20 October 2017
We anchored at Pangaimotu, the home of Big Momma’s Yacht Club. Earle and Big Momma are incredibly helpful to cruisers and provide great services. With the help of our taxi driver West, we were able to get some leaky oil hoses replaces and a new cap for the header tank. Earle has a ferry that goes into town daily. This made provisioning relatively simple. Sometimes we would take a taxi and sometimes we would walk from the ferry wharf. Some of the new buildings in town certainly have a very non island appearance. It seems the Chinese are investing heavily in the infrastructure in the main town with new parliament buildings, new ferry building and several new hotels. We spent the next week or so preparing for our trip to New Zealand and looking at weather everyday. Our plan was to stop at Minerva Reef to reassess again the weather to New Zealand. Happy hour at the bar was a constant talk of weather. Finally, it looked good and we were on our way.
20 October 2017
We charted a course through the Ha’apai’s to get us to Tongatapu without having to sail overnight. It meant for 2 very early starts but it is so much nicer when we get to sleep at night. Finally, we were able to get away from the mass of boats. For some reason, most boats don’t visit the Ha’apai’s. There is certainly some challenging navigation but well worth it to sit off white sand beaches in clear water. We stopped at one island where we spent the day collecting coconuts and eating them till we could eat no more. We visited several villages, where the people seemed to be friendlier. At Ha’aeeva we spent the entire evening watching 3 whales frolic in the anchorage behind our boat and then listened to them, as it got dark, through the night. We visited the newly formed Royal Nomuka Yacht Club but nobody was at home, so it was just a walk around the island to see the progress of what is likely to be a very unique Yacht Club. After several weeks of very pleasant cruising, it was time to move south again. An early morning start saw us finally at Tongatapu later that afternoon.
19 October 2017
We had a rental car for a while and saw snippets of the island but most of Vavau is all about the water. After stocking up on fuel and provisions, we meandered off into some of the anchorages. We anchored in lagoons, off white sandy beaches, mangroves and next to breaking reefs. The water in the outer area is crystal clear and delightful to be in. We were in several anchorages where we didn’t even have to snorkel in the water, as the clarity from the boat was crystal clear. We watched whales, turtles, and dolphins, all without leaving the boat. We caught up with a few friends and ate out a few of the restaurants onshore. Neiafu is excellent for providing wonderful entertainment for the cruisers. One thing that surprised us though, is the number of boats here. There seems so many more than when we were here last time and anchoring in some places was a little tight. It was more difficult to find some of those out of the way places that we could have to ourselves but we did find a few. We enjoyed sundowners on a few beaches and BBQ’s ashore at Hunga Haven. But time to move south.