On passage from Minerva Reef, Thursday 31st May

Having waited in Minerva Reef for suitable winds to blow us towards Tonga, we finally made the decision to leave on Wednesday 30th (yesterday).

The day before had been busy with an early morning reef walk or rather paddle with Michael and Lilianne, Canadians on a yacht called Meikyo. They had launched their dinghy and outboard whereas ours was still stowed on the foredeck. The reef itself is devoid of marine life apart from sea slugs and the odd hermit crab.

In no wind and clear skies the afternoon lent itself to a snorkel/dive trip to view the remains of a Japanese yacht that had struck the reef and sunk some years ago. There was little left apart from half of a stripped out hull. The water is crystal clear, but again in 9 metres there was little marine life around apart from the usual small reef fish.

We also took advantage to hoist the new main and make adjustments to the reefing lines, as well as make changes to the staysail and new genoa.

Leaving the reef through the narrow pass was a reminder of the Tuamotus, though in this case the current was going in the same direction as us, though the wind was straight on our nose, creating large stopper waves. Our first 24 hours at sea was as challenging as ever, and varied between romping along on a broad reach under genoa alone, to an incredibly uncomfortable ride last night, with heavy rain and then quickly backing winds and large 4 metre swells.

We plan to pass Tongatapu, the capital, early tomorrow morning, and continue north to Vavau.

Distance run 154nm.

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