Latitude 38 editor-at-large Andy Turpin has been keeping an eye on the cruising situation in the South Pacific. This week he wrote to share some very good news. The Kingdom of Tonga has lifted almost all government restrictions that had been put in place at the onset of the COVID pandemic, and international visitors, including cruisers, are once again welcome.
Cruisers aged 12 and older are still required to provide proof of COVID vaccination, but there is a possibility of obtaining medical exemptions, if details are submitted to the Ministry of Health prior to travel.
Tahiti is set to benefit from the lifted regulations. Many foreign-flagged yachts dropped anchor there in 2020 and have been in limbo ever since. If they are now free to move, it will create more space for cruisers wanting to visit the popular anchorages of Tahiti and Moorea this season.
This comes as perfect timing, as the 2023 Pacific Puddle Jump rally to French Polynesia has just been announced.
This announcement is now posted on the PPJ website:
Building on a 25-year tradition, the Pacific Puddle Jump rally to French Polynesia will take place again in 2023. As with its previous editions, PPJ 2023 will be a loosely structured event that imposes a minimum of rules and requirements on participants, while focusing on fleet safety and camaraderie through free satellite tracking and optional status reporting.
As previously mentioned, PPJ boats will begin their westward passages individually from a variety of ports along the west coast of the Americas, any time between February and July, with the two most popular jumping-off points being Panama City, Panama, and Banderas Bay, Mexico. Based on previous years, the greatest concentration of boats will probably depart from Panama in February and March, and from Banderas Bay in April.
In addition to our annual pre-Baja Ha-Ha seminar in San Diego (5:00 p.m. Oct 29 at West Marine), we will hold at least two pre-departure events in Panama and Mexico (dates TBA soon), presented in partnership with the South Pacific Sailing Network. We will also be presenting several highly informative online seminars in the coming months, which will hopefully extend the reach of our local knowledge to any and all interested fleet members.
PPJ 2023’s participation fee is kept low ($125 per boat) to encourage a wide range of participants from many countries, as is typical. Check back here for event dates, sponsor offers, and seminar details.
Most sailors who make the Puddle Jump passage to French Polynesia consider the trip to be one of the greatest adventures of their lives. But crossing 3,000 to 4,000 miles of open water is also a strenuous test of both crew and equipment. So, while being part of the PPJ fleet offers extra measures of safety and intra-fleet camaraderie, every skipper must ultimately decide for him- or herself whether their boat and crew are appropriately prepared. (We DO NOT do boat inspections.)
Thanks for your interest! Online registration begins here on October 26, 2022.
For more about the news on Tonga, see here.