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OF CHARTERING Tonga's Vava'u Group A Maze of Unspoiled Tropical Islands

LAX, you can get all the way to Vava'u in 14 hours, with only one change of plane, and the price is much less than you'd pay to visit Tahiti, Auckland or Sydney. Life is short, right? Isn't it time you had an exotic adventure? — andy The Vava'u Regatta fleet sails away from Neiafu Harbor. Every island is covered with lush greenery, and the water clarity is amazing.

no one goes hungry or suffers homelessness. As an illustration of the enduring values of this long-established culture, Paul writes: "Goods acquired by or given to an individual are often shared with the entire community." As you might imagine, the pervasive religiousness of Tongans results in their being substantially more conservative than many other South Pacific islanders. You won't find local women walking around town with a lot of skin showing or swimming in Brazilian bikinis — in fact, many Tongans swim fully clothed. Out of respect, travelers should dress a bit more modestly than they would in other tropical vacation spots, at least while in public places. Readers who have had to adjust to the laid-back pace of day-to-day living and doing business in other tropical places such as the Eastern Caribbean will get a kick out of this passage from Paul's excellent guide: "Time and schedules are loose concepts in Tonga; 2 p.m. may mean 5 p.m., tomorrow may be next week, and something put off for two weeks may not happen at all." But hey, if you're burnt out on the insanely hectic pace of modern urban living here on the West Coast, a visit to Tonga could be the perfect antidote.

When you need a break from playing Robinson Crusoe in the outer anchorages, it's fun to spend some time in Neiafu's broad, circular anchorage, where you'll meet salty international cruisers of all stripes. Some will weather the December-to-March cyclone season here, either on a mooring or hauled out in the recently opened boatyard. Most, however, will be enjoying Tonga's tropical tranquility before making the 1,200-mile crossing to New Zealand. Ashore there are a number of sailorfriendly shops and restaurants, often run by expats who became captivated by this verdant slice of paradise. If a sailing getaway to Vava'u sounds enticing, we suggest you waste no time in locking in a reservation for a late-summer cruise, or even for early next season, as there are fewer than a dozen boats in the bareboat fleet — a mix of monohulls and cats. Yeah, we know, it's a long way from home. But here's a tidbit of info that might convince you to pull the trigger. Using Fiji Airways out of

A Taste of Tahiti, the Next Best Thing to Bareboating "We're really not cruise-ship people." the four of us quietly protested as we boarded the sail-assisted cruise ship Wind Spirit in Papeete harbor. Deborah Norum, a fellow longtime crew on Profligate during Baja Ha-Ha rallies, had booked this trip through the Tahitian islands as a unique way to celebrate her and her boyfriend Fin Beven's birthdays. Always up for an adventure, my 'Captain Johnny' and I decided to tag along and help them celebrate. Tongan carvers display their handiwork in this image from Charles Paul's excellent new 'Guide to the Kingdom of Tonga'.

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Latitude 38 June 2016  

The June 2016 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.

Latitude 38 June 2016  

The June 2016 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.