Climbing the MastJames
Not quite the conditions when climbing the mast as this post relates.
Farming the Black PearlIsabelle
Inside the Black-Lipped Oyster, the black, slimy part is the lip
15/09/2010, Vava'u, Tonga
When I saw a woman on some travel show swimming with Whales in Tonga in 2005, I knew it was something I wanted to do. In the confusion of wondering what to do after high school, I even remember writing an email to 'Whale Swim Adventures' asking for a job with them doing anything. I was even willing to scrub toilets. I never got a reply.
02/09/2010, Vava'u, Tonga
My heart was thudding in my chest as we treaded water in 150' depth facing the rock-face. Jamie was on my left side and Adelle, a young Australian woman on my left. I looked down and could see the black hole of the cave wiggling beneath the surface of the water. A kind of excitement welled up inside me and my breath shortened. Before I could think too much about the fact that I was diving into a dark cave with no idea how long I would have to hold my breath for before I came to the air pocket inside, we'd dived together into the darkness.
It was nearing the end of the third day of our passage from Palmerston Atoll to Tonga when we started having a closer look at the chart of the area. We noticed an intriguing looking reef. Beveridge Reef. With some research of some articles we had on board, we read that it is a landless rim of coral. Pristine. Uninhabited. Both our eyes were alight at the thought of such an adventure, an entire lagoon to ourselves! A few minutes later we had made a 90 degree left turn, and were on our way, 100 miles to Beveridge.
Bora Bora to Tonga. First stop. Palmerston Atoll. Palmerston is one of the wide-spread Cook Islands and has a unique history. In 1862, an Englishman, William Masters settled on the atoll with three Polynesian wives, one on each of the main motus, or islands, around the atoll. He and his wives ended up with 26 children and many more grand-children. They had strict rules to limit inter-marrying of descendents. About 50 of the family still live there though several have migrated to New Zealand. Palmerston has a tradition of welcoming seafarers. Much out of pure hospitality, but now they also rely on th few extra supplies that the cruising yachts can bring, like gasoline and diesel. We were told they only have enough diesel to run the generator six hours a day. There were five yachts on moorings while we were there. We arrived in the middle of the night, glad to be out of the confused cross seas we'd been having. John and Lynn on La Graciosa next to us invited us to lunch and also offered us the use of their hot shower! While we were having lunch, David from Shearwater, who was also lunching with us, remarked, 'oh, there goes Dagmar'. We all looked up to see our boat heading off for Tonga all by itself. John took me over and we rescued Dagmar and put her on another mooring. Turns out the somewhat flimsy chain had broken. David waa in the process of filming for a documentary about Palmerston and it's people. Certainly interesting subject matter. Such an insular community. While we were there some humpback whales were also sighted. Lynn and David went off in La Graciosa's dinghy in pursuit and got some great close up action as they breached, did their nose up 'periscope' routine, and a perfect raise of a fluked tail as they headed for the depths. As they were filming all this. One of the whales came right through the moored boats. Isabelle and I jumped in to try to swim with them but they were gone too fast. Alas, we never made it to shore. The weather was just always a bit too iffy, threatening to blow onshore. A dicey situation given the fact that we'd already broken one mooring. Finally, on Monday, the wind did swing to the north and a quite lumpy sea rolled in. All of us but one ended up departing.