We left Nukunamo around 1545 to make the 70 NM trip north to Vava’u. We’re about 45 minutes into our trip when we decided to hoist the mainsail. Dan put a couple of reefs in it in preparation for the coming winds. He was at the rail in the cockpit checking to be sure nothing got fouled and I was turning the wench for the reefing line. All of the sudden it got super tight and then before I could react we heard a snap and Dan saw a chunk of metal go shooting across the cabin top and over the starboard side of the boat.
“What the Sam hell was that?”Everything stopped as we tried to ascertain what happened. Dan begins scanning the deck and finds a piece of metal near the base of the mast. That’s never a good thing. Within seconds he has located the source of the problem. The turning block for the reefing line broke. It literally just snapped apart. Thank God no one was standing on the deck. That thing shot off like a rocket. It definitely could have hurt someone and if it hit them in the head it could have been lethal. Of course Captain Dan has a spare turning block below and he set off to get the repair made. Within 15 minutes we were back in business. I just love how he can fix anything!
As sunlight dawned the following morning we were approaching the southern end of the Vava’u group of islands. Dan was on watch and I was finishing my post watch nap. I woke up around 0800, just an hour or so before we were to reach the bay in Neiafu. Fortunately for me I got some really calm, peaceful sleep during that nap. Unfortunately for Dan he had a pretty bumpy ride during his 2330 to 0430 nap. Sorry hun!
The sun is shining bright and there’s a nice wind but no fetch so the ride through the channel and the islands into Neiafu is beautiful. We arrive to find it pretty quiet here. Last year there wasn’t a mooring ball or hardly a place to anchor in the bay but at this time of year it’s very peaceful.
As we come through the channel into the harbor I look down from the bow and see literally thousands of the Moon Jellies slowly drifting along beside Dazzler. They were here last year too. I decide I’m going to call this Moon Jelly Bay. The closer we get to town I start to notice something isn’t right. Where’s the Hideaway floating bar? What? Don’t tell me they’ve closed! That would be a disaster as I’ve been dreaming of their amazing fish and chips for days now. I keep scanning the area near the wharf and finally I see the blue barge in front of the big hotel. That’s NOT where it was last year. This could be very bad. I hope they haven’t closed up!
We continue on toward the mooring field and do a quick search for the right spot. We check out a few of them and then settle for one not far from where we were anchored down last year. Dan hooks the ball and we are all set. Of course it’s time for the usual….come on, you know what I’m going to say. Yep, “Time for an anchor down beer!”
The morning radio net starts just about the time we pop open our beers so we settle in to hear what’s going on here. Sounds like the usual suspects on the radio. There’s Bear from Falaleu Deli, Barry from Hunga Haven Resort and rest of them. We don’t hear any cruises that we know but then we are a few weeks ahead of most who left New Zealand. We kind of like it this way. It’s nice and peaceful!
Next on the agenda is to drop the dink in the water so we can head to shore and do our inter island check in. Last year when we checked in here we believe the Customs official may have been a little less than above board with us. This year we are hoping it will be a bit different. Apparently no so awfully long ago down in Nuka’alofa a Customs official received a package addressed to him. Inside were drugs and guns! Of course he claimed he knew nothing about it and maybe he didn’t but this created quite the shake up there and we believe it probably did all across the country.
We splash the dink and head to shore. The first stop is at Buluga Dive Shop. They are the ones we have to pay for the mooring. It’s just $15 Pa’anga per day, which is about $6.52 USD. That’s a pretty cheap price to pay to have a secure mooring and not have to worry about fouling your anchor on the bommie filled bottom.
Next we take the dink down to the west end of the village and tie up in the little wharf there next to all the fishing boats. We walk over to the Customs Office, which is just a couple of blocks further west. It’s packed here today. There are people everywhere. Looks like they just unloaded a container and people are here to pick up their goods. Fortunately the cruisers go to a different area to check in so we have no wait at all. A very nice young lady offers to help us. We hand her our paperwork from Lifuka and within minutes we’re on our way. Yes, it was a completely different experience here today and we’re happy for that.
Our next stop is Digicel. That’s where you go to buy a chip so you can have Internet. It’s not a bad deal either. It’s $50 Pa’anga for 15 gigs of data. That works for us. With our Internet secured we take a stroll through the open-air market. There are tables and tables filled with veggies and fruits. Of course they all have the same thing….cucumbers, sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, watermelon, bok choy and a couple of other items. Good fruits and veggies are not easy to come by in Tonga. The best you’ll find is in Nuku’alofa and even there the choices tend to be a bit limited. We picked up a few things and then headed into town.
It’s just short walk to town from the Customs and market area. We are looking for our friend, Bear. He owns the Falaleu Deli as well as the Hideaway. I need to know what is going on with the barge and when exactly I am going to get some of that delightful fish and chips. We heard on the radio that he moved his deli into town so we seek him out. We find him under the big mango tree in a very small white building. After hellos and hugs we chat a bit. He updates us on all the happenings since we left last October. He tells us that the Hideaway has moved down closer to the wharf and is not open now but should be within a few days as they were dealing with some issues from the licensing board. Dang! Guess I have to wait a few days but at least I know it’s going to be soon. Anyway, we bought some of his amazing and spicy Italian sausage and then moved on to our next stop.
We head back to the dink and take it up to Mango Cafe. It’s a waterfront restaurant that is big with the yachties. We have a little lunch and a couple of beers before heading back out to Dazzler. By this time it’s approaching noon and we are both completely zonked. Neither of us had a lot of sleep on the passage so it was naptime. I always love a post passage nap! It’s some of the best sleep!
Looks like we’ll sit here for a few days. After all, there’s great food, cold beer and Internet right here in the middle of paradise. What more could you ask for?
Until next time,
Jilly & Dan