This morning the wind finally died at ten, just ripples on the water. We now have a huge spreading calm patch to get through before picking up the strong north westerly winds that will take us the final step to Opua.
The Yanmar engine has been running since the wind left us. Maybe it will be running for the next day as well – if the diesel lasts out. So, we are making slow progress and now expect to arrive on Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday night.
I haven’t seen much bird life today. I think the birds like some wind to play with, just like us sailors. In the distance I saw another boat this morning, don’t know what it was, not a big ship or yacht so maybe a fishing boat. The first boat I have seen since departing Minerva Reef on the 15th.
When making pasta last night one of my gas bottle ran out. One that I had refilled in San Francisco back in June. Amazing how long these gas bottles last, must be the best value fuel out there.
My food stock is getting low now, at least the stuff I want to eat. My diet for the next days until port will be boring pasta, noodles, cereal and the occasional tin of something.
Last night we changed clocks to Summer time in New Zealand. To celebrate this occasion, I am having an extra tot of Mount Gay Rum for sundowners this evening – I still have two fresh limes from Nuku’alofa.
Last night at midnight we passed through a weather front. As we approached the front we were becalmed and motored in windless conditions for an hour before picking up the wind from the south east. When the wind filled in it had some force, we had a boisterous sail to mid-day with more benign conditions since. There was some heavy spray over the boat which has helped wash the dust and grime from Nuku’alofa away. The topsides are sparkling now.
The weather forecast is firming up, looks like we continue heading west for three more days until making the turn for the south. I can see light at the end of the tunnel now and can start thinking of an ETA into Opua.
After lunch, I had an afternoon siesta. It was so good I went back and had another one. Well it is Sunday, the day of rest. Sunday is also the designated day for personal grooming, shower, shave, haircut and scrub down. I have not had a hot shower since leaving Honolulu – I am looking forward to that luxury.
For sundowners this afternoon I changed back into long sleeved shirt and track pants. It’s cool in the cockpit when the sun goes down. It feels like the south-east breeze is bringing cold air up from the Antarctic. For the cool weather I have switched to whisky and water. Very nice, I could have taken another one but resisted as I need to stay alert.
This morning it rained cats and dogs. My walk to the internet café to check the weather was a soggy affair. Good news, the weather seems to be easing off on the route to New Zealand.
I went shopping for fresh fruit and veg and topped up on additional beer, the stocks were running low after such a long time in port. I stopped for lunch and had fish and chips – a final Tonga treat.
After lunch I visited the Customs to get the boats clearance outward. After some repetitive form filling I finally had the required piece of paper and a stamp in my passport. All ready to go.
Just after three in the afternoon I let go the lines and we were on the way home.
We are now clear of the island of Tongatapu and sailing in a westerly direction – hoping the wind will back around and we can sail more to the south in the morning. I am heading in the general direction of Minerva Reef. A stop at the reef may be necessary if the weather blows as forecast on the eighteenth at the top of New Zealand. We shall see in the next few days.
Its good to be back at sea again after waiting for so long in port. Beautiful fresh air and a clear horizon. At the moment the wind is a perfect ten to fifteen knots. I have reduced sail for the night and we are doing a comfortable five and a half knots. I hope it holds until morning.