TARA AND IAN’S TONGAN TRIP

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Tonga pic
 
NEW ZEALAND TO TONGA

Monday 8 May

From Tauranga Marina to North East of Mayor Island
My Father and I left for Tonga today in his 33 foot Crowther Trimaran. We were to leave at 5.00am this morning, but when we got to the boat it was too windy for us to maneuver easily out of the marina, so we decided to have a few hours sleep in the boat till the weather improved. We eventually set sail at 9.00am and an hour later we were out of Tauranga harbour with our sails up doing a steady six knots. It’s great to be on our way, but I’m a little bit apprehensive too, as I don’t really know what’s in store for us.

Just before we past Mayor Island a front came over with strong winds, so Dad lowered the mainsail half way, this kept our speed at six knots. The rougher sea made me feel a little queasy. Dad made dinner and then checked in with Tauranga coastguard and Russell Radio. We both went to bed at 7.30pm after a very long day.

Tuesday 9 May

From North East of Mayor Island to Great Barrier Island
It was pretty rough when we woke up this morning so I decided to stay in bed for a while. This only made me feel queasy so I tried a sea sickness patch that Mum had given me before I left, this made me feel much better. After that whenever I didn’t feel so good I went on deck, and this always made me feel better.

About midday the autopilot started playing up and steering us around in circles. Dad tried to fix it for a couple of hours, but was unable to repair it while it was all wet and wasn’t about to dry out in the current weather. So it was either take turns steering the entire way to Tonga and back, or backtrack and get a new autopilot. Dad decided we would head for Great Barrier and ask the coastguard to organise for a new autopilot to be sent there. The coastguard said they could do this and the new autopilot should arrive by midday tomorrow.

So now the fun bit - steering all afternoon and night to get to Great Barrier Island. We took 2-3 hour shifts, dressed up in all our gear - hats, gloves, and wet weather jackets and trousers. I found the first shift quite enjoyable with the moonlight and stars, but putting on successively wetter clothes for each watch after that wasn’t fun at all.

From about 4.00am onwards we were accompanied by a pod of dolphins. These looked surreal as all you could see was the phosphorescence in the water around them. They had a faint white outline with bright white patches where their flippers and tail were moving, and left a long streak in the water. Almost made those wet socks worth it!

Wednesday 10 May

We arrived at Great Barrier Island at 7.15am. Dad checked in with Barrier Coastguard, and then a man called Kevin came by in his runabout and offered us the use of his mooring and dinghy. We had only just dropped our anchor and we were pretty tired, so we first had a sleep and then lunch before moving over to Kevin’s mooring. Using the dingy we went ashore, and Kevin invited us into his place for a cup of tea with him and his wife, Meredith. Onshore we found that our autopilot isn’t likely to be here until tomorrow now. Kevin and Meredith warned us that we are now on “island time” and that things take a little longer than usual here. The forecast is for bad weather anyway, so we’ll probably be here for another few days regardless of when the autopilot arrives.

Kevin gave us a ride to the shops (there are only two), here we got a touristy tea towel for the most practical of reasons (we’d forgotten ours), and some more sea sickness tablets for me - just in case.

Dad discovered today that the onboard computer, along with the maps, location plotting software, and capacity to receive weather faxes, got soaked through last night and no longer works. Our GPS is a separate system thankfully, so we still have that and the paper maps of most of the regions we will travel through.

Thursday 11 May

Dad picked up the new autopilot today and attached it. It looks like it should work fine, and is a sturdier model than the last one so hopefully we won’t have any trouble with it. The weather wasn’t that great so we spent the day on the boat. I started reading some of my books and Dad was busy with the autopilot and unsuccessfully trying to make to computer work.

The ideal time to leave for Tonga is just after a front has passed over. As the next front hasn’t past over yet it looks like we’ll be here for another couple of days.

Friday 12 May

The weather was quite rough last night, but had died down by morning to leave drizzle for most of the day.

In the morning we went for a ride with Kevin in his runabout to check his crayfish pots. This gave us the chance to have a good look at the island as his pots were spread over quite a distance. All Kevin’s pots were empty till he checked the last one back near his mooring. Dad was lucky enough to be given one for his dinner.

In the afternoon we went for a walk over to the other side of the island. We both got wet feet beaching the dingy, this lead to unhappy feet for us after a couple of hours walking. At least it got us off the boat though.

Saturday 13 May

In the morning we went and took a photo from Kevin’s house of the boat in Tryphena Harbour. Kevin then gave us a ride over to the shops where we stocked up on fresh bread, milk and meat for our trip. We did some clothes washing, but didn’t have much luck getting it dry. The front has passed over so we should be heading off tomorrow.

Sunday 14 May

Great Barrier Island Northwards
We left Great Barrier Island at about 8.00am. The new autopilot started playing up in the Colvile Channel, only an hour or so out of Tryphena. This was concerning at the time, but Dad managed to fix it once we were out of the channel.

About 1.00pm the lower part of our rudder broke off from the stirrup it was attached to. We only noticed this when the boat started going around in circles again. Fortunately it was attached by wire to the boat, so we were able to haul it out and start fixing it. This involved Dad hanging upside down off the end of the boat, up to his shoulders in water sometimes, undoing bolts. One of the biggest risks was that we might lose one of these bolts overboard. This made the job doubly difficult for Dad, ensuring they were safe at all times.

After loosening the rudder from the boat we had to haul it on board. It was very heavy, and there’s no way it would have floated if we had dropped it. We then removed the part left in the stirrup, and forced the remaining rudder into it, making it a two foot long rudder instead of the initial three foot. The rudder was then bolted on and carefully lowered overboard. This last part again required Dad to go upside down for the final attachment. The rudder, despite being a little shorter, seems to work just as well as before.

It took us three hours, until 4.00pm, to repair the rudder. I have decided it must be a Bermuda triangle out here for this boat, first the autopilot and our computer and now this. We took shifts till midnight to make sure nothing else went wrong.

I’m feeling much better out on the sea than I was on leaving Tauranga.

Monday 15 May

Dad made some alterations to the autopilot setup today. The autopilot arm is attached to the tiller at the back of the boat, and yesterday the arm kept jumping off the tiller. Dad moved the attachment point, and tied the arm onto the tiller. It is now much more secure and means we won’t have to stay up at night any more checking on it.

The sea was much flatter today enabling me to read. I’ve started rationing my books to make sure I haven’t read them all by the time we get to Tonga. Apart from that not much else happened today. There was no land or boats, but we did see a light bulb float by - the highlight of the day. We are now north of New Zealand, but a long way off to the east.

Tuesday 16 May

Today was our first day with sunshine since starting the trip. We have been making good time with about 140 miles a day, and are now one third of the way to Tonga. Dad caught a yellowfin on the lure trailing behind the boat. It was a decent size and made a good dinner.

Wednesday 17 May

The remainder of the yellowfin was eaten for breakfast. There was more of it but we didn’t trust it to keep any longer in our fridge.

The wind is now from behind us so we had the spinnaker up for most of today. Taking it down took a while, as there was so much of it to bring in each time. We changed our course a little to take us closer to Raoul Island, which we hope to see tomorrow morning.

Thursday 18 May

Raoul Island came into view this morning, and we approached it about lunchtime. It was about the same size as Mayor Island, with similar steep and imposing sides. We might have called in except its harbour isn’t very good, and we don’t think customs would approve. It was great to see land again though.

Friday 19 May

The sea was slightly rougher today, but I was still able to read.

Saturday 20 May

The weather got worse again today and I couldn’t read. I felt better on deck and therefore spent a very boring day watching the sea, as there was nothing else I could do. I can’t wait to get there. We have no milk, bread or fresh vegetables (except cabbage). We are down to rice and salami for dinner. I am very sick and tried of the way the boat keeps on moving.

In the middle of the night it got rough enough for Dad to put the storm sail up.

Sunday 21 May

We had quite a rough ride again today. We saw land though! It was Ata, the southern most Tongan Island, which we past at about 6.00pm. The wind has been noticeably warmer today.

Monday 22 May

We sailed past Hunga Ha’apai and Hunga Tonga today. These are the two southern most islands of the Ha’apai Group. The seas are much flatter now that we are being protected by the Tongan Islands. I was able to read again, and got a little sunburnt too. We saw a whale today - it wasn’t doing much though - just a big grey thing lying in the water. You can understand how so many of them got caught in the whaling days.

By about 9.00pm we were just south of Tofua and Kao, the two volcanic islands in the eastern part of the Ha’apai Group. We took the sails down and sat here for the rest of the night taking shifts to watch out for boats or reefs. We didn’t want to go any further till daylight as we don’t have a detailed map of this area, and sailing in areas of coral reefs at night isn’t recommended.


TONGA

Tuesday 23 May

Lofanga
We finally made it! Hundreds of islands everywhere, so many we couldn’t figure out where we were. This wasn’t helped by the fact that our chart plotter isn’t working. We were working off a very large scale map (it even had New Zealand in it), the lonely planet guidebook map, and another map which showed a very different setout. There was next to no swell, so waves weren't always breaking on the coral reefs. We also learnt that reefs don’t always circle islands, sometimes they just appear out of nowhere. This was very nerve-racking, and meant we had to keep a good watch out.

We saw some dolphins again today, and I lost my hat at one stage, which meant a bit of a detour to rescue it. We past lots of idyllic islands, which they were I have no idea. Eventually we progressed onto an area we did have a map for, and dropped anchor at Lofanga just before sunset. We both went for a quick dip in 30 foot of water where you could see straight to the bottom. Dinner was made at a much more leisurely pace than normal, it makes a huge difference not to be thrown back and forth at the stove with each swell.

It’s great to be here - the islands are fantastic how they just appear out of nowhere (so long as they’re not too close!). They really are all covered in palm trees, without these it would be pretty much impossible to pick the islands because they are so flat.

Wednesday 24 May

From Lofanga to Pangai at Lifufa Island.
We set sail for Pangai, the main town in the Ha’apai Group, first thing in the morning. Getting into the Pangai harbour was a little confusing for us as there had been a lot of changes made to the harbour since our map was produced. Dad went and found the Customs people, who apparently spent an hour and a half looking at our passports, with everyone who came into the building having a look too. All the other government buildings we visited seemed to have a similar system, about 10 people doing a job that really only required one, and no one working particularly hard.

Two officials came back to have a look at the boat. One of them refused to go in Dad’s tiny dingy as he thought he’d be too big for it, and got rides from other boats. They spent about 10 minutes on board, didn't look at a thing, and then left. I got the impression they thought we were crazy to have come so far on such a small boat.

We had lunch on shore at the one and only café in Pangai. Here Dad overheard a German and a local conduct the sale of some Majruania at the next table. After lunch we hired a couple of bikes and went up and down the island. There are lots of churches here, with all other buildings not much more than shacks. There are also lots of pigs, dogs, and chickens everywhere, these walk all over the roads. Everywhere we went the kids would call out “hello, what’s your name? Goodbye”. This made us feel like real foreigners. It seems that we are the only tourists on the island right now, there are some other foreigners, but they all seem to live here.

We went for a snorkel to the north of Panagi, here we saw lots of bright tropical fish, but not much in the way of coral.

We were surprised at how many cars were on the island, especially as it only takes 20 minutes to cycle from one end to the other. Also the standard of the cars was a bit of a shock - we saw one car without a drivers door being driven down the road. We had dinner and stayed the night at the Fifita Guesthouse.

Thursday 25 May

From Pangai to Lofanga.
I had a cold shower this morning, and then breakfast at the guesthouse. It was absolutely pouring down with rain first thing in the morning, but it only lasted three to four hours. We went for a walk to get some bread, but didn't find any fresh fruit or vegetables. Apparently all the crops on the island got damaged in a recent cyclone.

We then motored back to Lofanga, where it started raining again. We had been planning on going for a snorkel here, but ended up just reading books inside for the rest of the day.

Friday 26 May

Lofanga
It rained for most of today, we even had thunder and lightning at one stage. Some of the locals still came out to fish in their outriggers. I spent most of the day reading again.

Saturday 27 May

From Lofanga to Uoleva to Pangai
The wind was blowing right into the Lofanga anchorage in the morning, so we set off for Uoleva straight away.

By the time we got there it was lovely calm weather. We rowed to shore, found some coconuts (later eaten for lunch) and went for two snorkels. The first snorkel was in from our anchorage, and the other was at the southern end of the island on the reef. Both snorkels were really good. There were lots of coral heads in the harbour, and lots of interesting structures on the reef. The reef dropped away to about 6m on the sides, with most coral on this drop. It appeared that waves had damaged most of the shallower corals. There were lots of fascinating fish everywhere, as well as large blue starfish, sea slugs, and sea eggs. We left Uoleva for Pangai at about 3.00pm. By this time nine other boats had arrived at the Uoleva anchorage, most of these were from the Island Cruising Group which consists of boats from Auckland and Tauranga mostly. We went ashore at Pangai and had dinner at Mariner’s cafe again.

Sunday 28 May

From Pangai to Foa Island to Vava’u
We went to church in the morning. There was lovely singing performed without any accompaniment. All the children were dressed up in white, and all the girls wore two french plats immaculately tied with blue ribbons. The service only lasted an hour and was all in Tongan.

In the afternoon we motored to Foa Island in preparation for the trip to the Vava’u Islands. Vava’u is an overnight sail from any of the northern most Ha’apai Islands. Foa had quite a tricky entrance and the snorkeling wasn’t too good either, with poor visibility and not much coral. We think Uoleva might have spoilt us a bit.

We left Foa at about 5.00pm for Vava’u. We took shifts during the night to keep a lookout for other boats.

Monday 29 May

To Neiafu (Vava’u capital)
We reached the Vava’u Islands at about 7.00am. They are very different to the Ha’apai Islands. Ha’apai was all flat sandy islands surrounded by coral reefs, Vava’u mainly consists of pushed up limestone, and has lots of vertical limestone cliffs with flat plateaus on the top. Vava’u is much lusher than Ha’apai, and much steeper. It’s probably only about 50% coconut trees compared to about 95 % in Ha’apai.

There is a complete myriad of islands and channels, and we’d be totally lost without our map. We made our way to Neiafu, the capital of Vava’u, this is on the main island, also called Vava’u. Neiafu is like L.A. compared to Pangai. There are two main streets, about seven handicraft stores, and two supermarkets. Customs was even more casual than Pangai, they didn't even bother to come and see the boat.

We wandered around Neiafu for most of the afternoon, and then went on a tour of Vava’u. The tour was with an American who got his Tongan passport after he boxed for Tonga at the Olympics. We saw lots of kava, banana, and vanilla plantations on the tour. The plantations were fenced with sticks to keep the pigs out, and coconut trees spaced every five meters or so to provide shade.

Even though Vava’u must see many more tourists than Ha’apai the kids still all yell out “hello, goodbye” whenever you walk past.

Tuesday 30 May

From Neiafu to Port Maurell at Kapa Island
We went to the market first thing this morning and brought a papaya and pineapple. Vava’u didn’t get hit by the cyclone that destroyed the Ha’apai crops so there were lots more fruit and vegetables here, but they had no potatoes or carrots which was what we really wanted. We then walked up Mt Talau, which is 430 feet high. Mt Talau was very steep, but gave great views in all directions once we’d stumbled around the flat top looking for the different lookout points. After getting some more supplies from the supermarket (bread and steak) and buying ice creams (there is only one place in town) we were off.

We stopped for a snorkel at Mala, this had fantastic fish, but poor coral.

We then took turns snorkeling Swallow’s Cave on the island of Kapa. It was too deep to anchor here so one person had to stay on the boat at all times. The cave was fantastic, you swim over a lip in the coral to get into it, and then the coral completely falls away again. You are left wondering what sea creatures are going to come for you out of the depths. When you swim to the back of the cave and scramble up a ledge you enter another cave which has light entering it from the top. On the way back you see light shining through the stalactites on the roof and in the water too, this was very beautiful.

We then cruised down Kapa to Port Maurelle. Port is a bit of a misnomer as it’s a completely deserted beach, and had no other boats in the anchorage when we arrived. I went for a snorkel, but it wasn't very good. Dad rowed to shore and brought back a local who wanted to look at the boat. The local said he liked Tonga “lots of food, lots of sleep, no work” being the quote. This seems to be the attitude of most Tongans, who see our busy lives as crazy. Four other boats from the Island Cruising Group had arrived at Port Maurelle by night fall.

Wednesday 31 May

From Port Maurelle to Vaka’eitu
We visited Mariner’s cave on the island of N’uapapu in the morning. Our directions were to look for a white patch on the cliffs with a prominent coconut tree above it. Unfortunately either the tree had fallen down, other others grown up around it, making the cave very difficult to find. Another boat, Tanamera, was also going backwards and forwards looking for the entrance. Dad finally found it, someone had placed a tiny white flag above it that we hadn’t been able to see from further out.

I went in alone first. It was a little daunting, as I didn't know for sure if this was the right cave or not. The entrance is about a meter below water, and about four meters long. I didn't dive quite deep enough and kicked a flipper off on the entrance roof a couple of meters in. After rescuing my flipper I was pretty pleased to see I’d reached the inside of the cave, and yes it was the right cave with air and everything! Inside was very dark and foggy with stalactites on the roof. The fog would come and go with the swells coming in and out of the cave. Going out was the best part, there was green light shining in through the entrance that you swam into to exit the cave! Dad went in next with some of the people off the boat Tanamera.

We then cruised down to Vaka’eitu, where we anchored with several other boats. After lunch we rowed the dingy over to the coral gardens, reputedly some of the best coral in the world. We didn't get out to the coral gardens on our first attempt because the incoming ocean swells were too high and kept sweeping us off our feet. So we sat on the beach for a while waiting for the tide to come in a little more. We were soon joined by Tanamera and Tristam crew who also failed their first attempt.

When the tide had come in enough for us to swim we had another go. It must have taken us about 15 minutes to cover a 20 meter stretch where the swells were breaking. I was swimming non-stop and still going backwards at times. But by standing up when the big swells came in, and swimming like mad in-between we finally made it.

The coral gardens were amazing for how much coral they had, the area must have been about 1km long by 50m wide. There were lots of different types of coral, and all very bright, but it wasn’t the spectacular large corals and interesting labyrinth that we had seen at Uoleva. Coming back to the beach took about 20 seconds after I caught a big wave and body surfed in! I was pretty glad I’d worn my wetsuit or I’m sure I would have done some damage to myself.

The Tanamera dinghy had an outboard and gave our dinghy a tow back to shore. Later on an American came on board to talk about trimarans with Dad while I went for a snorkel off the boat. Here I saw lots of scary sea eggs with spikes about a foot long.

Thursday 1 June

From Vaka’eitu to Neiafu
We went to the small island of Nuku in the morning, this is known as the picnic island of Vava’u because it has a beautiful sandy beach where official events are often held. Here we had a good snorkel among coral heads. We then headed back to the main town of Neiafu.

For dinner we went to a Tongan Feast. We almost didn't make it as we were standing at the wrong end of the wharf for our pick up. After we realised our mistake we found a taxi to take us though.

At the feast we were first shown to an area where there were lots of handicrafts for sale, about 20 to 30 venders all wanting you to buy their wares. There is a lot of effort put into some of their baskets and mats, with some items taking several months to make. Then there was music and local dancing performed by children. The stick dances in particular were good.

Dinner consisted of items such as Taro, raw fish, and young coconut. Dad ate most things, but all I could manage was the bananas. It was all over and we were back on our boat by 8.00pm. There weren’t any restaurants open in town at that time so I had to make do with some biscuits as a supplement to dinner.

Friday 2 June

From Neiafu to Hai’api Islands
We tidied up the boat this morning and got supplies for the trip back from the supermarkets and local market. We were earlier to the market today than we were on our last visit, and were rewarded with being able to buy a watermelon as well as the usual pineapple, papaya and coconuts.

We moved the boat over to the wharf and Dad went to the customs building, where he was told to come back in an hour and a half after their lunch was over. Again the customs people weren’t particularly interested in us, and didn’t bother to come and look at the boat. This was almost a little annoying, as it had been quite an effort to safely tie the boat up at the wharf as we were supposed to do.

So finally we were on our way again, back to the open seas. On the way out of the Vava’u harbour we past a small whale, a perfect Tongan farewell.

Out from the Vava’u Islands it was quite rough. After dinner we decided to wait till morning to do our dishes, as the boat was moving so much they were too difficult to do. After so long in calm waters we weren’t used to all the movement either.


TONGA TO NEW ZEALAND

Saturday 3 June

From Hai’api Islands to south
Kao and Tofua came into view this morning. We had a look to see if we could find the landing spot on Tofua, but we didn't see anything.

Sunday 4 June

We past Ata this evening. Ata is the southern most Tongan Island.

Monday 5 June

Saw nothing, did nothing. The wind has either been right behind us or in front of us today, making us have to tack and therefore losing half our mileage. At this rate it will take us another nine days to get back.

Tuesday 6 June

Finished reading the last of my books. Spent a fair bit of time asleep as there wasn’t much else to do. The wind is still straight ahead, giving us very slow progress.

Wednesday 7 June

The wind is still very variable, but at least we made a reasonable distance today. Custard and fruit salad for desert was the highlight of the day.

Thursday 8 June

Dad made scones for lunch. The sea has been quite rough today. We’ve put the storm sail up and taken everything else down to try and cut down all the banging. We were doing about seven knots before we took everything down, we’re now doing about two knots. We’ve been going for a week now and still have 700 miles to go (about another seven days at our current rate). It looks like this trip back is going to take twice as long as getting there. This is our fourth day with southwest winds also - right in the direction we wish we could go.

Friday 9 June

Last night our autopilot and wind generator broke. First thing in the morning we were mistakenly headed back to Tonga. We managed to fix the wind generator, but the autopilot was stuffed. This means steering all the way back to New Zealand. We took four hour shifts during the day and two hour shifts at night to keep from getting too cold.

Saturday 10 June

The shifts were horrible last night. I felt like throwing up every time I had to put my wet clothes back onto my still cold body. I don’t believe my hands will ever be warm again - even after four hours sleep during the day they were still cold.

One of the main pieces of rigging broke this morning, but Dad was able to fix it. Hope to get back soon.

Sunday 11 June

The shifts last night weren’t nearly as bad as the night before. The wind had dropped and the waves weren’t breaking over us, so it was relatively dry. The wind dropped away at about 3.00am and so we’ve been motoring all day. An easterly has now come up, so for once we can sail in the right direction. If all our sailing from Tonga had been in the right direction we’d be home by now.

Monday 12 June

When we checked in with Russell Radio at 7.00pm last night we were told to prepare for two fronts, with winds up to 40 knots. We didn't really believe him because we’d had very little wind all day. Anyway by about 9.00pm the wind started building up a bit so we took all the sail down and threw some netting overboard to slow us down. This took till about 12.00 by the time we’d prepared the boat. I then went off to bed for a while. At 3.00am the winds were probably 25 knots and we decided to put out the sea anchor. This was pretty involved and took till 5.00am. By 9.00am the winds had built up to 40 knots and we were pretty glad we’d put the anchor out.

I haven’t done anything all day long. At one stage the jib started flapping about, but Dad managed to secure it. It made a heck of a racket and really shook the boat. The sea anchor is secured to the front of the boat, with a bridle to the two side pontoons and the center. About 3.00pm we noticed that one of the side bridles had come off - with about 200mm of pontoon also. This didn't seem to affect the ride too much though - which considering all isn’t too bad. Every now and then a wave breaks over the boat, and the swells are a little too scary to look at for too long, and it’s amazing how the wind can howl so loud when there’s no trees or anything for it to pass over.

I must have been pretty tired from last night because when I made custard for lunch I got lumps in it, and then when I went to sieve it I accidentally sieved it over the sink not the bowls. This was pretty depressing. I gave up and let Dad make it after that.

About 7.00pm there was a huge thunk on the side of the boat from a wave. Every wave after that caused water to come through the side of the boat - very scary to see for the first time.

Tuesday 13 June

The weather had eased up a bit by morning, but it was too rough for us to retrieve our sea anchor, good thing too as the wind’s picked up again in the afternoon. We compiled a list of all our food, as we are a little concerned we may run out. Ate our last coconut for lunch and made chocolate scones for dinner. Things are getting a little wet from the water coming in the side of the boat. The lower bunk is pretty much saturated, hopefully this won’t be too much of a problem though as with the autopilot down there is usually only one person asleep at a time. It’s a pain not having anywhere dry to sit.

The jib looks to have gotten quite damaged last night, fortunately water in the pontoon has been confined to the front third. Dad threw one of our two bowls out with the dishwater.

Wednesday 14 June

We began pulling in our sea anchor at about 12.00am. This took till 2.30pm before we could start sailing again. I took the first shift and saw some dolphins and albatrosses. Was very cold with the strong wind, and very hard to steer with the big swell.

Thursday 15 June

The shifts were freezing cold last night. For my last one I just stayed inside and checked our direction with a hand held compass. Due to our lack of attention we actually lost ground overnight. In the morning the damaged pontoon started filling up with water and sinking lower and lower. At 12am we stopped and Dad bailed out the pontoon and put a temporary fix on the front of it. This seems to be working. Also our jib wasn't too damaged in the storm and still works. Our total gains today have been seven nautical miles, and we have 544 to go. Friday 16 June

We past by Macauley Island this morning. Dad made scones for lunch. The pontoon patch has been working very well - we haven’t had to bail that pontoon since it was fixed. Another lovely sunset tonight and a full moon.

Saturday 17 June

Covered a reasonable distance today, all in the right direction. We lost our wind at about 2.00pm and had to start motoring. The moon rose just after the sun had set, and it came up tinted orange from the sunset. The wind was so still for a while that the sea went glassy and you could see clouds reflected in the water by the moonlight.

Sunday 18 June

Dad said he fooled an albatross with his lure in the water, and it started water skiing before it realised it’s mistake and left it for the fish. Lots colder today with the wind.

Monday 19 June

Was freezing cold and rough last night. Dad ended up doing my last night shift for me - my feet were frozen solid. Had another band of rain cloud pass over us with associated winds and swell pushing us back to Tonga. Are three miles closer to Tauranga than we were this morning. Nice fine afternoon -we saw a container ship pass us doing about 20 knots to our zero. The moon has risen red again.

Tuesday 20 June

Motored all day today, apart from when the engine broke down at 7.00am, Dad managed to fix this by 9.00am. We were accompanied briefly by a pod of dolphins last night, and saw 3-4 orca today. We lost our lure to a big fish.

Dam cold feet. Nothing to eat - only one serving of custard left to go. Cold and tired. Can’t wait to get home.

As we have no wind and are fast running out of diesel, Dad suggested we try to get some more. Ran out of gas for cooking half way through dinner.

Wednesday 21 June

Had a good run last night, but the wind died down this morning and we motored most of today, but expect our fuel to run out some time tonight. Saw a fishing boat today. Have only eaten crackers and some canned peaches. I came up with the idea of putting my feet in plastic bags - this has helped tremendously in keeping my feet warmer.

Frank, a friend of Dad’s from the multi hull club has come out looking for us to give us some more fuel if needed and meet us. He’s currently about 30 miles north of us though, and only has VHF radio, which only works over about 20 miles, so we can’t talk to him. He came into radio and visual distance at about 10.00pm. Colleen was also on board, and another friend of Dad’s, Roy. They regularly called us from then on, meaning we got very little sleep.

Thursday 22 June

By dawn we were opposite Motiti Island, and I could see Mum’s house. We had some dolphins accompanying us for about ¼ an hour in perfectly clear water - a welcoming committee of their own!

Frank’s boat, Seahog, had come up beside us, and then some mad people tried to crash into out boat - turned out to be Mum, Reece and Ruth on Duchess Matilda! We made the entrance by 10am, and as we were expected at the marina by 11am for customs we took a shortcut straight across the harbour. Seahog then pulled over and attached a rope to the back of Rumble to act as our breaks in the marina, as our engine troubles has caused us to lose reverse.

MAF and customs took about half an hour - much more efficient than Tonga. Then it was lots of hugs and kisses for everyone who had come to welcome us back. Mum took me back to her place where I had a shower and washed my hair (combing it alone took about quarter an hour), then Trevor and Nicola turned up. I don’t believe I’ve ever been happier to see someone as I was to see Trev!

Everything else was pretty amazing too - so much to look at after so long at sea. Everyone kept staring at our boat and pointing, it was such a mess. Being driven around was actually scary after not being in a car for so long - I kept on feeling like we were going to crash. Dad looked totally worn out, not surprising given all we’d been through, plus he’d had infected cuts on his feet since Great Barrier Island. I was mostly hungry and dehydrated.

It was a great adventure. With wonderful memories, scary moments and a much greater appreciation for everything I have at home.

Click here to see some of the photographs we took.