Tonga to New Zealand Passage notes.
While we are at sea, we are able to update our family
through an email service from our satellite phone. Attached are those emails describing the passage.
The 1100 plus mile passage can sometimes be treacherous and it is one that I have dreaded since we reached the Pacific.
But I am happy to report that it was fairly smooth and uneventful.
November 2, 2009
Hello Everyone, It's hard
to believe but we are on our way to New Zealand. We finally left Tonga on Halloween day (Oct 30 for all
of you). We had a great last week in Tonga. We spent it in the remote island group of
Ha'apai. We anchored all by ourselves for a couple of days off of an outstanding beach (one of our
favorite beaches so far) which we heard was the King's private island. After that we visited an island
with a little remote village. We met a young American Peace Corp couple that lives on the island and the
woman teaches English at the local school. This provided a great opportunity for the kids to attend the
local school. They had a blast and the local kids enjoyed having the Palangis (foreigners) at school with
them. Since the island is off the beaten path for everyone including cruisers they see very few visitors.
We had a wonderful time there and we will provide pics and more details on the website.
After celebrating a fun Halloween trick or
treating the other boats in the anchorage and hosting a dessert party with ghost cake and pumpkin shaped jello, we decided
to set sail on Saturday. We had originally planned to go to another reef called Minerva reef which was
a 2 day sail from Tonga and right on our route to New Zealand. But the weather looks good and is mild and
we are cruising along well so we made the decision today to skip the reef and head straight to NZ. So hopefully
in about 6 or 7 days we will be in the land of the Kiwis. We are checking into our usual SSB radio nets
and are traveling with some of our boat friends. Just this morning, there were about 20 boats that checked
into the net heading in our same direction.
We have adjusted into our usual passage routine with lots of baking, reading, silly games, and we
will be doing school tomorrow. We are excited to get to New Zealand to feel some cooler temps, do some
hiking, and prepare for Christmas with Lisa, Ernie, and Carter. We hope that you are all doing well and
we will update you every couple of days along the way.
Love to all,
Jane, Marc, and the crew
S23 degrees 53 minutes
W179 degrees 15 minutes
November 4, 2009,
Hi Everyone, We just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that all is going well on the passage
to New Zealand. Sorry that there have been some delays in the emails. We've had
some technical difficulties. Its Thursday morning here and we are starting our 6th day of the passage.
The good news is that we have had very calm seas so far but, of course, that generally means that we've had little
wind so we've had to use the engine quite a bit. We have been able to sail at least a few hours everyday
but the Volvo is getting a workout. We expected this from the weather forecasts but made the decision to
do the trip now to take advantage of the calm seas. Since this passage can be known for some strong winds,
rough seas, and storms we wanted to come now while it was calm.
We have been enjoying ourselves in the calm weather and have even accomplished
some school along the way. We caught two beautiful 4+ ft Mahi Mahi's and have enjoyed fresh fish a
couple of times. We have done lots of reading (all of us have finished books this week), watching movies
(started one of my favorites - Gone with the Wind today), playing games, and just enjoying our time together (great conversations
out here at sea).
There are so many boats out here making the same passage that we actually have to be careful on watch that we don't
hit anyone. We have been within 20 miles of our friends on Gillaroo since we left together on Saturday
and have a few boats that are within a few miles of us that we have been speaking with on the VHF. It's
comforting to know that there are others out here with us.
We hope that you are all having a great week. We have 493 miles to go which would
normally equate to 3 more days but it could be a bit longer with these light winds. We'll keep you
posted on the progress.
Marc, and the kids
November 7, 2009 –
Hi all, just sending you all a note to let
you know that all is going well on the passage to New Zealand for Imagine. With 181 miles to go to Opua,
New Zealand we hope to make landfall tomorrow afternoon/evening (Sunday for us). The passage has often
been calm and windless but that's OK for all of us considering friends of ours who made the trip a month ago had 60 knot
winds. The wind did start to pick up last night at about midnight to 15 - 20 knots so have been sailing
ever since. It's nice not to hear the drone of the engine today.
The kids are doing well and we have accomplished some school especially Science
and History which tend to be our passage subjects since Mom can do a lot of the reading and the kids don't have to worry
about getting sea sick. Another thing that we do a lot on passages is reading especially mom reading books
to the kids. We just finished our 3rd family book together on this passage. We finished
"Indian in the Cupboard" earlier this week and that has been our favorite so far for the year.
We are still within 10 miles of our friends on Gillaroo,
an Irish boat that we have often sailed with since Bonaire. We talk to them at least 3 times a day and
keep track of each other's positions and discuss weather. We are also within VHF range of a couple
of other boats and check in periodically.
Well we hope that all is going well with you and you are preparing for a nice weekend.
The next update will hopefully be coming from New Zealand.
Love to all,
Jane, Marc, Caroline, Grant, and Noah
S 32 degrees 35 minutes
E 176 degrees 05
November 8, 2009 –
We just arrived in New Zealand.
It is midnight on Sunday here in NZ and after 9 days, and 8 nights we are safely at the Quarantine dock in Opua, NZ.
(coordinates: 35 18 S, 174 07 E) It is COLD here too, but we won't complain too much - it's about
68 right now.
Overall, we had a great trip down here. This is a notoriously rough passage, and we had no qualms
with the dead calm seas we had for a couple of days even though we were more of a motor boat than a sailboat.
It was a tough decision for us as we were on day 3 with the option to duck into a reef just south of Tonga to wait
for more wind. We knew it was going to be light, but we decided to keep going and would rather use the
engine than suffer what could be a punishing ride down here. We had been traveling with our friends - Gillaroo,
Arielle, and Long White Cloud. Gillaroo decided to keep sailing with us, and the others were waiting in
Minerva reef for more wind. Well, as we were approaching Opua today, we talked to everyone via SSB and
heard the seas were very rough for those that waited. Once we heard that report, we were somewhat relieved
that our decision to push on was well worth it! But it wasn't without our own drama of course.... the
last days were not rough, but painful. The wind was 'on the nose' and had picked up, which made
making any headway in the right direction near impossible - it took us 2 days to finish off the last 130 miles (normally we
do 150 a day) and we also had some issues with the engine, but were able to resolve those while underway as well.
But we are here now and delighted.
It is exactly 1 year from the time we pushed off from Norfolk VA, leaving the states for the Caribbean.
Wow, how time flies - We'll update later on some of our highlights for the year in the webpage, but for now, the
boat is not moving, and it's time for sleep. We wish you all well & miss you.