Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cost to Cruise- Tonga

We really need to stop eating out. Ya right, like that will happen. Both American Samoa and Tonga had good restaurants and after the dreadful food in French Polynesia, we went a little wild eating out. If you ever find yourself in Tonga, you must attend a Tongan feast. The girls are still talking about the Tongan feast we had with David's family, near anchorage #16. A Tongan feast includes a roasted pig, several fish dishes, chicken dishes, potato salad, and various other side dishes.

For the most part WiFi is inexpensive in both American Samoa and Tonga. Don't expect that in Tonga if you order food from a restaurant, it comes with complimentary WiFi, it won't.  You will need to purchase a SIM card for a whooping $1 USD and then pay roughly $25 USD for 5 GB of data from DigiCell. You can also put minutes on your phone to call home separate than the cost to purchase WiFi. It's tricky calling to the States and you want to ensure you understand how calling home works when purchasing your minutes from DigiCell. You purchase minutes in 30 minute blocks and once you initiate a call you have till midnight to use up your 30 minutes or they expire.

Our DeLorme fiasco continues

Is our device visiting every state first before possibly making it across the Pacific?

We are still without a DeLorme. After only 5 months of use, our device crapped the bed. Thankfully DeLorme offered to replace our device for free and sent it to Phil's mom, who once again was awesome enough to repackage the item and have it sent to Tonga. Unfortunately the United States Postal Service (the service recommended to us) doesn't own an atlas and apparently has no clue where Tonga is located. It's been 4 weeks and according to our tracking number, the item left San Francisco bound for gawd knows where and will most likely never be seen again. Whatever, we're in Fiji for the next 6-8 months anyways, giving us plenty of time to deal with trying to collect on the postal insurance.

This month's cost to cruise is brought to you by Emma. In her Digital Literacy homeschooling class she's learning how to work with Microsoft Excel. Emma was thrilled to see that in September we came in under budget, leaving her with plenty of extra ice cream money!

Want to see more costs? We have an entire Cost to Cruise tab with every penny ever spent.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Incognito stop in the Lau Group, Fiji

Yagasa Levu
Sept 9-11

Between Tonga and mainland Fiji, lies the Lau Island group. The correct way to explore the Lau Islands, is to sail past them on the way to checking into Fiji at a designated port. Once you have obtained a cruising permit that allows you to visit  all of Fiji, including the Lau group, one must sail back, usually into prevailing trade winds, to visit this group of islands. We had been warned that the New Zealand coast guard was helping Fiji officials catch people who decide to stop in the Lau group before officially checking in. With calculated risk, we decided to stop in the Lau group before being officially checked in. 

Apparently we weren't the only cruisers with the idea to stop off incognito at an uninhabited island, as we had two boats behind us as we made our way into Yagasa Levu. We were happy to have the small break from Tonga to Fiji, even if the snorkeling was just, meh. We had expected an uninhabited island far removed from surrounding civilization to offer more in the way of snorkeling. 

Yagasa Levu is home to a variety of different color footed boobies. Our favorite was the red footed boobies who unlike the blue footed boobies we saw in Mexico, build their nests in trees not on the ground. 

Because of the high ridge on Yagasa Levu, and the inability for a coconut to simply wash ashore and sprout a tree, coconut palms are hard to find.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The end to a months stay in the Kingdom of Tonga

Vava'u group, Tonga
September 11- October 8, 2017

One of my favorite cruising memories;  the night we sat aboard another boat with friends debating what day it was. Without schedules, itineraries, meetings to attend, cruisers often lose track of what day it is. Imagine our surprise and sadness when earlier this week, I glanced at a calendar and saw our Tonga visas were expiring.  A month has already gone by. So soon?

Tonga has made many indelible impressions on us, making it especially hard to leave. Today we are sailing to Fiji with plans to meet up with friends who crossed the Pacific a year before we did. The kids are excited to meet up with their buddies and plan out their Halloween costumes. Over the past month, we have met several boats who ditched their plans to see Fiji first before sailing to New Zealand and will stay an extra month in Tonga. We can see why, Tonga is an amazing place to be.

Vaja  (near Hunga Haven) will take your order for fruit and veggies in the morning and deliver them to your boat by dusk

Obtaining Tongan cell signal sometimes requires a hike up a hill.

Many Tongan families motor little boats as their main mode of transportation. These family "trucksters" are used to head into town, visit neighbors on opposite ends of  islands, (and my favorite sighting) transport  kids to schools on neighboring islands. 

Beach near anchorage #8

Snorkeling at Hunga Haven

One of our favorite boat kids is Martin who at the ripe old age of 10, speaks 3 languages and is a wiz on the pan flute.

With every country along the way, we head to one of our most memorable spots and collect sand in a labeled container. Tonga, we're going to miss you!