After a seven day sail from New Zealand, we arrived in Tongatapu on May 8th. We called port authority on the VHF numerous times on Monday afternoon as we were motoring in to ask for instructions as to where to tie up to clear in but no one answered. Finally, Chris on Trigger, a large 60 ft cat, explained that no one answers when the cruisers call. He offered some advice about our options. It was getting late so we decided to anchor off Pangaimotu Island and go in on Tuesday morning to do our clearance, when he had left the wharf. We would take the spot he was vacating. Here is where we ended up.
After several hours of waiting for various officials to arrive, we decided to stay the night as Health has not shown up. Around dusk we had a visit from the port authority official that we could not stay on this dock. They said we had to leave and anchor out or stern tie to the breakwater on the other side of the little harbour. It was also suggested we could tie up at another spot, with minimal depth, but there was a boat there already. It was explained that where we were, and now two other cruising boats who had arrived that afternoon, that this dock was for the local ferries that service the outer islands. We could not stay there. The next morning the Health official showed up around 1030 and cleared us. The port authority representative told us we must now leave, in no uncertain terms. After we left, the other two boats were told their lines would be cut if they did not leave the dock immediately. It was a great welcome to Tonga! Perhaps we could have chosen a better method to clear in, but we advised them they could do a better job of answering our hails and advising the cruising boats on clearance and docking.
Here is where we were supposed to be docked for the check-in, not much better than where we were and pretty shallow, 1.8m at low tide. Lots of resident cockroaches along the wharf so you don’t want to be tied up for long!
Enough on that!
We went back out to anchor by Pangaimotu, and visited Big Mama’s Yacht Club.
After every passage, there are things to fix. Monty went up the mast to inspect our anchor light and decided to order a new one. We also had an issue with our dinghy engine and battery. He replaced the battery but the wiring was badly corroded. It has been fixed temporarily but we ordered a new cable which will be coming with our friends from Canada in a few weeks.
We took the ferry into town a few times to get laundry done and do a bit of shopping at the produce and craft market.
The fish market was located next to the wharf in town. Nothing terribly enticing but it was late in the day.
We had a chance to kill a few hours one day waiting for the ferry back to Big Mama’s, so we had a walk around town.
Back at the dock, one of the resorts had to load their provisions. It was quite a job!