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Tonga, Neiafu, Va'vau Group: Warning all Cruisers

By SY Cursus Tempus — last modified Sep 17, 2014 11:09 AM
Cruisers, local businesses and the local Police all warn cruisers to refuse any services offered by Alofi, a tall Tongan Male, who is well known for conning visiting cruising boats.

Published: 2014-09-16 23:00:00
Countries: Tonga

Report from SY Cursus Tempus

This is a warning to all fellow sailors about the Tongan Male called Alofi in the hope he has not yet come to your boat.

Alofi is a 73 year old Tongan, slim build approximately 6Ft 3”, he has access to a rowing boat and will row to your boat and offer you bread, flags made by his daughter, laundry collected and delivered.  All these services you will be charged 3 approximately 4 times the rate you will find on land.  The clothes were not properly cleaned or dry or ironed.  I was told by a local that he tried to convince yachties the British flag had now changed to another basic colour because his daughter had run out of normal ensign red.

We are 2 Brits that lead with our hearts, we were aware that there would be a high mark-up but we thought he had to make a living.  He will keep giving you presents of necklaces, cigarettes, that you will need to flatly refuse or you will be eventually shown a book containing a list of all these items and the total will be astronomical.  On a daily basis he will also be asking for items, a new coat, a watch for his brother etc. etc.

We needed a tender made because our brand new Chinese built inflatable came apart at the seams after 3 months of use.  We were given a huge quote on materials for a wooden and fibre glass boat and were eventually given a wooden boat made out of scrap wood that had not seen any of the list of items in the typed quote from the reputable Pacific company.  He had also quoted 10 times the local rate for labour on the little tub.  We were told by a local that the boat should have cost a ¼ of the price we were charged and in fact Alofi had told locals we were being charged only 600 panga and that we were very happy with it.

The receipt of this boat was the day after he had invited us to his Church and to have a meal with his family to which we bought presents for everyone and groceries.  I started to smell a rat when the family would not sit with us to eat at the family meal.  On the way back to the boat Alofi still wanted to walk with us and to be honest we were both exhausted by his daily frequent visits to the boat and shadowing of us on land.  It is Tongan law not to do any business on a Sunday; for this you will be put in prison, but Alofi was desperate to show us his ‘book’ when we got far enough away from his home, on this list it also included 2 meals at his home after Church.

We eventually got back the price he charged us for the invisible fibreglass, returned all the ‘non gifts’ and did not pay the 672 panga he charged us for going to his home, a shell and a few necklaces we had not asked for.

Alofi is very well known by locals for conning yacht owners and also for being very difficult to get rid of; he has physically assaulted an ex pat for telling him his behaviour to tourists is unacceptable. 

I do hope I don’t sound too bitter; this is a warning to refuse all services.  We went to the Police to give an information report and we were also told by tourism that they will ban him from the waters, but our concern is this will be ignored.

After Alofi the rest of our stay was really good, thanks to the Tropicana, South Sea Treasures, The Aquarium, The Bounty Bar and the Mango bar.  All the facilities for the yachties are excellent, the people are wonderfully friendly. You will feel very welcome and sad to leave.

Editor's Note

Alofi's problematic behaviour has been confirmed by several other sources in Va'vau, and all warn against using his services. The VHF net in Va'vau puts across a warning every few days about Alofi. Unfortunately there are bad apples in most places and Alofi seems to be the rotten apple in this town. It's important to firmly say "No" when services are offered that you do not want.

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