Well, we have finally managed to pull ourselves away from Tonga one of our favorite countries. After leaving the Va'vau group behind, we made a quick tour of the next group south, Ha'apai. This area is a fantastic collection of coral reefs, small islands and villages. Unfortunately we were in a bit of a rush to get down to Tongatapu where we could do our check out and prepare for the passage to NZ. But the underwater exploits we did fit in were terrific, and we'll have more of a wrap up, inc. photos, when we next get internet (in NZ).
We checked out of Nuku'alofa a couple of days ago, after a scramble to ready BRAVO for the often challenging passage to NZ. This 1030 mile crossing is known for difficult forecasting, and frequent gales sweep through at any time of year. We are working with ace weather router Bob McDavitt out of NZ to help us with his expertise in the area. We received what sounded like a good weather window, so we finally left yesterday, after a final stop for fuel. (Proved to be a bit of a Charlie Foxtrot. The hose the dock guy passed down to us was full of diesel, and it poured all over a cockpit cushion, soaking it thoroughly! Also, when we had checked out, we had been asked how many liters of fuel we'd need to purchase on departure, duty free. Although we really had not checked for a while, we put down 150 liters. Didn't realize the significance being that that was ALL they could then sell, at what amounted to 1/2 price. Turned out we took 225 liters, the rest at full fare.....ughhhh)
At any rate, we're away at last, bound for New Zealand!!! The first day went very well, with some absolutely beautiful sailing on a close reach. Winds have been 12-15 knots, and our 1st 24 hours after leaving the Tongan reefs was 165 miles, avg of 6.875 knots.
Winds have now increased to 20, and seas are around 3 meters. Lots crash over the deck, and we've discovered several new leaks!!! But all is fine aboard, the sun is out, and we're still averaging 6.9 knots with a double reefed main and 1/2 reefed genoa.
As of Thurs afternoon (Wed on the other side of the dateline), we have 857 miles to go.