Monday, November 8, 2010

Underway again

21 06S/17523W
West of Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga
South Pacific Ocean
Tuesday, November 4th Tonga, 2200 GMT - or 9 AM Tonga time,

Winds 141 T at 15-18 knots
COG 223 mag
Barometer 1014 mb

We departed Pangaimotu early this morning, bound for Minerva reef. While we anticipate a close reach in 15 -20 knots of wind, this strategy should set us up for a good passage to Opua, NZ in 4 days or so. We are, of course, receiving routing assistance from our favorite forecaster, Ken McKinley of Locus Weather in Camden, Maine, and will check in with him daily. A Low south and east of us will deepen slightly as it reforms today and tomorrow, and then recede around November 11th or 12th. A high will then fill across the North Island of NZ and we will passage to NZ under a moderate easterly and then through light winds below 30S. A light air passage may not be ideal for all, but it sure beats storms, a sharp stick in the eye, or gales, hands down. We carry 460 gallons of diesel for a reason - and are not afraid to use it at times like this.

Since the last post, we visitd the island of Eua (Aiwah), about 24 miles SSE of Nuku'alofa. It is a beautiful island with vistas thaat reminded me of Easter Island, and one that is rarely visited by cruisers as it has an open roadstead for an anchorage, and only a small protected boat basin. We carefully entered the basin when we arrived and anchored insided, but we blocked the small channel and did not have sufficient time to set a stern anchor before the ferry we quickly moved back outside as weather was settled. We spent a great day hiking and cave exploring on this sunken and emerged atoll (40 million years old, it is similar in geography to Niue) but in the end, decided that the travails of med mooring inside were not worth it, as focus was on passage we headed back to Pagaimotu. It was a good experience and great visit, and provided some sailing time for new crew member Ralph, who says he is here on vacation but keeps fixing things on the boat. A GREAT addition and wonderful crew.

Johanna left the boat this morning at 6 AM, and will spend 2 nights in Tonga before flying to NZ. She remains convinced we will have an easy passage because she is not on board. We'll see what develops, but we could be in Opua, NZ as early as 1 week from now.

240 nm to go to Minerva.

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