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Westward, One Last Time

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.


  1. Dani says:

    Beautiful post. You take me with you in so many of your posts. Niue sounds like a wonderful place to visit. It’s nice to see how happy your family is, as I always remember the post right before you crossed the Pacific when you questioned whether you should go or not. Whether it was good for your girls.

    Hope you have a safe passage!

  2. Somehow I find myself sitting here at the end of a Great Lakes’ summer missing Niue, though I’ve never set foot upon her shores. Reading about long ocean passages always feels somber, lonely, but somehow rejuvinating. The Wondertime crew should be immensely proud of your journey. We look forward to hearing about Tonga!

  3. Beautiful post, as always. I could “see” everything you described, even though I’ve never been there, and I haven’t seen photos. I was – for a moment – on your night watch, reading by starlight in the cockpit, pondering the wonders of life and passages across the sea. Just lovely. Safe sailing to you and your sweet crew. Looking forward to your arrival and impressions of Tonga.

  4. Nicole says:

    Simply lovely! Niue sounds like a truly amazing place.

    Enjoy those warm, starry nights — and the ice cream. 🙂
    -Nicole and Aaron
    s/v Bella Star

  5. Lisa says:

    Jorie just asked where Leah is (“I hope she’s close!”), so we looked up your position on the map. We love reading about your adventures.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Lisa! Tell Jorie Leah says hello! Miss you guys!