The next morning, bright and early, we took the dinghy ashore. We had read that we could clear in and out of the Ha'apai at the same time, but the woman there told us we would have to check out as we left the Ha'apai. That was no good. The Ha'apai is a big group and we didn't want to have to sail a hundred miles back upwind just to check out. She offered us three days to leave. She said they would check in Nuku'alofa to see how much time it took us to get down there. We couldn't even get to the end of the group in three days – not unless we left the group altogether and sailed around it. The Ha'apai was supposed to be our main focus in Tonga and I was disappointed about having to either pass it by or spend all of our time sailing back and forth across it with no time to enjoy it. We told her we had to decide what to do and would come back.
Exploring Pangai - the capital of the Ha'apai group
We 'found' this great solar powered 3-wheeler in use
Maryanne was especially surprised at the modern giant road direction signs for such a tiny town on a tiny island
We spent the rest of the morning running city errands, which are village errands here. We went to the local cruiser hangout for coffee. We asked their advice on our clearance. They told us to check out and take our time getting to the next group. It was a bad situation either way for those of us trying to be upright citizens. (many cruisers simply pass throught he islands and skip the required inter-island clearance in Ha'apai)
When we went back to check out, we received our outbound clearance for the next day.
“We thought we had three days.”
“No. It has to be tomorrow”, came the reply.
I was just about to start jumping up and down as politely as I could when she wrote 'via Nomuka' What the hell does that mean?
Maryanne asked if we had to stop in Nomuka.
“No, there's no office there, but you can stop if you want to. Or, if you can't and you need to stop somewhere else, you can do that.”
Ah! There's the problem. I'm not so good with subtlety. What you should have done, lady, is say, “Three days”, point to your eye, make sure I am looking, and then wink nice and slowly so I can't miss it.
So... coming up: a few more posts from the Ha'apai