We are so well protect6ed from the ocean here that if there is no breeze, the boat sits perfectly still - and it was almost eerie last night allying down to sleep with not a thing moving. But I slept well, and in the morning after my breakfast of the remainder of last nights rice and stew, and a good tidy up of the boat, the Officials arrived - at one mkoment tghere were four bulky Tongan men squeezed inot the cabin, and really there wasnt any room to move. Formaliities completed, I walked the couple of hundred meters into the main shopping area, dropped my rubbish into a bin and got some cash from an ATM to pay my Customs Levies, 123 pa'anga (the local currency ) in total.
My first impression was that Neiafu is a bit like a BackPackers town - numerous cafes with coffee and Pizza and Internet, cheap accommodation, T shirts, relaxed friendly and helpful, not at all upmarket, and fellow travelers at every stop. I kept running into people I had met in Suwarrow and Niue, but it was interesting to compare notes on the trip here from Niue. The larger boats all had to slow down if there was wind, so they would arrive in the mornings, some had very little wind, others had reasonable seas and wind al the way - which is as expected I guess weather being what it is but the boat that left the same time as I did agreed there was a bit more "weather" to contend with than we had been expecting. They confirmed my suspicion that my wind instruments have become inaccurate, having seen gusts close to 30 knots whereas mine only ever saw 23 and I was sure the wind was stronger than that in the gusts, and never believed in the lulls it was 16. I suppose I just add that to the list of things to do on the boat sometime in Fiji.
I went to a cafe called Aquarium, one of several overlooking the large blind ending arm of the harbour with dozens of moored cruisers. WiFi is free if you buy a coffee, and several yachties were there with their laptops doing their email and what-not. It amazed me in Niue as well, how many people are on the net and for hours at a time every day it seems; I cant imagine what they are finding to do there all that time day after day, but one couple I saw in Niue and here too, seem never to do anything else or even talk to each other, but just sit there with their I-Pads or whatever they are, doing facebook or something. I could have brought my Toughbook and done something similar but I have found WiFi in these places can be rather slow, and I dont want to risk dropping it into the tide getting it to and from the boat so I use an Internet Cafe where available - its not free but it can be quick. I had fresh fruit and coffee and then a second breakfast of vegetable patties with sweet chuili sauce, and fresh coconut juice with pineapple.. It was very nice sitting there looking at the yachts and relaxing after all that sailing.
My main interest in Vava'u is whale watching so I have booked to go in the morning. I also found a place to hire a mooring from and moved the boat onto it later in the day, then pumped up the dinghy, reattached the Outboard to it and went back to town for a random walk round the back streets. I found a shop selling NZ Hokey Pokey Icecream so wandered off with a double cone and I could hardly have been happier. Later still I had NZ beer with my chicken kebabs dinner and in the dark when I got back to Sapphire, the sound of unaccompanied singing from a church choir drifted across the water. It had been one of those lovely days when you feel so relaxed and at peace with everything you wonder why everyone isnt doing what I'm doing!
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