We spent this week trying to take care of boating tasks and squeezing in some last minute sightseeing in Vava’u. The big sightseeing day was the day we did the Kart Tour. These 2-person souped-up go-karts were a fun way to go off-road and do some sightseeing. Unfortunately, they weren’t without their problems. We were joined on this trip by the crew of s/v Northfork – Mark and Dana. They were in one kart, and Karen and I in a second one.
Our guide rode on a regular 4-wheel ATV in the lead. We reached the first scenic stop on the far north side of Vava’u after winding through some curvy bumpy dirt trails. The sight there was fantastic, and I took a 360 panorama there. Unfortunately, the kart Karen and I were on developed a problem with its steering – it could no longer make a sharp right turn. Our guide, who is also a mechanic, tracked down a hammer at some local’s house, but he was unable to get it straightened out. Meanwhile, he had called the office and they drove another 2-person kart over for us. Very little time was wasted.
Unfortunately, again, we only got about a mile or two away when our left front tire on the “new” kart, blew out! Our guide again had a spare tire ready on his bike, and a few minutes later (after helping him lift the kart to change the tire) we were back on the trail. We didn’t have any further mechanical problems. We stopped at a few more coastline views and took lots of pictures. And, we also saw parts of the neighborhoods and farms where the locals live on the islands.
Here’s a slideshow showing photos of our last few days including photos from the kart tour. This is only a small subset of the photos – I don’t have enough time to get more uploaded at the moment.
We went to a couple of other anchorages on Wednesday and Thursday night. The last one was a lagoon which we entered through a VERY narrow passage with a rock in the middle which only gave us about 50 feet total in width (Tahina is 26 feet wide). We had no problem negotiating the entrance, and had at least 9 feet of depth beneath our keels. The lagoon inside was very nice, and we were soon anchored near a small motu with quite a few birds on it. We also noticed there was a small passage to the south which led to the “blue lagoon” of Vava’u. We took the dinghy down there and found our own private island (after being chased off the beach of the resort’s island). Our island had a beautiful white beach, some goats up on the hills, and some great views of the lagoon from the cliffs I found.
On the way to the last anchorage we stopped off near the Mariner’s Cave (no anchorage nearby). Mark had not found the cave earlier in the day, so I offered to take him there. Karen drove Tahina and Dana drove Northfork while Mark and I swam over and into the underwater entrance to the cave. You have to dive down about 10 feet to get into the entrance and then go back about 12-15 feet before you can come back up into the air inside the cave.
Today, after leaving the lagoon, we came back to the town of Nieafu and got our clearance from Vava’u to the Ha’apai group of islands – also here in Tonga. We also made arrangements to get fuel, and waited on the wharf for a couple of hours until the truck arrived to give us fuel. We can’t get duty-fuel until we officially clear out of Tonga, so we had to pay full price (it worked out to about $4.60 per gallon). While we were waiting, we had visits from some local school kids and friendly visit from a local government official who just wanted to know more about our boat and our trip. We plan to leave this weekend for Ha’apai. We expect to run into other boats we know while we’re down there for the next two weeks.