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Old 12-05-2019, 18:52   #1
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East of Tonga delivery trip

My son and I and a friend are delivering our friends catamaran from NZ to Neiafu, Vava U, leaving Auckland \Wednesday.

I have not sailed up the eastern edge of the Tonga Islands, having always sailed up though the island group of Ha Apai itself.

Has anyone sailed on the outside east areas. Are there any nasty new volcano islands not on charts.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Pete
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Old 13-05-2019, 13:42   #2
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Re: East of Tonga delivery trip

Haven’t been there recently, but am passage planning for NZ to Tonga (Nuku’alofa). I haven’t seen any reports of new or active volcanism since 2016.

If you stick well east on top of the Tonga Trench you should be just fine - the usual route is to stay west of the Kermadecs, then scoot east through the gap north of Raoul Island (avoiding the sets of sea mounts) and then continue 50-100 miles east of the archipelago until you’re just north of the Ha’apai Group. Go back west between the Bethune and Falcon Banks and you’ve got a clear entry north to the Vava’u Group.
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Old 13-05-2019, 17:22   #3
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Re: East of Tonga delivery trip

We stopped at Raoul Is. one year, and it was quite interesting: the met service guys stationed there were very friendly.....

One thing to be aware of, if someone is flying to Tonga to meet the boat, is that members of the Royal family can always take your seat, and you'll wait for the next flight. It can be difficult to notify the people who are waiting for you.

Ann
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Old 29-06-2019, 13:18   #4
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Re: East of Tonga delivery trip

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We stopped at Raoul Is. one year, and it was quite interesting: the met service guys stationed there were very friendly.....

One thing to be aware of, if someone is flying to Tonga to meet the boat, is that members of the Royal family can always take your seat, and you'll wait for the next flight. It can be difficult to notify the people who are waiting for you.

Ann

That must have been quite some time ago as the rules are now very strict. If you don't have a genuine emergency then DOC (NZ Department of Conservation), which administers the Kermadecs, won't even let you anchor within one kilometre of any shoreline. We had friends last year sailing north who had a serious rig issue develop north of NZ. They spent a lot of satellite phone minutes with calls to Maritime Rescue NZ, NZ Customs and DOC before they were allowed to anchor close enough in to get out of the swell. But if you stay at least 1km away from any land you can swim/snorkel without a permit.

Before leaving NZ you need to get a permit to anchor and/or land at Raoul, the only landing area, from DOC. It includes an application to DOC ($130 fee), a hull fouling physical inspection certificate (cost varies, depending on who does it - approved inspector or Cat 1 inspector), agreement to the anchoring restrictions (cannot leave boat unattended and places to anchor), boat inspection by Conservation dog before leaving mainland NZ ($400 per boat), quarantine and inspection of gear and clothing to be landed at Raoul ($115 per hour), and landing fee ($405 per person). So it's a fair bit of money to anchor or land there.

If you are making a passage from NZ to the islands then you can apply to NZ Customs for an exemption to stop at Raoul. I don't know how easy or not it is to get this exemption. You need to have the exemption before you apply to DOC. If you are making a round trip from NZ to the Kermadecs then you don't need a Customs exemption as you are not leaving NZ.

It's supposed to be quite spectacular on the island and the local DOC rangers are super friendly. We're thinking of making a round trip there next summer.
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Old 29-06-2019, 14:36   #5
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Re: East of Tonga delivery trip

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That must have been quite some time ago as the rules are now very strict. If you don't have a genuine emergency then DOC (NZ Department of Conservation), which administers the Kermadecs, won't even let you anchor within one kilometre of any shoreline. We had friends last year sailing north who had a serious rig issue develop north of NZ. They spent a lot of satellite phone minutes with calls to Maritime Rescue NZ, NZ Customs and DOC before they were allowed to anchor close enough in to get out of the swell. But if you stay at least 1km away from any land you can swim/snorkel without a permit.

Before leaving NZ you need to get a permit to anchor and/or land at Raoul, the only landing area, from DOC. It includes an application to DOC ($130 fee), a hull fouling physical inspection certificate (cost varies, depending on who does it - approved inspector or Cat 1 inspector), agreement to the anchoring restrictions (cannot leave boat unattended and places to anchor), boat inspection by Conservation dog before leaving mainland NZ ($400 per boat), quarantine and inspection of gear and clothing to be landed at Raoul ($115 per hour), and landing fee ($405 per person). So it's a fair bit of money to anchor or land there.

If you are making a passage from NZ to the islands then you can apply to NZ Customs for an exemption to stop at Raoul. I don't know how easy or not it is to get this exemption. You need to have the exemption before you apply to DOC. If you are making att round trip from NZ to the Kermadecs then you don't need a Customs exemption as you are not leaving NZ.

It's supposed to be quite spectacular on the island and the local DOC rangers are super friendly. We're thinking of making a round trip there next summer.
Good grief! Yes. it was in 1992 IIRC when we were there. At the time the rules said that you needed permission in advance to land. We guessed (apparently correctly) that if the chaps on island invited us to come ashore on the VHF, that constituted permission... and so it did!

There was adventure involved in the long run, including cyclone Lisa coming directly over the island and the deliberate beaching (almost) of a 72 foot ferrocement square rigger, rescue by a RNZN helicopter, and other interesting events... perhaps the most involved and exciting series of events in our cruising years. But the island was indeed fascinating, the four crew stationed there most friendly and welcoming, and had the cyclone not intervened, we'd have stayed a bit longer!

What you describe is bureaucracy gone mad... we loved our time in NZ but things like this have kept us away for years.

Jim
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Old 29-06-2019, 17:25   #6
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Re: East of Tonga delivery trip

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What you describe is bureaucracy gone mad... we loved our time in NZ but things like this have kept us away for years.

Jim
Actually the “bureaucracy gone mad“ in New Zealand is a constant bone of contention for me. I am a NZ registered vessel and have to jump through hoops at considerable cost, to leave for foreign ports.

But if you are registered anywhere else, the “bureaucracy gone mad” mostly does not apply to you, you just sign out with customs and you’re on your way. No safety checks, no need to prove you’ve ever sailed anywhere or any distance, just go. Do you even have a life raft? Who cares.

But when it comes to rescue, the NZ government will expend the same resources looking after foreign boats as they do domestic ones even though there are no rules for departing foreign boats.
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Old 30-06-2019, 12:37   #7
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Re: East of Tonga delivery trip

For non-NZ registered boats coming into, cruising and departing from NZ is relatively simple. Customs facilities and processes are accurately described on the Customs website and the clearance procedures are easy. NZ is very strict regarding bottom cleaning before arriving in NZ, but as long as you have removed all barnacles and other growth (and dated photos to prove you've done it) they are just fine with the slime accumulated during the passage.

The only possible "bureaucracy gone mad" is for permission to anchor and/or land at Raoul Island. And deservedly so, the Kermadecs are like the Galapagos for vulnerable native flora and fauna and NZ wants to preserve them. Anything wrong with that?
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Old 30-06-2019, 12:54   #8
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Re: East of Tonga delivery trip

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For non-NZ registered boats coming into, cruising and departing from NZ is relatively simple. Customs facilities and processes are accurately described on the Customs website and the clearance procedures are easy. NZ is very strict regarding bottom cleaning before arriving in NZ, but as long as you have removed all barnacles and other growth (and dated photos to prove you've done it) they are just fine with the slime accumulated during the passage.

The only possible "bureaucracy gone mad" is for permission to anchor and/or land at Raoul Island. And deservedly so, the Kermadecs are like the Galapagos for vulnerable native flora and fauna and NZ wants to preserve them. Anything wrong with that?
At first it appeared that you missed my point. Except perhaps not. Your first sentence says it all. When the formalities of leaving NZ are primarily intended to save lives and probably more importantly to save taxpayer money, it seems “mad” to allow all foreign boats to leave without even a tiny nod to their commitment to safety yet provide a miriad of expensive hoops for local boats to jump through.

But then again, if the regs that I have to comply with were applied to foreign vessels, none would come to NZ and the tax dollar would suffer anyway. I’m going to leave that there since it is beginning to wander off-topic.

I don’t really have a problem with your second point except to say that preserving something so that 4 people out of 7 billion can enjoy it does seem strange.
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Old 06-07-2019, 19:31   #9
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Re: East of Tonga delivery trip

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At first it appeared that you missed my point. Except perhaps not. Your first sentence says it all. When the formalities of leaving NZ are primarily intended to save lives and probably more importantly to save taxpayer money, it seems “mad” to allow all foreign boats to leave without even a tiny nod to their commitment to safety yet provide a miriad of expensive hoops for local boats to jump through.



But then again, if the regs that I have to comply with were applied to foreign vessels, none would come to NZ and the tax dollar would suffer anyway. I’m going to leave that there since it is beginning to wander off-topic.



I don’t really have a problem with your second point except to say that preserving something so that 4 people out of 7 billion can enjoy it does seem strange.

NZ did apply the Cat 1 requirements to foreign registered boats the first year the requirements were enacted. Arrivals of foreign boats plummeted, huge number of complaints from foreign boats about the requirements, and local service providers howled because of lost business. The requirements were removed from foreign boats and justified that if they were able to get to NZ then they were likely going to be OK leaving NZ.

The mission of DOC in the Kermadecs, as with some of the sub Antarctic islands, is not preservation for people but preservation for the sake of the planet. They welcome visitors that have made it through the hoops, but visitors are not their primary mission.

Regarding the OP, we just sailed from Nuku’alofa to Neiafu. Due to relatively strong E winds and swell we stayed W of the main band of Ha’apai Group islands, but E of Tofua. Relatively flat water and an easy overnight sail of about 170 miles. The main ship channel is to the NW out of Nuku’alofa so look out for ships and coastal freighters. The rest of the way is straight forward and the approaches to the Vava’u Group are clean from the SW. The approaches to Neiafu are exactly as charged and there are lighted markers for the turn into the harbour so a night approach is feasible.
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Old 06-07-2019, 21:13   #10
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Re: East of Tonga delivery trip

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The requirements were removed from foreign boats and justified that if they were able to get to NZ then they were likely going to be OK leaving NZ.
You make it sound so simple! Actually, Jennie Shipley (sp?), the minister for transport at the time used the casualties in the Queens Birthday storm as a political event and caused the application of Section 21 to be applied to overseas visitors. Some of those visitors objected and eventually departed without clearance. New Caledonia welcomed them without rancor, but when they returned to NZ the authorities came down on them hard. A couple of them began the struggle through the courts, and eventually it went all the way to the Supreme Court where it was thrown out. Seems that NZ was a signatory to a UN doctrine that stipulated that vessels were to be bound to the safety regs of their flag country and that NZ could not impose stricter ones on visitors.

The logic that you mention, made it there, so ok to leave, is appealing, but had little to do with the suspension of Section 21 on foreign yachts.It was grinding and expensive hard legal work that got the job done, thanks to a few pissed off yotties... bless 'em!

Jim
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