Flat Waters Again – Yippee
Arriving into the sheltered waters of the Vava’u Group was such a treat after the exposed anchorages of Palmerston and Niue. Loads of islands, big and tiny litter this area, protected by substantial islands to the west and reefs to the east. Some islands are steep sided and drop straight into the deep waters, others have sandy beaches and shallow ledges for anchoring, the variety is vast.
Our first impressions of the main harbour area and town of Neiafu weren’t great. It was a grey day, it turned into a grey week, the harbour was very busy with cruising yachts, buildings in town were well worn, “free range” chickens and pigs roamed around and there was rubbish lying everywhere, (not a rubbish bin in sight, so no hope). It was such a contrast to quiet and orderly Niue and Palmerston and super clean French Polynesia. We had arrived in the ramshackle Polynesia islands we remembered from the first year of our circumnavigation, no EU or NZ money propping up the local economy here.
As the days passed by and we got through the latest list of boat jobs Neiafu grew on us. Everyone was so helpful, sail repairs were completed speedily, the ladies in the open air market were delightful and welcoming, the school children had a one day sponsored clean-a-thon and the streets were clean ~ for a day! Several businesses are run by ex pats ~ cafes, bars, laundries, whale watching tours and tourist accommodations. They work in harmony with the locals, and although I wouldn’t go so far as to say Neiafu has a cosmopolitan feel to it, its a functioning small town with an interesting blend of people.
After days of gloom and cooler weather the skies cleared and the temperatures rose about 10 degrees. I did the walk to the top of nearby Mt Talau in company with David and Betty-Ann on Confidence, modest houses lined the road all in need of a paint job but most in a tidy state, small gardens were well fenced to keep all the roaming pigs and chickens out, children safely played on the streets and ran to us to practice their English, beaten up cars passed at a snails pace so they didn’t fall apart as they hit a pot hole ~ life ticks over here at a friendly & leisurely pace.
The view from the top of Mt Talau was outstanding, hardly a cloud in the sky and we could see for miles. When we arrived from Niue on that gloomy morning it had felt like we were going up a river to enter the inner harbour in Neiafu. But now from high up we could clearly see all the islands, bold blue waters breaking up the clusters of gorgeous green islands, sandy golden fringes dotted here and there. It was all there waiting to be explored.
With all our jobs completed for now we stocked with fresh produce, let our mooring line go, rolled out the headsail and drifted off in flat water down to Port Maurelle.
What an Introduction To Cruising Around Vava’u