Welcome to Tonga

The second day of our passage from Niue to Tonga was definitely one of the best days of sailing we’ve had since we left Seattle three years ago. In the end, though, we never did catch up with Dreamtime. As it turns out, Neville is as competitive as we are and told us yesterday that he spent more time trimming his sails for the three hours after we goaded him on the radio than he had in the past 3 months sailing across the South Pacific. All in all it was a fabulous day of sailing and a nice passage overall. The wind died both nights and we had to motor, but that kept the swell down and the seas flat for nice sailing during the day.


We arrived in Neiafu yesterday morning and were instructed to tie up to the commercial dock to check in. Seven of us had left Niue at the same time, and others were sailing down from the northern Tonga island that had been wiped out by the tsunami, so the dock was busy. We side tied to Nine of Cups, which made the officials happy since they could knock off two boats at the same time. All the Tongan officials came aboard, filled out the required paperwork and asked us to come ashore later to pay our fees. We left the dock and found an empty buoy in the head of the bay.

We’re in the Vava’u group of Tonga, which at first look appears like it will live up to the reputation as one of the world’s spectacular cruising grounds. It’s a limestone cluster with high flat islands in the north and a group of tiny islands at the south end. There are numerous waterways within, all protected by outer reefs which keep the seas flat and calm. The island group is 25 kilometers north to south, and 21 kilometers wide east to west. There are about 100 boats here in the harbor of the main town, and probably as many more in the other anchorages. Yachties spend months here every season, moving back and forth between the remote anchorages and the harbor at Neiafu to reprovision.

Reprovisioning was our first order of business yesterday after we got the dink launched and headed into town. There are two big grocery stores here, and as we walked out of the second the only thought on my mind was that we were gonna lose a lot of weight in the next two months. The absurd prices and mystery French food in the Bora Bora stores had kept me from doing much shopping there before we left there, and the shelves in Niue were bare because the supply ship was 3 weeks late. When we arrived I was warned by our friends from the Swedish boat Hokus Pokus that the stores held little of interest. They were right. We found some great fresh veggies at the produce market, some beer at the “Chinese store”, and a can of mystery milk. With those supplies in our bags we headed back to a local yachtie hangout for some drinks and dinner.

After being told for the third time that what I wanted to order wasn’t available, the waitress finally admitted that they were waiting for a supply ship, which was scheduled to arrive last night. Thank goodness. Luckily the shopping here isn’t as grim as we first thought and today we’re headed in again for some supplies. First, though, I’m going to try and figure out what the can of milk is that I bought. I didn’t have my glasses on and only saw the Carnation logo – I expected it to be either evaporated or condensed milk. This morning I see the label says “Cap Bunga” and “Krimer Kental Manis”. I have no idea what language this is, so even the babelfish site is going to be of little use figuring this one out.

Today on Yohelah we’re happy to be in Tonga and looking forward to enjoying this cruising paradise for the next month….

Tonga is here