"Arctracer" Letters

Arrived in Tonga, June 2003

We arrived in Nukualofa, Tonga yesterday, just before noon. That was the 10th here in Tonga which calls itself "the land where time begins", but the 9th in the US. The easterly trade wind filled in gradually starting on Friday the 6th, and gradually turned from northeast to east so by early Saturday morning we could steer straight for Tonga. We were always on starboard tack after that, enjoying beautiful reaching conditions. We crossed into the Tropics officially on Monday the 9th, and started seeing flying fish and boobies. We trolled, hoping for a mahi-mahi. It was definitely warmer, and Nina no longer needed long sleeves for her night watches. The wind gradually increased in strength to 15-20 knots, but the seas were not bad at all. From 9:00 on the morning of the 8th to 9:00 the morning of the 9th we covered 180 miles, which is the most we have ever sailed in 24 hours. The schooner did 172 miles on two different days, helped by currents. At 11:00 Monday, 9 June, we were at 23 degrees 00 minutes South, 175 degrees 36 minutes West with only 100 miles more to go but too far to make it before dark. We reefed both the main and the jib, and slowed down to 5-6 knots, sailing more slowly and comfortably to arrive off the reefs about sunup.

Jerry spent all afternoon yesterday trying to get all the officials happy and our paperwork complete. Today he went to the big market and got fresh fruits and vegetables. It is so nice to have sweet, ripe bananas again after finding nothing but big, relatively tasteless, Ecuadorian bananas in New Zealand. The passage from Auckland took 10 days and covered 1218 nautical miles. It was a comfortable trip, with no strong winds after the first day. It is so nice to be back in the Tropics, where clothes are only for modesty and sun protection - not needed for warmth!

We'll be hanging out here in Tonga's capital for the next week or so, doing boat projects and relaxing. Our NZ friends will be flying up soon to "boatsit" while we travel back to the USA for a visit.

P.S.: The slogan that makes Tongans the hardest workers in the world: "Nuke a loafer!"