Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dissapointing Dive, Bonus Blowhole

For the last few weeks we’ve been criss-crossing Tonga’s Vavau group checking out known dive spots and exploring some on our own. Overall, we’ve been disappointed in the condition of the reefs. We were spoiled by the reefs in the Hapaai group. We are making preparations to head back there with our friends on Mango Moon.
Seeking healthier reefs here we decided to check out a seamount we could see on satellite images. It was in deeper water a few miles East of our anchorage. We loaded up the dinghy with our scuba gear and took off to find it. We were heading upwind through some chop that made the ride bumpy and unpleasant.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Swallows Cave

We decided to move over to Port Morelle and Mango Moon moved with us. Port Morelle is a very popular anchorage and typically very crowded because of it's central location.  Upon arrival we saw that the herd of kid boats were there.  About 8 boats that have kids on board move from anchorage to anchorage en masse so the kids can be together.  We love having kids around but have avoided the herd because they take up all the room wherever they go.  I counted 10 boats in the anchorage when we arrived.  By contrast, we would see no boats for 10 days at a time in the Haapai group.
Rich modeling his custom made whale t-shirt on our short sail to Port Maurelle.  Mango Moon is in the background.

Uonukuhihifo. One of Our Favorite Anchorages in the Ha'apai Group

We sailed away from Toluku and headed to Uonukuhihifo.  That name is difficult to remember so I call it "hi hi fo fum"!  Winds were light so we motor-sailed to gain speed.  We saw at least 20 whales along the way.  

The red tag is Uonukuhihifo.  

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Ew Ew Vava'u! Mango Meetup

We left the Hunga anchorage and headed for the pass between Vaka Eitu (#16).  Our friends on Mango Moon joined us here and we snorkeled coral gardens together.  The cruising guides spoke highly of coral gardens.  We had to dinghy from our anchorage over to an island across from us.  We anchored out in about 6 feet of water and swam to shore.  Then we had to hike across the exposed reef because it was low tide.  We don't like walking on the reef but sometimes you can't avoid it.  This particular one had tons on sea cucumbers laying around barely covered in water.  IT was difficult trying not to step on any of them.  I found a blue sea star totally exposed with no water on him.  I had my gloves on so I picked him up and carried him to a shallow pool of water.  I'm not sure how long they will survive with no water on them.  I feel like they are baking in the sun so I always take them to safety.  
Once across the reef standing at the edge we had to do some gymnastics to get in.  The grooves of coral presented a way in safely.  The waves were crashing up over the coral at our feet and the best way to get in was to jump in between the finger grooves where the water was about 6-8 ft deep.  It wasn't too bad.  We jumped in with fins in our hands then put them on once we cleared away from any coral.  I think a storm must have hit coral gardens because there was more dead coral than expected. None of the cruising guides spoke of this so I assume something happened since they were written.  There were spectacular patches of cabbage coral and their were quite a few reef fish swimming in schools.  Large schools of a small black fish.  I couldn't tell what kind of fish it was.  The topology under water was interesting.  Many finger grooves that you could meander in and out of.    There was an enormous anemone with many clown fish swimming around.  They have such personality, I can't help but interact with them.  We could hear whale song really loud here.  It was so loud I thought if I swam just a little further I would see one.  But, I never did.
A really healthy patch of corals

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Healthiest Dog in Tonga is at Hunga Haven Resort.

After our dive we sailed over to the Blue Lagoon (#14).  What a beautiful place.  There are reefs almost completely surrounding the lagoon.  It was near high tide and the waves were breaking over the reef - making it too rolly for our tastes.  After about a hour of rolling we decided to go around to Hunga (#13) which is a more protected anchorage.  We stayed at Hunga for 2 days.  There wasn't a lot to do since the nearby snorkeling wasn't as good as other areas.  There were a couple of tracks to hike up adjacent mountains - if you wanted to do that.  I enjoyed the sail to Hunga as there were quite a few whales along the way and some interesting wave breaks against the steep-sided islands we passed.   Overall the Western edge of the Vavau group wasn't a favorite.  
Inside the Blue Lagoon