The Boat

Tonga Moon is a Leopard 42ft catamaran, built by Robertson and Caine. 

By catamaran standards she’s strong, relatively heavy and not especially quick; but has fantastic space and is dependable in heavy weather.  100’s of these boats were built in South Africa for the charter market, almost all sailed across oceans to the new owners, so they’re well proven offshore.  She has 4 double cabins (2 in each hull), plus 2 single berths in the forepeak.  So she can sleep a lot of people.  Being ex-charter, she also has 4 toilets – excessive by anyone’s standards, two of which we’ve converted into an office and washroom respectively.

For those readers interested in boats, read on.  If not, this may get technical…


She carries a large fully-battened mainsail, a smallish jib and we’ve added a big gennaker and a storm jib.  She’ll comfortably sail at 6-8 knots, and with only small waves to push her along she’ll pop up into the 9-10knot range.  She weighs 8.5 tons, so needs abit of wind to push her along.


2 x 40HP Yanmar diesels with shaft drive (one in each hull) give good motoring ability, and fantastic control in marinas.  Our previous boats have been fixed prop monohulls, and our scariest moments have always been manoeuvring in tight marinas in a strong wind – typically a nightmare.  This is the first boat we’ve had with twin engines, and it’s amazing how must control it gives you – Tonga Moon can literally turn within her own length.  So we’re not scared of marinas anymore – although of course we can’t afford to go into them!


A big 12v gelcell house bank gives about 500 amp hours, fed from an alternator on each engine, a windgenerator (Aerogen4) and 3 x 80watt solar panels.  Having suffered on previous offshore trips from inadequate power supply, I’m pretty happy with this arrangement.


We have the usual – barometer, VHF,GPS,  a high frequency SSB radio with a pactor modem, allows us basic email onboard and the ability to draw down weather maps.  We have a basic chartplotter, plus 2 laptops for emails, both with world charts and GPS and various other sailing apps.  It seems we’ve finally converted to the digital age, taking very few paper charts but instead backup hard disks (in case of lightning strike).   I suspect we’ll pick up some paper charts as we go.


We’ve tried to avoid too many of these, although with a family of 5 it’s inevitable we’ll have one or two.  Our main luxury is a fridge/freezer, plus a spare portable backup fridge if needed.  So we’ll no longer be throwing away fish when we can’t store it.  We have electric fresh water pumps, and water heaters plumbed through the engine cooling system (free hot water, fantastic!) –  I must say hot water on a boat IS a luxury, especially for washing up.  Other than that, we’ve deliberately kept it fairly simple – no TVs, microwaves, washing machines, water maker etc.  We do have a  small manual washing machine, which may or may not prove useful.  We battled the question of watermaker or not for some time, and eventually decided not to (assisted by the price tag these devices carry), and instead will use tarpaulins and spare water bottles to catch rainwater.

Bring back the outboard, all is forgiven!

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Process Chick
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 12:04:14

    Can’t wait for updates


  2. Kerry Nolan
    Aug 21, 2011 @ 10:04:21

    Looking forward to the book, or will you just skip past that and go straight for the movie?


  3. belinda
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 21:06:26

    Great Blog. I’m drooling over the potential adventures you’ll have. I’m so excited for you all and hope the take off all goes as expected this weekend. Looking forward to following the trip.


  4. gretairedale
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 07:49:28

    Bon voyage – God speed and we’ll be thinking of you.


  5. The Ancient Mariner
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 06:46:26

    Godspeed and love to all. Am green with envy


  6. Edward Loden
    Aug 27, 2011 @ 23:05:08

    Boat looks great, despite the leaks – with two 40 hp Yanmars, how much fuel do you need to carry? We shall follow this odyssey with the greatest of interest – and in my case huge envy


  7. belinda
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 20:43:16

    That is one beautiful craft, my first peek. Can’t wait to head out in the Gulf with you when at last you bods return. Having moved up to Auckland, we’re all happily ensconced in Titters and looking forward to your home coming (though we know it won’t be for awhile). We’re all wondering where you going to be for Christmas?



    • belinda
      Dec 20, 2011 @ 21:15:18

      Should have read your wonderfully written blog first and asked questions later – Christmas in Indobesia. Your tales make back home make life seem very mundane. Exciting the story about the sudden squall close to the equator and flying a hull.



  8. belinda
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 21:29:19

    You ever heard of Indobnesia? Its just next to Indonesia but not particuarly well known. And life has obviously become so mundane that I can no longer structure sentences properly (Belinda very quick to point that out being a paragon of English literacy).

    We’ll be thinking of you all Xmas day as we sit in Libby’s garden supping niiice coool beeer, lots of it, ham, pavalova and strawberrys till we can’t/drink eat any more, and then more still. Actually I think I’d rather be gormandising on Mahemahe which I’m sure you’ve all had the pleasure of trying and probably will be over the festive season along with other exotic fare. Have a wonderful time.



  9. Richard and Philippa Studholme
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 15:02:39

    I’m a first time blogger – not bad for 74 years! We love your accounts, especially the birthday in Biak, so good that you uploaded it twice! As Matt has mentioned we all go to Libby and Phil for Christmas on the great day, with all 7 littlies, some actually quite big now. Your Christmas newsletter has been sent to Richard and Jules, as we know are going to meet up for Christmas. Have a great happy time with the whole whanau. We will be toasting you in bubbly.



  10. Bary and Sue
    Jun 05, 2012 @ 11:16:39

    We are friends of Michael and Melissa and hoping to follow your blog. Michael says get a mono hull


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