Nomuka Iki and Kelesia

Friday, 2 November 2007

Yesterday morning the rain stopped and we left Uoleva
heading for Ha’afeva Island in tandem with Risho Maru. The
conditions were perfect, with winds out of the northeast at
around 15 knots and the seas relatively calm behind the reefs
and small islands. As we neared Ha’afeva we decided to take
advantage of the conditions and continue on to Nomuka Iki in the
Nomuka group of the Western Ha-apai. We arrived at 5:15 to find
Yara already there. Yara left Uoleva for a different island,
Uiha, at the same time we left for Ha’afeva but they too decided
to continue on given the fine sailing weather. The anchorage
was a bit rolly but very beautiful and the water was crystal
clear. As the sun set, we could see the very large bats that
spend their days on Nomuka Iki fly overhead on their way to the
big island of Nomuka to eat whatever it is that they eat.

I hooked a fish on the way to Nomuka but lost him within 50
feet of the boat as I reeled him in. But I put the line back in
to try again. As we got closer to Nomuka, which is set away from
barrier reefs, the ocean swell finally made itself felt. It
seemed too rolly to deal with landing and gutting a fish, so
Laura decided to reel in the line without handling the rod —
she just left it in the rod holder. Laura never handled the
fishing gear before. When she had about half the line reeled in,
the reel suddenly made its whirring sound and began to unspool
quickly, and the rod bend back. Laura had hooked her first
fish. Unfortunately, this one took a leap out of the water when
it was 50 feet behind the boat and unhooked itself. That meant
chicken curry for supper rather than fish curry.

We got up at 6:30 this morning with the plan to sail to
Nuku’Alofa, the capitol of Tonga and our last stop before New
Zealand. It was windless and raining hard and after a quick
consultation with Risho Maru on the VHF, we all went back to
bed. By 9:30 the rain had stopped and a nice breeze had come
up. It was too late to sail all the way to Nuku’alofa, instead
we sailed to Kelesia Island, which brought us about 20 miles
closer to our destination. I hooked another fish soon after
leaving Nomuka Iki but this one did not get away. Laura is stir
frying the small tuna as I write this.

If the conditions are good tomorrow, we may finally make it
to Nuku’alofa. The forecast is for very light winds so we may
stay in Kelesia one more day. We need to get to Nuku’alofa no
later than Sunday since we may leave for New Zealand as early as
Monday evening. A weather window may be opening and if it does
we want to go through it. We need Monday to do the customs
check-out and provision. Sabbatical III is currently in
excellent condition and she and her crew are fit for the passage