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Ha'afeva , Ha'apai Group, Tonga
11/14/2012, 19 56.477'S:174 42.913'W, Tonga

Another anchorage. We left Foa this morning and made a quick stop in the town of Pangai on Lifuka in order to check in with customs (which you need to do in each island group in Tonga). We grabbed a few veggies at the local market, and ate lunch at the one and only cafe. The we left to sail over to Ha'afeva which has better protection and is a better staging point to head south.

Forgot to mention that yesterday we were able to watch an eclipse which was visible in a fair bit of the southern hemisphere.

Foa, Ha'apai
11/13/2012, 19 44.136'S:174 18.350'W, Tonga

We just dropped anchor in the Ha'apai off of Foa Island. Caught a nice skipjack tuna today. And somthing else with big teeth took one of our lures. The wind was on the nose today, so we had to motor to get in before dark. Now for a bit of cake for Amy's Birthday.

p.s. we saw some pumice floating in the water today. There have been several earthquakes recently and their a many underwater volcanoes in the area. As we get further south we will see lots of pumice and there are even more active volcanoes under water.

11/13/2012, 18 42.679'S:174 02.251'W, Tonga

Good by Vava'u group. We are picking up anchor in five minutes to sail to the Ha'apai group. Its about 65 miles from here.

Is it time to post again?
11/09/2012, 18 39.117'S:173 59.182'W, Neiafu, Vava'u Tonga

We are still in the Vava'u group of islands in Tonga. We've been here just short of a month now. It has been a nice lazy time to hang out with lots of other yachting friends. Though everyone is getting itchy to head to New Zealand, and many boats have already left for New Zealand. It is an interesting place. The people are nice and friendly--but it is very third world in most respects. The Tongans tend to dress fairly traditionally, but not exclusively.

We've enjoyed going to a Tongan feast, and exploring a number of the islands. No Kava yet. We have however, spent a fair bit of time in places that serve pizza, burgers and beer :). Fortunately, it is mostly a pretty inexpensive place to hang out.

A pretty nasty low went through this past week so we headed into town to sit on a mooring. And now we are about to head back out to the pretty parts again and do a bit more swimming, snorkeling, diving etc. Stephen and Rivers recently completed their open water scuba certifications, so we'll probably do a bit of diving with them over the next couple of days.

The picture is of one of the markets a short distance from the boat. Lovely pineapples And the rest isn't bad either.

10/18/2012, 18 39.117'S:173 59.182'W, Tonga

My posts have gotten farther and fewer between. Its easy and nice to get away from the internet! But yesterday's activities merit a post. We spent the day swimming with a mother humpback whale and her calf here in the Vava'u group in Tonga. Yes, not just watching from a boat--we were in the water swimming with these mammoth creatures. The mother was an old mother, and was a very large humpback. Probably around 50 feet and between 40 and 50 tons. She spent most of her time hovering about 30 feet below the water, but would come up about every 10 minutes or so, then head back down. Her calf was between 15 and and 20 feet long. The calves weigh about a ton. This calf was a couple of months old and was very active. She swam up and down constantly. Breaching and spinning, and swimming upside down--and frequently came close to inspect us. At times, the mother and calf were within a couple of feet of us. The calf also spent a fair bit of time nursing.

At one point, things got a bit exhilirating as the mother got irritated by how far away the calf got, and perhaps that the calf was closely inspecting us. So momma took off towards us fairly quickly and did a swirling turning breach right next to us, while we were all scrambling to get out of the way. She gathered her calf and moved off about 50 meters. Slightly exciting. Its amazing just how massive humpback whales are.

We have some good video and pictures. One of these days we'll get around to putting up some new galleries of the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, The Society Islands, Suwarrow, and Am. Samoa and Tonga. And the whales will deserve a gallery of their own.

10/18/2012 | AE
Holy cow!! Would love to see more photos and the video. What an experience for all of you!
10/18/2012 | Jennifer Wenk
I've been suspecting it for some time but now am thoroughly convinced that you are the master of understatement. Exhilarating indeed! Thanks for your story and all of the ones before. (Jenny Lang's MIL)
10/19/2012 | Dave
Very cool picture, gotta love it when you find a friendly whale to hang out with.
10/19/2012 | Jill Hoag
WOW! Were you snorkeling ? Were Stephen and Rivers in the water also to witness this? I suppose it's too late to call the NY Child Protection Agency :) Mom
10/19/2012 | Laurie C
Wow! What a sight to see but glad its you not me! Wishing to safe travels. Laurie c
10/21/2012 | Wil
You always have to one up us,don't you! Did you use a go pro camera? Going back to Jarrett Bay for haul out because we left a blue racing stripe on a whale with our keel and rudder. One to two weeks to repair rudder. Have fun but watch your back because we are coming.
10/25/2012 | James & Lesley Laker
Were very jealous of this :) , hope your having a fantastic time, what an amazing picture !!!
10/28/2012 | Scott & Kitty Kuhner
Just came across your website as I was looking through our guest book today, and I see you ARE in the Pacific. We met you in Vero Beach around Thanksgiving of 2011 and you said you were going to go to the Pacific. Wow so glad to see you made it.
Neiafu, Vava'u, Tonga
10/14/2012, 18 39.117'S:173 59.182'W, Tonga

We made it. We are now in Tonga. Lovely looking place. Now we are going to go see some of it.

10/14/2012 | jill Hoag
Safe and to our ears. Mom
Time Travel
10/13/2012, 16 18.952'S:172 13.546'W, The Tonga Trench

We are about halfway between American Samoa and the Vava'u group in Tonga. We've now crossed the international date line, more or less since we've changed our clocks to Tonga time. So we've jumped ahead a day. We are at 16d 19m S and 172 d 13 W and its 1910zulu on 10/13/12. Tonga is zulu + 13 hrs. So its 810 am for us on the 14th. our heading is about 205mag. Our SOG is 8.5kts. Wind is ESE at 20-22kts. Seas about 2.5meters.

Leaving Am. Samoa
10/11/2012, 14 16.390'S:170 41.798'W, South Pacific

Cheese Burgers and Ice Cream at McDonalds. Brightly colored buses. Extremely nice people. Great and easy provisioning. Golf. Hiking. Happy hour. Tomahawk steaks. The smell of the Cannery. A United States post office.

We are going to miss Pago Pago.

Tonga here we come.

10/12/2012 | jill Hoag
Good sailing. What are tomahawk steaks??? Mom
Am. Samoa
09/28/2012, 14 16.390'S:170 41.798'W, South Pacific

We are here. Another "country", sort of. Am. Samoa definitely feels and looks like another country, certainly another island nation. But we are in the "American" part now. Its an American territory, but it retains a good bit of self government for most things, including immigration policies. The area is still governed by tribal chiefs, and we are not free to move the boat wherever we would like. If we want to go to a particular bay, we would need to get permission first from the chief or chiefs in that area.

Not sure what we'll do today. Probably explore a bit. Maybe see if I can pick up a spare back up hard drive. Last night we went out for chinese with our friends on water musick. The portions were samoan...

The harbor here is very commercial. It is filled with commercial fishing boats, tug boats, container ships (small ones) etc. Pago Pago used to have a number of tuna canneries, and it still has one starkist plant--unfortunately, you can smell it. Its an odd mix of dramatic tropical mountains and coconut palms--and heavy industrial elements. We can't wait to get on a bus or in a car and see the other parts of the area which are supposed to be very beautiful. So far the Samoans have been among the nicest and friendliest people that we have met.

The picture is of Amy snorkeling with a Manta ray in Suwarrow.

09/28/2012 | jill Hoag
Fantastic picture. Hope you post more. Glad you arrived safely. Mom and Dad
09/28/2012 | Linda Klark
beautiful colors in this picture. Enjoy and try to stay away from Charlie the Tuna!
09/29/2012 | Taiga
The photo of the manta ray is for me, the best of your many great shots.
09/29/2012 | AE
What a beautiful photo! Wonder what the ray did after seeing Amy?
10/01/2012 | Tracy Walvatne
HEY FROM FARGO!!!! Was just thinking about you guys and popped in to your blog and BAM was greeted by Amy and a Manta Ray. You don't see that everyday in ND.....or ever.
: ) SO, so, so happy you are chasing your dreams! Write or call when you have time.
Much love - The Walvatnes
10/28/2012 | Scott & Kitty Kuhner
When Kitty and I were in Suwarrow back in 1988, I went spear fishing with a friend. I got 9 fish; but only landed 4 in the dinghy. A shark came over my shoulder and took the others off the end of my spear before I could get it into the dinghy.
Passage to Samoa (thurs am)
09/27/2012, 14 17.430'S:170 23.826'W, South Pacific

We are nearing Pago Pago, and expect to be at anchor in a few hours. Fairly uneventful so far. We passed a couple of Samoan Islands last night, in the middle of the night, which you need a permit to visit. Since they are to windward of Pago Pago, they must not get many visitors--probably an interesting place to visit.

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