Arrived in Tonga!

Yesterday we reached Nuku Alofa (Tonga’s capital) after a pleasantly eventless passage. During the last night we had to slow down to reach the reef passage in daylight, first we put the main into the second reef, then we rolled up the genoa, then we took the main sail down completely and were still going too fast just under bare poles running in 25 knots of wind… After a passage we are usually quite exhausted, just clean up the boat a bit, get the deck saltfree for Leeloo’s paws, quaff a bottle of sparkling wind and drop into the bunk. This time everything was different: we arrived on a Friday and had to clear in immediately or be confined to the boat until the next working day on Tuesday. So right after dropping the anchor we took the dinghy one mile to the port, asked our way to customs and started filling in forms, but then we were told that we’d have to take Pitufa to the quarantine pier for an inspection afterwards. When the lady from the quarantine office heard that
we had a cat she asked whether we had a cage to confine ‘it’ in. ‘It’ would have to stay in that cage during our visit to Tonga and a vet would have to come daily to inspect the health status. She ignored our protests that according to our info a cat that would not be imported only had to remain on board all the time. What now? Leave for Fiji without further ado?

We dinghied back to Pitufa against a bumpy windsea, arrived soaking wet, lifted the anchor and motored to the harbour and went with the stern to the quarantine pier, where the officials soon showed up. The guy from the health ministry filled in a form in the cockpit (without even ask about our health), the quarantine lady refrained from an inspection, but munched chocolate cookies in the cockpit (she then asked for a bag to take the rest of the cookies back home) and the young man who had accompanied her only gave me an embarrassed smile when I asked whether he was the local vet (yeah, something like that…) and didn’t even want to see the cat and was not interested in further visits… Of course they all cashed in a fee, but we’re still a bit puzzled, why cruisers can’t just fill in the forms at the office, but have to take the boat to the pier, manoeuvring the boat in close quarters in an overtired state to have inspectors aboard who then don’t inspect anything.

Anyway, now we’re legally here and ready for Tonga!

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