About an hour after I wrote last night’s update we listened in to our nightly net and tuned in closely to the progress of our fellow sailors also heading to New Zealand. The radio was abuzz with talk about this tropical low currently forming over Fiji and heading towards Tonga. Most concerning was the uncertainty of it: is it going to intensify? Move farther south? Is Minerva a safe place to ride it out? Big boats with plenty of diesel were trucking along to get south as soon as possible in the light winds plaguing the whole area, getting out of the way of the coming storm’s influence.
After the net we checked our HAM email and found a message waiting from friends of ours also getting ready to head south. They forwarded us weather routing information sent to them that day which indicated that at our current speed we might be seeing 45 knots in the area between Minerva and Opua.
This gave us pause to say the least.
Michael and I talked for a while. Are we ready for this? Are we willing to keep motoring along, hoping the wind materializes south of Minerva on Monday as our GRIB weather files indicate? Can we then continue to keep our speed up to get south of the windy area further south in time? And what of the question of this low: if it intensifies we could be seeing wind in excess of 45 knots as air moves from the high pressure over New Zealand to the low pressure system….
And then one of us said it, the deciding factor: are we willing to put our children through this potential danger? That pretty much answered the question and we turned the boat around and motored the 100 miles back towards Tonga, to safe port.
If it was just the two of us we’d continue on, we said. We could handle it and our boat certainly could. But what if the weather intensifies and the worst happens? We don’t just have ourselves to save but these two little lives too. Is it worth it to go on?
This time, we can play it safe. We had our anchor down at Big Mama’s in Nuku’alofa by 3pm today. On the way in, we were greeted by several friends who’d also turned around and were set to wait for the weather to settle before we all set off again. But in the dark of night we can’t help but ache with love and desire to protect those two little girls who draw cozy pictures of houses and gardens and ask ourselves: is it worth it?