Friday 25th October 2013
Lifted the anchor this morning to head 7 nmiles to Neiafu, the administrative centre of the Vava’u group of islands, in order to check in. By the time we arrived soon after 10 a.m. the Customs dock was full, so we picked up a buoy and headed off in the dinghy to explain that we couldn’t fit on the dock and hopefully to check in. They were very busy in Customs, so sent us off to see Quarantine and Health officials. When we got back they were even busier so they sent us off to Immigration, but as it was now lunchtime and they would be closed they suggested we stop and have lunch on the way. So we did. Very nice mahi mahi, salad and chips (real ones, not frozen ones!) washed down with local beer.
By the time we arrived at Immigration they had finished lunch and were also quite busy, but as there were several other cruisers we knew also waiting, time passed quickly as we chatted. Eventually we were checked in by a very nice man who, without even being asked, found an empty corner of a page in which to put his arrival stamp in our passports.
Then it was back to Customs which had, by this time, thinned out, and we expected they would now want us to bring the boat alongside the Customs dock for inspection. Fortunately for us, though, the big honcho, who was also a very nice chap, decided we didn’t need to come alongside and neither did he need us to take him out to inspect the boat. Result! The fact that it was by now 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon probably helped, but he was actually thanking us for being so understanding that he had been so busy!
So, it had taken nearly all day to check in, but we had seen the town and enjoyed a leisurely lunch in a very pleasant restaurant called Bella Vista looking out over the harbour. And it is a very pretty harbour, with mooring balls, with blue water and with no smell. I definitely think we will like it here.
Vava’u has bluff cliffs with flat tops. Lots of little islands make up the Vava’u group.
A traditional sailing vessel. Entering Neiafu harbour between well-kept buoys.
Scott-Free (centre), seen from Neiafu town. A prominent church overlooking the harbour.
The market. Main street.
This group were singing across the street from the market.