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Date: 04 Jun 2012 21:34:56
Title: Tonga

18:39.6S 173:59.0W
 
The first thing you notice about Tonga is how much cooler it is here than we are used to.  The temperature is around 25 degrees right now, which might sound warm by UK standards, but just a few days ago we were in a steamy 35 degrees in Suwarrow.  Here in Tonga we are wearing fleeces and using blankets on the beds.  It is only three weeks from the shortest day, so I guess you can't expect it to be very warm at this time of year.
 
There are still only seven of the ARC boats in Tonga.  The rest of the fleet was held up in Suwarrow by bad weather.  One of the other catamarans (Ensemble) dragged its anchor and was blown onto a reef.  They were holed in three places, but fortunately there was no shortage of people to help with pumps and emergency repairs.  Ensemble is now patched up and heading to American Samoa, along with a contingent of American yachts, to get hauled out and properly repaired.  Meanwhile the rest of the fleet is in Niue and should be leaving there today to come and join us in Tonga in a couple of days time.
 
Despite the relatively cold conditions, everyone turned out yesterday to celebrate Gitte's birthday in an underwater cave.  We all sailed over to the cave on Gunvor, towing the dinghies behind us.  There were four divers at the cave entrance to help people get in and out. 
Heading out to Mariner's cave on Gunvor.
The dinghies following behind like a clutch of ducklings.
The entrance to the cave is not obvious from the surface.  There was a fisherman passing by who showed us where it was.
Everyone getting kitted up in the dinghies outside the cave entrance.
One of the divers helping someone in.
The cave has some natural light that filters in through the entrance.  We also had torches and some pink "illum-balloons" that Andrea had on Anastasia for just such an occasion. 
One of the strange things about the cave is that the waves outside cause the water level inside to rise and fall.  This means that the air pressure is continually going up and down.  Your ears are popping all the time and the moisture in the air is repeatedly forced to condense out and form a mist.  That makes it difficult to take pictures.  One moment it is clear...
...then it starts to go cloudy...
...and becomes a complete whiteout for a couple of seconds.
 
 
 
 

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