John had got away safely and it was time for me to start thinking about our next leg and some plans into the future. Making plans is something that I've slowly been able to live without, even though others might not like your lack of plans it's the best way to be, especially if your waiting for good weather or get job opportunities.
I was in contact with a guy called Ollie whom was day-working for us onboard Ethereal in Tahiti. He was super keen to join me as he wanted to sail onto New Caledonia after a few years of living in Tahiti. He had some multihull sailing experience and so booked a ticket on the ferry up to Raiatea.
Once Ollie was onboard it was just a short hop over to Bora Bora where we bought some fresh provisions and planned to clear out the following morning and head to Fiji direct. We sailed into Bora Bora and picked up one of the moorings in front of the Yacht Club there. We were on the mooring for all of ten minutes before another friend from Tahiti popped past in his fathers boat. They were heading over to a Motu for a family BBQ and invited us to join. As we'd just pulled up we passed on the invitation but decided to join them later at there home for dinner.
Later that night we joined John and his family for dinner at his fathers home, which was located right next to the yacht club. After dinner Johns father asked me if we had room for another person onboard. I was happy to take someone else so it was with this quick decision that we had a third crew member onboard, his son John. John had also dayworked with us in Tahiti so we knew him well. It was great and ended up working really well having to two French guys onboard for the trip to Fiji.
The weather report for the next day was for 25-30kts but quickly dropping off to 15-20kts from the SE. As the wind was from the stern it meant a quick few days were in order for the start of the trip. Spirit loves the heavier airs from the stern and she handles big seas well so we decided to head out first thing the following morning. The wind was going to lighten up a few days out so we thought it best to make some miles while we could.
The first few days were awesome 240nm to 260nm days and we were flying across the charts. It would only be a few more days and we'd be in Fiji! It wasn't to be though and about three days out the wind really started to drop off and head East. We had made some Northerly ground with the strong winds from the SE over the first few days so we then had the wind astern when it swung east, which really affects the boats speed. After a consultation with our weather guru the iPad and my father it was decided to head South to the Vavau group of Northern Tonga.
This lessened the distance and put the wind just after of the beam. We had made about 700nm and this new destination gave us about 600nm to go. Over the next four days we managed to average about 150nm a day, which is very slow for us. Given the super light winds though it was pretty good going. It's times like this that I really love having a boat that sails well in light airs. Spirit is still able to average good milage even though we had well under 10kts of wind and even less most of the time. Being able to do wind speed in light airs is a godsend.
So it ended up taking us just over 7 days to Neiafu in Tonga from Bora Bora. We arrived around 2am in the morning once we got moored up. The sail into the Island was incredible. We had about 10kts all the way into Neiafu and with the full moon it made for one of the best night sails I've ever had, tacking up in between the small islets and reefs. Super flat smooth water a light breeze and bright sky and surrounds lit up by the moon! incredible and a moment we'll never forget.
Once in we easily found a mooring to secure Spirit too. The following day we cleared in at the local dock then set about checking out the local area. The Tongan people are very happy to offer advice and help where they can. We had a great time in Tonga over the following weeks and after a few days in port we decided to head out around the Islands for a bit to explore.
We met up with our friends on the yacht Evangaline to check out the local Islands. Each day we would spear fish and then at night we'd raft up and cook up a feast of local fish and veggies. Tonga is an extremely cheap place to live and cruise and catching your own food each day makes it even cheaper. The seafood here was abundant and after sailing around the Islands we were so glad we had the opportunity to pop in here and do some exploring.
I found that there's not a lot of talk about Tonga within the sailing community. Some people go there but you don't read much about it and there aren't many good guides on the area, which is probably a good thing. But I would head back there at a heart beat. The people and the Islands and scenery made it one of my favourite places so far.
The most Whales I think I've ever seen at once was in Tonga. We left a small anchorage where we were for a few days and sailed down South to Lape Island. One the way down we spotted more than three different pods of whales. It was awesome just drifting along with the jib out and seeing whales all around the boat. It seems to be a growing industry here and it's one of the only places where you can jump in and swim with the whales. Not sure how much longer you'll be able to do it but what an experience swimming with these great majestic creatures would be.
We had been in Tonga for over two weeks and it was time to depart. We took part in the Friday races twice that are held in Neiafu and had a ball taking some of our friends from other cruising yachts out for the race. We got to make a lot of new friends while in Tonga and also ran into a lot we had met earlier on in Tahiti. It was a very social place and lots of fun.
There was a nice forecast for the following few days with light airs and from the ESE. Another nine yachts departed on the day we left so it was a full flotilla that headed up to Savu Savu in Fiji from Tonga.