Okay okay I’m officially way over a year behind on my posts. Since leaving Tonga to do a travel nursing assignment and then moving to New Zealand to work full time and have the kids in school, I have to be honest, blogging hasn’t been at the top of my to do list. And to be honest, the ease of using Instagram for posting current photos has taken over my usual blogging effort. That being said, I do understand that not everyone is on Instagram and I usually don’t write as much there either. My apologies. But I persist none the less, so here it is, over a year later, the second part of our Tonga sailing adventures. This one isn’t going to be too juicy, as I feel like we really didn’t do that much after leaving the Vava’u Group of Tonga.
Tonga: Part 2.
Nothing like a little last minute, fly by the seat of your pants plan making… Nursing job in NZ offered, travel assignment in California accepted, confirmation from our friend Nic to fly out and help Christian sail… all to leading us to plan our sailing in Tonga to arrive in Tongatapu by Oct 10th in order for me (Josie) to fly out and Nic to fly in.
From the Vava’u group, we headed south to the next group of islands called the Ha’apai Group. This group of islands are less inhabited and more pristine. Supposedly there are more whales here as well, but while we were there the wind was steadily 20+kts , making the whale watching not so happening. We found ourselves anchored in front of a a cruiser friendly “resort” called “Sea Change Eco Retreat” off of the Uoleva Island. They have a great beach bar with nice cold drinks, local Tongan beer and good french press coffee. What more could you ask for on a remote island in Tonga. Apparently, this was the area where the mutiny on the Bounty started. We didn’t get any bad vibes from this place, even with that history. And honestly, I think this Uoleva was one of the highlights of Tonga despite the constant wind and probably the one place we would want to go back to if we sail back there. I think we would have to learn to kite surf to really have a blast there.
Time was closing in and groups of cruisers started to part ways as each one’s timeline for heading to New Zealand started to differ. We had a few “last” dinners with the last of the cruisers around us ( SV Caramor, Counting Stars, Blue Zulu, Dol Selene), taking turns having each boat over for dinner on our boat or us on theirs. This starting feeling like the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
Taj, you have a friend on your shoulder.Took a sail to town aboard S/V Blue Zulu. Always nice to sail on another boat once in a while. Kid crew from SV Counting Stars, Blue Zulu and Shawnigan on our visit to town.
S/V Counting Stars heading out just after us… also catching the whale sighting.
On our way out of Uoleva to the southern end of the Ha’apai group, we spotted some whales! What a lovely departure gift. That day we sailed down to Lolofutu where we anchored for a night and met the caretaker aboard the catamaran Wildlife, a whale watching charter adventure boat . Not only were they cool, like minded people, but they happen to have kids eager to meet our kids. Always love a new “kid boat”. They were planning to head to Tongatapu soon as well, so our parting farewell was easy knowing we would meet again soon.
After a great passage down to Tongatapu, we found anchor room in front of Big Mama’s Yacht Club, a well known facility among the cruisers. It use to be a hopping spot, but after a hurricane a few years back that wiped it out, it hasn’t quite recovered, but its getting there.
We spent a few days wondering around the main part of the city. A large part of one morning was spent trying to find the immigration/port captain to check out of the country. We walked and walked which felt great. There were many churches, local schools, clinics, restaurants. There was little to be desired as far as finding good food in Tongatapu though. We found it safest to stick with our own meals on the boat. However, there was one pizza place though that was pretty good, thanks to S/V Wildlife crew’s recommendation. The most important thing though…, we found coffee and wifi. A cruisers dream.
Tonga probably has as many churches as they have house… well, not really, but there are an aweful lot. Here’s an old one that was just abandoned and fenced off. So beautiful. Its too bad they dont renovate it and keep it in use or make it into a museum of sorts. Another church…Tongans really hold high value on the deceased… especially the Royal Family. Nina getting her hair cut before heading down to New Zealand. October 9th, 2018: The Family taking me to the airport… a dinghy ride to shore, a taxi to the Nukualofa Airport. I’ll be away for 3 months, working as a Travel Nurse in California, without seeing them again until I fly to New Zealand with Ellamae in tow.
An example of Taj’s homeschooling alphabet art. He attached the dinosaur to the flower.