Our sail across from Nuie was uneventful with light following winds and a few rain showers. We tried fishing on our way across but did not have any luck. We radioed ahead and customs, immigration, and the heath department were waiting on the dock to clear us in. Clearing into Tonga was much easier than on our last visit here and Daria for some reason did not even need a visa this time? May is the beginning of their high season here and we were only the 13th boat to clear in of the 170 or so expected boats for the season.
Steve hit the ground running and had a plane ticket bought for Saturday which could not come soon enough for this X-High seas sailor. His new dream is of a cabin firmly settled on a mountain side.
We were able to get internet at the Mango Café and had a nice dinner while sharing stories of the passage with other sailors that had arrived.
The Vavau Group is the northern most part of Tonga a country that lies roughly 200 miles north to south and consists of several island groups and hundreds of smaller islands.
The main town sits on the NW side of the harbor and looks a little shabby. The wharf is where they unload containers and supplies. Next to that is a huge shed where the vegetable market is held daily. The main staple is taro root, sweet potatoes, bananas, coconuts, and limited amounts of fresh veggies. This season's vegetables were hit hard by a recent cyclone so there was not much to choose from. Next is the local craft market where you can buy locally woven baskets ,carved whale bone necklaces and a native grass skirt Daria just had to have.
We gave away some toys and kids were very happy and we whatched them playing with them for the next few days.
If you continue walking to town there is a small fish market along the seas wall where the local fishermen have their igloo coolers full of just about anything that swims on the reef. It is kind of strange to see the colorful fish that swam with you on the reef with all their beauty laying here dead on ice.
Tongans's are very friendly people and appear to have a minimalist lifestyle. It would be hard to find a car here with out a dent in every panel or less than 100K miles on it. Saturday fills the streets with all the locals who are in town for the supply boat from New Zealand. There are several grocery stores that have their dust covered goods on cluttered shelves. There are no prices marked and I think everyone pays a little more or less the same? But I think we pay more?
We spent a little over a week in the surrounding islands with our friends Bob, Bob and Debbie on Braveheart. One of the islands we went out to was one owned by a couple Ben a& Lisa who left San Francisco 7 years ago to sail around the world and fell in love with Tonga 5 years ago and bought and island. They are in the process (a very slow one) of building a home on this little piece of tropical paradise. We all had a potluck and poker game (Bob won!) along with Kim and James off "Doin It" who also seem to have fallen in love with Tonga and are having a hard time raising the anchor to leave.
The next day Braveheart and Downtime set sail for another island and were able to dive in some calm weather. The diving here has some really good coral but lacks structure to hold fish, so we were not able to catch lunch on our dive.
We had some great dinners aboard Downtime and one night Daria made a amazing roasted leg of lamb with roasted pumpkin and potatoes. Another night Bob brought over some roasted pork and we had taco night and made fresh tortillas in the tortilla press my son Pete Jr. bought me for Christmas. Another night we had pizza night and we made one of ours first homemade pizzas. On the way in from the dive site we snagged a Skipjack tuna by the tail and had a fresh cevichi appetizer.
There are some amazing caves along the shores of these islands and we to Super Dink on an adventure to see them. We found two that we could fit into and see the limestone formations and the arched ceilings with skylights into the jungle above. Most the islands seem to just rise up from the ocean depths and have sheer walls that drop strait down hundreds of feet below the surface.
We spent a little over a week In Vavau and decided to go to our favorite part of Tonga the Haapai Group, on our way we stopped in some pretty island. More pics are here Vavau, May 2012
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