After a good passage from Niue we anchored in a beautiful spot where INFINITY, ROGUE and MONKEY ISLAND were already waiting for us. We went on land to have some drinks together. ROGUE had already spent some time in Vava’u and was planning to move South the next day. Our plan was to clear in in Neiafu the next day and register us for the Vava’u Bluewater Festival as the weather forecast for the coming week did not look very promising. The whole following week would be rainy and very windy, so not really the right weather to check out the beautiful anchorages in the Vava’u island group.
As Tonga is one of the rare places where you are allowed to swim with humpback whales we where hoping to get a chance before the stormy weather aŕrives. Even for Karin who has seen a lot of underwater life this was something very special. There is of course no guarantee when you book the trip that you actually will be able to snorkel close to one of these beautiful mammals. We cruised around for quite a long time and on the first attempt the whale moved on too fast. But a little bit later we were lucky. Our guide gave us directions where to swim and we had the chance to see a mother whale with her calf just next to us… an unforgettable moment!
The cruising festival was a great thing. It was organised by a few local businesses together with New Zealands Customs , Bay of Islands and Whangarei Marina. It really made appetite for New Zealand! The organizers were all very friendly and helpful. The ladies from customs and biosecurity explained us what we had to exspect at the c-dock. They also distributed a documentation with all the necessary forms which was very useful.
One of the highlights of the festival was the visit of Hosea Primary School where the children did some beautiful singing and dancing performances. After a delicious local lunch (made by the kids parents) the kids could play together. The kids playground looked a little bit different… one of the biggest attractions was an old car with a broken window. You would never find that on a playground in Switzerland..
And of course there were also some regattas. First there was the Friday race. Light winds – perfect for us. The whole BAJKA crew was on boat. Lukas, who sailed for Switzerland at the Olympics in Sydney 2000 was our secret weapon… and we won! There was a party in the evening where we saw our friends from CHASING STARS and TODAY again who were just about to leave for Fidji. It was a fun night and great to see them again.
Next regatta was the Wednesday race… there was a lot of wind and we got slightly beaten by our challenger ZENSATION, who was second in the first race. We had a bit more healing than usual and parts of the crew were busy downstairs with bailing out the water which entered through the sink because we had forgotten to close the seacocks. What a beginners mistake…. But Lukas and André stayed calm and the finish was very tight. We were second in the monohull category and won 5 days in the Bay of Islands Marina in Opua, New Zealand for the cleanest hull – as one can see on the pictures below ;-).The last regatta was the weekly Friday race again… this time with no women and no kids on board but also with no wind and no luck ;-). All in all these races were good fun for us and it was particularly interesting to share Lukas’ knowledge and experience.
After the cruising festival we said goodbye to INFINITY who headed towards Fidji and sailed further south to the Ha’apai Island group. We first thought that we are just staying for a short stop over and then continue towards Nuku’alofa to drop Karin off but then a perfect weather window for New Zealand started to develop! Who would have thought, that Karin would join us for this passage! We anchored on a beautiful remote island together with BAIJKA and PELIZENO, had a beautiful walk around the island on my Birthday and got ready for the passage. We would have loved to stay a bit longer, but the weather window was just too good… we could not expect anythinģ better. Goodbye Tonga – New Zealand here we come!