It’s 11:30 am and we are in final preparations to raise anchor and leave our anchorage in Tongatapu, Tonga to make way for New Zealand. We’re feeling excited and a bit anxious—excited to make our last passage of the season, eat the meals I’ve spent the last two days preparing, see what adventures the sea holds hidden in her waves, peruse to farmer’s markets in New Zealand; anxious because the passage itself can be tricky. Especially as we move south of the trade winds, the weather is known to oscillate between calms and storms with a signature unpredictability.
To prepare, we’ve stocked our ditch bag with our EPIRB and wetsuits, Dominic finished constructing our drogue in case we get overpowered and need something parachute-like to toss in the water and slow the boat down, and I refreshed the batteries in our lifejacket strobe lights in case one of us goes overboard or we need to have an emergency dance party in the night.
But not to worry, we’ve been working with a meteorologist in New Zealand to plan our departure with a mild weather window. Things are looking very calm for the foreseeable future, so we’ve decided to depart and err on the side of too much motoring instead of too much wind and waves. There’s a reef 250 miles southwest of us where we can anchor safely and either wait for the winds to pick up or for heavy conditions to pass, should we so desire.
We’re sad to see the sun set on our time in Tonga, an island group so spectacular we’ve considered making another visit next season, but I’m trying maintain an air of undaunted, conservative optimism in the face of the ten(ish) days underway ahead and Dominic's reminders that I should be prepared beat into 15 foot waves for the duration of the passage. It helps to pretend I can hear Robert Louis Stevenson’s words whispering over the water, to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive...
…and, as of high noon on Tuesday, November 10, the hook is up!!