Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tonga Ha'apai Group

Ha'apai Island Group, Tonga
Tonga is divided into three island groups:  from north to south:  Vava'u, Ha'apai and Tongatapu.

Bill hard at work, using the mostsophisticated navigational tools available.

After a pleasant month in the Vava'u group, we've moved on to the Ha'apai Group.  It's an area of small, low lying islands, with many coral reefs that require careful navigation. Bill has always done a good job at it. 

However, waterspouts are hard to predict

There are two islands connected by a causeway are about 5 miles long.  There must be about 12 churches, big and small along the way.  And services take place several times on Sunday.  At 5 in the afternoon, we stopped to listen to the wonderful singing at several of them.
Between rainstorms, we managed a bike ride on a quiet Sunday afternoon. 

We went on a fantastic dive (sorry no pictures of that)

Peace and calm between storms
After waiting out some stormy weather, we moved down to another island, where we were invited to lunch by a local family, along with other cruisers from Seattle, England and Austria.  The family consisted of three brothers, their wives, children and their own parents.  They treated us to a wonderful lunch of seafood (lobsters ) caught the night before.  In exchange, we all brought various gifts of things we thought they could use.

A couple days later, we moved down to the Nomuka Group, a couple of largish islands with a fairly sheltered bay between them.  Some friends from the Northwest were there as well.  It was calm weather when we went to bed, but the wind switched to the south and kicked up during the night.  At 5am, someone knocked on our boat and called Bill out.  Another boat had blown onto the reef next to shore when the wind changed.  So Bill and the other guys went over in their dinghys, and over several hours managed to kedge the boat enough so it could power itself free.  This was amazing because the tide was going down all the while.  Also amazing the boat was undamaged.  It has a fat winged keel and it was just sitting on flat shelf.  All's well that ends well.

Waving goodbye? 
When we left a few days later, a  humpback whale mother and calf were loitering outside the pass. We stopped as they slowly circled us a couple times before we both moved on our ways.

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