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Jumping Through Hoops

We have said our goodbyes and decided to start our checkout procedures here in Neiafu, Vava ‘u, Tonga.  With a good weather window developing for next Monday for our voyage to Fiji we decided to start looking at clearing customs, getting fuel and a few last provisions.  

First up, we learned that Tonga is not unlike many other countries and next Monday is the Tongan Emancipation Day Holiday.  So, Customs will be closed and checking out with them would require lots of extra fees. Honestly, we’ve paid them enough fee so we decided to make our visit to Customs today, Friday.  We also wanted to take advantage of duty free fuel and duty free liquor before our departure.  This will save us about $1.25 Pa’anga per liter of fuel and a bottle of 1.75 liter of Vodka regular price is $90.00 Pa’anga and duty free it’s $29.00 Pa’anga.  The fuel we could get today would fit our two fifty liter bottles and be enough for a good cushion for our travels to Fiji.  Additionally, we won’t have to wait until next Tuesday at 1030 hours for the fuel truck.  The truck requires a minimum of 200 liters for delivery to the old fishing dock.  

All the markets are owned by the Chinese. Lots of crappy plastic stuff in them.

Well, we decided to make it all happened today.  We dropped off our laundry, picked up some market supplies, some fresh veggies and some beer which is not on the duty free list.  After dropping off the supplies at Dazzler we grabbed the fuel cans and headed back to town.  We took a taxi to the fuel station. We asked for him to take us to one that took credit cards so we didn’t have to worry about running out of cash or going back to the bank. The first place didn’t have gasoline so he took us to another one down the street. Ofa, the driver, assured me they take credit cards. They didn’t but it was not a huge deal. Just meant we needed to go back to the bank again today. It seems the islanders will tell you just about anything you want to hear.

After filling our cans we headed back to Dazzler to drop off the fuel and then return to Customs.  When we arrived at Customs, the agent asked where Dazzler was located.  We said she was at the mooring and we had come to shore in our tender.  The agent requested that Dazzler be at the old fishing dock prior to clearance.  We asked if they needed to board Dazzler and her reply was “no”.  Puzzled,  we could not understand their need to see Dazzler tied at the dock if they would not be boarding her.  Anyway, we returned to Dazzler and brought her into the old fishing dock.  Fenders we’re deployed and dock lines set at the ready for docking.  Headsets are amazing for communications.  We looked like professionals as we slid her up to the dock.

Once at the dock we returned to the Customs Office to complete our checkout.  After completing the documents and receiving our exit document we walked up to the duty free liquor store to get our two bottles per person of liquor.  We weren’t given a receipt or anything but told that the store would deliver our purchase to the Customs Office for pick up.  We left wondering where our proof of purchase was and walked back to customs.  As we arrived the delivery car was pulling up to the office.  The Customs Officer kept the receipt and we walked back to Dazzler with our treasures.  We never really were told why our vessel had to be at the dock. We just follow whatever requirements the officials seem to come up with at that moment in time.  Not the time or place to get an attitude.  Just for comparison.  When we left Nuku’alofa last October, Dazzler was anchored in Pangaimotu at Big Momma’s Yacht Club when we went to Customs there for checkout.  There was never any mention of bringing Dazzler to a dock nearby.  Same country different rules.  This is not so unusual an experience during our travels.  You’d think countries would strive for a little more uniformity of procedures.  It would probably cut down on some unscrupulous agents that wear $400 designer sunglasses but you know, “not my monkey, not my circus!”

At any rate we have cleared Tonga customs, Dazzler is prepared for departure and we patiently await our departure window.  

I’m sure we will be posting along our voyage.  Hopefully Robin will not be boiled in circus wax or shot out of the cannon into the brick wall.  So stay tuned at the same Bat time….same Bat channel!

Cheers!

Captain Dan and Jilly

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