ICA Rally New Zealand- Opua to Tonga

We left Opua in the beautiful Bay of Islands in New Zealand on the first of May 2004, with 24 boats on the ICA Rally - (I doubt if it still exists). The crossing to Tonga was unpleasant in a confused sea. We had two days of good sailing but this was followed by rather rough weather. We stopped at both the Minerva reefs on the passage.  Quite a novelty to pull into a coral atoll in the middle of the ocean for a few hours R & R. - Smooth, protected water in the midst of a very confused sea.

The Tongatapu group does not have much to offer except the opportunity to take on stores in Nuku'alofa.  Malua's crew   went on a side trip by local ferry to Eua Island.  Here we did some hiking through the forest.  We had some great local food prepared by our host at the High Light Guest House. The crew of Windflower were our travelling companions.

From Pangimotu we sailed to the Ha'apai island group and experienced our first real Pacific island at Kelefesia.  Me moved north through the group but unfortunately the weather was wet and windy for five days. Tensions rose on the boat but we came through it with the help of Jenny & Eddie on Te Wai Pounamu. Despite the rain, we had great snorkelling, dingy races and beach B-B-Qs.  I celebrated my birthday at Ha'afeva.

We arrived in the Ha'apai group in July.  A different scene - high-sided cliff islands, few beaches and lots of vegetation.  Met up with Windrace and had lots of fun with the crew, Roxanna, Michael and Pat.  Tracey decided to leave the boat  and return home to New Zealand.

On the 6th of July Malua left Tonga for Fiji. The trip was down-wind sailing all the way.  We adjusted the speed to reach the outer reef at dawn, then sailed through to SavuSavu, on Fiji's second largest island Vanua Levi, to clear customs the following morning.  It was an easy passage.  The C-Map charts failed to work for 24 hour so we had to go back to using paper charts to plot our course.  The backup became the primary system and the third string became the backup.  As Murphy's law would have it, the electronic charts started to work again as we approached SavuSavu.

From Opua we sailed on to Tonga...