Category Archives: Kingdom of Tonga
Although it may seem a little strange to post these now, I wanted to share one more batch of photos from Tonga. Quite a few are more beach and beautiful anchorage shots, but there are also some of the open air fruit and vegetable market in Neiafu, as well as a few of the False-killer whales that approached Cheers a few weeks ago. In any case, these are the last of the photos of the tropics for this season. I hope you enjoy them.
Well, here are the photos that I promised! Finally. It’s hard to believe that this happened just a month ago, since so much has happened since then. In any case, I hope you enjoy the pics.
I started this post over two weeks ago, toward the end of our time in Tonga’s Ha’apai Group. I never got to finish it because of our unplanned return to Neiafu, and then our departure on passage. So, it’s a bit dated, but I still thought you might enjoy hearing a little about our time in those islands. I have quite a few photos to post upon our arrival in New Zealand, so stay tuned for those…
Well, it’s been an “interesting” couple of weeks around here, full of many wonderful moments and a few challenges. As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve been waiting for a weather “window” to open for our passage south to New Zealand, and enjoying our last few weeks in the tropics. We’ve alternated between our pre-passage chores, and snorkeling, beachcombing, sunset and moonrise watching.
The islands of the Ha’apai Group are beautiful, much more remote and pristine than those of the Vava’u Group. They remind us of the Tuamotus in many ways, and are less visited by yachts for the same reasons that many steer clear of those “dangerous” atolls. There are some uncharted areas that require good “eyeball” navigation, and virtually all of the anchorages are open to one quadrant, or another, so offer limited protection in strong weather. Knowing this, we set out to explore.
I’ve already written about our amazing encounter with the humpback whales, and we had another close cetacean encounter three days ago. While on the short passage from Luangahu to Uonukuhihifo (meaning “Small Island with Many Lobsters”), we spotted the dorsal fins of a group of dolphins out in the distance. As we got closer, we realized that these animals looked like BIG dolphins… Grabbing binoculars, I braced myself against the mast for a look. Mark and I shouted at almost the same time, “False killers!” We watched as this pod of False killer whales approached us from the port bow, with a few animals curious enough to come check us out. Two of them tucked in under the bow, riding our tiny bow wave for a minute before swimming off to the right. Another animal swam up directly behind us, staying just beneath the dinghy that we were towing 15 feet behind us. I imagined it investigating a possible source of lunch, and wondered if it would prod or nip the boat, to determine whet
her or not it was edible. Fortunately, the dinghy must not have appeared tasty, because the false killer veered to the right, and then surfaced alongside the dinghy a few times before rejoining the group. Altogether, they were with us for less than 10 minutes, but it was another magical experience, in a season full of them.
On shore, we walked the perimeter of uninhabited Tatafa Island, clockwise one day, and counterclockwise the next. Since this island isn’t listed in any of the guides, very few yachts anchor there, which was great for us! We had it too ourselves for several days, and then shared it with friends for several more. On our walks we found pocketsful of great shells, although we left virtually all of them behind. We’d only planned to spend a few days there at Tatafa, but ended up there for 10! Just as we were planning to move on, we checked the weather files and saw a frontal passage headed our way, with strong winds from NE to NW predicted for several days. Our spot there at Tatafa offered good protection from that quadrant, and great holding for the anchor. We knew that the winds would back to the west and then southwest, as the front passed, and Tatafa was not so great for those wind directions, but it seemed to be the best option around. In any case, we buckled up and waited. The front arrived 18 hours earlier than we expected it, although it was nearly 2 days later than originally predicted. Its arrival was heralded by another sailor calling on the VHF, just as we’d sat down to dinner on Cheers. He reported winds of 56(!) kts. about 15 nm to the west of our position. Pasta went back in the pot, salad back in the fridge, clothes changed to wet weather gear, and we were out on deck. Secured the dinghy, checked the anchor and snubber, tied down, or put away anything loose on deck and set up for rainwater catchment, and then we waited. Within 45 minutes, the rain and wind reached us. For about 3 hours, we watched the radar and GPS, making sure we weren’t dragging anchor. The rain was so intense that it soaked through all of our cockpit canvas, but gave Cheers (and us!) a fantastic washdown. Our water dam at the deck fill caught enough water to top the tank in about 30 minutes, so for the remainder of the storm I had “running” fresh water through our foot pump spigots! It was a great way to wash dishes, and we filled every available container on the boat. I was even able to collect enough to do a load of hand laundry the next day, when we had gorgeous clear skies and a nice warm breeze. Once the wind subsided, we went to bed, keeping the GPS anchor alarm set on a short distance, just in case. The next day we learned that boats anchored inside the breakwater at the village of Pangai, just 8 nm to the north of our anchorage, had also seen 50+ kts. of wind. There was also a small tornado that swept through the village, uprooting a big mango tree and knocking down a big sign! We felt super fortunate to have only seen winds of 25-30 kts., with a gust or two to 35. Now, perhaps, you understand why we were not at all interested in sticking around for the passage of the following week’s Tropical Low…
Back to the present… we’re making great progress on our way to New Zealand, and have been grateful for every moment of good sailing. Our breeze has held through today, backing to the southeast, which is perfect for us! We logged our best day ever, 138 nm noon yesterday to noon today. At 0516 this morning, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, then, just 4 minutes later, at 0520, we crossed the International Date Line. Pretty cool.
Keep sending us your well wishes, they’re working some great magic for us out here. We’re incredibly grateful, and hope to repay the favor one day!
Just a quick post here, to let you know that the worst of this tropical storm business seems to be over. Late yesterday afternoon, the winds really piped up and the rain squalls and thunderstorms started, continuing for most of the night. Today we’ve got strong westerly winds, making the bay pretty choppy, but at least the sun’s been out. We are feeling incredibly fortunate to be where we are right now, as our friends down in southern Tonga experienced winds up to 75 kts. yesterday evening, and the folks on passage to New Zealand are having a very rough time. For those of you interested in such things, take a look at the weather charts for this region for the past 24-36 hours, as well as the next 24-36 hours to the southeast of Tonga. It’s quite a picture.
We’re looking forward to getting the dinghy back in the water tomorrow, as we’ve been boat-bound for 3 days. The ocean swell generated by this storm will probably not dissipate until Sunday, so we’re now looking at a Monday or Tuesday departure. At the moment (knock on wood) the long range forecast looks good for a passage to New Zealand, but we’re watching it closely.
Stay tuned, Michelle
It’s been a crazy, roller coaster week here aboard Cheers, to say the least. A week ago today we were sailing out of Ha’apai’s principal town of Pangai, looking forward to a few days of island hopping before making the jump for New Zealand. Today, we’re still sitting in Tonga, back in the sheltered harbor of Neiafu, awaiting the approach of a Tropical Low.
One forecaster predicted a few days ago that this may be the first named storm of the season, although that seems unlikely now. Computer models predicted early last week the appearance of this “Tropical Low”, and the meteorologist from Gulf Harbor Radio in New Zealand cautioned boats looking to make the passage from Fiji or Tonga. For two or three days, he gave in depth analysis of the different weather models, as well as his own thoughts on how things might develop. It was quite an education in tropical weather analysis! We’ve been hoping to leave Tonga, and head south, but this news kept us in a holding pattern for a few days. Then, last Thursday afternoon, we received an email from our weather router, telling us that the “window” to sail to New Zealand looked to be open, but only if we departed by Friday at the latest. Now, the sailors out there will know that there’s a pretty strong superstition against beginning a passage on a Friday, so we told him we’d wait for the next window. We’d also been listening to several boats already on passage reporting very light winds, so they were either motor-sailing, or becalmed, and this added to our decision to wait a bit.
Then, on Friday morning, we listened again to the meteorologist on the radio. This time he predicted a very favorable passage for boats departing anytime between Friday and Monday. His analysis at that time looked so good, that we decided to get a move on. I sent another email to our weather router, requesting a complete voyage forecast, and we jumped into full-blown passage prep mode. Mark took care of things on deck, while I spent the day in the galley, so I wouldn’t have to cook for at least the first few days. We hauled the outboard, then deflated and rolled the dinghy. By the end of the day, we were tired, but ready to go. We still hadn’t received our voyage forecast, but felt good about departing at dawn on Saturday. Just before we climbed into bed, we checked our SSB email one last time, in hopes that our voyage forecast had come through, but no such luck. What we DID receive was the big graphic weather file that we subscribe to, and it showed a very ugly Low forming t he following Wednesday, and affecting a good portion of our passage route.
Well, I tell you truly, I did not sleep very well that night. I’m always nervous before our big passages, but this was a disturbing development. Anyway, we woke at 0500 the next morning, planning to depart by 0600, and checked email one more time. Our voyage forecast was there, and it most certainly was NOT the rosy picture painted on the radio the day before. Let it suffice to say that it was sufficiently bad that we canceled our departure plans, and started contemplating alternatives. We sailed out to one of the western islands of Ha’apai, to meet our friends on Buena Vista, who’d been planning to depart with us. As we pored over the weather files, and contemplated options, I just kept thinking that a Low forming in the tropics at this time of year is never a good thing. We’d also just ridden out a frontal passage a week prior, with sustained winds of only 25-30 kts. and buckets of rain, and it hadn’t been much fun. Contemplating a”Tropical Low” approaching the unprotected anchorages of Ha’apai just didn’t feel right. Finally, after much discussion, Mark agreed that it was a good idea to sail up to the protection of the Vava’u Group. It was a really tough call, since this meant sailing 90 nm back north! Well, we heaved anchor around noon on Sunday, and 18 hours later we were back in the most protected bay in Tonga.
We’ve been here for a little more than 48 hours now, and have watched at least 25 boats come in during that time. Boats that were out in the islands of Vava’u, as well as most of the boats that were with us in Ha’apai. Although it now appears that the brunt of the storm will pass well to the south of us, warnings have been issued for high winds, heavy rainfall and damaging swell. The boats that DID depart last week, are now in the squash zone between this Low and a strong High over New Zealand, and dealing with strong winds and building seas. We’re thinking of all of them, and wishing them calmer conditions even as we anticipate our own crummy weather. We’ll wait this thing out, and then be looking for the next window to leave the tropics.
It’s an odd situation in which to find ourselves, because I’ve been in contact with this New Zealand meteorologist since September, regarding the timing of our passage south. He’s continually encouraged us to “enjoy the tropics a little longer”, predicting a better chance for a “comfortable” passage south in November. Well, we’re still hoping for that, but now also feeling some pressure to get out of the tropics. Although the heavy rain hasn’t shown up yet, we’ve watched the barometer fall 6mb in the past 24 hours, and nearly 2mb just in the last hour. The humidity has climbed from 65% to 77%, and the winds are strengthening out of the northeast. We’re definitely on alert, but also enjoying a day aboard the boat, writing (me) and working on small projects (Mark). The current forecast makes it look like this thing will be cleared out to the southeast by Friday, but in the meantime we’ll stay safe, and listen for U.S. presidential election results on a high frequency Kiwi radio station. We’re also sending well wishes to all our friends on the East Coast who are now cleaning up the mess left by Hurricane Sandy.
I’ll post some fun news of our time in Ha’apai in a few days, but this is it for now.
Take care, Michelle
About two months ago, two beautiful vakas, traditionally designed double-hulled Pacific voyaging catamarans, sailed into Neiafu harbor. They tacked up and down the bay, looking very impressive under two mainsails and a headsail. This afternoon, we saw one of these boats, the Hine Moana, under sail southbound through Tonga’s Ha’apai Group. These boats are part of the Pacific Voyagers program, and I’ve been following their progress since they left San Diego late last year. It’s a fascinating and inspiring program that’s melded modern materials and communication methods with the ancient skills and vessels of Pacific voyaging. The crews are from various Pacific nations, including Cook Islands, Tonga, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji and French Polynesia. There are seven such vakas, apparently all funded by a single benefactor, carrying a message of cultural renewal and ocean conservation. These vakas departed their home countries in 2010, voyaging north and east to San
Francisco Bay. There, they all sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge in an inspiring display, and were met by a large gathering of Pacific Islanders on shore. The group is making a documentary film titled Our Blue Canoe, to be released sometime in 2013. I saw some of the highlights and the trailer, and it promises to be a pretty cool flick. If you’re interested in learning more, check them out at http://www.pacificvoyagers.org.
During this Pacific voyage of ours, I’ve been reading a book entitled We, The Navigators: The Ancient Art of Landfinding in the Pacific. The author, David Lewis, sailed his own boat into the tropical Pacific islands of Micronesia and Polynesia in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and sought out surviving “navigators” in order to learn and record skills that were on the brink of being lost forever. What he discovered were men who still recalled the words of traditional chants that had been passed down orally through the centuries; chants that are unchanged, because it was sacrilege to alter even a single word; chants that represent a body of sea lore that could only have been obtained by a people living in such close contact with the ocean. He sailed with men who sat still aboard their vessels, striving to feel the sea beneath them. Ignoring the noisy wind waves, which often come from several directions and cause the immediate, attention-grabbing motion of a small boat, these na
vigators tuned their bodies to sense the deep, long-distance traveling ocean swell. The direction of this swell could tell them where they were relative to their destination. He sailed with men who knew the sky intimately, and held their course by the positions of stars and the sun as they rose and set. A voyage to a particular island was sailed along its kaveinga, or star path. That is, the succession of rising or setting guiding stars along which the navigator steered. Along with the swell direction and “star paths”, Pacific navigators also paid attention to waves refracted off of land, presence of seabirds and their direction of flight, bioluminescence in the water and clouds on the horizon to pinpoint their landfall. Although it may seem easy in this modern age of GPS, detailed charts and diesel engines, these navigators were capable of finding tiny islands in the midst of millions of square miles of ocean using only wind and stars, and their deep knowledge of the sea.
In this book, the author contends that long ocean voyages didn’t necessarily require more navigational skill than shorter, inter-island trips, they simply required more endurance from their crew. Withstanding the rigors of voyaging for weeks on end requires a different skill set than finding a tiny dot of land in the midst of a vast ocean. While the navigator always relies on subtlety, finesse and keen powers of observation to make landfall, on along-distance voyagehe must also be able to deal with extended periods of sleep deprivation and a greater chance of punishing exposure to the elements.
At the risk of getting overly philosophical, I suggest that long-distance cruising requires a measure of endurance as well. Acclimating to the constant uncertainty of voyaging in new regions demands a level of mental and emotional endurance that many people will never know. By being willing to take some risks, this long-distance voyaging has presented us with many new challenges, all of which have enabled us to develop mental strength and emotional resilience. Now, I’m certainly not claiming that cruising a sailboat in the tropics is hard-core adventure, only that the challenges are more and different than most folks imagine.Facing my fears and meeting those challenges head on has changed me. This full-time cruising is certainly a dream in many ways, and it’s been so much more challenging, on so many more levels, than I could ever have imagined. I’ve faced down my fears repeatedly, and expect to keep doing it. Not only my fears of big seas, ugly squalls, scary reef passes, an
d snorkeling and diving in shark-y waters, but also of never being 100% certain that our “home” is in a safe spot each night. By meeting each of these fears, I’ve proved myself… to myself, and it’s been a richly rewarding process.
I write this as we are starting to think in earnest about the most daunting passage of our journey thus far, the leg from Tonga to New Zealand. We’ll leave the tropics and head into the temperate latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, during the Austral Spring. On this passage, we’re prepared to get pasted by one frontal passage, and hope not to encounter a second. Some folks tell us their passage to New Zealand was the best weather they had in their entire South Pacific season, while others had “less than perfect” conditions… And the greatest thing is, we’re reasonably ready for it. We’re so excited to explore New Zealand, and so ready to get a little work done on Cheers, that we’re approaching this passage with more excitement, and a little less trepidation than we’ve had prior to the other long ones. That said, we are working hard to “create our own luck”, by watching the weather closely, and checking all of our gear and systems thoroughly. Oh, and paying for the services
of a weather forecaster from New Zealand, to help us hedge our bets on this passage. We also bought a couple of extra diesel jerry cans from another cruiser to increase our fuel capacity. These will come in handy if we have light winds and want to motor-sail to keep up our speed.The total passage should be 1000-1250 nm, from one of the islands here in the Ha’apai Group to Opua, in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands.
Right now, we’re still enjoying the tropics, taking time out of our passage preparation to beachcomb, snorkel and explore a few more islands. Life is good, and we’ll keep you posted as we firm up our plans for departure.
Sorry to make you wait for this, but it was such an unbelievable experience that I just couldn’t lump it into another travelogue… Let me just start by saying that Mark and I have both been privileged to have seen hundreds of humpback whales during our work with Lindblad, in Southeast Alaska, Baja California and even in Costa Rica. In all that time, through all those experiences, I can honestly say that neither of us has EVER felt the mixture of exhilaration and terror that we felt yesterday. For old-time Lindblad folks, perhaps you’ll remember the humpback that played with a Zodiac in Antarctica many years ago? Well, it was sort of like that…
We’d departed Pangai village mid-morning, and were enjoying another lovely sail to the southwest, planning to investigate a couple of islands that looked inviting. As we rounded the western end of the reef that extends nearly 5nm from the southern end of Uoleva Island, we spotted a humpback cow and calf off in the distance. It was great to see the little guy, and their baby blows always make me smile. It seemed like they were traveling to the north of us, so we watched for a few minutes and then turned our attention back to sailing.
And it was a damn good thing we did! Motorsailing at 5 knots, with our supposedly accurate New Zealand charts of the region up and running on the laptop, I looked off the port side and saw a keel-buster of a coral head, just 100 meters away. Whoa Nelly! We clutched out, decided to furl the jib and then slowly motored back over to mark the position of this big nasty. Fortunately, we had high sun and great visibility, so it was easy to find it again and mark it on the GPS and chart. Then, with our adrenaline already pumping, we noticed that the humpback cow and calf were still out there, and that they had a second adult (escort) with them.
That’s when things got interesting… the calf seemed to sense our presence, and made a sharp, 90 degree turn to head directly toward us. The adults followed. Somehow, I managed to run below and grab my camera, actually check the settings to be sure they’d work for the conditions, and start shooting. Over the next 10-15 minutes (that seemed like an eternity!), these three whales were all over us. They came right at us, to within 6 feet of the hull, and then dove directly beneath us. They swam alongside us about 12-15 feet away, and then turned on a dime right off the bow, to come down the other side and pirouette around our stern! I’m fairly certain on the distance, because the tip of the mother’s pectoral fin was just inches away from our hull. After so many years of talking about whales on the ship, I know that a humpback’s pec fin is one-third their body length and generally 12-15 feet on an adult! On a couple of occasions, while standing on the coach roof, I could see the
mother’s tail fluke off the starboard side while her rostrum was visible underwater to port. At one point, the mother and calf glided along our port side underwater, looking up at me, while their escort was just visible about 30 feet below. The adults were both longer than Cheers, and the calf was nearly half our length. We’re 38 feet. As Mark said to me later, it was incredible that they never once touched our hull, but came within a foot of us repeatedly. Talk about body awareness. In that short time span, I shot 160 photos, and some of them came out darn fine! I’m really sorry that I’ll have to wait to share them for a while, because these remote little islands really do NOT have much internet.
And then it was over. The whales swam off ahead of us, and continued about their day. We watched them roll over each other, make several fluke-up dives, wave their long pectoral fins in the air and then swim off to the south. The calf was certainly this year’s, which means that trio will soon be starting their long swim back to the rich feeding grounds of the Southern Ocean. I can’t even begin to describe how fortunate we felt to have captured their attention for those few magical minutes, and it was all because we spotted an uncharted rock!
As if the day could actually get any better, we continued towards Tatafa Island, and found a gorgeous sandy anchorage, all to ourselves! I stayed up on the bow for the remainder of the passage, and spotted several more “spoilers” that we made sure to chart. Although it’s been pretty breezy since we got here, the holding is fabulous and we’re protected from most of the swell by both the island and the barrier reef beyond. At sunset last night, we even spotted a small pod of spinner dolphins out in the distance. Today, we woke to another blue-sky day, so hopped in the dinghy and went ashore for a look around. The island appears to be uninhabited, and is rimmed by a lovely sandy beach. We walked the entire perimeter, taking photos of the gorgeous water and the many beautiful shells littering the high tide line. It’s been a wonderful couple of days, and I’m really happy to share them with you here.
Take care, Michelle
I’ll be honest here, we’ve been in Tonga for quite a while now, and were beginning to feel like we were done with our time here. The last few days, however, have shown us that Tonga is most definitely not done with us yet!
We’d nearly decided to remain in the Vava’u Group until it was time for our passage to New Zealand, when our friends Mark and Anne, of S/V Blue Rodeo gave us a good kick in the pants. They’d just returned from their month-long stay in the Ha’apai Group, and told us that we really shouldn’t miss it. I’ll confess here that we’d wanted to explore the Ha’apai all along, but somehow Mark’s unplanned trip back to the States sort of broke our “exploring” momentum. We knew Vava’u, and got comfortable there, and are really looking forward to being in New Zealand. Anne’s admonition, though, was just what we needed to get moving again. And we are SO glad we did!
After a couple of nights in the beautiful, protected enclosure of Hunga Bay, we set off at first light on October 15th – Mark’s 49th birthday. Although the day dawned cloudy, we had near perfect sailing conditions from the get go. Once clear of Hunga’s narrow pass, we raised the mainsail to the second reef, unfurled the jib and turned off the engine. Within a few minutes, we were making 6-7 knots on a beam reach! Conditions just kept improving through the day, with the swell decreasing and the wind dropping enough to shake out the entire mainsail. The sun came out, and it turned into the best day of sailing we’ve had since our magical passage from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus, way back in May. Mark decided it was the perfect birthday present, especially since I’d baked a huge batch of Apricot-Craisin Oatmeal cookies for him the day before!
Mid-afternoon, we decided that this was the perfect day and the perfect place to say our final farewell to Mark’s dad. We brought out the small, ceramic seashell containing some of Tom’s ashes, and took it up on deck. Under sunny tropical skies, 15 knots of breeze and sailing over sapphire blue water, Mark said his farewell and we scattered the ashes off the leeward rail. It really couldn’t have been more perfect, and we’re both certain that Tom would have loved that day’s sail. A little before sunset, we nosed in to our chosen anchorage at Ofolanga Island. Although conditions were a little sloppier than we would have liked, the holding was great and it was good enough for a night’s sleep. Dwayne wrote to tell us that he’d looked the island up on Google Earth, and wondered where in the heck we were going to anchor?!
We opted to get underway early the next morning, and had another wonderful sail down to the group’s principal town of Pangai, on Lifuka Island. We anchored there in the late morning, had some brunch, and then prepped the dinghy to go ashore. Official “check in” procedures were very relaxed in this tiny town, so we took a short walk around, met a few other sailors who’d also just arrived and went for a late lunch at the local watering hole. Since I’d stocked us up in Neiafu, we didn’t really need anything, and decided to get out of town the next morning. Which brings us to yesterday…
Stay tuned for another update tomorrow, about our incredible sail south from Pangai, and our super close encounter with three humpback whales!
Well, after nearly 9 weeks here in Tonga’s Vava’u Group, we’re ready to head south. The weather has been gorgeous for the past few days, and forecast to stay that way for a few more. We spent the end of last week doing our final town chores and are now at anchor prepping for the short passage down to the Ha’apai Group, the next set of islands to the south, and still in Tonga. We’ve read that these islands are a bit more remote and less visited than where we’ve been, so we’re not expecting any amenities and are hoping for a few anchorages all to ourselves. Although, we hear other boats on the VHF daily talking about heading the same direction so we’ll see how “quiet” it really is.
In truth, we’re beginning our preparations for heading south to New Zealand. Despite the fact that it’s just early spring there, we’re excited about what the next 8 months hold for us and are itching to go. However, prudence dictates that we wait a few more weeks until the winter storms in the Tasman Sea settle down. So, we’ve filled up with diesel and our last fresh foods for a while, made our official “checkout” from Vava’u and are just finishing up the last items on our pre-passage checklist (yes, we have a checklist… ;)). We decided to come into the completely enclosed lagoon at Hunga Island, and have had it virtually to ourselves for 3 nights. The stars have been incredible out here, and there’s a colony of flying foxes roosting close enough that we practically hear their every chirp.
Tomorrow morning we’ll rise at 0430 to be ready to heave anchor at first light and begin the 63nm sail south to Ofolanga Island. If the forecast is correct, we should have good sailing wind and manageable seas for the day, and are hoping to arrive at our anchorage before dark. Then we’ll make our way to the village of Pangai, “check in” to that island group and spend our last few weeks in the tropics exploring some new islands.
Stay tuned, and we’ll let you know what we find…
Well friends, this is the last batch of photos that I’ll post from Tonga. You can read my earlier post, “News From Tonga”, for the stories of all that you’re seeing. I apologize for not meshing the stories and photos better, but that’s just the way it’s worked out. Hopefully you won’t mind backtracking to the written post, because there were some good tales associated with these photos.
We’ll keep you updated, but it’s looking like we’ll start heading south in the next few weeks. We’re really getting excited about our arrival in New Zealand, but need to wait for weather…
Hope all is well with you, Michelle