Saturday, 21 July 2018

5-2018 Suwarrow to Tonga

Hi from Clare, 5-2018 Suwarrow to Tonga Thursday 19th July 2018

After sailing 730 sea miles, we arrived in the Vava'u Group of islands in Tonga last Saturday. When we first left Suwarrow we intended sailing to the island of Niue some 240 miles east of Tonga. We would have enjoyed calling into Niue on the way to Tonga but unfortunately the angle of sail was forward of the beam and very unpleasant. We smacked into three metre waves in twenty knots of wind getting covered in salt water for twenty four hours before we decided to turn right fifteen degrees give Niue a miss and head straight for Tonga. This put the wind aft of the beam making the ride a lot more comfortable. The trip took five days and the highlight was catching a 75cm long tuna. Quite a thrill after no fishing for three years in French Polynesia due to the threat of Ciguatera. But now with no threat of illness, we have been eating Tuna a la Every Which Way for the past week – simply delicious.

So far we have spent most of our time in Neiafu township in Vava'u checking into the country and re provisioning fresh goods. When we arrived and tied up at the wharf Customs and Immigration came to the boat. Then we were told to leave the wharf because a Navy Boat wanted our spot. We picked up a mooring ball in the bay and spent the next two and a half days and numerous trips ashore trying to track down Quarantine and the Health Official to complete the check in process. The annoying part about this was that we arrived on Saturday and were charged $90 AUD overtime rates. However (because we couldn't find the Health Official) the check wasn't completed until late Monday when overtime doesn't apply. Not sure what we paid the money for!

There is a very good fresh fruit and vegetable daily market which is a welcome sight after nearly two months of no shops. Choices are limited to what is grown locally, fruit selection is papaya, banana, pineapple and water melon. Vegetables are more plentiful and we can buy eggs at the fresh market by forward ordering them. Andrew says the chooks must be on contract :) There is also fresh fish for sale so we will happily frequent that in the future.

The shops are very disappointing, thank goodness I have plenty of groceries. There are a number of grubby food stores with limited supplies. It is necessary to visit all of them when in search of something. We did find some tasty cheese eventually but there is no yogurt, sour cream or any other dairy, all meat is frozen. Food stores have ants and small bugs running along the shelves. The shopkeepers are not friendly and in one shop the cash register is named by a Chinaman more interested in his iPhone than the customer.
He didn't look up once. The township is dusty and grubby with pot poles, broken pipes and open drains. The footpath is treacherously slippery after a rain shower - enough said.

On a brighter note there are a number of good anchorages to explore. We are currently in a lovely quiet spot up against an island. It is very peaceful and exactly what we need after a busy few weeks. We are looking forward to chilling out for a while. Late yesterday we went for a long walk along the beach and we will do the same in our new location this afternoon. Since arriving in Tonga there is a noticeable difference in the climate compared to French Polynesia. The daily temperature is around 27 degrees and 20 at night. The water temperature has decreased from 29 degrees to 25. It is still very nice but noticeably a bit fresher. We notice that the people snorkeling are wearing wet suits.

We intend staying in Tonga till end August. We are currently in the Vava'u Group of islands then to the south of us is the Ha'apal group and then south of that is the Tongatapu group of islands where the capital city of Nukualofa is located. We will visit all these groups before we leave for Fiji.

Love Candy xx

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