Mirabilis - New Year at The Anchorage
We are now anchored in the popular “Anchorage” in Torrent Bay next to our old neighbours Dan and Alex from Chaffers in their new yacht Amok on board which we spent New Year’s Eve and watched the impressive fireworks show put on by the local, and very wealthy, Talley’s family. New Year’s Day was a windy one with most of us spending most of the day on board watching the wind speed spike with gusts up to 40 knots. We were pleased to not have ventured ashore when a yacht tried anchoring Read more...
Mirabilis - Totaranui & Separation Point
It is lovely and warm over here and as soon as we had set the anchor it was in for a swim followed by a quick trip ashore to explore and a lazy evening enjoying the warmth in the cockpit. The next day we paddled around the estuary and did a short walk in the park including a small loop track right next to the inlet that still has a couple of magnificent towering old trees - ancient relics of the past reminding us of what the forest around here used to be like and eventually will be again. Nikau Read more...
Mirabilis - Vava'u has kidnapped us!
So we reluctantly left the beautiful and deserted Haapai islands and arrived in Vavau about a month ago and arent showing any signs of budging. Vavau seems to have taken hold of us and Mike is threatening to apply for residency.
This place is completely different from the Haapai group and as Mike puts it, I get homesick for the outer islands or Neiafu fever if we stay in town (Neiafu) for too long. That said, we have met so many great and fascinating people and really feel Read more...
Vavau is known as a bit of a sailing mecca as we have discovered as the islands are all very close together and you can find perfectly sheltered anchorages in any conditions. There are some stunning places to visit too, Swallows Cave and Mariners Cave are particularly amazing for snorkelers.
Swallows you swim into to find you are sharing the cave with thousands of small schooling fish which you can then dive under and up through or just watch the beautiful shapes they form. The water is stunningly clear and outside the cave is a steep drop-off into the blue with coral and feather stars clinging to the wall as far as you can see and a myriad of colourful fish working their way between them.
Mariners is a trippy experience and quite magical. Once you find the cave that is... We found ourselves searching for Mariners Cave one day in our dinghy laden with us and three young trainee doctors who we had met a week earlier at Tonga Bobs (the local pub) quiz night. We putted a mile across the channel from an anchorage on the eastern side of Kapa Island and started searching for the famous cave. However, this is Tonga so there was no big sign pointing the way, rather about a kilometre long wall of cliff for us to search for some sign of a cave entrance hiding beneath the surface. After a lot of surveying promising looking sites (including one where we surfaced in a cavelet with just enough headroom to take one quick breath!) we finally found a spot that looked like it had to be it...hadnt it?! After much procrastinating I finally took a deep breath and dived down and in...and in... oh thank goodness, I spied the telltale sign of a large air bubble and surfaced to find myself in a huge cave. As I recovered my breath and started to take it all in, the cave started to rapidly fill with fog, almost completely obscuring the walls from view, then just as quickly it cleared and the air was crystal clear once more.
This pattern is repeated over and over with some episodes more dramatic than others depending on the size of the swell that drives this awesome phenomenon. Pretty freaking cool! Eventually the others joined me one-by-one. Mariners Cave was immediately placed at the top of our list of places to take any visitors to.
If you ever come to Vavau make SURE you dont miss Mariners Cave.
Other things that have been keeping us entertained here over the last month include a visit to a private island to join a three day party (complete with battle hip and poker tournaments), a bit of historic heritage with a visit to the remnants of a 400 year old stone wall for first borns, walks through a few small villages and plantations, snorkeling and diving, island circumnavigation either by kayak or on foot, beach combing, octopus stalking, pig racing (a fund raising event for the local conservation NGO which also included human horse racing, coconut husking and hermit crab racing) and a trip out to Kenutu Island, the eastern most island of Vavau where you can anchor. The eastern side of the island is completely exposed to the full brunt of the ocean making for dramatic cliffs, blow holes and intertidal waterfalls that come and go with the surge. On the lee side, beautiful snorkeling over seagrass and shallow coral beds, and best of all its one of the quieter anchorages in Vavau with most cruisers sticking to the western side of the cut so we had it all to ourselves.
Right, time to sign out as were off to pick up my uncle who is visiting for a week. Then its off to the Niuas for us the smallest and most undeveloped of the Tongan island groups. We will update again in a month or so no doubt. Love Dani & Mike PS, if you want to pay the ransom it is payable in Whittakers chocolate, jars of marmite, cheese in all molds and moulds, vogels bread, good wine, chippies (for Mike of course) and oddly enough cauliflower and broccoli Bizarre the things you miss!