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Old 25-07-2010, 16:57   #1
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What Does Vava'u Need ?

Hello cruisers...I am moving to Vava'u in March of 2011 and taking over a restaurant. I was wondering services you really want or need while in port.

What are some of the things you always wished the locals would provide?

I assumed provisioning, but how many folks prefer to go and and save some money and purchase their own as opposed to using a local service? I personally would prefer to go get my own, but I think some people may not want to fool with it. Is being able to pre-order these items, or order them from the internet on your boat while in port a bonus?

Any other services you could use that I, as a novice, don't know about?

I appreciate your help, and in return, promise a free meal to each and everyone of you who come by and say "Hi" to Good Time Pete the next time you are in Vava'u!

Thanks in advance for your responses!
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Old 25-07-2010, 17:23   #2
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Hi Pete...
Congratulations, and best of luck, on the new endeavor.
We spent two great months cruising Vava'u, basing mainly from Neiafu. We love it there...great flat-water cruising, which was very-much appreciated after the pasting we took getting there.
Curious if your restaurant is in Neiafu, and already established, or if it will be new?
We were impressed by the quality of the foreign-owned/operated restaurants. Good food, good value, and very responsive to there unique clientele. I hope you continue this tradition!
The below list are items that we felt were needed while in various ports, or were appreciated when they were offered. NOTE: the vendors in Neiafu do a great job, and many of these items/ services are already offered.
-good, relatively simple food, fairly priced. Cruisers are a hungry and thirsty crowd...provide good portions and good pricing, and you will be rewarded.
-communications...internet, phone, skype, etc. Free is great, cheap is OK, expensive is a deal-killer.
-A relaxed atmosphere. We're all in shorts and tee's, if we're in anything at all. No fancy joint needed.
-cold beer. Really. Easier said than done.
-Get involved in the cruiser-community. Sponsor the Friday night races. Engage on the morning net. Provide services...nautical flea market? Discounts to cruisers? Things like this go a long ways toward developing a steady, loyal clientele.
-become a source of information. Where can I get a watermaker repaired? Who is capable of an engine or tranny rebuild? Take the time to learn the various trades and skills of your customers. Even though we're transient, we may be there for a few months. If you provide me the name of a cruiser with skills I need, I'm more inclined to eat at your place vs next door. Everyone wins.
-remember, cruisers talk (a lot). About you. Your business, your prices, your services. And whether we like them. If all is well, we'll be back, and so will our fiends, and theirs.

Really, best of luck. I hope your new business is a great success, for you, for your customers, and for Vava'u.

John
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Old 25-07-2010, 18:32   #3
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I would add:
...access to diesel and propane
...fresh water
...dinghy landing?
...trash deposit on shore

Add food and drink and people should beat a path to your door.

Michael
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Old 25-07-2010, 18:33   #4
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No dried beans of any kind there. The locals, as poor as church mice ,buy them in cans. Teach the locals Mexican bean technolgy, then supply them, as well as boaters, Ditto split peas.
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Old 25-07-2010, 18:53   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Swain View Post
No dried beans of any kind there. The locals, as poor as church mice ,buy them in cans. Teach the locals Mexican bean technolgy, then supply them, as well as boaters, Ditto split peas.
Oh no please please do not teach the locals about beans there are enough beans in Mexico for the world.
Firstly we loved Vavua (spelling?) and would love to return the only problem we saw was very poor quality meat. In fact I have told many since returning that we were disgusted at the quality and blame NZ for sending pet food quality meat to Tonga. Strong words maybe but this is the reality and before they start blaming the Tonga end of the deal for failing to keep the stuff refrigerated this does not cause high levels of fat. For some time know the Pacific Islanders have been having an obesity problem and I could see why. NZ produces good quality meat especially lamb which they supply the French Pacific so that is not the problem, but the French would not accept the garbage supplied to the Tongan's.
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Old 25-07-2010, 19:39   #6
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I'm with meyermm, there was a doco a while back about that exact problem with the pacific islands (tonga, somoa, etc..not the french). They actually proved that OZ and NZ made a special table/floor scraps from the prime stuff that they send to the French islands, US, europe, japan, etc.. Those scraps were bunched together to send to these other islands for "them" to consume.

Really pissed me off as those are some of the nicest people I've ever met, but they get the lowest grade of meats and food and have to have their fish imported in CANS?!?! What the hell right!! Amazes me... And we are the civilized ones... right...
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Old 25-07-2010, 20:40   #7
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Oddly, that's just like in LA. Out in the burbs, a careful shopper can get good produce at "decent?" prices. Go towards downtown, say Echo Park, where the latino "them" live, and you find iffy and rotting produce in the markets at higher prices than out in the burbs. There is a pattern there, I'm sure.

It does have to do with race, certainly, but more, I think, it has to do with power and class. If an idealist social worker ran the market, who knew how to buy quality and made an effort, it might be better for the lucky customers of that one store. But the chain store corporate bosses probably decide where the warehoused goods and garbage gets trucked.

For getting along in an increasingly dysfunctional first world, I'm enamored with the notion of being a "localvore" popularized by Alice Waters and elucidated by Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

No, I don't know how to get a livestock business going on Tonga. And tho' I've tried for a long time to help the world toward more peace and justice, and figure out how, I don't know how to make the world fair.

Perhaps higher priced quality meat from a "competitor" to the down under suppliers would be bought at a premium by voyage-starved carnivore cruisers without reefers, eh?

Good luck, Pete. I hope to meet you within a year or three. Jon
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Old 26-07-2010, 03:39   #8
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Working with the local culture...

I grew up in Papua New Guinea and went back there to teach for a few years a while later.

It's a difficult decision when interacting with an indigenous culture. Is it best not to try to change anything at all, to blend in and do as the locals do or should one bring in new idea and techniques and not worry about the consequences?

I'd suggest starting out by working as closely ass possible with the locals, then as you discuss their needs and find what you need some possible courses of action may present.

In particular Education and Food need attention. However one of the reasons that these areas are problematic is that there have been so many well meaning efforts in the past that have not turned out well.
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Old 26-07-2010, 05:04   #9
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shadow, meyermm: i think you'll find the tongans (and other polynesians) are just as obese in new zealand as they are in the islands. all the major supermarkets chains in n.z. carry lean cuts of meat so i don't think this is a problem of choice - or the lack of it - but of very stong cultural preferences.

having put myself through university working in export slaughter-houses (or in n.z. parlance "freezing works") i can assure you that meat hygiene in n.z. is a given and what in the u.s. is sold as "bologna" or in the u.k. as "spam" will derive from the same type of recovered scaps as that which you may have seen in cans in the islands.
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Old 26-07-2010, 06:11   #10
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Bob, Ever been to Bequia?
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Old 26-07-2010, 10:25   #11
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zoombats: no, but also it seems there are more than bequia (grenada??)
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Old 26-07-2010, 15:48   #12
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Meat was not in a can - frozen plastic packaging Bob
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Old 26-07-2010, 16:08   #13
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Boracay is right on the spot. Just blend in and do what they do and perhaps in time you can perhaps make things a little more efficient, etc.. I've seen way too many groups of people with "good intentions" wanting to bring everyone and everything up to date and up to "their" standards.. Most of these people need better ways to retrieve and contain clean water, NOT a TV, satellite or even a computer...
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Old 26-07-2010, 16:57   #14
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John from Meridian is right that the restaurants there are pretty good. But the locals services for boats and their own grocery stores and local markets are the most woeful we have visited in the whole world.
The locals are so un-entrepreneurial they must import all their chicken eggs from other areas!
There is NO meat what-so-ever except whats flown in from new Zealand. The villages have pigs for their own consumption and for paid Tongan feasts but thats all.

the total and utter lack of variety and quality of produce fresh and preserved is totally spell-bindingly limited it will leave you in deeeeeeeep do-do if you want to run a good resturant. (I'd make sure you have some good suppliers on stand-by when you take over in case the current ones don't work out)

If your restaurant is on the water front the supply FRESH WATER to cruisers at cheap prices and WIRELESS INTERNET too and you will be a winner

And as John said: Become part of the cruising community. They will be your bread and butter - not the locals.




Mark
PS I would love to know which restaurant you are taking over.
PPS Let any cruiser play guitar/ sing for beer and a meal
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Old 27-07-2010, 17:53   #15
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Speargun rubber , by the foot. 5/8th OD, 1/16th ID . 1/4 inch spring steel for spears. I found a lot of used diving masks in thrift stores before going down , some for as little as 25 cents. The Tongan kids thought they had won the lottery when I gave them out. I can't imagine being a Tongan kid without a mask and snorkle.
Cheapie depth sounders , unavailable there if yours craps out.
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