Getting ready for Fiji

Lars Alfredson
Tue 28 May 2013 06:51
Pos 19:57.28S 174:42.36W
Ha'afeva Island, Ha'apai

20130528 Tuesday - Heading for Ha'afeva Island

07:30 the sound of a loud horn has us scurrying up on deck where were met with the sight of the inter-island Ferry tied up against the dock and lowering the gangplank to disgorge its passengers. Tongan music strikes up of over the ships loud-speakers, whereupon the crowd waiting to meet and greet friends and relatives start dancing and shouting and the whole dockside takes on a carnival atmosphere.

We're entertained by the antics as we take breakfast, then its time for us to set out for Ha'afeva, one of the outer islands, of this group, as a preliminary to our departure to Fiji. The route weaves us through a myriad of islands and reefs and we take care to avoid a large area of overfalls caused by a long submarine ridge which rise some 150 metres from the bottom to within 70 metres of the surface.

The weather's overcast with a front going through and the wind is from the north, though it's forecast to move to the south tomorrow before swinging more easterly, all good winds for us as we head west to Fiji.

Turning up the west coast around the end of the island we encounter a large swell and decide to turn back and a seek better shelter on the eastern side The approach is littered with reefs which we negotiate our way through before finding a sandy spot to drop anchor.

We haven't been there long when a local fisherman approaches asking if we would like any fish or Bananas, as he's hoping to bargain for Fish hooks or fuel for his outboard. Regrettably it's all negative as we have a freezer full of food including fish, only enough fuel for our own outboard and we've already given away all our spare fishhooks.

It's times like this, though the islands are naturally rich in coconuts, pigs and chickens, you realise how little some of these people have and wish you had been better prepared. Then as it reaches low tide the kids and adults are out walking on the exposed reef gathering molluscs, while pigs wander the beach.

This is the area of the great explorers such as Captain Cook and of high seas infamy. It was in these island waters that Captain Bligh was cast adrift from the Bounty. Then, going ashore and having received a less than friendly welcome from the natives (Similar to Cook) he decided to set out on his epic voyage'

The Ha'apai Group is also the home of Tonga's disappearing island . From 1781 to 1865 there were reports of a shoal 72km northwest of Tongatapu. In 1885 an island 50 metres high and 2 km long was confirmed and amid great excitement Tonga planted its flag and claim and named it as Fonuafo'ou, meaning new land.

Then in 1894 it went missing! Two years later it reappeared 320 metres high and 2.5km long! Before disappearing again. In 1927 it re-emerged and in 1930 measured 130 metres high! By 1949 again there was no trace and though it has emerged once more though it hasn't been seen since.

Bob the Blog