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Mischief - Up to Mischief Log 43 Further adventures of S/Y Mischief through the eyes and ears of Chas Baynes

Saturday, 26th May 2018 - En route Vava'u, Tonga

There was no wind at all last night and a calm sea so we are presently motoring towards Vava'u, Tonga.

Ironically, the SSB radio net at 8am announced that Niue had now relented and all ARC yachts were now able to check in and check out at the same time but only today, Saturday. It's a bit late as we are now well passed Niue and even Adrienne, the last ARC yacht to make a decision has also decided to make direct for Tonga. A real shame as Niue is reported to be a real highlight. Also, the weather front that is coming through tomorrow supposedly is timed for around midnight so we ought to be well in harbor by then, hopefully in the Irish bar should we have found one.

1200 position: 18 degs 14.8' S 171 degs 30.9' W C: 265 SOG: 6.5 W: S 7knts DTR: 138 Noon run: 150nm

The Vava'u Group is made up of 50 islands of which only 13 are inhabited, offering fantastic cruising in sheltered waters with many of the islands surrounded by white sands and vibrant coral reefs. It is also across the international date line so we are due a major clock change in the near future.

Fresh Wahoo for lunch with soy sauce and wasabi - lovely. A pity Sue, Wendy nor Rob are that keen so all the more for the rest of us! They ate the remains of the rice salad and hot pot, so we were all happy.

Apart from the Wahoo, the afternoon was uneventful, but the wind did rise a little, sufficient to put some sails up anyway, and to coin a wonderful phrase I have been dying to use from Air Power, we spoilt a good days' motoring! We set the Code 0 on a beam reach and that was the rig for the night literally sailing off into the sunset.

Monday, 28th May 2018 - Arrival Neiafu, Tonga

All remained as was until around 0300 when we gybed to starboard and set the pole on the genoa but the wind started to back gradually and black clouds brought more wind and rain - it was moving into the northern quadrant to such an extent we had to drop the spinnaker pole and set the boat up for a beam reach on starboard tack. Of course, as soon as we were all set up the wind dropped right off again and came back behind the boat and so on went the engine again for a couple of hours before we put them back up again later on. The changeable weather is the front setting in but not much west in it just yet, but plenty of dark cloud and rain. Sue was complaining that she had not signed up for this amount of rain!

Dave has reset the ship's clock to Tonga time this early morning. So, what was Sunday 0830 is now 0730. And what is more it is now Monday! We have effectively lost Sunday the 27th May 2018 altogether! The consequences are wide ranging for life on board: Dave and Wendy reckon they have been on watch for 28 hours solid and want paying for the overtime whilst I feel like I have been on my bunk for 2 hours yet by all accounts I have been there for 28 hours; if so, why do I feel so tired? The upshot is we are now 12 hours ahead of UK time having been 11 hours behind only a matter of minutes ago.

0820: Land Ahoy!! Sue gets the Blue Peter Badge today, spotting Tonga through the black clouds off the port bow. The wind was dropping again and moving further behind us so we have put the engine back on to finish off the final 15 miles to the way point although there will be another 15 miles once we pass around the point of the island to reach the moorings off Heiafu, where the World ARC fleet are to be based for the duration.

However, there appears to be a long queue of boats awaiting clearance as they don't open on a Sunday (yesterday here in Tonga it existed), and we are strictly not allowed on shore until we have cleared customs and health etc etc, another endless stream of paperwork, so there was no point to hurrying up to wait. The weather is looking very iffy too with big black clouds coming up behind us. So, I made some bread as you do, but the first batch didn't work - it was an old stock, but I wasn't going to be beaten so tried again and this time success. It was a wholemeal loaf and was really good. But it didn't have any effect on the dark clouds unfortunately.

At 12 17 Suwarrow time we crossed the line; don't ask me what time locally that was as I'm all confused but we had finished. Whether the time is worth recording may be academic as we all missed out Niue. But it is worth bearing in mind that if you are using the chart plotter to mark the finish line, if you were to pan the magnification out the boat icon is relatively large compared to the land and so the bow crosses the line way before it would otherwise have done should you drill down to the detailed chart. We could have saved ourselves 20 minutes my way but Dave wouldn't have it……….

The coastline is very different to any of the other islands we have visited. They are all low lying for a start with steep cliffs leading down to the waterline, and the rock actually on the waterline has a lip on it mostly, like an overhang, really peculiar. The islands are very green with thick foliage with the occasional palm tree sticking proud of the canopy.

We arrived at the harbor wall just before 1pm (local time) and rafted up next to Spirit of Catherine which is handy as she is a 50 foot catamaran. It took the best part of an hour to fill in all the paperwork during which time I packed away the mainsail, re-packed the spinnaker and stowed it, got the dinghy out of the sail locker and ready to go etc. Then the promised rain started and within no time it was biblical. No wonder it's green here, it was absolutely throwing it down.
Dave has taken all the completed paperwork ashore and we are stuck here until he returns, hopefully with clearances.

Which he did after an hour, soaked to the skin. So, we were free to go ashore but the rain was such it was not possible - it was bouncing off the decks 6 inches! When it eventually relented we ventured onto 'dry' land and made a bee-line for the nearest bar, the Tropicana. The Tropicana is not just a bar; it is a restaurant, an internet café, a laundry, a tour agent, you name it. Then onto the Mango bar around the bay for another couple and back to the boat at 9pm - so late, way past my bed time! At least I have a cabin tonight as Sue and Rob have chosen to find a B&B ashore having survived for so long at sea they were not about to chance their luck any further!

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