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Showing posts from October, 2015

Whale swim

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One of the biggest attractions in Tonga is the humpback whales.  As we already mentioned, we saw a lot of them in the Ha'apai group (http://www.svgoodasgold.ca/2015/09/this-time-of-year-humpback-whales-have.html).  They come to Tonga to mate and to give birth, there are lots of female humpbacks with their calves.

In Vava'u, there are a number of boats that are allowed to take people out to swim with the humpbacks. They have to follow a number of rules in order to not disturb the whales.  We talked to people who had done it, and they all had rave reviews.  That convinced us that it was worth doing.

We hopped on our tour boat and motored out to find some whales.  It was getting late in the season, but we found a mother and calf.  We went into the water in groups of 4 (plus guide) and had to swim about 100 m (100 yards) to get near the whales (the boat isn't allowed to get too close).

We swam near the whales and saw the mom submerged below us. The baby would come up for a bre…

Cricket

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There are lots of ex-pats living in Vava'u.  Some have tried to get the locals interested in cricket.  They are working on a cricket pitch and give lessons.  In order to help drum up some interest, they invite all the visiting yachties to come out for the day.  They do this a couple times per month.

The promise was for a day of cricket, with food available.  The locals were supposed to brings crafts and food for sale. That's what happened two weeks earlier when some friends went.

The night before we went, it started to rain.  In the morning, it was still raining a bit but that didn't deter us and about 30 other cruisers.  It turns out that the Tongan people are a lot smarter than the rest of us, as they knew to stay home as the ground turns to mud.  We arrived to find an empty field, no food, no crafts, But the rain had stopped!

We had traveled an hour to get there, so most people decided to play.


Malcolm decided to take photos and Dina talked with some locals who came out…

Flying Foxes

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Our friends, Chuck and Lauri on Free Spirit, had to leave Tonga for Samoa for their “official” wedding (they have had wonderful unofficial weddings in Mexico and Tonga).  We had spent a lot of time with them here in Tonga and were sad to see them go.  We’ll have to meet up with them in 2016!
We wanted to explore the eastern barrier reef islands of the Vava’u group. It is necessary to navigate a narrow channel in the coral to get over there, so few boats head that way. We had waypoints to navigate through the channel and our friends, Alison and Randall on Tregoning, had radioed to say they were already anchored in that area and the pass was no problem, so off we went. 
We anchored at Ofu, near Tregoning, later that afternoon. After spending time in the main harbor and the popular anchorages near town, it was a treat to be anchored in a quieter place. We explored the quiet island and the isolated shores. The next morning we went exploring in our dinghy, “Tubby” along with Alison and Rand…

Caves

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One of the most interesting places we’ve seen here in Vava’u is Swallow’s Cave. We were anchored nearby with Free Spirit and Sea Note, and were told it is best to go there in the late afternoon when the sun shines into the cave. It was a bit far for our little dinghy, so we grabbed our snorkel gear and hitched a ride with Ray on Sea Note. He’d been before and enjoyed it so much he was going a second time.
Above the water, the cave is probably about 40 feet high, 40 feet wide and goes back about 100 feet from the entrance. Ray drove his dinghy in and tied up to a rocky outcropping inside the cave. Ray told us the water was plenty deep enough, so we put our snorkel gear on and jumped in, not knowing exactly what to expect!

WOW!! The water in the cave is crystal clear, the sunlight is streaming in from the cave entrance and there are thousands of little fish swimming in tight “fish balls” which move around throughout the cave. It is surreal. We spent quite a while swimming in the cave, wat…

Vava'u, Tonga

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We’ve heard that over 500 yachts visit Tonga every year. Most of the sailboats coming across the Pacific will be heading south to New Zealand or Australia by the end of the year. Tonga is well positioned as the place to stop heading west and turn south to get out of the traditional cyclone (hurricane) zone. Tonga is also a great place to spend the winter (April-Oct) if you already have your sailboat in New Zealand.
This means there are a lot of cruisers in Vava’u! It is a bit odd for us, as we have spent the last two months exploring some quiet places. Of course it is great too; we get to catch up with people we have met along the way.

The Vava’u group of islands is a lot more developed than the Ha’apai group. There is a real town here, a bunch of restaurants and some boat services. Happy hour at the Mango CafĂ© is at 4pm and they offer beers for $4 TOP (about $2 USD). Many days here are spent getting some jobs done on the boat, meeting friends at the Mango at 4pm for some beer and the…