Friday, September 2, 2016

Tonga, Tonga, Tonga

It seems most all the "Yachties" 
(that's what they call us in these parts - it sounds better than homeless people) make Neiafu their base of operations in Tonga, then loop out to a few anchorages and return for supplies and to reconnect with other yachtie friends at one of the many restaurants and bars along the waterfront.  

That's what we did.  

Described as a "hurricane hole", the bay at Neiafu, Vava'u offers protection from every direction, but it's deep.  So deep, that the only anchoring here is just along the shoreline where there are moorings placed by the charter companies and an enterprising dive company.  

For an aerial view of the very well protected harbor click the video below.

While in Neiafu we took an overland trip to the windward side of the island where Hanateli prepares a large feast for visitors at his Ene'io Botanical Garden.  This was the view from our seats.

Haniteli tells stories for the visitors while his wife Lucy prepares and serves the feast.

It's best not to make close friendships with the cute little pigs you see.  
One of them may end up on your table.

Back aboard Moonshadow we found beautiful Port Maurelle 
less than an hour's sail from the harbor.

Hardly what you would expect for someplace called a "port", Port Maurelle is a well protected bay with a beautiful white beach.  A perfect for paddle boarding and swimming.  

The calm setting provided the right opportunity to head up the mast for some maintenance, and a look around at the view from 65 feet up.

Here's another view of Port Maurelle from the drone.

A short dinghy ride to the Northwest point is the amazing Swallow's Cave...

... with an opening to the jungle above ...

... and below, a 40 foot deep pool filled with fish and other beautiful species.

Deb gliding through a giant ball of fish in Swallow's Cave.
There is another smaller cave just next to Swallow's cave.  For a composite video of both caves click the video link below.

Later we explored the island of Taunga and found a long and wonderful hike along the beach.

We can spend hours doing this.

There are treasures everywhere you look

The only human footprints you'll find here are your own.

This sand spit connects two islands at low tide, but at high tide the calm setting is replaced with deep water and a swift current.  It was our good luck to find this spot at low tide when the water did not extend above the ankles.

Few, if any, of the small Pacific islands have the capacity to deal with the volume of floating trash that arrives on their windward shores, but here, among the pristine beaches, we found a creative solution:

Someone, perhaps the islanders or maybe some Samaritan Yachties, collected all the smaller litter into this larger one...

... and a bit further down the beach, we found this trash-garden at the base of a tree.  All the litter  was contained by a double circle of 3 inch braided polypropylene rope, and the beach was clean as far as the eye could see.

We were excited to expand our explorations to the dozens of other nearby anchorages...

... but the weather had other ideas.

So we made the best of the circumstances and partied with Yachtie friends.  Here we are with Scott and Tracy from Yollata; Katya, Jude, and Richard from Sarita; and our hosts Tim and Jerri aboard their catamaran Agility.

We also chose to try whale swimming.  This is where you spend the day hunting the humpback whales that migrate here from Antartica, then when you finally find them, you jump in the water for a look.  It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences that we'll never forget.

The mother and calf we caught up with alternated between frolicking and breaching all around us then resting quietly and peacefully on the surface.  It is all caught on the video below.

But we were ultimately trapped below deck by the constant rain.  Tonga found itself caught between two competing air masses:  Cool dry air moving north from the south and warm, moist tropical air near the equator.  The resulting convergence zone sat on top of us for three weeks with nearly constant rain.  With everything wet, mold began growing in every nook and cranny below.  We finally thought, well enough of this... we're outta here!  

So we set off for Fiji

Sunrise in the Lau Group, Fiji.  Photo by Jerri Miller of the 47' Chris White Catamaran Agility


Ute Pelzer said...

I love your stories and amazing photos. What a great adventure!

Anonymous said...

Just catching up with Moonshadow after days up at the cabin. I promise to post a bunch of blogs before we go back to Mexico Oct. 18. Beautiful photos, even of rain. Loved the shots of Deb on the beach, and both of you at the Botanical Garden with new friends. And the humpbacks, I am so envious!!! Good on ya, as they say in Oz.
Hope you're having a great time in Fiji. Hugs from Jan and Nikk

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