Thursday, May 17, 2012

Underway Again!!

Well, we've made the big break from the sweet cocoon of Vavau, and are setting sail today for the Ha'apai group of Tonga. The northern end is only about 75 miles south of here, but it is for a short while 'open ocean'.

We are currently tucked away in Hunga, an extinct volcano crater about 5 miles WSW of Neiafu. We wanted to visit this spot, as another old friend of ours said that Hunga was his prefered Cyclone Hole in the Vavau area. And I've got to say, this looks more protected than either Neiafu or Tapana. And it's a beautiful (but a bit remote) spot. The moorings that are available seem a bit light (we haven't actually dove to the bottom to look at what's down there, but the lines are not the huge lines we are used to from Neiafu and Tapana).

We are currently off Ika Lahi Lodge, a beautiful eco-fishing-lodge. It is run by Caroline and Steve, a very nice couple from NZ, who sailed this area for a long time before settling here 12 years ago to build their fishing lodge. They have 4 bungalows, and 2 sport fishing boats. Typically they get groups of 6-12 who are crazy about sport fishing.

The lodge is one of the best-kept structures we have seen in the area--exceedingly well constructed, very elegant and upscale, and kept really clean and neat (even though it is off-season still for a couple more weeks). Since they are perched on the western edge of Vavau, they are also in a perfect spot for whale-watching. Caroline said that they have had several mama whales give birth right under their west-facing cliff lookout spot.

We did some snorkeling around in the two west-facing openings in the basin. It looked very diveable in both places, but we're on a mission to get going, so did not haul out the dive gear. Snorkeling around just to the south of the main pass, I saw 2 sharks and several pelagic fish. Plus there is some very interesting topography (pillars and overhangs).

This morning we leave here and head SE about 12 miles to a tiny island/reef bird sanctuary called Mananita. We have light SW winds today (switching to S and then SE overnight and picking up to 15 kts). We'll overnight at Mananita and then hopefully will have good winds to sail the 60 miles SSW to the northern end of Ha'apai on Friday.

At 05/14/2012 8:48 PM (utc) our position was 18°41.33'S 174°07.88'W

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