We are now in Tonga at 174 deg west so almost halfway round the world. As Tonga opted to be on the same date as New Zealand we have already crossed the international date line, so last week we had Wednesday up until afternoon tea time then it was Thursday for the rest of the day and we are now 12 hours ahead of UK. Someone in the fleet was proposing that a 180 deg celebration is just as, if not more, valid than a crossing the equator celebration so we will probably do that when we get there. Tonga is a very friendly, happy place, very traditional with men dressed in skirts (also the school uniforms), a few of the guys have embraced this look and pronounced it very cool (one even had the boat logo put on, but they have it on everything). Guess it is a tropical version of the kilt. Anyway skimpy clothes are frowned upon, you are supposed to be covered from shoulder to knee. We have been to a Tongan feast, complete with roast suckling pig and Tongan dancing. In fact there are pigs and piglets everywhere skinny ones with spots and stripes snouts but apparently they all belong to someone. There are some lovely handicrafts including the Psinted Tapa cloths. We also tried the local Kava (made from ground up root) but most were not impressed.
We are having a good time in the rally with the other 20 or so boats. We were 26 then some more joined, then a couple left. Anyway we are a pretty good community, if anyone has a problem, there are always folk ready to offer help – expertise, labour, spare parts, whatever. We actually got a prize for the last leg – for correctly guessing our arrival time in Tonga, not for sailing. We have done some great snorkelling here and explored a spectacular cave. At the moment it is actually raining, a tropical downpour due to a trough nearby, but still warm, I hope normal service will be resumed soon.
We are just about to set off for Fiji, at first to the remote Lau group. Later we go to the more populated islands. We were rushing round the market, great fruit and veg, and the Chinese supermarkets this morning to get supplies for the trip.