Is posting a blog like sending a thank you card>>> you have a year to do it and it’s still acceptable? We’ll just say it is and better late than never!
After we left French Polynesia we did a quick stop at one of the northern Cook Islands called Suwarrow. Read about it here. The quick stop was due to weather planning. We could either go then and now or possibly end up waiting 3 weeks on a very deserted island before our next weather window. As inviting as that was, A: we didn’t have enough fresh produce for that and B: we wanted to get to Tonga just in case Christian’s staph infected foot wound took a turn for the worst. I would post a picture, but afraid the content would be too graphic for most.
The passage from Suwarrow to Tonga was quite lovely, but not without a hitch. Christian was not able to put any weight on his wounded foot, so we left with all the sail and galley work up to me. The passage from Suwarrow to Tonga would take about 5 days, roughly 600 miles, the time was right, the date was August 23rd, 2018. Mid-day we weighed anchor and motored down the channel. Upon leaving the pass out of Suwarrow the main sail was already hoisted and the 120 head-sail was out. The wind was perfect, the motor was no longer needed. As we exited the pass the wind was solid. Yes! It was going to be a great sail out, but first I needing to furl in the jib a bit with the wind direction and speed picking up. We were all very excited to be heading to Tonga. Along with the excitement came a bit of overzealous manoeuvring…. I went to the furling line to pull in a bit of sail. I questioned whether or not I should let out the sheets (letting the lines on the jib slack) in order for me to make it easier on myself, but felt my need to use muscles take over… as I pulled on the furling line with what I thought was good form, that’s when it happened, I felt the “pop” in my back.
Although I didn’t feel pain immediately, I could tell I was done for. I finished what I needed to very carefully and pretty much was immobile for the next 3 days as the pain set in minutes after the initial event and held on without relief. Thankfully the sails didn’t need much in the way of changing. There was one or two times that I had to go up and raise and lower the whisker pole (the pole that holds the jib out for shape with a down-wind direction). I’ve now experienced those moments where the pain seems to subside when there is something that must be done, and then the pain returns as soon as your done. What a strange phenomenon. As I was laid up in the cockpit for 3 days, I tried to move as little as possible with the one time below per day to cook dinner. Nina helped with breakfast and lunches, thankfully. And she continued her 8pm-11pm watches. The only difference was that on her watch, I was the one out helping instead of Christian, who normally helps her during her watches. Again, not much needed to be done on this passage, so that was good. During those days, I realised how much core muscle you actually use when you’re sailing. Every jerk and jolt of the boat, my core would activate and my back would spasm. It took everything possible to relax through the normal movements of the boat.
On the bright side… we did catch two Yellowfin Tuna! Christian has his moment of putting the pain aside, keeping his foot elevated while hand reeling in the fish… I wasn’t about to.
There was lots of reading going on.
Chatting with Ellamae on the Satellite phone. And S/V La Cigale on the radio.
Making a flag for Tonga.
Playing with toys.
By the time the weather got a little bit rougher, around middle day 4, I was able to move more and do all the things needed. We had a great 3.5 days downwind and another 2 that were upwind, but not too bad. On day 6 (5 and 3/4) , August 24th, 2018, arriving into Tonga’s, Neiafu came with so much relief. Christian was still pretty immobile… but he could help us dock to the, worst yet, port captains/immigration dock, hobble to the port captain’s office and back, and help us get onto the mooring ball later on. I was moving like an old lady, but much better. During the check in process, I grabbed some Tongan money (called Pa’anga) from an ATM and loaded us up with fresh produce from the farmers market. A good way to start our time in Tonga.
Tonga, we’re sort of ready for you, and please without drama.
~A Family Afloat
Next up: 6 weeks in Tonga: part 1