What bliss to be at anchor in good holding off a pretty reef in the Vavau group of Tonga! We arrived at 0900 on Saturday morning and after tidying Pipistrelle superficially, retired to catch up on a couple of hours sleep. After lunch, an afternoon nap was also in order to recover from an arduous sail when we had two nights of discomfort being tossed around in big swells and winds of up to 30 kn.
Energies restored on Sunday, we launched the dinghy and made our way through the coral to the tiny island’s fine sandy beach for a saunter. It was good to stretch our legs and paddle in warm water! We found three rather lovely cowrie shells – so much for the rumour there are none on this particular island. The afternoon saw us donning snorkelling gear (plus wetsuit as the water temperature is not nearly as warm as we remember it from last October) to explore the reef and a spectacular coral mound near the anchorage that drops off to 35 feet. Again to be in ‘the aquarium’ once more was exciting.
Lovely though the outlook was, the wind was piping through the anchorage which became uncomfortable at high water and having had enough of being bounced around over the last two weeks, we weighed anchor early this afternoon and had a great broad reach for an hour in 20kn to a more sheltered bay, Port Maurelle where we picked up a mooring buoy.
After the tongue-in-cheek blog entry about Sinbad, the skipper wishes to follow up with a more matter-of-fact note…
Sinbad in fact is Simrad, our new 2nd autopilot. We had heard too many stories from friends or other acquaintancies about the failure of autopilots, and having to hand steer for days on end. With just two crew fatigue very quickly creeps in. Added to which, Admiral Marine, our insurance company, insists on a 3rd crew member for long passages, which is understandable.
With a spare motor on board, it was a matter of fitting the electronics for a new autopilot. So at the flick of a switch the 3rd crew member is now employed, to the relief of us and Admiral!