A recap on Vava'u

Miss Molly 4
Bob & Peggy Wilkerson/Geoff & Merel Pettifer
Wed 29 Oct 2008 09:35
19:50.96S 174:27.07W

Wow, did time fly in the Vava'u group! It was only Thursday morning that we
arrived there in the capital Neiafu. Because the Tongans have decided to
live on the other side of the date line, we had lost one day of our lives
without aging (Let's do it again, shall we?).

Customs and Agriculture came on board. They were very friendly and after
they left us we picked up a mooring to go and see Immigration after stopping
at the bank to get some Pa'anga. Immigration went smooth as well, so time to
celebrate with Ikale beer and a lunch. Our friends John and Paula on Mr.
John gave us the ins and outs on Neiafu and they invited us over for dinner
that night. Although the food and the company was great we did not stay
long - our bed was calling for a first, uninterrupted night in eight days.

It was so calm in the bay that we had a very nice rest. Friday we explored
town and visited a dentist for check ups, since we heard that a Japanese
volunteer provided that service for almost nothing, and she did good
cleanups. While we were in the dentist room, a man walked in. We thought he
needed to talk to the dentist, but no, he was looking for us. He turned out
to be the Health Inspector we were supposed to see upon arrival and he had
tracked us down. So after the dentist we went into his office next door
where he asked us the very important question of: "Are you planning to stop
in any of the other Tongan island groups". For this he charged us 30 Pa'anga
($15) and that was that.

In the afternoon our friends Mike and Sarah on My Way came into the bay and
we went for dinner at the Vava'u Yacht Club that night, where they served
BBQ lobster with a lovely but rich garlic cream sauce and home made fries
for the same price the health inspector charged us. Great ambiance, because
quite a few boats were there after the Friday afternoon bay race.

Saturday we motored (no wind) with My Way to a tiny day anchorage to leave
the boats there and proceed by dinghy to Mariners Cove and take it in turns
per couple while the others wait outside with the dinghy. It's an underwater
cave - you dive down 2 meters and swim for 4 meters through the 4 m wide entrance to get you inside. You
then find yourself slightly out of breath in kind of a hollow mushroom cap.
There was not much to see in the way of coral, but there were a few fish and
the light coming through the opening was quite nice. The snorkel at the
little island where we had left the boats was nicer for fish and coral life
and we even spotted a huge lion fish. Also, we could hear whale songs when we put our heads under water but
that could have been 80 miles away.

On we went to the Southern most tip of Pangai island to attend a Tongan
Feast, after happy hour on My Way. There were a few stands with handcraft -
woven baskets, wood carvings and carved jewellery. Under a roof some guys
were playing on their instruments, a kava bowl in the middle. Apparently it tastes even fouler
than it looks. We were welcome to try some, but passed politely. Then a group of children, all dressed up in traditional
style, performed a dance. They were quite good. But the best was the buffet,
which was laid out at random over a very long table with benches either side.
Everything was served in what looked like "half pipes" of bamboo, packages
of banana leaves and stuffed fruit. You would just grab what fancied your
eye and stomach and munch your way through the pile in front of you. There
was a large variety of fish, meat, pork, fish, mussels, vegetables and
fruits and it was hard to decide with what to finish off, because then you
would discover another newly found favourite!

At the end of the night Merel got to talk to the lady who organised the feast with her husband. Turned out she's an English teacher as well, so not much time off for her. The next morning Sarah and I went back there with some clothes and children's toys from our boats, but nobody there. So we brought those back with us to Neiafu, where we left them at the bar for the lady to collect.

Monday was the day to clear out, provision and meet some more friends who had just arrived in port, and Tuesday morning we left Neiafu at first light. We had to sail 80 miles to Uoleva Island in the Ha'apai group. Luckily there was plenty of wind to get us there, although a lot cloudier than our sunny weekend was. At one point we saw some humpback whales breach about 3 miles behind us, we must have sailed straight over them - may be we woke them up!

Although we were quite tired when we arrived at the anchorage we just HAD to get ashore. This was the best beach we had seen in a long while (with volcanoes in the backdrop on the horizon) and we could do with some leg stretching. On the beach we met a lady called Patti, who is building a small, low key resort with some nice touches to it. She showed us around and told us of her plans and progress. All very nice. She invited us to join in on the potluck dinner they had with the other 3 boats in the anchorage, but we were so tired that we had to pass on that one. And so that turned out to be our first evening eating on the boat with just the two of us since we arrived in Tonga. A very sociable place!

Shame we could not hang around longer, we have to carry on!

Geoff & Merel