Tonga’s northern Vava‘u group of islands appears to have been designed strictly to offer protection to cruising boats. Getting to Neiafu’s natural harbor from the sea is like driving through a maze of tree-covered islands a few hundred feet tall. Sailors have been taking advantage of this geography since Capt. James Cook landed here in the late 18th century. But things have changed of late, and Capt. Cook didn’t have the cyclone protection that’s available today to cruisers in Tonga.
Late in the 2015 cruising season, 35-year-old shipwrights Joe Caesar and Alan Morey opened a haul-out facility in Neiafu called the Boatyard Vava‘u (boatyardvavau.com). They had 14 cruising boats hauled for their inaugural season in custom cyclone cradles, fully cross-tied and braced, and then tied down to 1-ton concrete blocks buried in the ground. The monthly cost for a 40-foot monohull is $1,120 TOP, or about $500 USD. Current capacity is for about 50 boats, but they have plans to expand to meet demand for roughly 75 boats.