Tuesday 10th. 1200hrs cleared customs and all the staff and workers from the Marina came down to give us a singing FIJI departure…really cool! We like Vuda marina. Headed out to the outer reef pass which takes about three hours steaming in the lagoon and then dropped the anchor so we could check the bottom and prop for weed or slime. All OK, so after our last meal and a second attempt to repair our leaking inflatable, we set off at about 1700hrs in smooth seas for the pass…and out into a slight 1mtr head sea and 15 kt favourable breeze and overcast sky.
The first night was quite a show, with all the crew except Jane and me sea sick, each their own interpretation as to what that meant to their bodies and how they expressed the desire to chuck!..we had about 1,5mtr head sea. Brownie was the best, every hour on the hour, with a smile and “oh well, here we go again” attitude, “Loud Spew!” then a smile and back to the job at hand never stopping ….Annetta appeared frustrated as she simply hates the process of actually heaving up things and being sick anytime for any reason. She could not remember that experience in her life for about 10 years…Yau was just sick, but got over it fast and was into eating anything he could find, for the next three days!.
Wednesday 11th. Next morning Brownie and Annetta started sturgeon tablets and the world looked amazing!!. During the day the wind swung more to the north and we were able to motor sail comfortably at 6.5-7kts in 1.5mtr sea and 15-20kts wind. Our fridge finally died completely and the routine of sleeping and standing watches became the norm. Yau and I teamed up as did Brownie and and Annetta. Jane did not have a watch partner so kicked back! Four hours on, four off during the night 6pm to 6am and six hour on and six off during the day.
Total overcast conditions, 1.5-2.5mtr seas and a full moon behind the total overcast skies made for a pleasant time and good progress on track.
Thursday 12th..starting to wonder what Friday the 13th will bring as looks like we will arrive late tomorrow night. A weather front is forecast sometime about then so?? Average speeds are around 6.5 to 7kts. WE ate simply and made good time. Annetta quite the navigator now absorbing everything she can and always learning. Impressed that we crossed 180 meridian longitude and she knows what that means now! Yau loving the sea life and all the new experiences on such a small boat..Brownie plodding along and getting the job done, so my life is really relaxed…sort of!
The battery charging regulator spat the dummy! started overcharging the house batteries, the wind instruments died and someone had been pushing too many buttons on the radar and it stopped!!..Hmm…anyway we sorted the regulator to keep us going and I decided to fit the spare in Tonga keeping it in reserve, in case there is some issue that may cause the same problem to a new one.
Made a slight diversion to cruise past the southern most Fiji Island group “ONO-i-Lau”…they would not get many visitors, but we cannot stop, as we cleared Fiji customs but looks interesting. In the clam of the lee, we had quick showers and a bite to eat while steaming on. Again we were happy to see the moon even under the clouds.
Friday 13th..Here we go!! Winds dropping right off less than 10kts and seas down to 1 mtr…very enjoyable and our ETA is 2000hrs tonight..all happy! Yau was happy to get hot tea and showers all round while the water maker was on filling tanks ready for arrival. Set our fishing gear and promptly lost the lot with a “BIG” one! Much to the disappointment of Annetta who only eats fish and green things!
The wind dropped off completely as we rolled toward the reef pass leading into the Tongatapu lagoon and across to Nuku Alofa. Just inside the reef is Attata island, our base for one month while preparing the Talisker Bounty boat back in April 2010. It is also the site where the sailing ship “Protland” was overcome by Tonga worriers and the crew all killed, except for Elisabeth Morley and her black female assistant. That was the story and the present day issues /people associated with it, that started this whole “BlueTreasure” expedition after our Talisker Bounty voyage.
AS we approached the pass at 1830hrs, the GPS lost signal occasionally, but radar was OK…it was dark , high tide, could not see the reefs either side, but I was happy to go in having done it many times and we dropped anchor in light rain at 1930hrs in front of Attata Island…all smiles…A quick trip, three days 485 miles arriving one hour before the front that we could see developing. Over the next few hours it started to blow 30 plus kts and swung to the South east with rising sea so we would not have been having fun in those head winds if we were still outside. Our forecast three day weather window was spot on. A Pleasant trip for sure.
We cannot clear customs now till Monday so we are stuck on ICE with our “Q” flag flying. Good time to relax and do little jobs on ICE before heating town! What a great crew we have on ICE ! All fun and very competent..life is good…
Saturday 14th..Lazy day hanging out and enjoying the Blue Sea and Sky anchored off..Yau, Annetta and Brownie went for a snorkel around the boat . Sunday 15th we set out from the anchorage early hoping to catch a fish and travelled about 12 miles to Pangimoto Island, one mile off Nuku Alofa. Nice change of scenery, but still stuck on the boat. Managed to finally repair our leaking inflatable.! Ate all the last fruit and veg and did numerous jobs around the boat so all is in order again.
Monday 16th in 30kts we lifted anchor once more and headed to town. We tried to tie up to the customs wharf in very tricky conditions and had to change plans a couple of times, but finally made it. Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine were very efficient and by midday, we were done and officially in TONGA!! We then headed over and tied off the harbour wall with our anchor ahead. Good to finally be back. Now for the fun of all the paperwork and meetings to get the season up and running! Happy to say that “IKI” is well on the way to finally being loaded in the container at last in Florida. That is a relief!!