The journey from Niue to Tonga was relatively short – 3 days and 260 miles. After the first day the wind dropped and we motored overnight before the wind filled in again and we were under sail.
|Main street in Neiafu|
|One of the many shops we visited|
The town was much poorer than many of the places we had visited, being an independent kingdom and not reliant on aid from New Zealand or France like many of the Polynesian islands. We bought provisions for a few days so that we could head off to some of the more remote islands, going into 4 or 5 shops to find things since they are all small not as well stocked as the other islands we had visited.
Off to Visit the Islands
|Main road through the village|
|Village Chief at Kava ceremony|
The church service was an hour long with the preacher getting very passionate in his address, waving his arms about and giving the impression the sermon was about hell and brimstone – it was in Tongan so we did not understand a word but he was very animated. The Kava may have helped! Although there was only 20 people in the church, the singing sounded like 100 people, all singing in perfect pitch we great loud voices and singing different parts in harmony. It was a great experience.
|We were never going to be fluent|
|Street seller on the island|
Our next anchorage looked perfect, just outside of a village although a little tight between the reefs. Unfortunately the wind turned south which put us just 10m away from a reef behind us while at anchor. I decided that it was too close for comfort so we upped anchor and went round the corner to the next island and tried to anchor as night was falling. After 5 attempts (no other boats were in anchored here which should have told us something), we headed off across the bay to where all the other boats were. By this time it was dark but as luck would have it there was a buoy and it was free so we tied up and had a few drinks and a BBQ.
Back to Neiafu
We had to go back to Neiafu for a group dinner on the Tuesday night which was such a good evening. All the food was local cuisine with traditional dancers providing the entertainment. Dancing followed late into the night with the staff joining in and looked like they were having as much fun as we were.
We may have overdone the gin and tonics during the night, we were certainly one of the last to leave along with Andy and Emma (no surprises) and we were all a little slow the next morning for our visit to the Botanical Gardens.
|Making cloth from bark|
Off to the Islands again
On Thursday we headed out once more into the islands to see some of the remoter parts of Tonga. We anchored in a bay with two other boats – we did feel it was crowded given we often had the anchorages to ourselves. We were invited over for drinks to one of the other boats and took half a bottle of gin with us. None came back we had a great night. A couple from New Zealand who were on the ICA rally and another couple (Paul and Susie) who were from Dartmouth who did the World ARC last year and left at Fiji to go to New Zealand for a year. They were about to another ICA rally going to Thailand.
This gave us an idea. Rather than go to Australia with the World Arc where we would arrive at the end of July, we could join the ICA rally to New Zealand which arrives in November. It would give us another month in Fiji, three extra weeks in Vanuatu and we would visit New Caledonian. They were so enthusiastic about New Zealand we decided we would look into this as a serious option. And the Thailand rally next year would be a very attractive option.
We spent one further night at anchor before stopping off at the Blue Lagoon on our way back. A very tricky entrance, with narrow passages between the reefs but well worth the effort. We walked around one of the island surrounding the lagoon which we uninhabited but the views and the variety of trees were well worth it. The other island had a resort on it but when we went there for a beer, it had closed down.
Getting Ready for the Next Leg to Fiji
So Friday night back to Neiafu again so that we could attend the briefing on getting to the Lau Group in Fiji which would be another tricky entrance wending 15 miles through reefs to get to the anchorage where we would go through Customs and Immigration. This was a special arrangement since boats cannot normally check in other than the main islands 100 miles further to the west which would mean sailing east again back to the Lau Group against wind and the current. Not a good option so consequently very few boats visit these islands.
|Chris and Catherine in the market|
|Our regular cafe overlooking the harbour|
Chris left us early on Monday morning to start his journey back to England after 5 months. Chris was a good sailor, very practical and helped fix many things along our journey. And there had been many things to fix! He was also a great cook and a mean cribbage player.
So now it is just Catherine and I sailing the rest of the way to New Zealand.
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