Thu Jun 6 19:58 2019 NZST
Run: 1176.2nm (2128.9km)
Avg: 3knts
24hr: 71.9nm
21 07.542S 175 09.705W


We arrived in Tonga on Monday - 6 days and 5 hours after leaving Opua. We made very good time, and were amongst the first group to arrive (maybe 6th boat here I think). We got in just on dark and had to wait on our boat until we were able to clear customs etc ... which finally happened 22 hours later!! It is certainly Tonga time here!

The Passage up was not my favourite one (this year’s understatement!) ... and sadly, with a big front coming through, stopping at Minerva Reef was not an option this time. Several boats got stuck there for a week recently, and in pretty rough conditions ... so we didn’t fancy that! (No crayfish is worth it!)

That forecasted front was the factor pushing the decision to leave when we did. The first 18 hours was pretty rugged, and I experienced really bad seasickness ... such that Ben and Jens had to do my watches on the first night - I couldn’t move without throwing up! They were just great and just let me lie on the bed with my bucket! Ben slept in the saloon. As you can imagine, I was thinking that FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) was looking like a good future option ... and that this was my very last passage. However I think it is correct to say that four boats turned back with various issues ranging from a blown out mainsail to taking on water, so possibly seasickness was nothing in comparison to that!

After a reprieve of a day or so to recover, it was unpleasant again for a day and a night. Both high winds and horrible seas. Jens really thought Panthera was going to fall to pieces with some of the bashing and crashing! The rough seas brought back the seasickness, so I succumbed to taking “sealegs”. Either that or 5 hours sleep put an end to it, and I was then fine.

By then we had managed to go fast enough to be ahead of the next front, and we had two days and nights of really beautiful sailing. We then motor-sailed the last day to get here by nightfall ... making it with less than 30 minutes to spare! Jens saw a pod of whales in the early light on Monday ... hopefully the first of many that we’ll get to sail with over the next 5 months.

We are now at Pangaimotu Island, about a mile across the Lagoon from Nuku’alofa, and enjoying the camaraderie of other members of the Rally at Big Mama’s Yacht Club. Ben was up the mast today, with Jens assistance, tightening up a few nuts and bolts and trying to get our wind instruments working again (fairly essential when you are sailing a boat!) As the only member of the crew to hop into the beautiful blue, warm water for a swim, my task was to check what was wrapped around the prop ... one of our engines stopped half way here, and the problem was identified as something ... maybe a fishing net ... being wrapped around the prop. Unbelievably there was nothing ... and the engine is running beautifully! We assume that whatever it was disentangled itself! We wish every problem was as easily solved!

A trip to the market yesterday had us enjoy mud crab, followed by papaya for dinner tonight ... we are one happy crew!!!

Happy Crew enjoying mudcrab Tonga!
Arriving in Tonga
Leaving Opua
Leaving Opua

We both hope that from now on you have fair winds, blue skies and enough sea to keep Panthera humming along nicely. We are enjoying following you in your adventures. Have fun.

Hi Helen, wow what a start to your journey. You must have felt terrible with the sea sickness. Sounds like you are in the best hands with Ben and your crew. I am sure you are enjoying your time in Tonga. I look forward to your next update. Safe travels. Moira X

Hi Ben and Helen. Great to read the story of your crossing to Tonga. Glad you got there safely. Enjoy vavau. One of my favourite places. Rob Miller

Wow - an eventful passage, great to hear you’re safely in Tonga! We are in Fiji, definitely FIFO!, enjoying time away from the cold at home.

Well done Panthera! Sounds somewhat more eventful than our passage from New Caledonia to Bundaberg!! Enjoy!


Tue May 21 11:31 2019 NZST
Run: 97.8nm (177km)
35 18.899S 174 07.245E


Here are the ICNZ Rally Members ready and waiting in Opua ... the emphasis being on waiting, waiting! A tropical low in the Pacific has delayed our departure for Tonga, and it looks as if we will be here for at least another week. Watch this space!

Hope you have better weather than we have today - although we still need the rain in Auckland. Take care and looking forward to following your journey

Wow - that's quite a team! Was there that many last time???

Hi Helen, have a great sail north. I haven’t had a chance to catch up but I managed to get in around 5,000 miles last year on an Oyster 61 in the Med and delivered a 51 foot trimaran through Asia and a Fiji - AKL leg this year. The new boat looks great and I hope you have a fun group on the rally this year too. Craig

Gosh folks I guess you must be used with the waiting after last year. Hope you have more than one movie to watch. I should imagine you will be having a great social time making lovely memories as you wait. Good excuse to eat lots of chocolate and nibbles with a wee wine to wash them down. You will soon shed any gained weight when you get under way.
Tue Feb 26 11:32 2019 NZDT
Run: 1457.7nm (2638.4km)
36 37.26126S 174 47.72702E

Panthera at Fairway Bay where we are beginning to prepare for the ICNZ Pacific Circuit Rally in May

Will be watching with interest. Best wishes for a great passage and lots of adventures.

Yay - I'm ready to enjoy your adventures with you. Travel well and enjoy. Much love, Joxx

Looking forward to your posts on your upcoming trip. Poised at the start line again. We wish you a safe journey and look forward to hearing your adventures as you travel around the islands. We did enjoy reading about your experiences from your trip last year so this years I am sure will brighten up our winter months.

Have a wonderful time you two. Your yacht looks fantastic. I've subscribed so I'll be watching you!

Have a safe and happy journey! It will be so interesting to do the trip again. I imagine it will be different as there are many choices. So exciting!!!


Panthera - Heading Out Of The BoI

We are now an hour out of Opua and it's a beautiful day to start our adventure! Yachts ahead of us and behind us as far as the eye can see. All heading to Cape Brett and beyond. And all motor sailing at this stage in swells of about 2 metres.

Sailing with the Rally Flag
Sailing with the Rally Flag
Skipper and mate
Skipper and mate

Panthera - Watch this space!

Saturday has been confirmed as departure day! So we're off back to Opua to restock the chocolate (and other goodies) consumed during our sojourn in the Bay!

Panthera - Don't Get Excited!

It may look as if we're on the move, but sadly it's only out into the Bay of Islands! Next weekend is our next projected weather window (we've had them before, but they haven't materialised!) So we're enjoying being out on the water again ... as we continue to wait, wait, wait! Lovely sunset followed by sundowners on Malakite. ..if it weren't so cold we could imagine we were in Tonga!

Panthera - Still in Opua

Cyclones Donna and Ella have delayed our departure. . we sit and wait while the weather chaos clears!