Still in Vava’u…
18 October 2008 | Vava'u, Tonga
Here we are still in Vava'u, Tonga. Yes, we've been here nearly 2 months- longer than we've stayed anywhere since leaving Napa last year. Is it pure laziness? A lack of navigational charts? Or is Vava'u just so spectacular that once you get here you can't imagine being anywhere else? Actually the truth is this: time can kind of get away from you.
We had originally planned to stay in Tonga until leaving for New Zealand at the end of October. (November 1st typically marks the end of stormy weather in New Zealand and the beginning of the cyclone season in the tropics.) What most cruisers seem to do after visiting the Vava'u group is head south about 60 miles to the Ha'apai group. They spend some time visiting those anchorages and then head down to Nuku'alofa in Tongatapu where they provision and await a weather window for the 1100+ mile passage to New Zealand.
We considered doing that but honestly just couldn't get motivated. First of all the weather here for the past month and a half has been pretty squirrelly. (Something to do with the South Pacific Convergence Zone which apparently decided to park itself over Tonga just so it could bring us squally, unsettled weather.) With the weather so rainy and bleak we spent much of the first month here doing school with the girls and jealously regarding those cruisers who'd devised clever rain catching systems, thereby completely filling their water tanks in the time it takes us to brew a pot of coffee.
The weather has much improved in the last two weeks (we're once more getting the lovely, sunny, tropical weather we so richly deserve) and we're finally getting to really discover and experience the beauty of these islands. We don't want to take off feeling we haven't done them justice. We also discovered- almost accidentally- that hey! We LIKE sailing! We've been sailing from anchorage to anchorage and guess what? Sailing without a 10 foot swell knocking you around is really kind of enjoyable. We're seeing why the Vava'u group- with it's well protected water- is regarded as a premier sailing destination.
Also, we had heard from a several people that the Ha'apai anchorages were swelly and unprotected and that Nuku'alofa has nothing more to offer than Neiafu. We've SINCE heard from more reliable sources (i.e.: Blue Plains Drifter, Airstream and Charismar) that Ha'apai is lovely- when the weather cooperates- and that Nuku'alofa has more to offer than we were told. Well, there you go. This sort of informational conflict is pretty typical in the cruising community.
Of course, leaving from Tongatapu would cut down on our passage to New Zealand by 1 day. But at this point I think we'll just leave from here when the weather's right. After all, I think we have a couple more anchorages to cross off the list.
On a separate note: We really want to thank all of you who leave comments for us on the blog. We can't always see them right away (no internet) but when we do we really love hearing from all of you.