Tonga

I have been in Nuku'alofa, capital of Tongatapu and of the Tongan islands,
for 8 days, and I haven't much to write about. Again, my intention had been
to stay here for three or four days, and again I find myself waiting for a
weather window, in this case the all-important one for the passage South
away from the Trade Winds and into the Variables. We have been up to a dozen boats in the
anchorage off Pangiamotu Island, 1.5 miles from Nuku'alofa. This is the site
of "Big Mama's Yacht Club", a small resort that makes its living out of the
NZ-bound yachts. Most boats have taken a view on the weather and have
sailed, I have been advised by Metbob to wait another couple of days. By
sheer coincidence one of the other boats is also a
Bowman 48, and I have been lucky to have the charming company of the English-NZ couple
aboard. I believe that 17 Bowman 48's were built, so to find another in this
remote location is a surprise.
Tonga tourism is, I understand, concentrated in the Vava'u islands 200 miles
North of here. I came direct to Nuku'alofa because I'm keen to get on to NZ,
and this is the spot for jump-off. The island and small town are busy, but
un-touristy. Sunday was an experience. Tongans are religious, and on Sunday
not a shop nor a cafe were open, there was hardly a car or a person on the
street, but there are churches here like there are pubs in Glasgow, so there
was the sound of singing at every street corner. Society is totally
hierarchical, from HM the King down through the village chiefs to the
general population. Women are authoritative figures in society and family. I
had a taxi-tour of the island on Monday, lots of verdant agriculture and a
couple of old Tikki ruins.
The people have been invariably charming, as one might expect in the
"Friendly Islands". A bit of gold in the front teeth is much favoured as an
accompaniment to the ubiquitous smile. Obesity is reputed to be a major
problem, but is unremarkable to one who lives in the UK today.
I've now cleared Customs, the boat is loaded with fruit and veg (not much
else is available in the shops), and I'm hoping that Metbob will give me
sailing orders tomorrow.
Best wishes to all, Donald.