And we’re off, sailing for Fiji. It’s always bittersweet leaving port. As the Captain says, “if we hadn’t left one place we would have never arrived at another.” Oh, the glories of traveling. Some places are harder to leave than others, thus far and I believe Tonga will remain one of the hardest ports to leave on many levels. The crew had a spectacular time exploring the island of Vava’u, in the Kingdom of Tonga. It provided us with both adventure and relaxation. The town of Neiafu was welcoming and friendly, our days off were happily spent exploring caves, swimming with whales, sailing, hiking and of course indulging in ice cream and fish ‘n chips. The town is a big sailing hub, attracting sailors from all corners of the world. Our crew made fast friends with both locals and visitors, some even having connections between friends or family back home.
One particular crew member, Vaufia, had a surreal time, as it was her first trip back home since sailing away in the Picton Castle 5 years ago. She has now completed her first circumnavigation. Her family was there on the dock to welcome her home. On our last night in Tonga, we were able to experience a little bit of her world. She and her family invited us in with open arms and threw a tremendous feast, along with dancing and music, where we celebrated the coming together of two families: Vai’s family and her Picton Castle family. It was truly magical to be all under one roof. The following day we made our last provisions at the fantastic Neiafu vegetable market, spent the last of our Tongan pangas on crafts and souvenirs and said our heartbreaking goodbyes. We hoisted the heavy port anchor, hauled on lines, loosed our canvas and set course for Fiji. Once out of the harbor, but still sailing between the islands and as we coiled down lines and were settling back into sea life, a huge humpback whale breached just off the stern on our port side. It was the perfect farewell from Tonga.
Ship’s work: Today the crew are focusing on gaining back their sea legs and shaking off their shore brains. Picton Castle sails along steadily between 4 – 5 knots, as on duty watches work to keep the ship looking sharp. Our starboard breezeway door was primed, the teak door to the carpenter’s shop was scraped, seizings on the shrouds were painted white. The sailmaker and his team of helpers finished sewing the rope cover on the new royal and seaming on the new t’gallant continued. Overall an excellent day back out on the vast South Pacific Ocean.
From: Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga
Towards: Suva, Fiji
Date: September 15, 2018
Noon Position: 18°38.7′ S x 175°45.9′ W
Course + Speed: W by N 1/2 N + 3.8 knots
Wind direction + Force: ExS + 4 Swell Height +
Direction: 2m + ESE
Weather: Periods of overcast, light rain and sun
Day’s Run: 98.1nm
Passage Log: 93nm
Distance to Port: 238.1nm
Sails Set: All square sails, inner jib, outer jib, main topmast stays’l, main t’gallant stays’l