New country, the first job is to complete formalities. Arriving in the dark as I had I had picked up a mooring buoy. Next morning I had to move over to the dockside flying a yellow quarantine flag. The first official to visit was the quarantine officer, to check that you are not bringing any banned products like fruit and veg in with you or carrying bugs on the boat. Into town then, to the bank, work out the exchange rate and to get some local currency to pay the fees. Next to customs office to fill in a great wadge of forms, always a trifle irksome because you have the repeat the same information ie boat name, your name, ships registration, length of boat etc etc over and over again. Lastly the health officer to see if you are healthy and not bringing disease with you . The fee for this goes to the local hospital.
Then it was back to a mooring buoy.
The next few days were spent here in Neiafu, a few jobs to do on the boat first. The major one was to overhaul the wind vane steering as a bush had gone on passage. To replace this I first had to take the self steering gear of the back of the boat so I could diss-assemble it in the cockpit. Stripped down and cleaned up I replaced the bush and bearings, thankful that I had the spares on hand, reassembled and refitted. Last item a bit tricky because its a weighty beast and a dinghy not the most stable platform to work from.
There was some time for socialising, Dan on “My Dream” was here and Thom on “Fathom” and John & Oceana on “Danika” turned up a few days later.
Neiafu is a small place and doesn’t take much exploring but there is a good market for fruit and vegetables and the place comes alive on Saturdays when people gather and hang about in the streets.
In between other jobs I took a walk over to the boatyard on the other side of the island for a look see and also went up Mt Talau. Well its stretching it a bit to call it a mountain, at 310 m hardly a lofty eminence but it is the highest point in Vava’u and is a fine viewpoint to look out over the many islands and inlets that comprise the Vava’u group.
In French Polynesia it was chickens and roosters that were everywhere, here in Tonga it is pigs that roam about.
Apart from the odd day the weather had not been great, grey skies and lots of rain but when it improved it was time to head out to enjoy some of the other anchorages that are here. First stop was to anchor of the tiny island of Nuku, memorable for its fine white sandy spit at one end.
On then to Vakaeitau Island, winding a way between small islands and reefs to cross the reef guarding the delightful bay where I anchored. Anchored her were Ken & Tracy who I had last seen in Portobello Panama, good to catch up over a bottle of wine in the cockpit.
There is just one family lives on the island, like all Togan island heavily wooded. They held a Tongan feast for the cruisers anchored here, roast pig, chicken curry, raw fish marinated in coconut milk and a melange of different vegetable dishes. Two of the little girls dressed in the traditional bark cloth costumes did some Tongan dancing and there was a big fire burning under a huge banyan tree.
After some days I was out of bread, booze and fresh veg so I headed back to Neiafu to restock.
I had a pleasant sail back the long way around as it were passing first north of Lape island and then south of Langito’o island, out towards Foeta island up past Luakmoko island past Kitu island and so back to Neiafu. Jan & Richard of “Morpheus” were here now so I joined them for happy hour at the bar.
Restocked with provisions, next day I dug out the bike and cycled down and across the causeway to Pangiamoto island and followed the roads first to Hikakalea Beach then back tracking across to Utangake island until the road ran out overlooking Mala island. Although the islands are fairly low lying there were enough hills to make it hard work at times.