09/28/2011, Neiafu Harbor
Well, we're back in Nieafu having left anchorage 16 on Monday morning. We wanted to check with Westpac Bank and see if we were going to get our money back plus restock our supplies with fresh veggies and snacks.
We started upping the anchor about 0900 on Tuesday. With my foot on the power button on the windlass, and my head looking over the side watching the chain come up, there was a sudden CLUNK on deck and the chain stopped coming on board. I took my foot off the button and looked down to see a big pile of chain on the deck and a jam in the pipe that leads the chain into the anchor locker below decks. Apparently, it had stopped going down the hole and then had gotten jammed when more chain piled up at the hole and filled it with the links. We were stuck with 60 feet of chain out but luckily the anchor was still hooked to the bottom giving us time to try and figure out how to get this solid mass of chain links out of the hole so we could get all the rest of the chain up along with the anchor. We hooked one of our anchor snubber hooks to the chain and led the line aft to one of our winches in the cockpit and tried to pull it out. Tracy cranked while I got a hammer and started pounding on what exposed links I could get at. No luck. Next, we grabbed a big screwdriver and put the end in one of the links and pounded on the end of the screwdriver. It moved a bit but the chain showed no sign of coming free. The sounds of my pounding resounded through the anchorage. About 20 minutes later, Bill off Dilligaf dingies over with what is called a "Spud wrench". It looks like a crescent wrench only the end of the handle comes to a point. I jammed the pointed end into the links and slowly wedged it out of the end of the pipe. Problem solved. All it takes is the right tool. It's now on my list of things to get when I get home in November.
With the chain and anchor up, out we headed for the 9 mile trip back to town. About two miles out, the engine slows down and quits!!!! Yep, it had happened again. We'd been fine since I found the problem of the leaking hose way back in the Marquesas in early May. We had gotten the sails ready just incase something like this happened or we actually had wind in the right direction so we could sail back. So we pulled out the Genoa sail at the bow so we could be under control and down below I went to try and find the problem. I pulled off the doors to the engine compartment and all looked fine. I grabbed one of my wrenches and some rags and headed for the "bleed" screw on the injector pump. With our small auxiliary fuel pump running, I loosened the screw and air(along with diesel fuel) came pouring out of the screw hole. Once all the air had been flushed out, I tightened the screw, turned off the small pump, turned the key and the engine started right up. Problem solved. There are only so many things that will stop a diesel engine but the most common is air in the lines. It stops all the fuel from getting to the injectors. With the engine started, Tracy rolled in the Genoa sail while I stayed below and cleaned up my mess and inspected all the hose connections for leaks. I checked all the hoses and found every connection nice and dry. No leaking fuel anywhere. The only strange thing I found was that the fuel vacuum gauge I had installed a while ago was now reading a different pressure. It had been reading about 3 pounds of pressure. Now it was reading about one pound. No real idea as to why and neither does any of the other cruisers I have talked to. But the engine was up and running and we made it safe and sound into Nieafu about an hour later.
We grabbed a mooring buoy and got settled in. Puff was launched and we headed over to the dock and walked over to Westpac Bank. A short time later, I walked out with my $300 Pa'angas. Problem solved. They had gotten all the paperwork straightened out and I got my money back from the double dipping the ATM did to my account. We headed next for the local laundry as we had won wash a dry service for two kilos of laundry and we figured they could do our towels as they are the hardest thing to do with our little washing "machine". We dropped them off and were told to pick them up about the same time on Wednesday. Off we went to a restaurant we wanted to try that had advertised a $5.00 Pa'Anga(about $2.70US) lunch of fish and chips. We placed our order and I walked down the street to one of the markets and bought two cokes as the restaurant doesn't sell drinks of any kind(go figure). I got back just before our order came. We each got four large pieces of breaded fish(bone in) and a nice pile of fried plantains on the side. This fish wasn't filleted, it was just chopped into sections, breaded and fried. We ate slowly and carefully picking out the bones as we went. The fired plantains tasted quite a bit like real potatoes. Neither of us could finish our meals so the wait person wrapped the rest in foil for us and off we went for the veggie market looking for some lettuce. We'd been out for a few days. None was available so Tracy put in an order for a couple of heads so we could pick them up on Wednesday. We walked around for a while hitting some of the markets. We stopped in at one of the local shops that sells hamburger or as they call it "minced beef" and found they were out but expected a shipment on Wednesday. Any more, if you see it, buy it because they will run out and then you have to wait for the next shipment. We then headed up the hill for the Ice Cream store to get a cone for a treat. They had run out of ice cream(they only carry one flavor) so no luck there. They told us to try again tomorrow. Every one was waiting for the ferry boat that brings in supplies. With most of our errands done we headed back to Zephyr for a quiet night.
Wednesday. we headed back to town and picked up the lettuce and revisited the Chinese Restaurant for lunch. Tracy had spring rolls and rice while I had chicken fried rice. We'd had the spring rolls on our first time at the restaurant a few weeks ago and she had really liked them and I was hungry for some fried rice. Including drinks, our bill came to just $20.00 Pa'angas(about $12.00US). We left quite satisfied. Up the hill we went heading for the Ice Cream store. This time we got lucky and we each got a cone of Vanilla that was on the verge of melting. They had just gotten their one tub in and it had not had a chance to get hard in their freezer. We ate it quickly as it melted into the cone. Tracy headed for the bakery for some "brown bread"(bread with small pieces of dried fruit in it). While I continued to shop for other things around town and picked up our laundry, all nice clean and folded. They did a great job. On the way back to Puff, I ran into Lene and Henrik off Dana(friends we originally met in Naniamo Harbor clear back when we were on our way back from Alaska. They invited us over for drinks that evening. Tracy meanwhile could only get one loaf of brown bread(they'd run out). I stopped in and picked up our "minced beef" that had come in on the ferry and we climbed back into Puff and headed back to Zephyr.
Earlier in the day, on our first trip in, we'd stopped at the Aquarium Cafe to have entry documents emailed to Fiji as they require advanced notice when boats are coming to their country. The internet service was down(not uncommon here) and they had not been able to get the emails out. Tracy started defrosting the freezer since it was quite well covered in ice. That's one of the scary things to do on Zephyr as sometimes the compressor won't start after the defrosting is done. We finished out the day with drinks and snacks aboard Dana with Lene and Henrik.
This morning we headed into town early as Tracy had found a store that sold New Zealand apples. We haven't seen an apple in months so she bought a few yesterday and they proved so good that we had to get more. At $5.00 Pa'angas for five apples, that puts it to about .67 cents US. Not a bad price out here. We hit the bakery and got our bread as well as some cinnamon rolls for breakfast. You have to get in early to get those as they sell out by late morning. Back to pay for our mooring and we expect to be out of here in a couple of hours. Since we have to check out of here by October 5th, our time is running out.
09/24/2011, Vaka'eitu Island, Vava'u, Tonga
It' been quite a while since I updated as to what we have been doing so lets get started.
We left Neiafu on the 20th and dropped anchor off a small village on the island of Mala(18 41.384S 174 01.805W) in about 10 knots of wind out of the Southeast. A pleasant anchorage that is supposed to have nice coral to snorkel on. Our friends(Paul and Karen on Gigi) came along so we have become "Buddy Boats". It's nice to travel as a group so if one has a problem, the other is there to help out plus it's great to have some company out here to talk to. We spent the day snorkeling off the island and enjoying being away from the town. We'd been in town on a mooring buoy for two weeks and that is just too long. It was great to be back on anchor and I actually got a decent night sleep. The snorkeling was good though the water was the coldest we have felt in quite some time coming in at just 79 degrees. We haven't been below 80 since we left Mexico back in April. Jumping in is a bit of a shock as it's still in the mid 80s outside. We picniced on the island exploring an outcropping of sand and coral on the North side of the small island.
Wednesday, we upped the anchors and headed for Nuku Island(18 42.911S 174 02.661W) and dropped them in a spot recommended in a book(Ken's Compendium of Tonga) that Paul and Karen have. We've never seen it before but is the best book we have ever seen on Tonga and all it's harbors and coves. A smart investment for any boat heading out here. The anchorage was on the lee side of the island(less wind) and perfectly calm with winds in the high teens going right around the island leaving us perfectly calmed. Paul and Karen jumped in and started scrubbing the bottom of their boat. We had done the same thing at Mala Island. Out propeller is beautifully clean and the water line is grass free. During the night, it poured buckets and buckets! I had towels all over the port side of the boat catching leaks as they developed. With the rain came a change in the wind as it shifted more toward the southwest making our anchorage very rollie and not a fun place to be anymore. We all decided to up the anchors and head for Port Maurelle(18 42.055S 174 01.887W), about 1.5 miles away. That's one nice thing about Tonga, all the coves are so close, it's an easy hop from one to another. Port Maurelle is enclosed on three of it's sides so it's a very protected place to stay. As we rounded the point, the waves and wind dropped to just about zero. We'd found a new place to wait out the storm. We dropped the anchor and I dove to make sure it was set well. It might be calm then but it might change and I'd like to know what we faced below the water line. We were dug in nicely but found that the anchor off the boat behind us(Silver Ruffian) was right under our keel. I swam over to talk to them These are the people that encouraged us to re-email Vuda Point Marina in Fiji to double check about a space in their marina(we got one). We'll be watching their boat wile they are away as they are staying in the same marina over cyclone season. There was no problem as they were spending the day and weren't sure as to when they would be leaving anyway. Once settled in, both of us settled in for naps as we had been up and down all night watching the rain(buckets) and the change in the wind and how it would affect our anchors. I know we dragged once as it showed up on the screen of the chart plotter.
Yesterday we upped the anchors again and headed for anchorage #16. When the Moorings Yacht Charter company came here years ago, they went around the islands and put numbers on their charts and wrote up info on each of them for the folks that charter their boats. Through the years, that info had been passed along to every cruiser that comes here so that when you are discussing where you are going, you no longer need to say, "we are gong to Port Maurelle", you just say, "We're going to #12" and everyone knows exactly where you are headed. It keeps it simple out here. Surprised it hasn't happened elsewhere where the Moorings is. For those of you out of the know, #16 is Vaka'eitu Island(18 43.378S 174 05.998W) farther down the chain on the west side. An easy trip of about 4 miles so it was no great fuss for the move. We'd heard a good bit about the anchorage as it was the place for "Kids Boats" for the last few weeks. All the boats with kids tend to congregate together so the kids on the boats have friends to play with. Smart parents!! A happy kid can make for a happy boat. Same with happy "Admirals". We came in with Gigi a few minutes behind us and dropped our anchor. Gigi is off our starboard side in a bit shallower water. We launched Puff and headed for the "Coral Garden" that is supposed to be just around the corner west of where we anchored. The tide was running and the seas were breaking over the reef so after just a few minutes of snorkeling(water on about 2 feet deep where we were) we bagged it and came back to the beach where we had anchored Puff and had a great conversation with the folks off Yaringa, an Australian boat that has been out cruising for years. They have their two sons(one about 7 and one about 14) aboard with them. A nice couple that are fun to talk to. We'd heard about a rumored bonfire that was to be held on the beach that night so we headed over to Gigi and let them know about it so they wouldn't miss it. Sure enough, about 1830, about 6 dingies took off for the beach and the bonfire was started. Some brought snacks and wine and a good time was had by all. We were back at Zephyr about 2030 and settled in for another night of movies. Our auxiliary speakers seem to be failing so I may be looking for another set when I head home in November. We watch the shows on our computer and the speakers just aren't powerful enough to do the job for us.
So here we sit in a nice quiet anchorage. The Sun is finally out!!! First time we have had a sunny day on well over a week so the laundry machine has been pulled out and we are hard at work getting things cleaned, put through our wringer(envy of the anchorage) and hung out on line stretched around the shrouds of the boat. Tracy is doing the wash while I help with the wringer and hang the clothes out to dry. A team effort though Tracy has the harder job. Other jobs await so I'll close now and get back to them. We expect to be heading back to Neiafu in a few days to see about the over draft from the local Westpac back. They should have gotten it all straightened out by now so I can actually get the money they owe me. More on that later I guess.
09/18/2011, Neiafu, Vava'u Island, Tonga
Well, a few more days have passed and we are still in Neiafu harbor here on Vava'u in Tonga. Paul and Karen on Gigi showed up a few days ago and we have been out having fun with them showing them the ins and outs of Neiafu. We've been zipping back and forth to town in our dingies exploring. Yesterday, we went on a whale safari out to swim with the whales. It's one of the few place left on Earth that still allows people to get in the water right beside these huge creatures. We left the dock at 0830 and didn't come back till about 1600 so it was a long day searching for whales. In all, there were 8 of us on the boat--4 from one of those 100 foot yachts. Everyone was keeping watch to see where the first whales would be spotted. There are several tour companies in town so it becomes a race to see who can get to the whales first. We spotted our first group about 40 minutes out. In groups of four, we entered the water with a guide(as the main spotter stood on the fly bridge and screamed at us when it was time to get into the water) and swam as they passed right under us. We were in and out of the water all day as we spotted numerous groups of whales through the morning. Strangely, we saw no whales after about 1400 so the afternoon was quiet.
It's great seeing Paul and Karen again and getting caught up on what has happened on both our boats. They went through massive repairs when they reached Tahiti. The list is too long to go through here but the list is quite long and I'm sure it was tough on them as our entire first year was on us. If it was on the boat, it needed attention. In the end, they got to see very little of Tahiti since they had to spend so much time on their boat. As their visas were expiring, they had to by pass most of the islands and only spent one night at Bora Bora before leaving the islands.
We just heard that Suwarrow Atoll(where we just were) has been sold to a rich Russian by the New Zealand government. Not sure why other than it was originally discovered by a Russian many years ago. It will be interesting to see what he does with this beautiful atoll. It had been one of New Zealands national parks. I guess money talks. From what we have heard, it will change hands at the end of this season.
We plan of heading out to explore the different islands of this chain tomorrow. We've made reservations at Vudo Point Marina for the Winter(their Summer) to avoid the cyclones. I'll be flying back to Denver shortly after we arrive to do some odd jobs and load up on supplies and parts we can't get out here. The list will be long and costly but cheaper than trying to get it out here. I will be leaving here at 2200 at night and getting in the same day at 1900 so I'll arrive before I'll be taking off from Fiji. Somehow, I don't think my body will be telling me the same story. Now coming back, I'll lose two days!
And that's about all that's been going on out here. Many of the boats from the Regatta have left as we will be doing tomorrow. Many have already left for Fiji or New Zealand. We don't plan of setting out from here till about October 7th. It's a good five day trip to Fiji will all the reefs between here and there. We will be constantly on watch and many of them are not charted. I have a list of at least 60 that are not on any charts so I'll be entering them on our chart plotter in the cockpit so we will know when we are near them. It' just safer that way.
Well, more to come.
09/15/2011, Neiafu, Vava'u Island, Tonga
Well, the regatta is now over and Neiafu is now return to a state of quiet. Many of the boats have taken off for other islands as we will be doing later today. It was a lot of fun though there was just about no wind for any of the races(we motored instead). We did win first prize for "Team Spirit" for the Tridecagon'athlon games.
Well, after touring Neiafu and seeing what they have to offer, we have changed our plans again and now plan on spending the "Winter"(Summer here) in Fiji. There is just nothing to keep us here. Little in the way of supplies and very little in the way of repairmen to do what I can't. No yard to haul out Zephyr for the bottom paint that needs to be put on before we set out again next year. So we are off for the islands later today for a while to see the back roads of Tonga and visit other villages and beaches as well as dive on coral to see the beautiful fishes.
We are making plans to stay in Fiji at the Vuda Point Marina on the west side of Viti Levu(not sure of the spelling). It's near a town called Latoka if that's a help.
Other than that, all is well. Blue and Snowshoe are enjoying the peace and quiet(unless the engine is running) and spending some time on deck( in the evening) as well as sleeping most of the day below decks as it get pretty warm out there. We've done a few projects but will now be saving most of them till we get to Fiji.
I'm in the process of making plans to fly home in a month or so to get a few things taken care of and order in parts and equipment that is just not available out here. DHL will love me by the time I get done in Colorado.
I'll let you know how the next few days go once we are out at anchor again.
09/09/2011, Neiafu, Vava'u Island, Tonga
Well, we've been here for a few days and are slowly winding down from our trip here. Zephyrs all cleaned up and everything is stowed safely again. We even put our area rug back out in the main salon(helps the cats walk). We cleared through Customs and after getting attached back at our mooring buoy, we headed for town. Even before we left our boat, we were visited by Lene and Henrik off Dana, out Danish friends that we first met in Nanaimo Harbor up in Canada several years ago. They had kayaked over from the town side of the harbor(we are on the west side of the bay) to welcome us and give us some info on the town. It was great to see them again as we had thought they were headed for Fiji and then to New Zealand. You never know who you are going to run into out here.
We launched Puff and took off for town and started exploring. Lene had suggested we stop in at the Visitor Center and pick up a map of the island with all the businesses in town shown making it easier to find. A great idea. We checked out the grocery stores as we went along looking for a well stocked place to get food. We had heard that Tonga was one of the poorest countries in the South Pacific and we would agree. Their stores sparsely stocked with goods. Darn few vegetables and not a good selection of the main stays of what we are used to finding in the stores. We walked up and down the streets getting a feel of the area and visited the local "farmers market" where good veggies can be found and at a decent(less that Tahiti)price. We'd also heard that their carvers were some of the best in the South Pacific and that we would have to agree on. Exquisite carvings of whales and other fishes as well as native emblems associated with the islands.
The Regatta Vava'u started on Wednesday so we got geared up for for the festivities. The town(Neiafu) closed off the main street for a plaza full of vendors and food. Lots to choose from so no one could go away hungry. We bought more tee shirts so that we could show that we had been here and to support the Regatta. This Regatta is only in its third year so it's quite new. Last year they had 40 boats. This year, well over 100 so it is growing fast. It's all done to support local charities and schools so every dollar that the organizers take in is put to good use. It also helps to stimulate the economy that is hurting so badly out here. Tonga is a monarchy. They were never taken over by any other country(French--Tahiti, Cooks & Fiji--New Zealand)so there is no super power out there to pump in capital to help them out. Everything is owned by the King but you can get up to a 50 year lease on property you want to live on. That's one reason why the big hotel chains haven't come in here as they would not own the property they would build on. The largest amount of money coming into the country is from the fees they charge boats and importers to bring goods into their country. Second is tourism. Regatta Vava'u will be a big boost for the economy for this small island.
They started the festivities with a Pub Crawl sponsored by Port Opua out of New Zealand. They are here to drum up business for their town. It's big business getting cruisers to park their boats for the Winter(their Summer) in New Zealand. Whangarei(another town in New Zealand) is sponsoring a barbecue this afternoon. The Pub Crawl started on the south side of town and slowly worked its way back into town hitting 6 bars and restaurants along the way. Starting at 1830 we finally finished about 1000. The last bar(Tongan Bob's) featured transvestite dancers. Boy, that came as a shock to many of us as we knew that Tonga is a very conservative country where even men are not permitted to take their shirts off in public(big fine). Some of the "girls" were quite good dancers having lots of fun with the cruisers in the crowd.
Yesterday, we continued out walk around town in the morning as the afternoon was set for the Tridecagon-athlon. A collection of thirteen "games" competing for first place. All the cruisers were set up in teams of 8 each making up 6 teams. We were both on team three(the Awesome Threesomes). They had a barbecue set up right next door so we could eat when ever a break came along. The games included such events as an egg roll toss and carry(roll the egg along the ground, toss it over your shoulder to the next player who then collects them(creative cheating was encouraged and the officials could be bribed with liquor if done discreetly) . Once all have been collected(some got broken along the way) the last player had to carry them in a spoon to the starting line where they were then thrown over the shoulder again to a person who had to catch them in a cup attached to their head. And that was just the first event. We had "Giants, Wizards and Elves(like Rock, paper scissors game only with the teams acting like wizards, giants or elves). There was a spelling bee, water balloon toss, person carry(no hands allowed) and several more. Even a dance competition for a free tee shirt(I won!). The last event was a pie eating contest. Each team had one person(it was me of course) who had to eat pies(no hands allowed). I lost!!! It's tough to eat a pie(banana custard) with no hands and it sure gets messy. I was a mess even before the girl next to me shoved a pie in my face.
As the competition was winding up, the skies let loose with torrents of rain. It poured and poured and poured. There was no way we were going to stay dry for the walk back to Puff so we just walked along getting passed by others that were trying to stay as dry as possible in the flood. We made it back to Puff soaked and headed back to Zephyr hoping we had closed all the port lights(we had). Once back at Zephyr, we striped down in the cockpit and tried to dry off as best we could and Tracy headed for the showers as she had gotten soaked with salt water when we arrived. Zephyr does have some leaks so we put towels where we knew they were and found lots more in the down pour. The water proofing of out dodger failed after the first four hours of the flood so I'll be retreating the fabric when it dries out. With no real water protection for the cockpit, it quickly got drenched with water. This morning was spent hanging all the towels we had used as well as our clothes from last night. Just about every boat out here has laundry hanging from it's rigging. We're getting geared up for the next rain that we figure will be hitting us later this afternoon.
Well, that's about it so far for our stay in Tonga. Lots of nice people and catching up with old friends.
09/04/2011, Closing in on Tonga
We're still out here slogging our way to Tonga. It's 1007 Sunday, Zephyr time, 0907 Monday, Tonga time. It's been a long last 24 hour with Mother Nature just poking fun at us all along the way. We had our schedule all planned out as we made decent time during the afternoon finally getting the sail backup as the wind picked up. We were on a course of about 235 degrees which would take us right to the mark we needed to round the top of Vava'u so we could make our way down the west side of the island and into the hidden harbor of Neiafu. We'd had to motor some since the wind had died off during the afternoon. As the Sun set, we started up sailing again with fair to moderate winds. To make it interesting, Mother Nature changed the direction of the winds to be just about the same course we needed to be on. You can't sail straight down wind easily so we had to head a bit north of our course and then south of the course so we could make way to where we needed to go. By 2300, the winds were back in our favor and we were pumping right along. By 0300, they had changed direction and were now coming out of the north. OK, that's fine, we can adjust to that. By 0400, they moved over to be coming out of the northwest. Since we were trying to head west, we were bashing our way into the waves making maybe 2.5 knots. With that being the case(plus rain was coming on fast) we decided to roll in the genoa and drop the forestaysail, start up the motor and make way as best we could. As I was out on the foredeck taking down the sail, the rains started. On we pushed rain soaking the boat. Got to stop for a bit, more rain is coming and I want to be in the cockpit.
OK, I already typed this before but when I shit the top of the computer, it "Preparing to go into standby" and locked up the computer so I had to reboot so here we go again.
It's a good thing I went on deck and Mother Nature threw a curve ball at us again. The wind shifted from the northwest to the southwest in the blink of an eye as the rains let loose. It poured for hours and after the wind shifted, it grew to the high 30 knot range plus the seas but much bigger to boot. Hey--we were having fun right? So the winds and rain came and on we pushed toward Neiafu, Vava'u, Tonga. We were 30 miles out and with the help of our engine, making good progress since the winds were not helping us one bit. We fired up the radar so we could see what was out around us--like land!! We picked up the island on radar long before we could see it since the rain was so intense. We didn't see the island until we were 10 miles off shore!! For sailors that's close. As we rounded the top of the island, I put out a call on VHF channel 16 asking for info on the harbor--wind and sea conditions. We got a response from Papillon--already anchors near the harbor. Winds were gusting in the high 20 but there was very little swell as it is so enclosed. On we pushed finally lowering our reefed mainsail as we headed down the west coast of the island. We entered the pass and headed northeast inside the lagoon toward our destination. We entered the harbor about 1600 and started the search for a mooring buoy. It's a deep harbor with little anchoring spots. There were none available right off the town but some were available on the south side of the harbor. Over we went and found one and tied up nice and neat. Since it was now after 1700, the Immigration Office was closed. We signed in with Baluga Divers that owns the buoy and they advised us to come in the next day and get registered. We spent the rest of the day cleaning up poor Zephyr since we were expecting a visit from the Health Officer while we checked in.
Today, we prepared to head for the docks to get checked in. We disconnected from our buoy leaving a fender attached so no one would take it while we were gone. We got help getting tied off at the dock as we ended up at the main commercial docks as the Immigration docks were full. We hit Customs first and filled out their forms and gave them some of ours. On to the Quarantine Officer--more forms especially when I told her we had two cats on board. On the Immigration--located in the center of town(not near the docks) on the second floor of the bank building. As we walked over, we were approached by a man on a bicycle hawking all sorts of things--from flags, to brown bread, to jewelry to a laundry service at his home. We ordered a Tongan flag as well as a Fiji flag(just changed by the new government) as well as two loaves of brown bread. He met us in town a few minutes later with the Fiji flag as well as the two loaves of bread. He tried again with the jewelry but we declined. He left us to go get the Tongan flag for us. On we pressed to Immigration, picking up some Tongan money as we knew when you deal with a government official, there will always be fees involved. These fees are the number one GNP for Tonga(followed by Tourism). He was quick and efficient with his forms. So far, not a single person had given us any forms for us to keep. On the the Health Department. He was closed. On the way back, we were met by the flag man who had our new Tongan flag. He even climbed on our boat and ran it up the mast for us. As for the laundry, he started at $80.00 Tongan. We said no as that was way too much money. After some haggling, we finally ended up at $50.00 Tongan for all our laundry. He wanted to be paid up front but we declined. We will pay when it's all clean. Off he went--clothes bag under his arm. With the Health Officer at lunch, we did the same. We we returned, he was still gone so we hiked into town and visited Baluga Divers to complete our registration for our buoy. On the way back we met up with several cruisers we have met along our travels. We stopped and chatted for a while. As we hiked back, we were approached by one of the locals asking if the boat at the dock we ours. This was the Health Inspector. He was on his way into town but promised he would be back soon. By the time we got back(stopped at the Regatta Vava'u office to pick up paperwork) he was back. We were first advised to visit the Quarantine Office again. Here we go. Out with the wallet and pay the fee--we at least got some forms(always nice to get some paper work from officials). Back to the Health Officer. We sat down and got asked a few questions as to where we were from and where we planned to go in the future and how long we expected to be here. Normally at this time, he boards the vessel and make sure that everyone is healthy. His fee for such a job--$100 Tongan. That comes out to about $55.00. With us, he didn't bother coming on board. Of course we didn't tell him about the cats. We were finally checked into Tonga!!
Back to Zephyr we went and prepared to get away from the dock. With the wind holding us firmly to it, we consulted to books on the best way to get off it. Once the answer was found(what lines go where)we headed back on deck. Hey--there is a small power boat off our starboard side!! Maybe they will be nice a pull us off the dock. Sure enough, after a quick conversation, we tossed them a line and off we went nice and neat. We were free of the dock!! Back to our mooring buoy and we were in for the night.
We joined the cruisers net later this afternoon as we had been asked by "Two Amigos" to let them know about what the harbor was like and how Customs was. We told them that just about all the mooring buoys were taken. That concerned them as anchoring here can be tricky. We offered to see if we could make reservations on one of the last buoys around us. Boy they snapped up that offer quick. We also got a request from another boat(Dilligaf) for the same service. I switched radios and got a lock on two buoys--30 & 31 right be hind us. We told them we would go out and put fenders on the buoys to mark them for them and get back with them two hours later that the job was done. Well, we launched Puff with Dragon and took off. We found 30 but no 31. We advised Baluga Divers of the missing buoy. They are going to send out divers tomorrow to see if they can find it. When we checked back in with Two Amigos to let them know they were set, Dilligaf wasn't on station to hear from us so we'll let them know about it tomorrow. While we were on line with Two Amigos, "This Side Up"(another cruiser out here) came on line and asked us if we could find them a buoy. They had originally planned anchoring when we first started discussing it on line. I guess the "Admiral" on board changed her husbands mind. A good thing to as they don't expect to be here till late tomorrow. In our search for 31 we did find a buoy owned by the Aquarius Cafe. I switched radios again and locked it in for them. Since it was already dark, we will plop a fender on it tomorrow. We contacted "This Side Up" of the confirmation. They were thrilled as now they don't have to worry about where they will be staying when they get in here tomorrow. This place is full of boats for the Regatta Vava'u. It starts tomorrow with lots of fun and games. I'll let you know how that goes in the next post.
Meanwhile we are safe and sound and all tied up to a nice buoy for a while. It's nice to sleep in the stern bed again!!