WAITING FOR A WEATHER WINDOW IN NUKU’ALOFA

Today has been a flat day.  I have not done anything meaningful.  I am feeling a bit down now that Jessica has gone and I am alone again. I stayed on board most of the day reading a book and doing small odd jobs, just pottering about really.

I want to get going to New Zealand but the weather is not right yet.  It looks like next Monday will be the earliest opportunity to depart.  Very frustrating as I want to be on my way, but you can’t hurry the weather.  So, I will be waiting on weather and going slightly crazy if I can’t find some distraction.

This morning I was reflecting on our trip from Honolulu to Tonga.  The route planned was Honolulu, Christmas Island, Penrhyn, Suwarrow, Niue and Tonga.  In the end, we went direct from Honolulu to Tonga with only a stop at Christmas Island.  The weather on route and at the destinations of Both Penrhyn and Suwarrow being nasty.

In the Vava’u group we met up with a lady who had planned the identical trip, leaving Honolulu a month before us.  She made Christmas Island, after having similar weather on the bow as we did.  She then could not make Penrhyn or Suwarrow and missed them, she left out Niue as we did and headed direct to Tonga, all due to the weather.  What a coincidence that we both had identical itineraries and both made the same route decisions – and then both met up in the same small bay.

Tonight, I will stay on board again and cook some supper.  I have plantain and some fresh veg – it will be a healthy meal.  Then maybe watch a movie.  After a good rest tonight I will be ready for some exploration tomorrow.

ADOPTING PLAN ‘C’ – HEADING TO TONGA

Another lovely night.  This time though the wind deserted us in the early hours and has been missing since.  For the last twelve hours we have rolled around the ocean and just managed to keep moving at between two and three knots.  Such a contrast to the previous days when we have been striding along effortlessly at between six and seven knots.

Jessica Sailing in The South Pacific
Jessica Sailing in The South Pacific

The wind is expected to fill in again this evening and we will welcome some breeze through the boat – its very hot today.  I poled out the jib this morning to reduce the sail flogging, we are moving slowly south east, downwind.

We keep scanning astern looking and hoping for signs of a breeze.  Its been a slow day today, only one hundred and eighteen miles noon to noon.

Last night we downloaded another weather file and found the winds forecast for Suwarrow had not diminished – in fact they had become slightly stronger, thirty knots.  There is no point in us arriving in such weather, the anchorage will be neither relaxing or conducive to exploring ashore or by Kayak.  We will just be stuck onboard, much like during our call at Christmas Island.

We have reluctantly made the decision to skip Suwarrow and head direct for Tonga.  If we had been on an easier schedule we could have easily held back arriving in Suwarrow for a couple of days and then enjoyed some calm condition inside the lagoon.  We don’t have that luxury so will head direct to Neiafu in the Vava’u group to check in with customs and immigration.  It will probably take us another ten days to get to Neiafu, arriving around Monday 21st August.

The time that we have missed at Penrhyn and Suwarrow we will spend sailing down the Tonga chain of islands.  We have been reading some good stuff about Humpback whales breeding at this time of year – hopefully we will catch up with some.  Total voyage distance 540 miles.

HEADING TO SUWARROW

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.