Tonga 2 (2014)
Tonga – 2
The passage to Niafu in Tonga went as earlier mentioned via Futuna which is located west of Tonga, and the tacking back east against the trade wind was a reminder that sailing in these waters can be a bit challenging. After a nice start we encountered ESE winds of 25 – 30 kts and rough sea plus rain and hail storm. The distance sailed from Samoa via Futuna amounted to 895 Nm with 5 hours of motoring.
Last time I visited Niafu, in 2008, it was late in the season, and the whales had already left Tonga, so this time I was determined to go swimming with the whales, and it was a fantastic experience to see them so close. It was at times a bit frightening when especially the playful calves came close.
Niafu hasn’t changed at all, and we spent some good time there and met new friends as well.
On the way to Tongatapu the islands of Ofolanga, Haafeua, and Numuka were beautiful and interesting stops, where we met some interesting local people, and saw how they lived.
In Tongatapu we anchored at Pangaimotu, a small island opposite to the harbour of Nukualofa. It is the popular place to anchor. This is also where Big Mama has her restaurant. Her hospitality and the restaurant have not changed at all. Many boats were anchored here waiting for a good weather window for the passage to New Zealand.
Not many, but some changes have taken place in Nukualofa, e.g. a new harbour built by the Chinese which for some reason has not yet been taken into use. A tour around the island is
interesting e.g. seeing the diversity in the vegetation and crops, the old stone structures, and the beach where captain Cook landed.
We missed a good weather window, while waiting for fuel. It is a bit difficult to arrange here, and the service is not as professional as in most other places. I decided to leave with a weather report which at least would be reasonable to Minerva Reef.
Passage to New Zealand via Minerva Reef – 5
The passage to Minerva Reef is 282 Nm, and was done with winds from S – SSE varying between 10 kts over 20 kts to 2 kts, and took 1½ day with 14 hours of motoring. We anchored as the only boat in this unique and beautiful atoll for half a day and enjoyed the scenery. Due to very doubtful weather reports for the following two weeks, I decided to proceed although the conditions were far from ideal. Having made this passage four times before, I knew that it would be rear to get perfect weather for the whole passage, so went for it as it was.
The rest passage of 808 Nm to Opua was made in 4½ days mainly with light winds between 2 kts and 15 kts mainly from W and SW. During the end of the passage we got 25 – 30 kts of headwind. We had to motor for 87 hours. As always it is good to return to the New Zealand hospitality, and take part in the parties among other sailors many of whom we met during the Pacific passage.
Dana Felicia will spend the season in New Zealand in Whangarei, where a lot of repair work will take place before next season.