Ha'apai Islands

Lars Alfredson
Sat 25 May 2013 10:34
Pos 19:50.96S 174:24.86W
Uoleva Island

20130524 Friday - Ha'ano to Lifuka

Under clear blue skies the temperature rises rapidly and the relative cool of the night disappears. By ten o'clock it's risen to 30C from 26C though the water temperature stays stable at 28.8C.

As the tide falls we find ourselves surrounded by near exposed reefs with mini breakers now running across them. Low tide is around 12:30 and has a range of just over a metre which will leave these reefs very close to the surface and if exposed would kill surely them.

We start our snorkelling around noon when the sun is highest giving the best light for filming. Launching ourselves off the stern of the yacht we slip into the warm clear waters. We're "flying" at 10 metres above a sandy bottom littered with small islets of coral that rise up a metre of so, each with their own micro colonies of fish.

The bottom becomes more littered with dead coral and as a large dark outline comes into focus as we hit the main reef that rises vertically from the bottom. The individual coral that make up the reef come in a myriad of colours and shapes from yellow, purple orange and white some dome shaped like a huge brain others like large umbrella supported by a delicate tapering column that anchors them precariously to the reef.

The reef is teeming with fish or all colours, metallic greens, iridescent blues, and the rich orange of Clownfish as they lurk in the purple tipped tentacles of the sea anemones. Filming, we drift slowly through the shoals. A few dash into the protecting branches of the corals, but generally they seem pretty indifferent to our presence.

The tide has now reached it lowest point and a few of the corals poke through the surface maintained only by the surf that now rolls over them and threatens to strand us on top as we swim through the shallow valleys and over them.

Time for lunch as we swim towards the yacht and haul ourselves back aboard.

A shower, a beer, all this swimming is thirsty work.

Well it's been a perfect day so far, but then disaster strikes. Lars's head (Toilet) has bunged up. Oh dear, first it has to be emptied then the pump dismantled. The sweet scent emanating during this process is better imagined that experienced as anyone who has ever tackled this problem with appreciate.

Undaunted he struggles on replacing valves various and reassembling the pump. An appropriate word is heard to come from the offending toilet area and on enquiry I am advised that it's still not working and major plumbing works to trace the blockage we have to be undertaken, tomorrow! Fortunately we have two Heads and "Mon Capitan" will have to slum it in the crew Loo.

Anchor up and we set a course for the main "Town" of Pangai on Lifuku the next island down the chain. We moor near the ferry dock and head for town looking for the Immigration office. Enquiring of a friendly native busy on his mobile phone he not only points us but takes us to the offices. During the walk he informs us he a pastor of one of the many churches on the island.

The office is located in and "L" shaped collection of single story tin roofed buildings and is shared with the Post Office. The paperwork is minimal for a change, but he's not happy with another boat we saw leaving as we approached as they did not bother to check in at all.

He gives us directions to the "Mariners" restaurant which we had been advised had ceased to operate. To our delight the restaurant which also declares itself as the Ha'apai Yacht Club bears signs of life inasmuch as the chalk board declares "Open at 6".

Parts suitably polished and a clean T-shirt to boot we return. They do basic food, so Hamburgers for dinner, have bottles of "Maka," though the beer is not very cold and we have to switch to Heineken, and glory be, Wi-Fi which they will switch on for 6 Pa'anga and hour.

We send the latest blog and pix's but I can't get my E-mails to download and Lars computer too decides to play up and it's a battle to get the blog off before his battery runs out.

Nightcaps under a full moon making the night like day, the gentle lap of waves against the Hull and the music of Eva Cassidy lulls us to our bunks.

Bob the Blog.