Friday, May 26, 2017

All's Well in Vava'U

I have to admit I’ve never been so relieved to reach a port in my life after the last several days getting bashed in the storm. The entrance to Vava’u (vau Vah Ou) reminded me of sailing along Whidbey Island with high banks covered with lush greenery. The seas dropped down to a placid state and the wind was gentle on our faces. We both breathed a sigh of relief, not knowing if we were ever going to see this place just 24 hours earlier.

Neiafu is to the right in this picture. You enter through the pass at the right foreground.
Here you can see the commercial wharf with the ferry and the fisherman's wharf just to the left. The small town is in the center and the moorage area to the right of the picture.
Navigation was easy in the deep water with just one set of red/green marks to pass through to the inner harbor. Since two large inter-island ferries where at the commercial dock, we headed over to the smaller and more crowded fisherman’s dock.  Wasn’t much we could do but just smile as we eased Flying Cloud up to a row of fishing boats that didn’t look like they might see tomorrow if a strong wind came through. The fishermen stoically took our lines and tied us up, while Meryl went off in search of Her Majesty’s Customs officials. 

This very nice lady from the Health Dept. declared us fit for duty.
Customs has different rules in each country and we’ve learned to take it all as it comes and not fight the system. Awhile later Meryl came back, and awhile after that a very healthy Tongan (size equates with importance in Tonga) Customs official came on board. We shoehorned him into the cockpit seat and offered him Oreo’s and juice (we’ve found Oreo’s are officialdom’s favorite food worldwide). His name was Boi and he politely asked us questions and filled out the requisite forms. He also told us that on June 27th the King of Tonga was arriving for a very special celebration, his 50th birthday. Boi urged us to stay for the festivities. We never did find the Immigration official so Meryl went back up to the office to get our passports stamped. Next came a very nice and pretty Health Dept. official who asked us if we were healthy and we said yes.

The only problem now was the wind (and boats fore and aft) that held us captive at the dock. No problem, we called Wolfgang and Kathi on Plastik Plankton and they used their dingy to pull us away from the dock. They then led us to a good mooring buoy and helped us tied up. Another huge sign of relief. 

Dr. Kathi and Wolfgang were such a help to us in so many ways. Thanks guys.
Since Kathi and Wolf were leaving for Fiji the next morning they came back with a bag of fresh bread, fruits, and vegetables for us. They had been so helpful in giving us advice during the storm that we were forever in their debt. They stayed and got us caught up on everything Tongan and we shared Kathi’s delicious banana bread.
This is what cruising should be like.
I have to say laying together in bed that night and enjoying the peace and quiet was an amazing experience for both of us. It was the first full night’s sleep in seven days and it was so still and calm it seemed surreal as we drifted off to sleep. Yes, we were tired, battered, and bruised, but we safely arrived and looked forward to our stay in Tonga.

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