Day 366, Year 1: Happy One-Year Cruising Anniversary
Date: Thursday, October 19, 2006
Weather: Windy and Partly Cloudy
Location: Port of Refuge, Neiafu, Vava’u Group, Tonga

One year ago yesterday we dropped our dock lines in Shipyard Quarters Marina in Boston and headed off on this incredible voyage. Even though we’ve hit some rough spots, we have thoroughly enjoyed our first year of cruising. We had transmission problems from Rhode Island south, had 55 knot winds as we came into the Delaware Bay, had a one-month delay while replacing our engine, hit terrible weather when crossing the Gulf Stream, and have had less than perfect sailing conditions in the South Pacific . . . but we actually cherish each of those “rough spots”. We have learned SO much. And on the other hand, we have snorkeled in some incredible places and have seen underwater life that in the past we have only dreamed of seeing, visited the San Blas Islands and gotten to know some of her wonderful people, transited the Panama Canal and entered the mighty Pacific, spent five truly magical weeks in the Galapagos with all of her wildlife, made a 3,000 mile passage in only 22 days, experienced the cultures in the Marquesas Islands, the Society Islands, the Cook Islands, the Samoas, and now Tonga. We have seen so much, made so many good friends, and loved every minute. Phase one of our cruising adventures is not really over until we reach New Zealand, but we take time today to reflect on the first 365 days.

I learned yesterday from a cruiser at the Captain’s meeting that I should have been indicating our location in the header of each of our daily logs. Evidently fellow cruisers who have been slightly behind us have been searching for information on their next ports of call and our web site comes up. But it is just too overwhelming for them to try and search through all of the logs. I have now added a “location” line in the header and will at some point go back and add that to each day’s log for the past year.

Today I tried to make contact with Sunia Lilo, the Immigration Officer that we met on our first day here. I went to his office yesterday, but no one was there. I went today, but he was not in. I was told that he might be there tomorrow. I wanted to make arrangements to take the children’s books I have onboard to his son’s school before we leave. I will try again tomorrow and hope that I can visit the school before heading south. It is very windy with rough seas outside of the harbor right now, but we still hope to get out to some other anchorages either tomorrow or Saturday. We will then return here early next week to check out and get fuel. Our check-out here will be for New Zealand, and then we will start the official wait for a good weather window. I should really buy one of the “weather window” t-shirts they sell here. Waiting for that window is almost an obsession. Instead I bought a Tonga dirt shirt for grandson Sam. These are white t-shirts that are dyed using the pigment from the local ‘dirt’. They say the color never fades. Eventually we’ll see if that is true.

This morning early, Randy and Sheri of Procyon sailed into the harbor. We haven’t seen them since the Marquesas and it is always such a delight to see friends after such a long time. If you remember, Randy had health issues in the Galapagos and again on passage to the Marquesas, but he has been fine since and both Randy and Sheri look great. We had lunch together along with Lynn and Dick of Wind Pony and it was great fun catching up. They are now part of the New Zealand bound cruisers here in Tonga looking for that “weather window” to head south.

While we were at lunch, we started talking about bringing our boats up to a dock. We have been out here on anchorages so long, that coming into a dock can seem like a frightening experience. Randy and Sheri were not able to come up to the Custom’s Dock today because it was so windy. This conversation reminded Lynn on Wind Pony of the movie “Captain Ron”. Everyone, except Mark and I, got a big kick out of this. We didn’t laugh as we had never heard of this movie starring Kurt Russell. We were informed that it is impossible to be out here cruising without having first watched this movie, so Wind Pony loaned us their DVD and we watched it tonight. If you are not a sailor, it probably seems like a pretty silly movie, but to a cruiser, it is truly funny. And besides, Captain Ron looks just a little like Randy. We just finished watching the movie and we are still smiling.

Quantum Leap returned late today, so Kathleen is no longer with us. Tomorrow or the next day we will head out to one of the anchorages if the wind allows, and once the winds settle, we will consider a departure date for New Zealand. There has been a run of rough weather out there. If that continues, we could be here for another couple of weeks. If the weather turns, however, we will be on our way. Stay tuned . . .

061019 Day 366 Tonga, Vava'u–Lunch with Friends and Tonga Dirt Shirt
Day 367, Year 1: Looks Like A Weather Window
Day 365, Year 1: Tongan Feast