Wednesday July 21st 1935 Local 0634
Late on Sunday afternoon we anchored up inside what
showed as a ringlet of small coral surrounded islands on the chart and which
looked like a good anchorage. When we got there however a couple of the islands
were not really there only the coral was remaining, so the anchorage was
only fine for an overnight stay. That however suited me fine because I had
scoped out a small island to visit the next day.
Before that however, we spent the evening on
Sunday in disbelief at the experience with the whales we had had that day
........ I can still hardly believe it!
At 0700 on Monday we set of for Ha'afeva island and
5 hours later we found a leeward anchorage to ourselves. It was in 5m over sand
in turquise waters and an inviting beach and palm forrested island a couple of
hundred metres to windward of us.
It was not long before we were ashore walking down
a forrest track when we met a man walking with an empty 45 gallon drum over his
shoulder. He invited us to his house for a Tongan lunch the next day. We
accepted and I said I would give him fish that we had caught and was in the
freezer and he said he would add it to the lunch - cooked in coconut milk.
Further through the village we met another family who also wanted us to come to
lunch the next day. We explained we had already been invited and they offered to
cook up a Tongan dinner and bring it to our boat which we gratefully accepted.
On the way back through the village we met a young
man who was very interested in speaking with us and he walked us back down the
forrest track to the leeward side of the island. He was 20 and from Tongatapu
and explained that he had been "banished" here by his father. He said that he
was always fighting, but that it was never his fault..... He loved rugby, and
was certainly built to play it. He said he lived wild in the bush and survived
on the plentiful food that could be had there. I am quite sure that the
islanders, however would give him food also. He was very sad, almost crying, at
one point when he said he desperately missed Tonga and wanted to go home.
However, he said he could not go home until his father said so. Half way along
the path he asked if we liked coconuts to which we answered possitive. He shot
up a vertical 15metre coconut tree - putting my coconut tree climbing to shame -
and threw down 15 coconuts! As there were far too many for us we distributed
them among the few boats which were now at the anchorage. His was an interesting
story and a very informative insight into some aspects of Tongan life. The guy
was very nice and I am sure has potential if only he could channel
his energy to good productive use. If I had met him at home I would
probably have given him an opportunity of a
The next day we did a few boat jobs, swam and
wakeboarded in the morning then headed off for lunch. The lunch was quite an experience and was hosted in an old
dilapidated, and it has to be said filthy and rotten "Umu" (Tongan Oven)
shed. It was a bit of a shock to say the least, but clearly the family had very
little, though they had two houses nearby. It was of paramount
importance for us all, nevertheless, to keep foremost in our minds the
kindness they showed in offering us the lunch. The initial shock at the location
was compounded by our host showing us a chopped up turtle in a large cooking
bowl. The girls' faces tried hard to hide the horror they felt when shown the
turtle, lest they be expected to eat it. The food was pork wrapped in taro
leaves and tapioca and yams, which are both root vegtables. The fish we gave
them was also served in coconut milk which was very nice. We were however
uncomfortable to say the least and keen to on the one hand to do our best to eat
as much as possible and not show our discomfort in any way and on the other hand
not to prolong the experience. We distributed some gifts and thanked them
and invited the man and his sister, who spoke very good english, to our boat for
coffee the next morning.
At 5 o'clock Auka and his family arrived with lots
of dishes prepared, including fish, yam and corned beef in taro leaves. It was
beautiful and was a delightful meal. It was also a pleasure to spend time with
them and their family who were all mormon and seemed to live a good life and
worked hard, kept a good home and had a close knit
I had forgotten that mormons did not take alchohol,
tea or coffee, so I had to quickly redo drinks for them having made a
pineapple and orange rum punch.
Auka invited me out Lobster fishing that night
and I was very happy to accept. I gifted him a hand held VHF which he was
delighted with. This is a great gift to be able to give to people who are
working round boats and it was very well received.
I left Rhiann Marie in the darkness with Auka's
family and visited their house at the village on the windward side of the
island. I met with their mother and father while we were preparing for
the fishing trip and they seemed very happy to meet me, the palangi
(Tongan/Pacific word for foriegner ), and ask some questions about our life. The
house was very homely and it was a privilege to be invited in and speak with the
family. The mother was now wearing the Musto snug I had given Auka's sister to
keep her warm on the boat journey back to their house and i could see there was
no way it was coming back! Oh well it went to a good home......
The fishing trip would be under the black of night
and would be snorkelling on the reef with torches and Tongan Spears. These
spears are three pronged and have a heavy rubber band tied in a loop to the end.
You hook your thumb through the loop and stretch it all the way forward while
grasping the spear. When you release the spear from your grip it "fires"
forward. It takes a bit of a knack, but its not too difficult. Out on the reef
on the small open boat, with the wind blowing cool air across
us, the fishermen paused for a prayer before fishing. It was a
long prayer and in Tongan so I did not understand it, but like Apii in the Cook
Islands, who prayed in English before fishing, this seemed to be a
tradition in the area and I have no doubt they were asking to be kept safe and
for good fishing and giving thanks for their many blessings.
In the dark cool water, the pace was fast and under
strict instructions to stay close to Auka it took me all my time to keep up with
him barely allowing time to look in the holes in the reef for the lobster, or
under the overhangs to find fish. Anyway once I got the hang of it I got a
couple of fish and a couple of lobster, but it was exhausting and we swam for 2
- 3 hours. In the end I hardly had the energy to tension up the spear
sufficiently to get it to fire powerfully and acurately and as a consequence
near the end I missed two or three fish. It was a facinating and exhilerating
experience and now with our trolling and spear gun fishing I have a new fishing
method to help catch fish once I can find a Tongan spear to buy. However i
am sure this method would only work at night as you need to get close to the
fish. Watching our torches scouring the reef like overhead
searchlights hunting down a fugitive was quite eerie and I dont think Trish
would accompany me on one of these fishing missions, so I will have to wait to
find another islander to spear fish with.
On the trip Auka asked if we liked pig which of
course we do. He then offered to make a Tongan feast for us the next day and
would kill a small pig and roast it in traditional Tongan style for us. I was
thrilled with this, and while I would have preffered to have had it ashore they
wanted to bring all the food out to us to our boat again and have the
feast aboard. The extended family came and we had a most amazing feast with
Auka ceremoniously carving up the pig and making a Tongan Grace. This was
another great day and it was a privilege for us to be honoured with this
We plan to move on on Thursday morning but we don't
know where yet.