EXPLORING NUKU’ALOFA

The weather here is still unsettled, last night we had some wind and rain but today has been sunny with a cool breeze.  There is a trough forecast for Sunday with clearing weather following behind.  Weather Guru Bob says there may be an opportunity to sail after the weekend, maybe Tuesday.

Pangai Main street. Tonga
Pangai Main street. Tonga

Today I went exploring around Nufu’alofa.  I reckon I have now seen as much of the town as I want to.  It’s a spread-out place but not that big.  One good thing here is the food, everything I have eaten has been well cooked and fresh.  A real delight after the heavily processed foods of North America and Hawaii.  My next venture will be to look around the island outside Nuku’alofa.  I will see if I can hire a bike for the day.

Mariner's Cafe and Bar Nuku'Alofa
Mariner’s Cafe and Bar Nuku’Alofa

Since being here I have tried to get decent wifi.  It just seems impossible.  The cafes have wifi, all of them charge, its not free.  However, even after buying a few Mb its so slow that it’s an effort even to send out a few emails.  Don’t even think of downloading files.  This is the main island and I expected wifi here would be better than the other islands.  This is not the case, wifi in Neiafu and Pangai was faster.

So, a quiet day, just killing time, waiting to sail.  I notice Truce is getting a bit of green stuff on her bottom, she needs to sail south as well.

RUNNING SOUTH TO HA’APAI GROUP

I awoke this morning to find a stiff north-east breeze blowing into Tapana Lagoon.  Perfect for our trip south to the Ha’apai Group, some sixty-five miles distant.  We dropped our mooring at seven, said our farewells to Steve and scuttled out of Tapana under half a jib at six knots.

Holy Door Of Mercy Church Neiafu, Tonga. Photo Ray Penson
Holy Door Of Mercy Church Neiafu, Tonga. Photo Ray Penson

As we progressed south the wind came around to the east and blew 25 plus knots for the first couple of hours before settling down to a steady twenty to twenty-five knots, only easing off when we were a couple of hours from our destination.  We had a fast boisterous sail.

We are headed to Pangai to clear into the Ha’apai Group.  However, I didn’t expect to reach Pangai before sunset and planned to stop off at Haano Island for the night.  We can then move on and clear into Pangai on Saturday morning.

In Neiafu I took the opportunity to buy a new fishing lure and some one hundred-pound strength fishing line.  This afternoon I slung the lure over the side and an hour later had a fish on.  As we were sailing at seven knots at the time the load on the line was tremendous.  I got the boat headed to wind and slowed down and tried to haul in the line.  Whatever was on the end was large – it felt like the deadweight of a large tuna.  After ten minutes hauling I was getting nowhere, I gained a bit of line and then it was taken away again.  Then as I was giving a good heave the line parted – the fish was gone.

The fish was too large to get on board and too large for eating – it would be too wasteful.  So, I was not concerned about the fish getting away.  The loss of my new fishing lure is bugging me.  I will have to get inventive and try and make something up from bits and pieces I have onboard.

DRINKING RUM WITH OLD FRIENDS

The rain from yesterday evening continued overnight, finally giving way to some sunshine mid-morning.  I spent a few minutes bailing out the pig before we could go ashore – amazing how much water collected overnight.

By ten I had visited the customs and port office to clear out from the Vava’u group.  The tonnage dues came to less than ten dollars, all up the clearance into and out of Neiafu cost one hundred and thirty-one dollars.

Next on the ‘to do’ list was getting some fresh fruit and veg Fresh veg, eggs and topping up on a few dry goods.  The market down by the wharf has an excellent selection of fresh produce where we also got fresh eggs.

On the way back to Truce we decided to have an early lunch at Indigo café.  Our favourite café as they also seem to have decent WiFi.  Eggs and bacon for me and BLT for Jessica.  The bacon here is so good – unfortunately we forgot to buy some in the store.

Just after one in the afternoon we dropped the mooring and headed out of Neiafu harbour with a stiff breeze behind us.  We headed to Tapana Lagoon where a friend, Steve, was moored.  I met Steve last year at Warm Springs Bay, Baranof Island in Alaska.  Steve is also headed back to New Zealand but at a far more leisurely pace than mine.

At three in the afternoon we entered Tapana Lagoon and saw Steve’s lovely yacht ‘Rhapsody’ tucked up in the corner, nicely sheltered.  We were fortunate to find a vacant mooring close alongside and before long we were securely moored in a beautiful peaceful little bay, completely sheltered from the easterly trades.

The evening was spent on Rhapsody, chatting, eating and drinking Rum.  We were joined by Linda, a charming Australian lady who is sailing her yacht single handed.  Steve produced a surprisingly good Spaghetti Bolognaise – a great night was had by all.

Tomorrow morning we will rise early to head south towards Pangai in the Ha’apai Group.  We need to keep heading in the direction of Nuku’alofa to make the connection with Jessica’s flight back to Melbourne on the 29th.