Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Arrival in Tonga

We had a lovely 3-day passage from Beveridge Reef to Tonga. It was sunny, with consistent moderate wind, light swell and at night the moon and stars brightened everything. 

We sailed west from Beveridge Reef and entered the Ha'apai group of islands in central Tonga through the wide and calm pass between Uoleva and Uiha islands. The islands are similar to the Tuamotus - white sand beach, palm trees, surrounded by reefs.

We anchored off the beautiful beach of Uoleva island. There was a smoking volcano off to the west and whales in the distance. We were having gin and tonics up on the balcony, looking at the sunset and watching for whales, when a Belgian and French couple, from SV Utopie, dinghied over to say hello. They were the only other boat in the bay.

The next day we took a long walk on the beach and found the Uoleva Yacht Club! At the bar, there were Chileans, an Austrian and a Montrealer, in addition to the South African and Zimbabwean owners! That evening, we went to the Yacht Club for a wonderful dinner with the couple from SV Utopie.

We stayed in Uoleva for a couple of days before heading a few miles north to Pangai, the administrative capital of the Ha'apai group, on Lifuka island to clear cusroms and buy some provisions. The health official couldn't be bothered to come to the wharf so just customs and immigration came aboard. The immigration woman drove us to the grocery store. Lots of Chinese and Kiwi products. Malcolm stocked up on lots of new varieties of cookies and we will be trying interesting brands of chips... Apples, clementines, onions, tomatoes...all sorts of goodies. We bought a Tongan rum, too!

We can't believe we are in Tonga with our boat! Malcolm brought down the "Q" flag (hoisted to signify we hadn't cleared customs yet) and after he hoisted the Tongan flag, he said, "OMG, we are flying the Tongan flag on our boat!"