Today, we had one of the many wonderful sails that we've enjoyed in the Tongan waters. We went about 22 miles from the island of Lifuka to Ha'afeva (sp?). We really have enjoyed our sailing time here – because if you plan it right, you can sail almost everywhere. We have had good winds and have plotted courses between islands (both in the Vava'u Group and here in the Ha'apai Group) to be able to sail. We've burned little fossil fuel and have really had enjoyable days sailing to new island destinations. Most of the time you are sailing in reef protected waters – assuring you of a little swell or wind chop, but no big, ugly seas. Every so often when you come up from 1000 feet to the shallower shelves of 200 feet, you 'll get some waves building up, but it isn't too bad. So this island group has been really wonderful for being a sailboat. If any of our sailing friends are looking for some good cruising ground to charter – consider Tonga!
We officially cleared out of the Kingdom of Tonga for our trip to NZ in the town of Pangai. We will wait for a good weather window to actually depart, but we cleared out so we could go explore the islands to the south and the west and not have to beat into the wind to return to the main port of entry. There is supposed to be a front passing through over the next few days and unfortunately there are very few islands in the Ha'apai group that have protection from the north or west. So we found one that will have some protection and sailed here. We weren't alone in that thought process – as when we arrived, the anchorage already had 12 boats settled in. We found a home after a few tries to avoid destroying any corals (or getting caught in them). We did buoy up our anchor chain to protect a few small bommies.
This area is supposed to have some very good snorkeling. When Michael dove to check the anchor, he said that one coral head slightly behind us was very nice – so we have our own private dive site!
Its very windy today and that made for a fast downwind sail, but though we were sailing at fish catching speed – we fished but didn't "catch." Tinned chicken for dinner!
It's nice to be in a new location – and hopefully it will be comfortable enough. There is a little, but steady roll – and the wind continues to blow harder than predicted. But the holding is good sand – the anchor is well set, so Astarte should have a safe night.