It's Time to Say Good-Bye to Tonga
19 August 2016 | 18 39.12'S:173 59.14'W, Neiafu, Tonga
The time has come for us to check out of Tonga and sail off to Fiji, about 410 miles away. As passages go, this will be one of our shortest at 3 days, but since we have to weave our way through the many reefs of the Lau Group, I think it will be one of the most stressful. The charts for Fiji are not great. Combine that with the MANY reefs in the area and it means that we are being extra careful in our passage planning. I have a detailed route planned on the chart plotter and have that backed up with aerial images from Google Earth. Things seem to line up pretty well, so I think that we should be OK!
To be honest, we aren't that sad to be leaving Tonga. We want to be open minded and positive about all the places that we visit, but unfortunately, Tonga has been much more of a miss than a hit. This could simply be due to the weather. We have been here 19 days, and it has rained at least part of the day for 17 of those days! Several of the days have been nearly completely rained out. That means that we haven't done much snorkeling, almost no hiking, and even a dinghy trip to shore in Neiafu for a meal means that we could arrive completely soaked to the skin.
The heavy rain also means very heavy humidity. Combine this with the warm weather and it creates an excellent environment for super-natural mould growth. Every boater is going crazy with how fast the black mould is growing on anything that gets damp. My baseball hat, for example, was growing mould so fast I could see a marked difference every few hours. Dee has been working double time just to keep up. Not fun.
We don't want to be unfair to Tonga, but we are ready and looking forward to our next country Fiji! The east side of the North Island, Savusavu, where we will make landfall is reportedly fairly wet. But, as soon as we can, we will head to the North and West side of the South island. The cruising guides tell us that we should experience very dry conditions. We can hardly wait! It will be so nice to get the constant damp out of the boat - besides seeing a completely new country. The scenery is also supposed to be spectacular. We will have up to a month in Fiji which can hardly do it justice, but we will do our best!
So, Tonga, we bid you farewell. Hopefully as soon as we leave the sun will come out, the mud will dry up, and others will have a visit more inline with the beautiful scenery that we could almost see through the low clouds.
The picture: waiting at the customs dock for the fuel truck to arrive - It is over 6 hours late at we are still waitingÉ