11/09/2011, Pangaimotu, Tongatapu, Tonga
It's a nice feeling, sorting out. Taking a cupboard or a box under a bed, sorting it out, cleaning, checking for 'hitchhikers' as the NZ biosecurity department calls them. And we have found some. The wooden drums we bought in Greece harboured a few wood eating creatures which had rendered said drums into a pile of sawdust. So it was good we found them. I've put all the potential banned items (straw, shells, wooden ornaments) into one box for the customs official's easy access when we arrive.
Mark and I yesterday started cleaning the hull, we've only managed to clean above the waterline so far, but below will need quite a bit of attention too as once again we are not allowed to take hitchhikers into NZ, even of the watery variety.
We've been following the progress of the yachts that left last week for NZ, with their course and wind strength so we can get a better prediction for ourselves. And we nearly got an extra crew member - someone from Jersey who is living in NZ at the moment but unfortunately his last exam doesn't finish until after we will have left so we'll just have to do it ourselves, which is a shame but I am sure we'll be fine.
I've contacted the local Baha'i community here - there are 4000 Baha'is in Tonga and on Saturday we'll be joining them for their celebration of the birth of Baha'u'alla which should be fun.
4 November 2011
The Tonga trench is 10,000 metres deep and we passed over it just before our depthometer read 30 metres - we'd arrived within Tongatapu's lagoon. Crazy! There's nothing to show that we've just jumped 9,970 metres over an underwater mountain, except our boat's instruments (and they've been known to have their inaccuracies in the past!) The sun was setting (as predicted) but luckily we passed all the way through the channel in light, which was just as well as none of the channel markers marked on the chart were in place. It was great to see whales blowing mist around us as we came in and even nicer to hear Gruffalo come over the radio and guide us in with a flash light. Dropping anchor was the nicest feeling. Having Gruffalo come over to say hello was also lovely, not having seen them since Panama.
The next day, we left the anchorage and headed into the customs dock, where we waited all day for the 4 officials to visit us. At least we didn't have to walk all over two looking for them. I know that every country has their protocols and we as sailors have to respect them, but I did wonder why we needed 4 visits - when each one gave us the same form to fill in. I even had to ask one of the men from which department did he come? Health. And your role is? To check that no-one is unwell on board. But he didn't even ask us. He just asked us to fill in a form (none of the questions asked are all your crew in good health?) and charged us 100 pangaa. Hmm.
Anyway, now we are back in the Pangaimotu island anchorage - it's very beautiful and has a really friendly 'yacht club' which is the hub of social activities for the boats waiting to head down to NZ. For now, we're just going to relax and enjoy our time here, thinking about leaving in the next couple of weeks.
Curr Position: 21.07S 175.09W
3 November 2011
In the past 10 days we have seen precisely NO ships, yachts, boats......anything. It certainly is a wide wide sea. Oh, I'm sorry, yesterday, we did see a shark about the size of a dolphin - we thought it was a dolphn but then it did the whole wavy thing with its tail sticking out of the water and Lochy and Mia spotted the discrepancy. And then a flip flop. Hopefully the two weren't linked. Apart from that, it's only been the odd sea bird. Incredible really.
Poor Mark has been in bed for the past 48 hours now with a fever and sweating like a ..well, a sweaty thing. He was able to do a watch last night which helped and he's definitely a little better this morning. We worked out that we might be arriving after sunset (quelle surprise!) and so we have put one engine on just to keep our speed up with the hope that we might just squeeze in before it gets dark. 80 miles left to go. At least it's not the weekend - you can't check in at the weekend and you're not supposed to leave the boat until customs have visited. At least we don't have loads of fresh fruit and veg for them to confiscate! Curr Position: 21.03S 173.55W
1 November 2011
Well, the kids were excited about Halloween and so parental tiredness was not going to stop the pumpkin carving, the dressing up and face paints, cookie baking and jelly moulds. I thought we had quite a fun day considering we were out at sea and so couldn't really trick or treat, but when Lochy woke up this morning, he expressed his disappointment with our effort - "it just wasn't really all that fun." Thanks Lockster!
Mark is still not feeling well and after a plethora of information from our shore support - Goody - I think he might have a kidney infection. He's on antibiotics though, so hopefully the fever will go down soon.
I think we've passed through the international dateline today - well, there is a wiggly purple line on our chart, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't mark the edge of the world. So it's tomorrow. Unfortunately, the reference to skipping 24 hours doesn't extend to skipping 120 miles too, which would be nice given the circumstances. This leg will go down as the toughest one mentally for me. But then, no one said it would be easy and I think the next on to NZ will be so much more enjoyable; a combination of better provisioning and a shorter journey. And if there's a stray kiwi needed a lift back home, we might be offering him/her a lift!! Curr Position: 20.54S 171.56W
29 October 2011
This day a year ago, we left Lefkas on our maiden voyage. We've come a long way! To celebrate another anniversary, we baked biscuits and had a Pegasus of Jersey quiz, involving questions like which was the first island we visited in the Marquesas and what month did we go through the Panama canal - Mark was only 2 months out on that one! The kids' geography is still a little shady and I can't wait to buy them a big map of the world so they can plot their journey. They've got the general idea of the oceans (phew!) but it's the continents they are a bit confused!
So I think it was exactly a year ago today that Mark was in the sea, freeing a sack from the propeller, Lochy was projectile vomiting in his bunk and Phil was wondering what on earth he had offered to help us on this our first leg of our journey. And on this trip, Lochy is doing headstands in the saloon, Mark has put the second fishing line out (please please please may we catch a lovely fish?!) and it's just us the Jackson Four. We've had two great days' sail and are about 4 days out of Tonga. Curr position: 18.48S 166.19W
28 October 2011
Have you ever played the card game cheat? Having spent the last 7 or so years teaching my children that telling the truth is good, playing cheat with them is hilarious - they find it impossible! The wind has just picked up to 20 knots which makes such a difference to Pegasus, given that we don't have a light weight sail any more. So, we're heading in the right direction, with full sails and it's a glorious day. It's amazing what rain and no winds can do to morale!
We've just passed Palmerston, but not within seeing distance and the next island is Nuie. We really hope the winds will continue to be favourable so we don't have to stop, much as we would like to see Nuie, we need to press on.
Lost a lure yesterday; what with our line having a 50lb breaking strain it must have been a big fish. I hope we catch something today because grateful as I am for Jacolette for sending us tofu recipes we're not converts yet! I don't remember snapping any line in the Atlantic. The line then was thinner and we caught more too. There must be bigger fish to fry here in the Pacific.
Curr pos: 18.28S 163.31W