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.

Hard to get off the boat for me! Monty had to do all the on shore stuff with customs, etc.

The view of the dock from our galley, crawling with cockroaches!

Not too confident in the bollards!

A nice tire to keep us off the nasty old concrete dock.

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.

Big Mama’s Yacht Club

The bar and restaurant

Ship wreck by Big Mama’s

Beach on Pangaimotu Island

One of the fales on the island.

Guest fale

Looking out at the anchorage from Big Mama’s.

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.

Tim, from Nelly Rose, over to give Monty moral support on the wiring job

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.

Giant clam

A combination of sea cucumber and clams


Bags of edible seaweed. We tried it at Big Mama’s, salty as you can imagine, not bad with beer.

Seaweed and cucumber platters to share at Big Mama’s

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.

The Royal Palace

Another church

The largest building in town, home to the prime minister’s office.

One of the historic buildings. Most are in need of some paint and TLC.

Two local gals, dressed up for a funeral

Purple sashes and ribbons lined the streets, a sign of mourning, for the former queen who had died a few months ago.

The harbour

The dinghy dock

Several Chinese stores were everywhere

Fake flowers sold at numerous shops, likely for grave sites.

CostLow, a foreign food products store

Hope no one wants Raisin Bran! One box would be about $20 Cdn.

Monty’s weakness! Well, we might have to break down.

Back at the dock, one of the resorts had to load their provisions.  It was quite a job!

Even ice cream (right corner)! I was trying to figure out how it would not be melted by the time they got back to the island!

The island has to power with diesel generators. All the diesel gets loaded into barrels and transported by boat.

A couple strong Tongans careful roll the barrels into the boat!

Laundry and provisions loaded on the ferry back to Big Mama’s

Monty with some local beer, made in NZ

A local party boat

A looming squall at sunset

Ripples at sundown