Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pangiamotu & Nuku'alofa

[Kyle]After the isolation of Malinoa, we headed to the big city. Well, sort of. The main wharf where boats tie up at Nuku'alofa, Tonga's biggest "city", is said to have a pretty uncontrollable rat problem. We opted instead to anchor at Big Mama Yacht Club on Pangiamotu Island. It's just across the water and they have a ferry that goes back and forth to the city several times a day.

A relaxing weekend on the Motu at Big Mamas Yacht Club with a handful of other cruisers

We went ashore at the motu and found Big Mamas restaurant/bar with a great view, but no yacht club office per se. It took asking a few different people, none of whom seemed to be in charge, before we were able to piece together what opportunities were available and come up with a plan. Laundry wasn't available as they send it out and get it back the next day, but being the weekend we wouldn't get it back until Tuesday and we'd hoped to be departed from Tonga by then... Oh well...

We could take our propane tanks and diesel jugs with us on the ferry and they would fill them for us while we ran errands in town. We needed to pick up a few things, but our main task is clearing out of Tonga.

The kitchen was closed, but the next day, we were able to go ashore for lunch and have our first meal out in a couple of weeks. I wouldn't say my fish burger was as good as Maryanne would make, but at least I wouldn't have to do the dishes after.

We pottered about the boat and the Motu over the weekend and were all set to go across on the mini-ferry on Monday to complete our clearance paperwork to exit and to get our propane topped up (which should give us enough for our time in NZ and to reach Chile). It was suddenly clear that for today only, there would be no propane fills - Doh! no propane for us then. (In hindsight we should have just taken the cylinder into town ourselves, but we had no idea how straightforward getting a fill would have been - plus we didn't want to be walking around town with our propane cylinder all day).

[Maryanne]In Nuku'alofa we needed to complete our exit formalities and also to get to the FedEx office to return our broken kindle e-reader. Clearing out was straightforward, once we knew where to go - there were four boat crews on the taxi-ferry over and three boats among us needed to visit customs and immigration. After trying the empty waterfront office and asking around, eventually we all piled into a cab that took us to the right place, a little waiting, and a lot of paperwork later we were officially ready to leave the country.

Kyle was keen to rush about to get back for the 1pm ferry and prep the boat for departure. I'd have liked to dawdle and really explore Nuku'Alofa a but, but obliged by keeping up the pace. Tonga is one of the countries that have a King as head of state, so naturally there is a palace. You can't visit inside but you can peer through the fence over the great lawns and look. The King also goes to church regularly - so most tourists get their first sighting of the King at the Cathedral in town. From the ferry stop - there is a nice waterfront walkway into town (although it is a bit of a hike, plenty of people stopped to ask if we wanted a ride, but we were happy to walk it and soak up the experience). Once in town though the highlight again was the market - plenty of fresh veggies to prepare us for our passage to Minerva and New Zealand, and we squeezed in time for a nice lunch at the well known hangout of "Friends cafe". We made that 1pm ferry, and back at the boat completed the last few chores to have us ready to depart Tonga.

A quick tour of the capital Nuku'Alofa
Cathedral, Seafront views, Palace and typical buildings found in the big city

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