I am ready to depart Tonga and head down to New Zealand. The charms of Nuku’alofa are wearing thin and I have a strong desire to get moving again. The only thing delaying me is the weather at the New Zealand end of the route. There has been a constant stream of lows charging across the Tasman bringing poor sailing weather.
My plan is to clear out on Monday and start making my way slowly to the south west awaiting a time when the weather improves and I can head down towards New Zealand. If favourable I may stop at North Minerva Reef on the way to wait for an improvement. I just want to get moving again.
This morning there was a Tsunami warning following an earth quake in Mexico. Thankfully, nothing happened but I was ready to put to sea – just in case.
After the Tsunami all clear I had a stroll around the Saturday market. What a great market, you can buy just about anything cars, clothes, tools, lawnmowers, shoes, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, electronics and of course food. I was impressed by the chicken rotisserie mounted on a trailer, very ingenious.
After the market in headed into town and checked the weather and emails at the internet café. I also bought a new small bucket to replace my previous favourite one that got washed overboard in one of the squalls on the way to Christmas Island.
Tonight, I will head up to the Billfish Bar to watch the All black’s vs Argentina.
This morning I took my constitutional walk into town. Found the internet was not working, bought a fresh loaf of bread and returned to Truce in time for smoko.
At eleven I caught the boat out to Pangaimotu Island. This is a small island with a resort, Big Mamas Yacht Club, that is a popular stop for visiting yachtsmen, having a sheltered anchorage from the prevailing winds. When I arrived at the island I walked all the way around – it only takes forty minutes if you walk slowly. Then I ventured into the water for a snorkel around the ship wreck close offshore. A mass of tropical fish down below, very pretty.
After all the excursion, it was time for lunch – fish with chips and salad. Beautiful fresh fish, simple yummy food washed down with a couple of cold Heineken’s. So nice to be sitting on a peaceful island, a contrast to Nuku’alofa which is only ten minutes away.
After lunch I walked around the island again before finding a spot to have an afternoon siesta. After an hours peaceful sleep I awoke in time to take the boat back to Nuku’alofa and Truce.
So, an enjoyable day out. The weather was overcast all day with a cool breeze so it didn’t get too hot. I am still waiting on a weather window to sail to New Zealand. It still looks mixed up with another low charging across the Tasman, a couple more days to wait yet.
Yesterday was a damp squid. Rain all Saturday night and Sunday morning. Sunday was overcast, wet and showery, cool all day. Onshore it was very quiet, hardly anyone about, shops all shut. I suppose everyone has gone to church and retreated home, the sort of day you want to have a nice fire and stay put.
Today is sunny with a nice cool breeze. I walked over to the customs office and enquired about clearing out – particularly if I could clear out and anchor out for a day or two. The first customs guy said no problem, I could have 24 hours after clearing out. Then his boss with four stripes came and said no. I would only have an hour to leave after clearing out and I could not go to anchor. He said he had problems with other yachts clearing out and then anchoring for days and it must stop.
I would like to go out and anchor for a couple of days. But if I need to come back into port for clearance its not worth the trouble. I will hang around in Nuku’alofa until it’s time to depart.
The passing of the rain has unleashed a plague of Mosquitoes. These are serious insects, cunning and tenacious. I have the mosquito screens in place buy still they find a way in. On board I have some mosquito and fly spray from Alaska, it worked fine in Alaska – stopping deer fly without any problems. But – it doesn’t seem to worry the Tongan Mosquitos, they just keep coming. One of the disadvantages of being tied up in port.
Later I wandered into town. Everybody is very friendly and after being here for a few days people are recognising me (and me them) and the greeting are turning into conversations. So many of the people I speak with have been to, lived in or have relatives in New Zealand. It seems the remittances from family members in New Zealand plays a big part bin the economy here.
Previously I have extolled the qualities of Tonga bacon. When walking about outside the main town you can see pigs and piglets running around, foraging all over the place. They look happy, contented and plump. Good bacon must be the result of such a life.