Fw: 18:41.6S 173:59.9W

SV Jenny
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Tue 1 Sep 2015 07:36

-----Original Message----- From: alan william franklin
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2015 12:01 PM
To: svjenny {CHANGE TO AT} mailasail {DOT} com
Cc: Lynne Gane
Subject: 18:41.6S 173:59.9W

Hi everyone.

Alan here.

I’m now in the Kingdom of Tonga, at Neiafu in the Vava’u group. Tonga consists of 4 Groups of Islands scattered in a line approx. N-S for 330 miles. 171 volcanic islands and atolls (and quite a few reefs in between).

After leaving Samoa I called into Niuatoputapo (Niu group) to break the journey – 185 miles close hauled from Apia. Coming from the north “New potatoes” is the first populated island (if one ignores the 3 families living on Tafahi - a single volcanic cone 506 metres high). Falehau village is the first, and only accessible “harbour”, and is approached through a surrounding reef, but with a passage only 30metres wide and the necessary double wriggle round a few coral outcrops made life interesting, however beautifully clear water made spotting the coral heads do-able – definitely NOT a night entrance (oh - and don’t miss the sharp right before the beach!)

Almost before the anchor was down, the invitation to a “pot luck supper” (means - bring whatever you have spare) was delivered by the crew of one of the other (only) 2 boats there. The village is quite small - about 150 inhabitants, with Thea, Nico and family providing the welcoming committee for visiting boats.

We all enjoyed their warm hospitality for several hours, well into the evening. As usual everything seems to happen outdoors cooking living a even sleeping – typically it rained so inside their house we went. Fortunately one of the boat crews had just repaired Nico’s generator so we had light – a single fluorescent tube to chat by whilst the Mahi-mahi was BBQ’d to accompany lots of local food on offer.

The whole area around Tonga is subject to volcanic activity, with numerous sea mounts - peaks rising from the sea bed 5000 metres below, to within only 50metres of the surface! The Tongan trench, less than 100 miles east of here has depths in excess of 10000meters in places, second only to the Marianas Trench. Nico and Thea’s house was relatively “new” - given to them after the tsunami of 6 years ago wiped out the village, a 30ft wave demolishing everything on the low lying coastal plain. Timber houses rule in the Pacific – and a timber frame is exactly what it was – imagine a garden shed 20 x 20 with a corrugated tin roof……. But it was home to them, simply decorated with children’s pictures and old photos – rudimentary furniture abounded – I guess all that could have been salvaged had been, however the two benches were a bit hard on the b…. But material things are a lower priority here - they were happy and it was a lovely evening!
I made an attempt to clear in into Tonga – however I arrived 1600 on Friday - a bad time! … despite Thea’s efforts no officials were available, and waiting till Monday would include a 5km walk to the main “town” - I “yellow flagged it” (awaiting clearance) and armed with a reasonable weather report I decided to depart early Sunday morning!

Arrived early Monday morning - another fast bumpy ride for the 165 mile passage to Neiafu the capital town of the Vava’u group - a busy day! Only 16 boats awaiting clearing in - customs and immigration team working flat out – guess who’s #16?

Finally cleared in and anchored – just before dark - Jonathan and Ann (Sofia) on hand to help with the mooring - and then a good rest. Un-believably the immigration official recognised me (through the whiskers!) proudly showing me his 2008 stamp and initial’s in my passport! A good job we left here last time with no “outstanding” business!! All the officials, quarantine, health, customs and immigration were really good natured,(sometimes a scarce commodity) so all procedures relatively painless.

In Neiafu little seemed to have changed , the fruit market still vibrant, with local shops that still sell anything from lorry tyres to eggs – If one doesn’t have what you want next door probably will! The restaurants and bars are the same as I recall – now full with crews of boats that we know and have socialised with as we have made our way westwards, many boats from the Pacific puddle jump get together. Mooring is a little tighter now - there must be over 50 boats in the harbour with at least as many again in the many anchorages in surrounding Islands.

As ever it seems, communications are a little dire – but some new technology has filtered in – wifi is common but not great - early morning is OK which with the time difference is no issue! but outside the town - forget it, even mobile phone coverage is sketchy. Maybe that’s it - getting away from it all - almost all of the recommended anchorages are picture post-card beaches with snorkling/scuba diving high on the agenda, with Tongan feasts a great way to round the day off. I have visited a few anchorages I had no time to visit before, so using my time well. in a week or so I will move down to the next island group, the Ha’apai group, and thence to the southern-most Tongatapu group with Nuku’alofa the capital but there’s no rush - It is here where I wait for crew, but more importantly a suitable weather window for passage to NZ which is not viable until October - Given the current weather forecasts I may be there a while!


Some pics to follow but I’m not as talented manipulating jpegs as Lynne!


No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2015.0.6125 / Virus Database: 4409/10547 - Release Date: 08/30/15