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World ARC 2018 in Port Refuge, Tonga

by World Cruising Club 1 Jun 2018 06:32 UTC
World ARC 2018 © World Cruising

After sailing 1500 nautical miles in two separate groups from Bora Bora, the World ARC 2018/19 Fleet has reunited in the beautiful Kingdom of Tonga.

Weather, always an important factor in sailing, played a critical role in the journey for both groups. Group 1 faced challenging storms en route to Suwarrow and the majority of Group 2 yachts bypassed the unique island of Niue in order to arrive Vava'u Tonga ahead of expected heavy winds and confused seas.

The main town of Neiafu, known as the Port of Refuge Harbour, is a common destination for yachts sailing the South Pacific. As its name indicates, It is also a very popular place to find safe anchorage when weather systems are at play. The local businesses such as Cafe Tropicana, Refuge Restaurant and Mango Cafe certainly cater to the needs of yachties covering everything from internet access, gas refilling, book swaps, cruising expertise and all else you can imagine!

The Kingdom of Tonga is separated into three distinct island groups. Vava'u, the most northern is comprised of more than 50 islands, about 70 miles north of the Ha'apai group and 150 miles north of Tongatapu, the capital where two thirds of the population live. The islands are either raised coral limestone or coral atolls. The waters of the islands are known for their clarity, it being said that you can see the bottom at 40 metres. The area attracts lots of beautiful marine wildlife, including humpback whales between June and November. As it is still early in the whale season, the crews are on special lookout to get a glimpse of the incredible sight of a mother with her calf.

While in Tonga, the fleet will enjoy a full program including a "Welcome to Tonga" evening at the Refuge Restaurant and Yacht Club, tours to the Ene'io Beach and Botanical Gardens, Prize giving Dinner with Kava and Tongan dancers. Free time allows yachts to explore the outer anchorages on their own, experiencing the wonder of magnificent sights such as Swallow's Cave, snorkelling the Coral Gardens and free diving into Mariner's Cave.

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