Well, things have been anything but boring and predicable on board in the last few weeks. It seems that the settled winter weather is taking it’s sweet time getting to Tonga, instead we’ve had wave after wave of low pressure coming over from New Zealand, those roaring forties are screaming now, giving us northly and westerly winds. As a result we’ve been hopping around from island to island trying to find shelter from the predicted winds, only to find that the wind does not blow as predicted (who would have predicted that?!) and by this I mean it does 180 degrees opposite of three different sources predicted, leaving us not particularly protected at all. We’ve had a lot of sleepless nights in the last two weeks, sitting informal anchor watches, but that’s ok because we’ve had mostly overcast and drizzly days. On the upside, in all this moving about we’ve had some GREAT sailing, even with a reef tucked in we’ve been flying along at 7-8kts, and have seen more whales that you can count. We sailed up to the Lafuka group last Saturday and are tucked into a beautiful bay with a long sandy beach, protected by a couple reefs with a view of the volcanoes 20 miles away and whales that jump and play regularly near by. We slept and slept on Saturday night, flat and calm with no surprise coral beneath us to grind the anchor chain on. When we woke up Sunday it was sunny and beautiful, making it seem like we are in a tropical paradise again, and despite not catching any fish on our explorations around the area we had a fire and cooked on the beach anyway, it was a lovely day, finally!!! We have managed a couple snorkeling trips andI got a lovely Tonga fish/coral/shell book for my birthday so I can identify all the new things I have been seeing. With almost no people around the reefs are in pristine condition but the water is a little chilly, might have to dig out a wet suit to scrub the hull this week. The southerly winds are a bit cool (seasonal winds are east- southeast right now) which finds us looking for reasons to turn the oven on and warm up the boat a little in the evenings, and so Steve has been making some delicious ANZAC biscuits, yummy!
We brought the dingy up to Pangai on Monday, the main town in Ha-apai, as the entrance to the harbour is riddle with coral and hazards and as it is only 4 miles from our lovely anchorage it was only an hour in the dingy, a chance to catch a fish. Somehow we managed to find everything we were looking for; flour, rice, eggs, veggies AND beer. What luck!!! Since we found provisions we can take advantage of our nice weather and stay out in the islands a little while longer before heading to Vava’u at the end of the month. We decided to make another trip up today taking advantage of the flat, calm weather and a chance for a few more vegetables. We will be out of touch for another few weeks but look forward to hearing from you soon,