Sunday – What an Experience – The early part NOT TO BE REPEATED.....
Half past four on Sunday morning a single flash of lightning followed immediately by the biggest crack of thunder. Within seconds a massive downpour. Winds stayed at an average of between twenty five to twenty nine knots with regular gusts up to thirty five. That brought the swell and we bounced up and down for the rest of the night. Bear sat in the cockpit and I sat in the bedroom to listen to the snubber (the thing that takes the strain off the anchor chain – making a loop of it). Instruments on at half seven, we hadn’t moved but the rain was still pouring and it was time to move around the other side of the island. This weather was completely unpredicted. Bear waited until between gusts, had to strap himself on to raise the swim ladder.
Bear went to the front and all I could do was watch him bounce up and down. Kneeling and strapped on, he had to fight to lift the anchor. With ten feet of water below us, the sea was really getting rough and in an onshore wind, from the south east, we had arrived in an unusual northerly. We were at risk if we stayed put. I followed Bears pointing finger and kept us at 0.6 knots to stay on the spot, as soon as the skippers thumb went up, I could power us forward into deeper water. Frightened no, never on Beez, but concerned especially for Baby Beez bouncing around put that concern at eleven out of ten. We headed in to the waves and at the last minute turned sharp right and headed into calm, shallow waters on the other side of the island. Mass, why not.
We left Beez behind, still very overcast and quite dark.
We headed to the concrete jetty and walked across the island along a track.
Along the way
The baby power station.
Soon on the main road, we found the tiny Catholic chapel, congregation – eight. The singing was lovely.
We popped into the ‘big church’ to see if we could find Star or Polo. The high winds had ladies hanging on to their hats. Everyone was very welcoming, but no one had seen the sisters this morning. Nothing to do but to have a little bimble and get home before the threatening rain. I did the usual, but nutty thing and swam back to Beez, minus most of my church clothes........ What a current. Bear always circles me even though I always protest to being OK. No sooner back on board than there was shouting from the jetty. Polo had heard of our village visit and come racing down the track to find us. Bear went to see her and promised a return visit next season.
Haʻafeva is a small island in the Haʻapai group of Tonga, but still the main island of the Lulunga archipelago. Kolongatata is the name commonly given to the village on Haʻafeva and is a reference to Haʻafeva's exposure to strong winds, well, you never say......................... The inhabited area of Haʻafeva can be divided into Hahake, Hihifo, Tuʻa Kolo, Loto Kolo and Uta. The Island has a population of about three hundred people.
History: It is the home estate of chiefly line of Tuʻuhetoka, (now merged with Lasike). It was Moatunu, one of their ancestors who once saved Tāufaʻāhau I from losing a decisive battle and even death at the Battle of Velata in 1826. When Tāufaʻāhau had come to Haʻafeva to ask the chief for help with his war against Laufilitonga, the last Tuʻi Tonga to be, initially the chief did not want to help him, having his allegiance with the other. But when his sister threatened to go instead, he switched loyalty, and fought close to Tāufaʻāhau. Then the latter was hit on the head by several attackers and lay unconscious on the ground. The Haʻafeva chief fought off all the enemies until Tāufaʻāhau came to. Later this warrior was named "Tuʻu-he-toka" meaning "Standing while the chief is sleeping".
Interesting note: if Tāufaʻāhau would have been a commoner instead of a chief, the proper term would be tuʻu-he-mohe; if he would already have been king, tuʻu-he-tōfā would have to be used.
It is also of note that the area around the island was the site of the 1789 Mutiny on the Bounty.
Archaeology: Haʻafeva is home to an excavation site dubbed 'Mele Havea' site after Mele Havea whose house is nearby. Hundreds of pieces of early Eastern Lapita pottery were unearthed at this site in 1996 and 1997 along with various other artifacts of early settlement of the Island. Carbon dating places these bits and bobs at approximately 2690 to 2490 years old.
Recent events: Haʻafeva was to have been the destination of the ill-fated MV Princess Ashika, an inter-island ferry which sank on the 5th of August 2009 tragically claiming many lives. the majority of those killed were women and children as it is usual in Tonga for men to sleep outside on the deck of boats whilst women and children shelter inside.
The rest of the day stayed dark, but no more rain.
ALL IN ALL WHAT A DAY
A DAY OF EXTREMES