A day sail south took us to Maninita island (bird island) the southern most of the islands of Va Va'u hoping to have a break in the weather to go into the lagoon but it was too risky so we just observed the friendly boobies and noddies from the cockpit.
It covers at full tide and is uncovered at low exposing beautiful coral and rock pools with fish and shellfish
With deep lows in the southern ocean near NZ and tropical lows threatening to form into cyclones in the north there was a lot of anxiety among the fleet. Everyone was keen to get underway but the weather windows were short, particularly for the slower boats.
We listened on the radio as boats who had left Tonga and Fiji turned back or ran for shelter as fronts and low pressure systems were close on their heels. 9m swells and high winds were predicted so one yacht headed north for New Caledonia, another west for Norfolk Island and another back to north Minerva reef.
This was an ominous looking morning sky
Most of the yachts headed West with the wind but with lumpy seas and wind on the nose a NW course was taken. We decided to get south as quickly as possible by motor sailing and putting in a couple of tacks which paid off. Leto did the same. We are not a fast boat but with this tactic it put us in front for a couple of days. The faster boats who left the next day started overtaking us on the 3rd day. It was a good passage riding a high pressure system but there was pressure to get into the shelter of land as another ridge from a low passed over NZ.
Before getting into the shelter of Cape Brett and the Bay of Islands we caught 3 albacore which refilled the freezer.
We spent a day in the company of Mike and Maureen Trotter. Mike had spent hours on the computer with Eric's design many years ago CADing our yachts lines.
There were lots of festivities over the weekend with the Island cruising rally events and a celebratory dinner at the yacht club. A wonderful end to our round the world adventure sharing with newly made friends and old cruising friends.