Heading south to the Ha’apai group

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sun 23 Sep 2018 09:28

It was time to head south to Ha’apai where we were expected for a whale watching tour.

Before leaving Neiafu, we had a few jobs to do; extend our visas for another month as this isn’t possible in Ha’apai, and visit Customs to sign out of Vava’u. In Tonga, it is necessary to sign in and out of each of the three groups of islands.

The visa extension was easy. The very polite officer on duty seated us down and gave us a form. 

“Don’t we need a form each?” I asked.

“No, just the one.” He answered. 

The first page was all about Franco, then on the second page, there was a section to list ‘dependents’ and this was where my name was expected to go! I was outraged. Tonga has to be the most chauvinistic country I have ever visited. Franco is still giggling.

After paying the small port fee at the Port Captain’s office, we went downstairs to meet with Customs. The officer was the same man who had signed us in. Then, he’d been formal but polite. This time he was rude and threatening. It has been our worst experience of officialdom in four and a half years of travelling and we intend to make a complaint to the Tongan Ministry for Tourism. It was also my birthday, and I’m not likely to forget it. We’ve enjoyed Tonga but this has put us off returning to Vava’u.


Birthday celebration: maybe the second cocktail wasn’t a good idea!

The forecast was good, a steady 10-12 knots easterly, and we decided to sail overnight so as to arrive during daylight hours in the Ha’apai Group where the anchorages can be a little tricky.

Our friends Flic and Mark on Excel were anchored just around the corner, so we dropped by and spent a pleasant afternoon in their company. We raised the anchor at 6pm and sailed slowly out to sea. The wind was a lot weaker than we had hoped and by midnight, it had died completely. Reluctantly we motored, as the new forecast showed no wind for days.