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December 2019: Shamal and her Crew have arrived safely back into Opua, Bay of Islands, New Zealand completing their circumnavigation. They will be spending their Summer exploring some of New Zealand's waters. Thanks to all of you for following our Adventures. There will be more.

07 December 2019

The Kingdom of Tonga, and, Return to New Zealand

Hello Again

Niuatoputapu
Turtle in the lagoon
It is just an overnight sail of 190nm to reach the most northern islands of Tonga, the Niua Group. The group is made up of three small volcanic islands. This definitely has not been one of our better legs. We lost the wind yesterday afternoon and have to motor sail. I had my fishing line out, but no luck on that front. Again I am convinced these waters have been over-fished. Also there was an incredible amount of weed about. Alec needed to clear the props on more than one occasion. The following afternoon we motor into a very well protected lagoon on the north-western side of Niuatoputapu. Like most lagoon passes one would not attempt this in bad light or rough weather. The channel is winding with some of its markers broken off at the high-water mark, but with care we make it safely to the excellent anchorage.

History:  Like Samoa, Tonga was also first settled by the Lapita people some two to three thousand years ago.  Carbon dating of their pottery has shown this.

SHAMAL in Niua Lagoon
Fuel Station
Tonga had its first king sometime in the middle of the 10th century AD. Since then around 40 men have held this title. The four main island groups, from north to south, Niua, Vava’u, Ha’apai, and Tongata’u, were discovered by Europeans at different dates between 1616 and 1781. The Kingdom is made up of about 170 islands, some being high volcanic and others low coral islands.

The population is around 106,000 people. It is thought that just as many Tongans are living abroad, mostly in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. They are a very religious nation, and Sunday sees the whole country nearly coming to a standstill. The kingdom became an independent state in the mid-1970 after being under British protection since 1900.

06 December 2019

Western Samoa

 

Hello Again

Alec cutting up Pomelos
 
We leave Palmerston Atoll with east south east winds. It is a sunny morning, but lots of cloud about. We are running under a reef in the main and no jib, and are able to maintain a speed between 5.5-6.5kts. The seas are between 2-3mts with breaking tops. It is a little rolly, but not too uncomfortable. I am able to make muffins to go with our morning coffee, and make a batch of yogurt. Dinner is crumbed parrot fish fillets which we were given. It really is a yummy fish.

An evening of light winds
 
It takes us five days to cover the 595nm to Western Samoa. The last couple of days the winds dropped making for a slower trip. But we are now anchored in Apia harbour on Western Samoa’s north coast. We passed American Samoa to our starboard during the night.

We did have squalls on this leg, but the winds were never above 17-19kts. We are also notice how much warmer and more humid it is here. The nights in Rarotonga had been quite cool.

06 November 2019

The Cook Islands

Bora Bora

Sunday 21st. September.  An email arrives on the “Puddle Jumpers” web page for which we have joined for our Pacific crossing, from Bob McDavitt, the New Zealand weather guru, saying a Tuesday departure from Tahiti to Tonga is recommended due to a front passing over the Cook Islands and then Tahiti. We are heading for the Cook Islands, so we will wait a little longer here in Bora Bora.

Bora Bora Yacht Club
Monday afternoon arrives and Alec is ready to leave. By 1500 we have raised the anchor and are motoring out through the reef. Destination, Rarotonga, the largest and most populous of the Cook Islands.
Leaving Bora Bora

Once through the reef we raise the sails and are on our way. Winds are east north east at 15-20kts. Seas 1-1.5mts. All is good. Just on dawn the following morning, we run into the tail of Bob’s frontal system. The wind has now gone around to the south east at 25kts with breaking seas. There are some squalls about. We reef down and spend the next 24 hours with things a little more uncomfortable than we had hoped for. The following morning the system has passed and the seas have dropped, so we are able to raise the full ‘main again.