Thursday, October 6, 2011

Beautiful Passage to Niuatoputapu, Tonga

The passage to Niuatoputopu, or "New Potatoes", as the cruisers call it, is 180 miles--just barely beyond what we could comfortably conservatively manage in an overnight passage. So the discussion was, do we be conservative, and leave late in the day and plan a 2-overnight passage. Or do we hang it out a little, leave early in the morning, hope the wind holds, push a little, maybe have to motor a little, and arrive at a strange place with a reef entry just before sunset?

I was pushing for the conservative approach, but Dave was adamant that we could make it in one overnight. If we didn't we'd just heave-to and wait for daylight outside the pass.

We ended up with perfect weather--we got a little more wind than we thought we'd get. It was only a few more knots than forecast, but it was enough to boost our speed from the planned 5 knots to 6.5 knots, and we had a BEAUTIFUL beam reach for nearly 30 hours. We arrived at the pass at 2pm, with plenty of good light for getting in and anchoring. Dave, of course, got a pat on the back for making the right choice.

We are now in Tonga, which, though still situated a few degrees East of the actual "International Dateline", is on a time zone that is on the other side of the dateline. So we shifted our clocks from "-11 plus DST" to "+13". That means we lost a day and gained an hour. Today is now tomorrow here.

I have changed my computer clock to match (somewhat reluctantly), so only god knows what date this blog is posting when I email it. It is very confusing... it is Thursday, October 6 here in Tonga, but it is only Weds, Oct 5, in the U.S.

We are enjoying Niuatoputapu (New-ya Tow-pu Tah-pu). It is a very small out-island, which was totally devastated by the tsunami 2 years ago. They have no running water and no central electricity--only cisterns and a few houses and government buildings have solar power. There are about 800 people living here in 3 small villages, with about 10 working cars/trucks. The supply ship comes here every 1-2 months. There is one small store that is out of all but the most basis supplies, unless the supply ship has been here recently.

But the people are friendly, and they all like to practice their English (thank god!). There is one local with a VHF radio and good English that helps organize things for the yachties. Last night we had a nice Cruiser Potluck at Sia's, and tomorrow she is organizing a pig roast for 25 pa'anga per person.

We are looking at the weather forecast, and must leave here on Sunday, in order to have reasonable winds for the our next hop, 160 miles south to Neiafu, Tonga. This will be our last ocean passage for about 6 months!!
At 10/05/2011 7:39 PM (utc) our position was 15°56.49'S / 173°46.08'W

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