Well the weather window for the next week looks pretty favourable for the 9-10 day passage to Opua in North Island so we've decided to go for it. Tomorrow morning (Thursday) will see us doing the rounds of Customs and Imigration, after which we can take on some duty-free diesel (about 65p per litre) and fresh water. All being well, we will be at sea by lunchtime.
The received wisdom is to sail a slighly inderect route to NZ, heading west first and then south. The prevailing winds are from the SE here but from the SW in New Zealand so this tactic will, we hope, mean that we can sail a relatively comfortable reach rather than a close-hauled beat as we get close to North Island. It's still only early Spring down there so the temperature difference will be a bit of a shock (the duvet has come out of its storage and is ready for action, along with fleeces and coats not used since we left the Canaries almost a year ago) and we hope to avoid any gales.
We'll be very sad to leave Vava'u after a wonderful 3 weeks here and sorry not to have had time to visit the other islands of Tonga. However, we always feel that we need to keep moving so the favourable forecast has been a good motivator to get going once more - it'll be good for us to be alcohol-free for a week or more too!
We'll send updates as we sail....