NUKU’ALOFA TO NEW ZEALAND

This morning it rained cats and dogs.  My walk to the internet café to check the weather was a soggy affair.  Good news, the weather seems to be easing off on the route to New Zealand.

I went shopping for fresh fruit and veg and topped up on additional beer, the stocks were running low after such a long time in port.  I stopped for lunch and had fish and chips – a final Tonga treat.
After lunch I visited the Customs to get the boats clearance outward.  After some repetitive form filling I finally had the required piece of paper and a stamp in my passport.  All ready to go.

Just after three in the afternoon I let go the lines and we were on the way home.

We are now clear of the island of Tongatapu and sailing in a westerly direction – hoping the wind will back around and we can sail more to the south in the morning.  I am heading in the general direction of Minerva Reef.  A stop at the reef may be necessary if the weather blows as forecast on the eighteenth at the top of New Zealand.  We shall see in the next few days.

Its good to be back at sea again after waiting for so long in port.  Beautiful fresh air and a clear horizon.  At the moment the wind is a perfect ten to fifteen knots.  I have reduced sail for the night and we are doing a comfortable five and a half knots.  I hope it holds until morning.

RAIN ON SUNDAY, SUN ON MONDAY

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.

CHECKED INTO NUKU’ALOFA

What a night – the weather and sea turned it on.  We had the choice of going fast with thirty knot winds or sailing conservative and reducing stress on both man and boat.  We went the less stress way – it was still a wild ride and a very wet affair, both from the rain and seawater coming onboard.  After four in the morning the wind started to decrease and by six was blowing a good trade wind twenty knots.

First refreshment in Tonga
First refreshment in Tonga

After a long night, I didn’t get much sleep, we arrived in Nuku’alofa at eight in the morning.  The pilot book advises to call the port and customs when one hour out.  I did call but knew it was a waste of time, no one is listening. We entered the small boat harbour and spent some time trying to find a place to get alongside.  Eventually we tied up alongside a fishing boat so we could jump ashore and clear in.

By midday we had completed the customs entrance, paid our harbour dues and found a place to tie up alongside ‘Ikale’, an old converted Gulf of Mexico crew boat.  With the inward formalities over we headed into town to clear Jessica with immigration., ready for her flight tomorrow.

On the way into town we stopped for some fish and chips on the harbour side.  Cheap and cheerful and great fresh fish.  At the immigration office the clearance for Jessica was quickly done and fee paid.  Now with all the clearances complete, fees paid and papers stamped we could relax.

We had a roam around town, found a café to have coffee and cake, the vegetable market, the general market and a few stores along the way.  Then we had a long walk back to Truce for an afternoon siesta – we were both quite tired.

In the evening, we went to a local restaurant on the waterfront and ate fish again – then back to Truce for more sleep.  So ended our first day in Nuku’alofa.