Thursday August 5th 1045 local 0945
You are now speaking to a fully qualified PADI Open
Water Diver! It was back to school for a couple of days and our Instructor Brian
put us all through the paces and was very thorough. It was scary to realise how
much diving we had done and how much there was that we should have known, but
didn't know. However we do now and we will continue diving and building up
Our time in Lifuka was very pleasant and we became
locals at the Mariners Cafe playing Yatzee with the locals and generally kicking
back. That is, between the two full days diving and studying and the usual list
of jobs to attend to. Meanwhile, Rhiann and Amy took a cycle tour
around the island, repaired the punctured RIB and honed their
wakeboarding skills. We are all wakeboarding off the RIB now except Trish, who
is nursing something very like a strained ligament. She slipped and fell on the,
well ...... slip way. The name should have told her of the risk. She
promises to have a go at the wakeboard when she recovers but in the meantime did
really well to get her diving cert done, not only with the injury but to conquer
her fear of removing her mask and swimming around at 18metres deep!
During our dives we dived on the newly discovered
anchor of the Port au Prince. This vessel was carrying a "mark" which meant
she was a "legalised" pirate ship, with orders to sack any Spanish or French
ships and remove ("loot") the also ill gotten gains, normally treasure from
these ships. Anyway when she could not find anything to steal she was under
orders to take whales and bring back the whale oil. And so it was that just
over two hundred years ago she was making for Tahiti but in fact missed Tahiti
and ended up in Ha'apai in Tonga. There she was greeted by the local Tongans who
made feasts for the crew and visited the ship in great
The story has it that almost three hundred Tongans
were aboard when they launched their plan to murder the crew and relieve them of
their ill gotten gains. The whole 70 crew were murdered and the ship burnt. All
that was left was the anchor and that was just discovered in December and we
were lucky to dive on it. It was quite spooky to think what had happened
18metres above our heads 200 years ago! On the other hand it was quite likeley
another metre or so below us was treasure ...... A team is coming from New
Zealand soon to carry out a search.
On another maritime theme you will all know about
the mutiny on the Bounty. Most people tend to think it happened in Tahiti but in
fact it happened right here in Ha'apai. Fletcher Christian put captain William
Bligh and some of his men ashore in Tofua. The story the world knows goes like
this; Captain Bligh was put ashore and one of his men was murdered so he left in
a hurry in an open boat and made the famous trip of 40 odd days in an open
boat before landing in Fiji? I think.
However I met a man who told me what really
happened and who is called Villiami (William) and is captain Bligh's decendant.
He explained that Captain Bligh was ashore in Tofua and a man did die, but was
not murdered. He said that William Bligh had a liason with the king of
Tofua's daughter. He said that he got her pregnant and ran out on her. He
also showed me the direct lineage from Bligh to him and in fact I got a
photocopy from him of the whole story of his investigations and attempt to tell
his story to the world. Well there you have it! Don't forget you heard it here
first and remember there are always two sides to every story.
I have many things to tell you about the
Kingdom of Tonga and I will ........ soon. In the meantime these problems with
the electronics that I was sure would appear are starting, so I need to spend
some time beating them back into shape.
Tomorrow we have to start heading further south to
try to get to Nuku Alofa around the 8th or 9th to get the kids on the plane
on the 10th.