Last night we sailed 63 miles south to Ha’apai. We were sad to leave Vava’u behind. The wildlife there is phenomenal, underwater, on the beaches, and chirping from the treetops. It is the kind of place where snorkeling is accompanied by whale songs, arugula is bountiful, and the anchorages are filled with friends.
Unfortunately the south pacific cyclone season is looming on the horizon, and we need to make it down south to New Zealand in November. So to continue our journey southward we dropped the mooring ball last night at 6 pm from Neiafu and headed toward the Ha’apai group. There were 10 knot southeasterly winds in the forecast, but we found 20 knot winds in choppy seas once we left the protection of the archipelago. We were close hauled at 55 degrees apparent on a port tack, cruising upwind at a speed above five knots for most of the passage. Our heel was consistent and comfortable, but our bow did some dramatic crashing into the waves. We had great stars, and the conditions made for fantastic phosphorescence.
The scenery in Ha’apai is reminiscent to the Tuamotus—pristine water and coral, a low coastline of sand and palm trees punctuated by exposed reef formations and single-story village structures. The Tuamotus were enclosed atolls that created protective lagoons, but Ha’apai is a string of islets stretching north to south between Vava’u and Nukalofa, the capitol island, so Helios is doing more rolling in the anchorage than we’ve done in a while (we got so spoiled in Vava’u!).
After dropping the hook around 8 am, I saw whales breach, breath, and barrel roll. I saw a frigate bird try to bully two boobies out of their lunch. I saw black noddies and fairy terns hunting for squid off our stern. I took an amazing snorkel and found some of the most vibrant coral formations we’ve seen yet, so seems like a little rolling in the anchorage might be worth it.