We made it to Tonga under sunny skies. It’s a beautiful day here. First order of business is to check into the country so we anchor just outside of the breakwater near the wharf. Of course we had a couple of anchor down beers before offloading the dink and heading to shore.
We were greeted on shore by a wonderful man named Inoke. He owns a taxi business and he offered to drive us wherever we needed to go. Honestly, we didn’t need to go far but he was so sweet and we do like to support the locals so we agreed to have him drive us. He took us to the bank then back to the Customs office. The agent was out at lunch but Inoke called him and told him we were there. He said he’d be back in 20 minutes so we paid Inoke and said we’d walk back to the dinghy.
The agent was there within 10 minutes. He was a super nice guy and he informed us that all of our check in could be done right there. We did not have to go to a separate office for Immigration. That’s great news because so often in these third world countries you must trek from office to office and wait for the proper people to arrive and assist you. The process can be long and arduous. Today it took less than 15 minutes and there was no fee to enter the country. Another bonus!
We walked back to the dinghy and headed to Dazzler. We moved her out to the Pangaimotu to anchor down for our stay here. As we approached the anchorage which is just 1.2 miles across the bay, we were delighted to find that we are going to be the only boat there. When we arrived here last October there was at least 20-25 boats. Not this time! Ahhhh… peace! Guess it pays to leave a bit earlier than the other yachties.
We dropped anchor right in front of the Big Mama Yacht Club. We love this place. Ana (Big Mama) and her husband, Earle, are awesome people. They run the restaurant and resort. They know the queen of Tonga who gifted them this island. They get to keep it as long as they are alive. Once they die the island goes back to the royal family. On the island they have the restaurant/bar as well as some little fales or bungalows that you can rent. It’s really a beautiful place that is surrounded by a wonderful, protected reef. They also have a ferry service available to get you back and forth from the main island. It’s a nice service because even though it’s just over a mile and we could do it in the dink, the waters are often quite choppy in the bay making for a pretty rough ride. The $10 Pa’anga (Approximately $4.38) per person roundtrip fee is really a bargain.
Once our anchor was down we hopped in the dink and headed to shore. After all, the anchor did go down a second time so we really did need to have another anchor down beer. We were greeted on shore by Buster the big black dog that roams the beach. He’s a friendly chap and is always a joy to see. We walked inside to a pretty empty place with the exception of a couple of Big Mama’s family sitting there chatting. We received a warm welcome from them and after a few minutes of chatting we each had an ice cold Maka beer in front of us.
Before long a nice young fellow named Brad came in and we started chatting. He’s an Englishman who loves to sail. He was here on business so we chatted quite a bit about sailing and the like. We both enjoyed his company. You know, after nine days of being alone it’s always nice to talk to someone else for a change and Brad was pretty nice.
Before we knew it Ana and Earle had returned from the mainland on the ferry. Ana greeted us both with warm hugs and her beautiful smile. The ferry was loaded with supplies and the family all began hauling food, beer, water and ice into the restaurant. Of course the arrival of the ferry meant that our new friend Brad would be leaving when the ferry headed back to the main island. We wished him safe travels as he heads to his next island and off he went.
Once the work of unloading was done, Ana sat down with us and we chatted for quite sometime. Johnny, a friend of theirs who lives on the island, joined in the conversation as well. It was a wonderful afternoon and a great way to celebrate the completion of yet another long passage. As is neared dark we said our goodbyes and headed back to Dazzler where Dan grilled a couple of beautiful filets while we enjoyed a beautiful, warm evening on the hook. Oh yeah! It’s great to be back in the islands!
Until next time,
Jilly & Dan