Yesterday morning, around 9am local time, we started our last passage for this season: the leg from Minerva to Opua in New Zealand. We're on the way from Tonga, where there are about 5pigs/inhabitant to a country of about 4 sheep and 10 opossums/inhabitant. It is a strange feeling knowing that in about 3 or 4 days we'll reach the end of the trip that Marcus planned 2 years ago and that we started 17 months ago. I see it like yesterday, the start of our trip out of Gran Canaria, where our neighbor friend and her Grandson wove us good-bye. Now, we're about to sail into a place, where many friends, that we have made this year and who left Tonga before us, will wave us hello when we arrive. So, we are not alone in these magic, life changing moments. But, we are not alone anyway, since Anna and Tina stepped on board to join as crew to be life in the first row on this trip.
So far, this trip out of Tonga could not be much better and more exciting. We had great sailing days with the girls to 'Eua and out of Tonga to Minerva north and Minerva south. Tonga is a New Zealand protectorate, since they don't have their own army / navy for 100000 people. So it comes at no surprise, that, while we were anchored in south Minerva, on the 15th, an Air Force plane comes up, circles us and comes up on the radio, asking for the vessel anchored in south Minerva reef to answer the radio. Well, there was no one besides us (yet), so I answered. A guy with a great voice (all of us girls think so) asked me just last destination and when we left as well as next destination and ETA (estimated time of arrival). With my answers we were dismissed and he confirmed that NZ customs is already informed about our arrival and has our data (Marcus had sent it already since the guide says you have to announce your arrival). Next they called up our friends on State of Mind, who were on their way from north to south Minerva to join us. They were asked some more questions, like "do you have animals or weapons on board", which made Rod laugh. "Have you been in contact with anyone since you left?" Rod: "Oh yeah, mate, heaps!" Air Force: "I don't mean radio contact, but physical contact?" R.:"Oh yeah with many other sailors in North Minerva and we're about to meet Alita later." A.F. "And any one else"? R.:"No, mate". One by one, all the other sailboats were called as well and it was quite entertaining to listen to all of these conversations. After Rod's answer, the others were asked, if they had "any physical contact to other persons other than the sailors in Minerva reef".
We had our last "in the middle of nowhere sundowner" on State of Mind, again with lots of food. We needed to eat all the huge Mahi Mahi that Marcus had caught the day before. I battered (panieren) half the fish steaks and Marcus prepared the rest for the BBQ. I also had a salad, cheese&crackers. Brenda had cream cheese with Sweet Chili Sauce, crackers, chips (French Fries = Pommes) and a carrot cake. That was so much food, that we invited the 4 men crew (2 guys and 2 boys) from "Sueno" over as well. As 10 people we were nearly able to kill the feast. It was another wonderful evening in paradise. South Minerva reef was even more beautiful than north, more to snorkel and again super clear water. Just amazing.
Now we're all on the way. State of Mind is about 20nm ahead of us (we started at the same time), Sueno is about 20nm behind us (and some more behind themy) and today we overtook another sailor on his way from Tongatapu to New Zealand. There are not many boats behind us. Many boats left already as early as 5 weeks ago of fear that a cyclone could come, which never did come. While these boats motored all the way to NZ we enjoyed a wonderful couple of weeks more in Tonga and now enjoy a wonderful sailing. The wind is strong enough and from a good angle to keep us moving quite quickly, but not so strong that we have to reef the sails. It's gotten cooler so we are getting used to wearing long shirts and pants again, but it's not cold (at least not during the day). I expect to arrive about the same day as Duende, who left 2 days before us from Minerva north. We'll see. Maybe we'll overtake some more boats on their way, who left the day before us on smaller boats /with a catamaran. I'll keep you updated on our progress.
Our current position is: 27deg 29,3min S and 178deg 47,1minW
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