The Friendly Islands

DSC05748 (Custom) (2)After a very lazy day on the water we realized that there was no way we would make it to Tonga before sunset. We were only a few hours short of having enough time and even with strong winds all day long, it was not enough. We really do not like to go into a new harbour at night time but I was anxious to get to a place where I could lay down without worrying about doing a night watch.

We could see Vava’u Island as the sun was setting and could tell that we were on track. As night fell we approached and rounded the North end of the island. With a bright half moon, we could see the shadows of land as we rounded to the west side of the island group. Because of how late it was I had Kirsten, Alyssa and Jaeden go to the front of the boat to keep a watch to make sure that our navigation equipment was accurate enough. We entered the pass into the Vava’u island group which took us into a maze of islands. It was at this time that I was grateful for the bright moonlight that helped guide us into the lagoon without being totally blind. If the moon was not so bright there is no way I would have felt comfortable entering the labyrinth of islands.

As we rounded a few groups of islands, I could see some bright red lights off in the distance. These two red lights had one lower down on the shore with a less frequent flashing light up higher on the island. As we approached, we could see a red light to our port side and green to our starboard which marked the narrow channel we needed to go through. Going through the channel we needed to line up the upper and lower red lights one above the other to ensure that we were entering the centre of the channel. Again I was glad that these lit markers were on to help mark the way. Especially due to the fact that the first light on our chart was supposed to be at the entrance to the channel but was not.

After passing through the narrowest channel we entered the main harbour of Neiafu. This is the largest village in the Vava’u group of Tonga. Jaeden stood at the bow with Kirsten to look out for mooring buoys as we slowly motored past the main village. As they shone the spotlight around they noticed that there were hundreds of gigantic jellyfish floating in the water. It was incredible to see the size and colour of them as we shone the light into the water.

In the distance of the harbour we could see lights at the top of the moonlit silhouettes of dozens of sailboats. We slowly headed in that direction before finally spotting a mooring buoy in the water. It was about 11:40 pm and so we were anxious to stop for the night. As we pulled up the mooring buoy we noticed that it had the words, “Private” written on it. As much as I did not want to use a private mooring buoy, I really did not want to have to hunt around for another place to anchor our boat so late at night. I decided that we would just stay here until early in the morning and would then move to another location as soon as the sun rose. We still had Alyssa and Orin scheduled to do an anchor watch as we were not sure how secure the anchor was but after their four hours, cancelled the rest of the watches as we held fast to our mooring buoy.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I’m happy to see your passage to Tonga went well. Night navigation in close quarters is an art form that is painted with a brush of luck and good fortune. I took my 27′ Piver Tri out to South Coronado Island one evening after getting home late. I arrived there at about midnight, and had to maneuver through the other sailboats already anchored there WITHOUT the benefit of a spotlight or a bright moon. All I had was a 3 D cell Mag Light and the mast lights from the other boats. Satisfied, I set the anchor and went to bed.

  2. wow, you guys are sure courageous!! I want to know what happened in the morning. I am loving your tale and my kids and I eagerly wait for each entry.

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