We left American Samoa on Thursday mid-afternoon. The winds were from the east and we were headed to the southwest. So, it was a beam sail. There were some 8 foot swells, but they were far apart (about every 11 seconds). Then there was some 4 foot chop. This was a bit sloppy, but not too uncomfortable on our cat. And, we were going at a good speed – about 8-9 knots average. The winds were pretty steady the entire trip, and the seas got better along the way. Not only that, but as soon as we got south of American Samoa, the sun broke out! We had nothing, but rain and clouds for the previous ten days, so we were happy!
We had a nice bright moon for most of the night, so this helped for the night sailing. We were about 10 miles behind our friends on Inspiration Lady. But, Tahina was moving along about 2 knots faster, so we passed them about 8 PM. We literally waved at them since they were on the same rhumb line as us to Tonga and we passed about one-tenth of a mile to their leeward.
After mid-night, we decided we crossed the International Date Line and changed our time to Tonga time. Tonga is on the same hour, but on the next day. So, we basically missed Friday and were now on Saturday. It’s the first Friday I’ve ever missed in my life! We are now many hours ahead of our friends in the US (+17 hours from Washington DC). Basically a day ahead.
We had a beautiful sail on Saturday. The winds were a little lighter, and seas calmer. In the afternoon we reefed our sails to slow down, so we could make sure we arrived after dawn in Tonga. But, the winds picked up and we kept going at the 8-9 knot pace. Fortunately, we had a few rain squalls that messed with our wind just enough during the night that we managed to arrive right at pre-dawn. It was enough to see the islands, and the charts looked good.
Tonga is a beautiful place. The Vava’u group of islands are reported to be some of the best cruising grounds in the Pacific. From what we saw, it looked wonderful! We pulled up a mooring in the main town of Neiafu at 7 AM, and headed to bed. Sunday is a quiet day – no businesses in operation. That includes customs, so we wouldn’t be able to clear in until the next day. So, we just relaxed on the boat all day.