Showing posts from September, 2015

Whales in Ha'apai

This time of year, humpback whales have come to the warm waters in Tonga to breed and give birth. We saw some humpbacks as we approached the Ha’apai group and have seen more every day since. Sometimes we see (and hear) the large adult whales breaching (coming up out of the water and splashing back down) in the distance and sometimes they come close to us. We’ve seen some young calves with their mothers and some males trying to show off to get the attention of a nearby female.  Here are some photos and descriptions of our best experiences.... We took advantage of a few days of quiet wind to anchor out at a tiny island (Hakauata) which seems to be a kindergarten for humpbacks. As we approached the island, one young whale came swimming over to check out Tubby. It was about a boat length away when its mother finally swam between it and our boat and escorted it away. A second youngster was practicing breaching right in the tiny bay where we wanted to anchor. It was inconvenient, bu

Remote islands in Tonga - Ha'apai group

Tonga is made up of four different island groups, each separated by 50 to 100 miles. We are in the Ha’apai group, which is sparsely populated and less visited than the other areas. We found a “crowded” anchorage (two other boats!!) in behind the lovely island of Ha’afeva. When we went ashore, many of the villagers were heading back from church and would stop and talk to us. A few invited us to their homes for lunch. We accepted an invitation for the next day and were asked to invite the people from the other yachts. It was a windy and rainy night, but our host still went out and grabbed some lobsters off the reef for our meal. Tom and Lynn from SV Roxanne also accepted the lunch invitation, so the four of us grabbed some items from our “giveaway” piles and headed to the village. The food was great, with fresh lobster and fish complemented with some cassava (kind of like potato). Our host invited us out lobster hunting (it isn't fishing as you just grab them with your h

Arrival in Tonga

We had a lovely 3-day passage from Beveridge Reef to Tonga. It was sunny, with consistent moderate wind, light swell and at night the moon and stars brightened everything. We sailed west from Beveridge Reef and entered the Ha'apai group of islands in central Tonga through the wide and calm pass between Uoleva and Uiha islands. The islands are similar to the Tuamotus - white sand beach, palm trees, surrounded by reefs. We anchored off the beautiful beach of Uoleva island. There was a smoking volcano off to the west and whales in the distance. We were having gin and tonics up on the balcony, looking at the sunset and watching for whales, when a Belgian and French couple, from SV Utopie, dinghied over to say hello. They were the only other boat in the bay. The next day we took a long walk on the beach and found the Uoleva Yacht Club! At the bar, there were Chileans, an Austrian and a Montrealer, in addition to the South African and Zimbabwean owners! That evening, we went to the Yacht