Passages, Places

Passage to Tonga

On Tuesday, September 12, Blue Beryl and Aldabra motored out of the Suwarrow pass and around to the west side of the island before we turned and put up our sails. From that point on, we went 118 miles in 24 hours. Conditions slowed us down and we motorsailed.

On Wednesday, September 13, the seas were big and on the beam, with considerable wind. We had two reefs in the main and and the jib was furled partway in. The night was fairly mellow and comfortable. Thursday was an uncomfortable day but the night wasn’t too bad.

On Friday, we logged 135 miles for the previous 24 hours. At 4:00 p.m., we had 336 miles to go to the northen tip of the Vavau group, where we would turn a corner and head around in protected waters toward the pass into the island group. We sailed in big seas that day but we were pretty comfortable, 5-6 knots of boat speed in 14-17 knots of wind. We had a reasonable night and were able to stay on course.

Saturday wasn’t a bad day. We logged 126 miles in the previous 24 hours. The seas had abated a bit and the winds were in the low teens during the day.

On Sunday, we had logged 128 miles in the previous 24 hours. The winds and the seas started picking up. By midday, conditions were intensifying. We had an intense night, sailing with no main and a tiny bit of jib out. It was one of those uncomfortable sails that you just want to be over. We rounded the tip of Vavau at 5:00 a.m. on Monday morning. The seas were still big but within about 5 miles, the island started protecting us and the seas flattened out, evening with strong winds brought on by a cape effect.

Because we had just crossed the international dateline, Monday was now Tuesday for us. So it was on Tuesday, September 19, that we entered the pass, just behind Blue Beryl, who had slowed down and waited for us to go in with them. Both boats wound our way to Neiafu, the main town in the Vavau group. Several other boats were at the wharf waiting to check in because it had been a three-day weekend, so we each found a mooring ball, expecting to wait until the next day to check in. Kristina from the sailboat Second Set came over on her dinghy and helped us find a mooring ball. We were moored by 9:00 a.m.

Although we hadn’t checked in, we went ashore that afternoon to get money from the ATM and drop off our laundry at Bubbles. We looked inside a couple of the grocery stores, then stopped by the Basque Tavern for a beer, along with Alex from Blue Beryl.

That night we had a very nice dinner at Kraken with Blue Beryl and Szel to celebrate our arrival. The next day, we got up early and took Aldabra over to the wharf to check in. We stayed there for a few hours while we took care of the check-in formalities, picked up our laundry and got some fruit at the nearby outdoor market. Then we returned to the mooring ball, ready to begin our visit to Tonga.

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