Cruising like kings in the Kingdom of Tonga!

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We attempted to reprovision at sea on our 700 mile passage from Suwarrow to Tonga ;-)  Had a couple of close encounters with ships..

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Entering the Vava’u group of islands.. Glenda only slightly happy to see land..

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Picked up a mooring bouy in Neiafu harbour.. First order of business after checking in was to pick up a new fridge evaporator from the post office (which had already arrived from the US in just 2.5 weeks!). Then it took 3 days to install it and recharge the fridge.. Yippee to cold drinks again! We had lived without a fridge for a month by then.

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Paradise Chet style.. Surfing and eating a fryup at the same time at Aquarium café..

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We celebrated my 38th birthday in Neiafu.. I said I wanted to mourn instead of celebrate since I was getting close to 40 and Glenda took this seriously by dressing appropriately the morning of my birthday!

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She also used her artistic skills to paint me a custom tonga birthday shirt! Pretty damn cool!

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We had Mark and Yuka from Merkava over for chicken curry on Stops. Chicken was cheap in Tonga and my mum’s chicken curry recipe was well used!

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Leaving Neiafu, it was time to finally visit the islands!

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Glenda had pineapples on her mind.. The pineapples were amazing in Tonga.. Sweet and juicy, the best we ever had!

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The ark gallery at anchorage #11.. all the anchorages in Vava’u are numbered to make it easy for charterers. A little too commercial for me..

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Glenda enjoying her first sail on a big cruising cat.. Port Maurelle, anchorage #7 where we went for a rendezvous dive on a 42 foot cat (Two if by the sea) with Merkava.

 

We didn’t have a underwater camera that goes that deep, but here is the next best thing.. A video of diving Shark Tooth Cave from youtube.. We didn’t see any sharks but found a pocket of air in the cave which we used to breath without the regulator for a while. Don’t know how it got there, but it didn’t smell to bad.

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We also snorkelling Swallow’s cave. It was like swimming in nature’s cathedral. Then we had lunch and a hot shower on the boat. This is the kind of dive boat I can get used to.

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Next stop was anchorage #16, where we hung out with our friends Daniel and Michelle on Evangeline. 

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On land we found a tree with fruits that were a cross between an orange and a lemon.. I was very focused on getting them down..

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Can you tell that I had orange crossed with lemons on my mind?

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Glenda very happy with our catch!

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The snorkeling at the Coral Gardens near #16 was amazing..

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Really colorful coral.. best we had seen since South Fakarava in the Tuamotus.

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I tried some spearfishing but didn’t have much luck. Only a few big fish, but alas they were too quick for me..  I was getting old I guess.. just turned 38 after all 😉

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Finally we went back to Neiafu where Glenda left another point..  Next stop a 70 mile sail to the Ha’aapi group which we were really looking forward to..

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First anchorage was Foa where we were the only boat.. we explored the uninhabited island of Nukunamo next door to Foa by dinghy.

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The snorkeling was pretty amazing.. This particular fish was very quick in shallow water

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Next stop was the island of Lufika and the main town of Pangai to checkin with customs.  Bought more frozen chicken.

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We saw lots of whales on our way to Tafata island

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A rainbow after the gale. Troughs and fronts seem to come through pretty regularly in Ha’apai and there aren't many anchorages that give you good protection in the 270 degree windshifts they can bring. We rode out a gale gusting to 45 knots in the Uiha north village anchorage which is  protected to east by land and somewhat protected to the north and south by reefs. It was pretty rough and I stayed up most of the night on anchor watch and when the wind clocked back to the south we moved to the Uiha south anchorage to get more protection.

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We explored the picturesque small village called Felemea in south Uiha..

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We even made some new friends.. Mama Piggy, Piglet 1, Piglet 2, Piglet 3… They have so many wild pigs roaming around in all of Tonga.. We were always longing for bacon.

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Next stop was the uninhabited islands of Uonukuhihifo and Uonukuhahake.. Don’t even to try to get me to pronounce those names.. These islands have a hermit… a cow! So weird.. it just roams around the island by itself. These islands were really nice, we felt like modern day Robinson Crusoes, but couldn't spend too long there. Another trough was coming through so we had to move to get more protection..

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We holed up in Ha’afeva for the next trough which got up 30 knots, anchoring on the west side first and them moving to anchor inside the reef on the east side to get protection as the winds clocked to the west.. The was the first anchorage we shared with another boat in Ha’apai!

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We buoyed our anchor chain to keep it from getting snagged on coral as the wind rotated around. We had 10X out

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After the trough we headed for the uninhabited island of Limu. This was the island we had been dreaming about when we heard about the amazing uninhabited islands in Tonga.. Visibility to 60 feet, pristine reefs, turquoise water, sandy beaches and WE HAD THE WHOLE PLACE TO OURSELVES..

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Glenda the queen of Limu enjoying the beach under our royal sunshade..

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Bonfire time on Limu! We cooked hotdogs and Mexican beans on the fire, but rats were soon surrounding us and Glenda started the rat wars.

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I did some spearfishing to make fish curry.. We caught and ate this little monster, but it didn’t taste too good..

 

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Sunrise on Limu with the moon going down..

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Sunset on Limu with the sun going down this time.. 

The Ha'apai group was one of the best places we have been to on this trip despite the weather. We only saw 4 boats in the whole time we were there and had most of the anchorages to ourselves. Next stop Fiji.. some 450 miles west..

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Author: Chet

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