Monday, May 28, 2012

Diving with Fins n Flukes

We arranged a nice 2 tank dive with Brian and Sabina of Fins n Flukes (, with our friends from Impala and Downtime.

We met on the dock at Pangai and loaded up our gear into their Tongan fishing boat--a 34-foot long narrow wooden boat with a small cabin, and powered by an outboard motor. Brian and his Tongan crew, Lani, took us out to 2 sites near Pangai. We didn't go further afield because the wind was blowing over 15 kts.

The first site was called Atlantis--a nice patch reef with a lot of profile, and lots of live coral and small fish. Brian was a great dive guide--pointing out a lot of stuff we would have missed, and looking for Nudibranchs for Dave to photograph. Nudibranchs are small organisms about 1/4" to 1/2" long, usually very colorful. In addition to the beautiful hard and soft coral and all the reef fish, we also saw a Spotted Eagle Ray and Giant Trevally. Between the wind and the cooler Fall water temps, it was a little cool for us Florida divers, but Brian and Lani had hot tea ready for us when we came up, and the cabin was big enough for us all to get out of the wind.

The second dive was on Mariner's Patch, a spot of reef known for the last anchoring site of the Port au Prince, a British trading boat that visited Tonga in the early 1800's. The Tongans coveted their iron nails and implements, and attacked the Port au Prince, killing all but one or two sailors. Local legend says the Port au Prince was dragged to the beach and burned, to recover all the iron nails, and what was left was set adrift. One of the sailors spared was a young Midshipman named William Mariner. Legend has it that he was specifically spared because he was the only crew member that showed up in uniform, and the leaders thought he must be royalty. Anyway, William Mariner lived with the Tongans for several years before heading back to England. He wrote an account of his life with the Tongans which is now heralded as the best anthropological information about Tongan ways and customs before the European impact changed everything.

Brian showed us an anchor that is supposed to be from the Port au Prince. (Dave says it is too small to be the primary anchor--probably a smaller kedge anchor to hold them in place). Plus lots of other interesting things, including a few swim-throughs.

We definitely got more out of our dives with Fins and Flukes than we would have otherwise. I am sure, even if we had been given the waypoint, we would never have found the anchor or seen nearly as many interesting things.

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