October 15, 2013: Neiafu, Island of Vava’u, Tonga (!)
After exhausting our visas in French Polynesia, we set sail west (almost due west) for the Kingdom of Tonga. We had the best passage to date with great sailing and good wind most of the time. On the way RED sailed close (within 20 miles) by Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, Palmerson Atoll and Niue Is. (one of the smallest sovereign nations on earth). Between Niue and Vava’u we crossed the International Date Line and are now living in the future. Instead of becoming the standard “Golden Dragon’s” when crossing, we decided to become “Fire Breathing Dragon’s” by toasting our accomplishment with Fireball Whiskey (thanks to my niece Meagan).
12 days after leaving Tahiti, we arrived in the Kingdom of Tonga. The official’s who “checked us in” were the most friendly we’ve met, and our friends from Huck were waiting for us on the dock, we couldn’t have felt more welcomed. It’s nice to have caught up with many of the boats we enjoy that are here.
As we motored into the island group we were reminded of Prince William Sound (RED’s home for 5 years). Now, there aren’t tall mountains here, nor is the water as cold. But there’s a certain something that feels like PWS. Many (many) well protected anchorages with lots to see and do in each.
We’ve had a full schedule since arriving: a local Tongan feast with dancing, Richard’s birthday party at, no, I’m not making this up, ‘The Giggling Whale’, a release of our wine from bondage (oh, yes.), plenty of lovely meals ashore, a tour of the island with our friends from Exit Strategy – Richard drove – on the ‘wrong’ side of the street, quite well, bottom cleaning and boat projects. We’re having a blast.
After much time in the states this summer for a wedding and a funeral, we feel like we’re ‘finally’ living the cruising life that we dreamed of. We’ll enjoy the lovely Tongan hospitality for a few more weeks, and then head off to New Zealand for their summer.