Saturday, October 22, 2011

Neiafu, Tonga Update

My last update, nearly two weeks ago, left us just arriving in Neaifu, Tonga.

Neiafu is the big convergence point for all the boats who have been making their way from French Polynesia via various routes toward the west, so there are literally several hundred boats in the area. Fortunately, it is a big area, with lots of harbors. Similar somewhat to famous gathering places in the Caribbean, like the Marsh Harbor, Abacos area, Georgetown, Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands.

Neiafu isn't a big town, but it is (I think) the next biggest town in Tonga, besides the country's capital of Nukualofa. There is a huge (relatively speaking) population of english-speaking ex-patriots--primarily New Zealander's but also Aussies and Americans. So, for a small place, it is pretty yachtie-friendly. There is a morning VHF net that is run mainly by the local yachtie restaurant/bars. And they have a wide-area VHF system with a repeater on CH 26, which makes it possible for yachts in scattered anchorages out of town to keep in touch with everything.

There is internet here, though painfully slow and fairly expensive (about $3 US per hour). I have a long list of 'Internet To Do' items that won't get done here, that's for sure!!

We are near the end of the 'yachtie season' right now. All the boats around us are talking about weather patterns and what route they will take to New Zealand. Soon, there will be very few cruisers left here. Though the Kiwi's don't usually head back south until about December, all the first year boats are antsy to get to NZ and start getting work done (NZ is a big refit place for cruising boats). We have at least two friends who are already in NZ and a number of the Puddle Jumpers are on their way between Minerva Reef and NZ right now. Within a week, almost everyone we have met all year will be gone.

There is one contingent of Kiwi's hanging out for the last of the Rugby World Cup--the final match between NZ and France--which is this Sunday night (Saturday morning back in the U.S.). On Monday morning, the boats will be streaming out of Neiafu Harbor, cruising south towards NZ.

Ourselves--we spent a week in Neiafu, to get oriented, and then moved out to "Anchorage 11", Tapana, to hook up with Larry and Sherri on the Ark Gallery. These are some retired cruisers who have set out some 'cyclone moorings', and who watch boats for crusiers. We reserved a mooring here before we left Hawaii last April. And the plan is to stay in Vava'u for cyclone season. We have contracted a mooring for the cyclone season for the cost of 400 pa'anga ($250 per month). This comes with a little boat-tending... opening up when it's sunny, checking for issues on board, and running the engine once a month. Once we get back from our trip to the U.S., we will drop the mooring and do some cruising, keeping a close eye on the weather.

We are leaving Soggy Paws here in one week, and flying back to the U.S.
Sherry & Dave
Hanging out in Tonga for cyclone season!
At 10/19/2011 6:11 PM (utc) our position was 18°42.58'S 173°59.24'W

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