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Walkabout - About to lose a day...

S19:19 W171:35

We are back on passage on our way to Tonga after an incredible 3 days in Niue.

We arrived in Niue in the evening on Friday 7th July in darkness and picked up a mooring buoy with all of the other arc boats who had arrived at various points throughout the day on Friday. After successfully mooring up with the help of Escapade and Northstar in their dingy, we enjoyed our arrival beer with some Pringles and then had the delight of a full nights sleep without any night shifts to get up for - what a novelty! From then on we had a completely jam packed time on Niue without a spare minute but we loved every part. We began by using the crane to lift the dingy onto the dock the next morning which was a new experience for us all but we soon found a routine for it… after checking in to Niue we then set off on our tour with Keith and Sue who took 12 of us on a tour of the west coast in their mini vans. They showed us an amazing cave and some gorgeous little coves before dropping us at the most incredible swimming spot. It was another little cove which was mostly fresh water but the waves from the sea crashed in through a small opening at the far end, each time bringing a warm flush of water in (difficult to imagine the sea water warming you up like a bath being used to the UK sea temperatures but we can tell you now that it does happen) and we had a great laugh there with the other boats who were on the tour too. Sue, our tour guide, described Niue as a mini New Zealand, with its jagged limestone coastline and lots of greenery. We were also back to driving on the left and using NZ dollars which helps too. That evening, we had an arc dinner hosted by the yacht club and then on Sunday we continued around the island in another Scooby doo inspired van and had a walk and picnic before our second arc function at the resort along the coast that evening. Monday morning was a run for TAT before shopping for TB and boat repairs for TA. Unfortunately the boat repairs didn’t quite go as smoothly as planned so we are still sailing without a pole - a job for another day. We were in Niue at the start of whale season as mothers go to the warm waters of Niue with their calves at this time of year so there was a fair bit of whale activity going on while we were there! T&A along with people from other boats saw a big tail flick and on Monday morning there was multiple whales out in the bay which hung around for a couple of hours. We could see blow holes and their backs in the water, pretty incredible. They are also known to be moving between Niue and Tonga at this time so we are on the lookout… anyway back to Monday... A quick lunch and we were off diving in the clear water underneath the moorings with Niue Blue where we saw fish, sea snakes, crabs and lots of coral, it was our first dive the 4 of us which was fab. We had the short commute of less than 100m back to Walkabout, jumped in the shower, enjoyed a hot drink and fresh scone that we seem to have acquired 4 bags of that morning, and we slipped our lines to begin the journey to Tonga! What a busy, fun and enjoyable few days!

We left the moorings in Niue at about 5pm last night along with the rest of the group 2 arc boats who had decided the weather for the passage was more preferable by leaving Niue on Monday not Tuesday. We have had an interesting night with dramatic wind shifts and a few squalls hanging around on the radar. We had 2 reefs in the main with the Genoa out heading into the night but at around 11pm Andrew and I put a third reef in the main as the wind climbed to about 21 knots. Our wind angle has been building and building before dropping off a cliff resulting in wind shifts of more than 60 degrees, we could even see these wind shifts hitting each boat on the AIS when their heading dramatically shifted to a different direction as the squalls moved around. We were on the VHF last night with four other arc boats who each had completely different wind levels and angles varying between having to motor through the lack of wind or being hit with 20-25 knots! We are currently heading slightly south of the Rum Line to Tonga and following the wind.

We will be crossing the date line today, wow! After realising it was actually more difficult than we thought to find out exactly where the dateline is, Andrew calculated we would be crossing it this evening in about 9 hours (we think!) so we will go from being 12 hours behind BST to 12 hours in front, I think a drink and some Pringles to celebrate is potentially on the cards...

Another exciting milestone is that Walkabout has just clocked 15,000 miles sailed since leaving the UK, what an achievement for Traci and Andrew!!

This crossing is also the last passage for Tom and I on Walkabout, when we arrive in Tonga we won’t be moving around too much although we still have a few events in Tonga like prize giving and a leaving meal before we actually leave! On the other hand, our arrival in Tonga also holds the excitement of the Gammon crew arriving and boarding Walkabout for a epic 3 weeks in paradise!

Love to you all

BATT xxxx

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