Lat: 18 36.131′ S
Lon: 173 30.974′ W

We’re nearing Tonga on a sunny day. This morning we could hear the local cruiser’s net on VHF channel 26. It sounds like there’s quite a community in Vava’u. We’re not going to make it in early enough to clear customs, so we’ll anchor out somewhere or pick up a mooring and clear in first thing in the morning.

The passage has been a relatively quick one. We left knowing that we would pass through a disturbance on the way, but otherwise have good winds. The poor weather lasted a little longer than we’d thought, with some pretty strong winds. We were sailing at well over 6 knots with just half of the jib out. Fortuntately, just as the seas were getting about as large as we’ve seen them, things started to die down a bit. Today is sunny, and although the seas aren’t small, they aren’t nearly as menacing as yesterday.

After leaving Niue, we passed longitude 170 degrees West. Since we started in the vicinity of 80 degrees West, that means we’ve now covered more than 90 degrees of longitude, or more than 25% of the circumference of the earth as measured by longitude since leaving Amelia Island. Along the way, we’ve also managed to cover 50 degrees of latitude. Last night we sailed across the international date line as well. It’s moved east in this area to include all of Tonga, so we lost a calendar day on the passage. We’ve also sailed over areas that are more than 5 miles deep on this passage, which I think is the deepest water we’ve been in so far.

Aside from moving our watches a day ahead and taking one especially large wave beam-on during the rough weather it’s been a pretty uneventful passage. Like us, most cruisers seem to have their minds on New Zealand. We’re reading about it and planning our passage, boats we’ve met are making final decisions on where to go and talking over passage plans, and today on the Vava’u net a Kiwi boat from Nelson announced that Nelson was the best place in NZ to spend the season and if anyone would like additional info to please contact him.

Luckily, we get to stop in Vava’u first. We do have some high expectations. We met two people in Panama who had each spent several years and sailed almost everywhere in the South Pacific. They both identified Vava’u as one of the most idyllic areas, so we’re expecting to enjoy our stay.