The Pacific fleet reunited in Tonga after spending time in two groups in Niue. Having crossed the finish line the boats navigated through the channel into the bay at Neiafu, the capital of the Vava'u island group in the north of Tonga.
After clearing in at the customs dock the boats started to explore the islands with plenty of bays, beaches and caves to see including the popular Swallows Cave and Mariners Cave. As the fleet are in Vava'u later in the season they arrived in whale season with lots of whales spotted playing around the boats and many crews taking the opportunity to swim with the whales on day trips.
A highlight of the programme included the tour to the Ene'io Botanical Gardens and beach with a guided tour by Haniteli who has created the garden and has a wealth of information and stories to share. The garden visit ended at Ene'io Beach where local handcrafts were demonstrated showing how the native plants are used to create intricate handicrafts including the ta'ovala, a traditional item of clothing in tonga, made from leaves woven into a mat. The toir was rounded off by a traditional tongan buffet and dance show from local school children.
Many of the fleet also had the honour of seeing the King of Tonga who was visiting Vava'u during their stay to attend an agricultural show held at a local school. A huge array of local crafts, food and produce was on offer with prizes awarded to the best stalls after the Royal inspection.
There were plenty of opportunities to catch up after the cruising over the last few weeks with happy hour in The Kraken every evening, and a prize-giving ceremony and dinner hosted at Mango Cafe with locally handcrafted prizes. A skippers briefing was also delivered to provide information on the next leg of the rally and their time in Fiji.
The fleet will now spend some time exploring Tonga before sailing to Fiji where they will regroup on Vanuabalavu Island in the Lau group.