The first 6 days we had ideal conditions, enjoyed great sailing (this restored her optimism), and averaged 120 miles a day in comfort. We were heading SSW towards Niue and some great diving. Niue has the clearest water, in these parts due to no runoff from the island. It’s filtered through a limestone layer instead. From there to Tonga is just over 200 miles, so it seemed like a good option. Unfortunately, another low was heading our way, and as we neared Niue, the wind swung to the NW, blew hard, and was predicted to veer SW, S, SE, and blow harder. We spent the next 21/2 days in 25knt+ winds and seas mounting by the hour. We were running with a double reefed mainsail and a storm jib the whole time. Luckily, the wave period was such that Adagio rode between them nicely. Friends on a 50 footer found themselves too long to fit and had a terrible time of it. Niue was, definitely, out of the question. Bummer. They don’t have a protected anchorage, but moorings outside the reef which are only protected in E and, light, SE winds. Rarotonga (before Niue) was also out due to the gales cruising past to the south.
Some may call us whimps, for running, but we don’t give a shit. At the end of the day you have to consider many factors, boat and crew safety, stress levels in shitty anchorages, your marriage/relationship, and are you really missing a whole lot. After 5 years on the boat, dozens of tropical islands, scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, forests, tropical fruits, etc., etc., it all looks the same. We find more pleasure, now, in trying to meet locals and just hang out somewhere comfy. Call it tropics burnout, I don’t know. Looking forward to going skiing!!!! Bring on the snow.
At the moment we are on a mooring in Neiafu (The Va’vau group), Tonga. The people are very friendly, great produce and fish markets. Smiles all around from English speakers (such a relief after French Polynesia), and soooo much to do. We have planned an ATV trip around the island, a native feast and dancing, diving, and some hiking to nearby towns. The locals are quite religious and wear their traditional costume most of the time. We even found the reincarnation of the Dhali Lama comming home from church. Think it's him??? The singing in the church is quite beatufil and very pleasant to hear on a Sunday.
In total, we are looking at 3-4 weeks here before heading to Fiji. Hopefully the weather will cooperate soon and we can venture south to the Ha’aapai group of islands. These are even more laid back, and less populated, than the Va’vau group. Hope to enjoy an “umu” (local feast) or two whilst there. Along the waterfront there are several bars and yacht service type places that will do anything to attract clients.
I finally managed to convince Meri to take a ride with me in an overgrown go-cart. We toured the island for 3 hours and had an absolute blast. It's so scenic and lush. The locals were all happy to see us and kids were trying to run after us in every town. It had rained hard the previous day so some of the trails were very slippery and muddy, cool. It's not something we'd do regularly, but once is worth it.