I felt like tears would well up at any moment as we pulled away from Niue yesterday. I don’t remember that happening when leaving a new place before, except for when we left our home of Olympia a year ago of course. The girls didn’t want to leave either; they had grown to love this little place too with it’s tidy cozy seatracks, the ice-cream boat (a boat that had washed ashore in the cyclone and the owners decided to fix it up and serve ice-cream cones in it, they theorized), the playground, the yacht club where Holly always found a smiling someone to listen to her rattle off about her adventurous day.
The place felt familiar, like it could be a home. The people here, so kind and funny and rugged and resolute could be good friends for a long time. The place had all the qualities of our favorite small Alaskan towns only with cyclones instead of blizzards. On Saturday we were up at the crack of dawn to head to one of the village’s yearly festivals. We ate taro and pork, watched local kids dancing, laughed along with the blindfolded women weaving baskets, cheered when the men throwing spears made it all the way over the crowds’ heads and across the grassy field, hearing all the time the beautiful Niuean language being kept alive. We found at least another 50 reasons to love Niue that day.
Today, we are sailing to the Kingdom of Tonga, our last tropical port before we unpack our fleece and foulies and storm trysail and point Wondertime’s bow south to New Zealand in October. The forecast for these final westward miles is light winds, 10 knots or less and we’ve found the gribs to be right on again. We’ve been drifting along with our spinnaker today at 2.5 knots. It’s so calm, the shining sapphire sea is barely rippled. Down below, it feels like we are at anchor. The sun is shining, we have plenty of sunpower to watch movies and the girls are thrilled with this. Harry Potter is on the playbill for this afternoon. We even managed to find space in our tiny freezer for a bit of New Zealand ice-cream and are about ready to devour it any minute.
We were hoping to get to Tonga, 250 miles from Niue, with two overnights but it looks like it will be three. We don’t mind. Last night’s watch was simply gorgeous with the stars so bright you could read by them and I find myself glad to have extra night watches on the horizon. I have a lot to think about, remember, plan, dream — Michael too — and we each savor these quiet hours alone, on this easy last tropical passage west.