getting cash for the clearance, I left my credit card in the ATM. In the afternoon I went back to the bank and retrieved the card which had been handed in. Honest people here.
WiFi access was on our shore list as we haven’t had any connection since leaving Honolulu a month ago. We found WiFi at a price but it was so slow we couldn’t download the information we wanted. Priority tomorrow will be to find decent WiFi and book Jessica’s flight back to Melbourne.
In the evening we came across a good café overlooking the harbour. The fresh fish looked good so we went that way. Jessica tried the Ota Ika (raw fish in coconut with veggies), it was superb. I had pan seared tuna, also excellent but too much to finish in one go. We both felt very relaxed as the sun went down over the harbour. I am sure we will sleep well tonight, securely tied up to a mooring. Total voyage distance from Kiritimati to Neiafu 1,648 miles.
Another day of light winds. Nothing we can do about that – just sail as best we can and enjoy the trip. I had hoped to arrive in Neiafu early afternoon Monday and clear customs. Now it looks like we will arrive late evening. If that is the case I will hang back so we arrive in daylight on the 22nd.
Most of the last twenty-four hours has been spent with the jib poled out to port and the mainsail boomed out to starboard. A very comfortable way of sailing, we managed to make some progress this way overnight. This morning we sailed west to find some more wind as promised by the weather prediction. So far, we have found a couple of small squalls, a refreshing shower, but no wind yet, just slating sails in the sunshine.
At lunch time we passed over an area indicated in the chart as having volcanic activity. We were hoping to see some bubbles, pumice, volcanic stuff, smell rotten eggs – but nothing, just sea like the surrounding area.
Now that Tonga is just a weekend away we really want to get into port. This has been a long trip from Honolulu, made longer I think because we couldn’t get a real break in Christmas Island. We both wanted to get off the boat there and explore ashore, the strong trade winds and exposed anchorage prevented us from getting that break. So, it almost feels like we have been sailing nonstop since Honolulu.
Last nights movie was ‘Once were Warriors’. An iconic New Zealand movie. I only saw it myself last year and it was Jessica’s first time. Well worth watching once – even if its to see what the Auckland southern motorway looks like with light traffic. Total Voyage distance 1,241 miles.
Another wonderful sailing day and night. We have the wind on our beam and are being pushed along nicely at six knots towards Suwarrow. Its almost too good to be true, this is the first constant weather we have experienced since departing from Honolulu. The wind went light for a couple of hours in the early morning but we managed to keep sailing until it picked up again.
Last night we caught a couple of fish. I don’t know what type of fish they were. They didn’t look appetising, long slender things with very large eyes. I suspect because of the big eyes they are night time feeders – anyway, they went back over the side. We are looking for dolphin fish, we know they taste good.
Last night we had a new take on Thai Chick Pea Curry – concocted by Jessica. A slightly unconventional dish that tasted excellent. Despite our pledging not to – we made rice. Cleaning up was easy really and I suppose we can’t live without rice.
I got a bit bored this afternoon and started rooting around the lockers under the salon settee. Happily, I came up with six tins of fruit salad that I had completely forgotten about. Now I know how the squirrel feels when he finds a new stash of nuts.
We have spent the day just relaxing and enjoying the perfect sailing conditions. Snacking, playing guitar, playing cards, watching movies, reading books. Nice to catch up on simple activities. I have not heard any news since leaving Hawaii, I don’t even know who won the Tour de France. It doesn’t matter at the moment.
As we have missed out our stop at Penrhyn we don’t have clearance into Suwarrow. I have asked Ngozi to ask the Cook Customs to grant us a clearance on arrival. Hopefully that will come through before we arrive.
The advance weather forecast for our arrival at Suwarrow does not look too flash. There is a bit of difference between forecasts, one has twenty knot winds the other 35 knot winds. We will monitor it daily as we get closer and hope it dissipates before we arrive. Total voyage distance 270 miles.