17.10.2013

Vava'u waterworld

Vava'u is really amazing. Here you have the best of all (turquoise waters, snorkeling, dicing, fish, sand, islands, cliffs, town with interment, great fruits and vegetables) combined in one area. Vava'u waterlife is distributed over about 50 islands. We went to two caves only accessible from the water and I have seen the most intense blue color ever in my life. Also we had wonderful snorkeling with colorful corals and, finally, my beloved "Nemo", lots of orange clown fish in their anemone. Every anchorage we have been to so far has been lovely and unique with possibility to walk and discover. You have already seen the pictures from the anchorage in front of the island, where I took the cliff pictures and the first one of an anemone. Today I upload more water pictures. The only thing missing still is a whale, but you can't have it all, I guess. I am very happy anyway, don't get bored here. I swam along almost the whole bay of where we were anchored from the beach to the reef, about 3/4 of a mile and loved it. The best thing here: I have NOT seen and shark so far and that makes swimming and snorkeling so much more fun. 

Besides the great nature discoveries here I am in food heaven. Why? Never on this whole trip was I able to get great tasting fruits and vegetables for so little money. Ok, the free fruits in Mangareva were cheaper, but there were not vegetables. We are eating salads with tomato and basil, greens and cucumber every day as well as enjoy sweet pineapple, bananas, papaya, mango, coconut. 2kg tomato for EUR 1,50, 10 coconuts for EUR 4, two big sweet pineapples for EUR 2,50, the best water melon ever (they have different sizes), about 4kg/EUR 2,50. And so on. ONly potatoes, ginger, chives and onions are a bit more expensive, like normal prices, but you can get them, next to breadfruit, zucchini, eggplant (aubergine) and so on. Who knows me knows that I can't starve here. Besides the fresh stuff you can't get much, only come crackers, flour, canned fish, peanut butter and sweets. And bread, at a café owned by Kiwis you get even very good whole wheat bread. I found a freezer where you can get (expensive) bacon, seafood, some cheese and sausage. 

I was talking about the social life here before as well. You can't ever get bored. Everybody is here and no matter where you are you'll always find someone you know. And if you don't want to get off your boat and love listening to stories, just listen to the radio. ALl day long boats are calling each other and then either have a conversation on a different channel (where other switch to as well just for the fun of listening) or even stay on the main channel (which is 26 here) and chat there, to the amusement of all. Actually we did have the bast laughs in this past week just by (unwillingly) listening to the radio. We all have it on and listen to channel 26 and 16, just in case someone is in trouble and needs help or someone is calling you. There is a morning net here every day at 8:30 where general information on weather and happenings is being given as well as buy/sell/trade, looking for crew/looking for a boat to crew on etc. After that, since most boats listen to it and are online then, boats call each other like crazy. I should tape that. 

IN the last days 3 oleo people have died and yesterday I heard that a fisherman died in bad weather on the ocean leaving behind a wife and 6 children. A spanish restaurant gave the information on the morning net, informing us of a Paella feast they're having next tuesday, for 20Panga/person (EUR10), and all the money will go to the family to help. Today, as I walked from town center to the cafe, I walked by the church and saw lots of boys lined up in traditional clothes with musical instruments (trumpets and drums) in their hands. I heard a choir singing beautifully in the church. Of course I waited a bit and then the priest cam out of the church, together with quit some people in black shirts and leave skirts, and the casket (sarg). They went as a group with the music playing from church to the graveyard (or the people's home?). I learned the other day, that everybody, when he is young, weaves himself a carpet from the pandanus leaves, which he keeps all his life until he dies and is buried in that. Strange, isn't it? But it makes sense. That's the culture in Tonga. They even wear carpets around them like skirts. Sometimes a long version (ladies) and sometimes a short one, like you  might have seen on the boys from school. 

Enough for today. We change anchorage tomorrow and then sail to Ha'apai in the next days.







Swallow's cave: just look at these incredible blue colors. The blue on the walls actually is no paint or color in the stone but the reflection of the blue water on the wall!! Never seen anything like this!


Sunrays underwater

Reflections in the cave water

Cave walls


Snorkling at the reefs nearby


And here are my favorite underwater friends: the clownfish in their anemones


A sea star

Trunk fish (Kofferfisch)

I had never seen these blue sea stars before in my life - until I came to Tonga

A cave next to Mariner's cave. I love how the light came through a hole in the top of the cave


Swallow's cave again:

The entry

Beautiful underwater light. THe most amazing blue I have ever seen. This picture actually shows how it really was..

A white jellyfish swam into the light beam under water. Isn't that amazing?

Our dinghy in Swallo's cave


All these and more pictures are online in the gallery. Just follow the link:    


14.10.2013

Vava'u

I already reported that Vava'u is a wonderfully different group of islands. We have enjoyed a great week so far and kept moving around. The anchorages are gorgeous and mostly very calm with birds and cicade (Grillen) singing. I felt like at home in spring time, only that at home I cannot swim 100m to the next reef and see this colourful underwater world. Only whales have not given us audience yet. Almost everybody I know had the chance to snorkel next to one and take great photos. Well, never give up the hope.

Besides all the nature something there is something else happening here. There was a race from the 10th til today. It included lots of party and information activities (supported by the marinas in New Zealand who expect all of us sailors there). There was a short in harbour race on friday and two long distance races to and from an island on the east side (saturday and today). That was a lot of fun. We did not want to race Alita and then we also did not want to leave here alone, so Marcus drove Alita to finish and I crewed on the Catamaran "Margarite". That was a really great experience. Not only being on a cruising catamaran for the first time but especially to be with its extremely nice owners, Bruce and Dinah. I will link their blog shortly...We had a great time and they were really happy about the additional hand. On saturday evening there was a beach party on a small island, an outlet of a resort. So we all met there for drinks. We could not spend to many hours as to get the chance to speak to everyone we have met over the last half year. About half the boats we met over the last healf year do take the same rout as we do. They all came to Tonga and they all will leave from here to New Zealand. More parties coming up in New Zealand...The next Regatta and party/information happening takes place in Opua harbour, New Zealand, Nov. 16th-20th. We all hope to be there as well.

Tomorrw Marcus and I are going out again to different bays and we'll come back once to check out from Vava'u to Ha'apai.

I just uploaded pictures from here and the race. Follow the link: http://sailing.smichah.de/#!album-75


 Dinghy valet parking in front of the island for the beach party


 See our friend Michael from Anico on the cliff? Pretty small, eh...


 Looking over the islands of Vava'u...




 Two baots racing...
 The bosses of "Margarita"
 A traditional boat with traditionally dressed people. It also participated in the race, that was great. These are the boats the polynesians took across the Pacific many years ago...





 Clown fish at sea anemone



I hope you enjoyed these pix...