Friday, 24 August 2012

On passage to Vanuatu, day 3

It was a bit hard to leave Tonga, all the new and old friends, the beautiful anchorages and great weather. In between preparations we went to a Tongan feast at Lape Island (photos already on facebook). It's a very small community with only about 20 adults and a bunch of kids. They are hosting these feasts every few weeks to raise money to further improve boating facilities for cruisers. They have 5 moorings in order to protect the coral (we had to anchor, as the moorings were already taken) and it really was quite corally bottom and I felt bad seeing our chain and anchor going through coral, basically all the beautiful fish's homes. With the funds raised so far they have built a wharf and are now planning to make a floating dock at the end of it. The locals also have a market where they sell traditional Tongan handicrafts to cruisers, which is a nice way to encourage the young to learn traditional crafts and sustain their life on the islands (thus stopping them going to the cities). We met a few new boats and enjoyed hanging out with old friends, especially Sala, whom we'll miss as we continue our travel.

Anyway, departure couldn't be put further off and we left Neiafu late Tuesday afternoon, making this our third day out. We have been very lucky with the weather so far, mainly 10-15 knots southerly, which makes for lovely beam reaching (as we're heading pretty much due west). It also makes for good speed, we have quite often seen 8 knots on the speedo, especially surfing down the swells, but we usually slow down overnight with reduced sails. We're sailing right past Fiji, and yes, it is a little bit unusual not to stop there, but we don't have the time if we are to be enough west and/or north for the cyclone season by end November. Another good reason not to stop is saving money on the entry fees, which isn't exactly cheap (we understand about $250). We can also easily visit Fiji some other time, with or without Sophia.

Currently we're just south of Fiji (Matuku to be exact), so not quite halfway yet. We're heading to Anatom, the most southern island in Vanuatu to clear in and are looking very much forward to going to Tanna to see the active volcano.

Position: 19, 29, 87 S and 179, 30, 80 E.
366 miles so far, 550 to go (916 in total), average speed app 5.6 knots.

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