14 October 2010
Time for a sundowner.
Beveride Reef to Tonga, a little over 300 miles.
We had quite a rip to go through as we negotiated the pass to leave Beveridge, but managed to find a relatively clear lane more to one side.
We had about 20 to 25 knots of wind behind us most of the way and gusts to over 30 on the second day with some of the more impressive waves we have seen to go along with it.
We had the mainsail double reefed and this was all fine except that the upper part of the sail occassionaly got caught behind the side stay that holds up the mast. That third, windy, wavy morning, Isabelle was asleep below and the sail was caught as described. All it would take to fix it was a little gybe to get the wind on the other side of the sail and then back again. All was going to plan when a wave hit the boat at the critical moment of the gybe and flung the boat around broadside to the waves and wind and tipped us suddenly. I looked below just in time to see poor, asleep Isabelle flung right out of her bunk, clear across the boat to the bunk on the other side without so much as touching the floor.
What a rude awakening. She sat there rather stunned for a while.
We arrived at Tonga in the middle of the night and spent the early hours hove to outside the sheltered harbour as it was much too dark to navigate by eye, with rain squalls added, and we were also unsure of the accuracy of the charts compared to the GPS. Turns out we were wise to not trust the GPs as there is quite a discrepancy between charted position and GPS position in Tonga. About 0.2 of a nautical mile. Enough to put you ashore in a narrow pass.
The part of Tonga we had arrived at was the Vava'u group. A beautiful group of many, many islands and anchorages without very many coral dangers. The anchorages were tranquil and close to the wooded shores. It was unusual for us to hear birds singing in the trees while we sat at anchor. Something we had not heard for about seven months!
The Tongans are very friendly people and we enjoyed our four week stay there. Some of our highlights were: Fish and Chips (for the first time since leaving home!) and being able to eat out at reasonable prices for the first time since the Galapagos, snorkelling over the best coral we had seen all trip, hearing whales under water, Isabelle's swim with the whales as detailed in another post as is Mariner's Cave, catching up with friends we have made along the way, and making new ones, enjoying the peaceful anchorages and sundowners on the beach.