Saturday, September 3, 2011

Western Samoa to Vava'u, Tonga

The easterly 'reinforced trade winds' had been blowing pretty steady at 25-30 knots for about three weeks straight so when we saw a break in the pattern, we went for it. As is all too typical, the winds went to almost nothing and we wound up having to motor a substantial percentage of the passage. Still, the seas were very calm and it allowed for some restful sleep. For those of you who have never slept on a small sailboat crossing blue water, imagine trying to sleep while a moving crew was in the process of moving the mattress you were sleeping on - sometimes you just have to hang on while you sleep.

We pulled into the Faihava Channel in a pretty heavy rain with the dark clouds touching the ocean's surface. Visibility left a lot to be desired but with the aid of radar and an accurate chartplotter, we were able to pick our way between Tu'ungasika and Luafatu Islands, past Hikutamoli and Lotuma Points and into the very protected bay of Neiafu, which is an international port of entry. We did a drive by of the 50 or so boats tied to moorings but we didn't recognize any of them. On the other side of the bay we spotted Blue Moon, our friends from New Zealand with whom we shared a slip at the marina in La Cruz, Mexico. After an unsuccessful attempt at anchoring, we decided to pick up a mooring. It continued to rain off and on.

We did get calls on the radio from several friends, including the elusive Archtuethis, whom we also hadn't seen since Mexico. The area is filling up as the start of Vava'u Regatta Week is this coming Wednesday. The event has gotten some good press in the cruising magazines and websites so it's possible that this might be it's biggest turn out yet. Ruthie and Corie aren't big on racing but I'm hoping they'll be good sports about it.

This is a major milestone for us - not only did we cross the international dateline but these are the last islands we visit until we jump off for New Zealand, which will quite likely happen next month.

In the northern hemisphere, this is my favorite time of year but I think it's still true down here. I wish everyone all the best.
At 9/3/2011 8:58 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 18°39.82'S 173°58.90'W

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