The Rose sails east to Tonga
14 July 2014 | Vava'u, Tonga
Malo e Lelei! Moments on the passage from Fiji to Tonga┬...
12 July 2014 It's 3 a.m. I'm on the tail end of my watch gliding smoothly along close to the wind under a very bright full moon which is playing hide and seek amongst a haphazard collage of smeared and puffy gray clouds. I just finished simmering a jar of papaya-tamarind-mint chutney in preparation for our son Jake and our good friend Dawn visiting in Tonga and anticipating curry feasts topped with raisins and peanuts and bananas and home- made yogurt and of course the chutney which is unbelievably scrumptious. Jack of Viani Bay gave us several luscious papaya on our departure some of which were green and others ripe but now they suddenly seem to all be ripe despite my enjoying one every day for breakfast. They are the sweetest and most flowery papayas ever, loved even by those previously convinced that they detested the fruit. The mint is from my tiny boat garden picked only five minutes to the time it found itself bathing in boiling sweet and sour vinegar and sealed into the jar. The tamarind is a generous dollop from the glob the size of a fist I bought from the Indo- Fijian spice stand at the Suva Farmers Market. This team of players combines to transport any curry consumer to the next level of heaven and with the papaya rapidly ripening I will cook up a good supply for visitors and gifts┬.... It's a nice evening for puttering while the boat rolls gently along through the night. Every fifteen minutes I check up top to be sure the course is true and the sails are set and no lights of passing ships are on the horizon. I check the radar too and the chart plotter to be sure all is well and then back I go to my puttering and The Rose continues on her way┬...
13 July 2014 This is the end of our second day on passage to Tonga from Fiji. This has been a very different day than our first day. By the time my watch ended last night or rather in the wee hours of the morning a gray mizzly rain had settled in and everything was dripping. When I woke after a morning nap it was still gray and wetter. The wind had clocked around to the north east exactly contrary to the seas causing all kinds of chaos. The swell which had been 2 meters but wide and gentle had now become steep pushed up by the opposing wind. The wind was dead downwind too strong for our spinnaker which is made for lighter winds and the rough and tumble sea made putting up a pole on the jib a formidable task though that was what was needed. But we were tired and lazy so we rolled up the jib and left the main alone well out and strongly prevented in anticipation of the sea becoming more organized over time. This left us rolling and lurching along at about 5 knots which was not delightful but still much preferred to the usual strong headwind which the normal seasonal trades of this month would produce. We have passed the most treacherous reef strewn waters of the Lau and not yet entered the uncharted reefs and undersea volcanoes of Tonga so we have a little stretch of breathing room in which to sail through the night. I do miss the rugged and varied island silhouettes dotting the vast sea but I don't miss my depth sounder suddenly jumping to only 250 feet in the middle of what is supposed to be deep water! The sun sets behind us as the moon rises before us every evening. The rain has gone and only a few fluffy lambs scamper across the sky dodging the sparkling stars. We are two thirds of the way to Tonga, a little weary and hoping for smoother seas tomorrow.
14 July 2014 This morning started out fair and stayed fair all day. The wind continued now from the west by this point having smoothed that difficult sea into submission. That west wind blew us all day straight east to Neiafu in the Vava'u group of Tonga. It pushed at our back across the ordered sea, past a tall classic cinder cone of an island so big it seemed we would never get by it and on toward the tall, flat topped, conspicuous white cliffs rent by sea caves which surround the large, convoluted lagoon of Vava'u. So, odd as it may seem to those who know the habits of the winds in these parts, we sailed east into Neiafu this evening with our big blue and green striped asymmetric spinnaker pulling strongly and billowing proudly dead down-wind as it had been all the day long. Within the lagoon at dusk the water lay as still as a mirror pond reflecting the billowing orange clouds and later the bright, still full moon and the lights of the waterfront. It's early in the season here, the boats from this year's "coconut run" have not yet arrived and the town is very quiet. It will be another month before they arrive en masse and the little town rolls up its sleeves to meet the demands of the week long regatta of boisterous boaters. We are happy for the serenity and happy for the luck of the passage and happy for a long night's sleep. All is well. Pat and John s/v The Rose safe and sound in Tonga.