ENJOYING TONGA

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.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND / KIRITIMATI TO PENRHYN

I awoke early this morning, it was too quiet.  On deck all was peaceful, the anchor cable was lying soundlessly in the water.  After days of wind this was a pleasant surprise.  I was now too awake to go back to sleep and it was too early to wake Jessica.

For the next hour I pottered about, putting in some waypoints to the GPS, reading some old news clippings and getting the ships papers’ ready for clearing out from Kiritimati.  Then I made toast and marmalade for breakfast and woke Jessica – who couldn’t complain too much about the time as she was presented with breakfast.

After breakfast we launched the pig and headed into London to clear out with customs and immigration.  This was an easy and pleasant affair and cost us AU$20.  With clearance in hand we set off to do some final provisioning.  We discovered poor quality oranges cost $3.5 each and water was $3 a bottle.  Other items were similarly expensive and we ended up getting not much at all.  I will need to start fishing again.

I found that there are chickens on Christmas Island, I saw a whole bunch running around a yard.  No doubt some enterprising local doesn’t like paying $1.50 for each egg.

When we returned to Truce the wind and sea had picked up again and we had a wet ride.  Once back on board we made ready for sea, lashing and stowing everything in its place.  At eleven o’clock I started the engine and began hauling up the anchor.  By midday we had cleared Cooks Passage and started out voyage south to Penrhyn.

The first hour we sped south on a beam reach at over seven knots.  However, as soon as we cleared the Island the wind went around to the south east and we are back with the wind on the port bow.  Beating into the wind, crashing and banging, salt spray everywhere (thank goodness for the hard dodger) and a strong feeling of Déjà vu.  At the moment we can’t lay the course south and are getting pushed to the west.

Predict Wind weather routing has the wind coming from the east and further down the track from north of east.  That will be perfect.  I hope the wind comes around in the next few hours because I don’t fancy five more days going to windward.  We both had enough of that coming from Honolulu to Kiritimati.  Sailing should be fun, a little bit of going to windward occasionally is OK, but not for days on end.  In the back of my mind I have the option of missing Penrhyn and going direct to Suwarrow if the wind stays south of east.

Apart from my moaning about the wind everything is fine, clear skies with fluffy clouds, fifteen knots of wind and we are making reasonable speed in the general direction of south.  The biggest problems we have now is deciding what to eat for dinner.

FIVE HUNDRED MILES FROM KIRITIMATI

We are now five hundred miles from Kiritimati.  A large area of calms is showing up in front of us and appears to be growing by the day.  This is the ITCZ, an area of calms, thunderstorms and variable winds we need to cross before Christmas Island.  The current weather is overcast with rain, the winds are getting lighter as each hour passes.

The wind is still on the port bow, aa it has been since the first day out of Honolulu.  Truce is still moving along nicely as we continue to work our way to the south with an allowance to the east.  I think that by this evening the wind will be very light and the fun starts.

Once again the solar panels are not putting out enough charge to keep us topped up.  I have switched off some non-essential items to conserve power until we can get a nice sunny day.  The combination of short tropical days and continuous overcast skies is something I hadn’t counted on.

Last night’s fresh Dolphinfish Thai fish curry was excellent.  Jessica did a fantastic job of cooking in a galley that was jumping around – not chef friendly.  We decided not to have rice with the curry and cooked pasta instead.  Neither Jessica or I like cooking rice without a rice cooker (one of mans great inventions) – it always sticks to the pan and needs cleaning off.  I am sure the Thai’s and Italians wouldn’t approve the mix, but there are not here.  It was good.  Voyage distance 695 miles.