We've had a great sail so far; 15-20 knots of wind and a following sea. We barely touched the sails for the first five days, but finally roused ourselves yesterday to bring our course back towards Apia, by taking the pole down and changing from a run onto a broad-reach. Since then we've been speeding along, registering the best daily run of our little group - a respectable 153 miles, compared with 150 and 145 from Revision II and Noa. Sadly it's too little too late and when we arrive tonight the other boats will already have moved from the beer onto rum cocktails - something to look forward to then.
We set off from Penrhyn with a bright full-moon accompanying our night watches. Over the course of the passage, the moon has progressively risen later and last night in the dark, star-lit first-half of the night we were treated to spectacular flashes of lightning from a storm further north. Normally I feel uncomfortable being on a small boat with lightning flashes around. I guess I've heard too many apocryphal stories of yachts being damaged by lightning strikes, however last night we felt sufficiently far from the storm to enjoy the display from what felt like the safety of our cockpit.
Although the weather has been kind to us, making for a swift and easy passage, the trip has felt longer than the 6/7 days it'll turn out to be. When we set off I felt as though we were embarking on a quick hop between islands and hadn't prepared myself for the routine of watch-keeping and rhythm of the boat at sea. I think it's made the passage seem longer and consequently the anticipation of landfall much greater.
The fishing line will be deployed once again in the hope we can fill the fridge with a tasty wahoo before our arrival. The large tuna we caught on the first day fed us well, but its possible to have too much of a fresh fish and we were happy to finish it and move onto canned food for a change!
News has reached us of the death of the Tongan king. The cruising airwaves are full of rumours about the consequences, ranging from a half-year virtual shut-down of Tonga to a more reasonable week to two weeks of official mourning. Our correspondents in the capital, Will and Alyssa on Ragtime, report that the customs, immigration and port representative, all wore black arm-bands for their check-in yesterday but overnight the city has been transformed with shops being repainted in black and maroon, and the population dressing themselves in black. It's certainly going to be an interesting time to visit.
Position @ 7.30 local time (GMT-10): S13deg00' W170deg 19'
Distance to go: 96