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

A nice example of the finger grooves in the coral.
The black fish school
Patch of cabbage coral
Nemo all tucked in his anemone.
Another type of clown fish.  The green anemone you see was weaved all over the place covering a huge area.
Rich fish
After a nice long snorkel we went and had dinner with the Mangos.  There was a beautiful sunset that evening.
Nice sunset to end the day
I love how the camera picks up the different color temperature of the anchor lights.  The anchor light is white.
The next morning a local man and his darling little daughter came by to invite us to a traditional island feast on Wednesday.  They cook the meat in an umo, which is an underground oven.  From wikipedia "Steaming food in an earth oven covers a similar process. Fire-heated rocks are put into a pit and are covered with green vegetation to add moisture and large quantities of food. More green vegetation and sometimes water are then added, if more moisture is needed. Finally, a covering of earth is added over everything. The food in the pit can take up to several hours to a full day to cook, regardless of the dry or wet method used."  The cost was $50 tongan per person.  We decided not to go as we planned to leave before the feast.
I had a beanie on board that I gave to his little girl.  I got a nice photo of her with it.  And we had heard there is a local turtle at this anchorage and sure enough I saw him pop up for some air.
Local little girl
Local turtle for this anchorage.
Rich whipping the end of a line that he cut to length.
Looking off our stern was a nice view of these islands.
On 9/13 we sailed on Mango into Neiafu to pick up their craborator and some supplies.   Ate pizza for lunch and purchased whale T-shirts with local artists designs.
To see all our photos visit Here.

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