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TONGA - FIJI Voyage 167

2 August 2002 - Soren Larsen is near Lautoka, on the western side of Viti Levu, Fiji. The ship has sailed southabout from Overlau, their port of entry on the east side of Fiji and the called at the isaland of Bequa (pronounced Benga) on their way. On Sat. 3rd the present Voyage Crew depart the ship in Lautoka - and they will continue with their school project by staying with the village at the island of Namara in the Yassawas.


Saturday 28th July 2003 - Capt Davies reports:

Hi all - After departing from Nieafu, Vavau we stopped at Mariners Cave (as the weather had not been suitable on the way up).

Here most students snorkeled and managed the underwater entrance to the cave - and then we took the inflatable boats through Swallows Cave. [See picture page from the previous voyage here]. It was a good finish to the Tonga part of the voyage.



Departing under sail for our ocean passage to Fiji - light east wind.


Friday 26th July 2002: 18° 28' South and 174° 55' West
Sunny weather - Soren Larsen on a starboard tack with all squaresails set. By the afternoon the wind backs Northerly F2 and Soren is ghosting along. I choose this as an opportunity to do a Do MOB (man overboard) drill - we use a marker buoy (!) - which involves the whole deck in handing sail and launching the rescue boat and recovering the 'casualty'. At the end of a successful drill I let everyone go for a ride in the rescue boat to take pictures of the ship under sail as this is a good ocean photo opportunity.

1800 - making little progress under sail so I instructed Engineer Phil to start the main engine. Motoring over calm seas we passed through Oneata Passage in the Lau group. By 0800 Saturday we found ourselves motoring against F4 Westerly and had 2 hrs rain as the weather front passes (so no brasso for the 8-12 today? Ed.)
1630 dolphins visit us after afternoon tea. Sky clear wind backing South Westerly - we should sail soon.

ETA Levuka, Fiji 1800 Sunday - we will put back the ship's clocks 1 hr tonight, which will make us the same time zone as NZ.

See sketchs and accounts from the school group Tonga to Fiji V167 here

The Coopers Company & Coborn School
from Upminster UK joined the ship in Nukualofa for their 18 day voyage to Fiji on Tues 16th July. See their website at

Here are captain Tony Davies' latest reports from the ship:

TONGA Wed. 17th to Sat. 20th July 2002

Wednesday: Their first morning aboard Soren Larsen and the ship is lying quietly off the wharf at Nukualofa. The new student voyage crew got used to their cabins last night and as is customary we did the Captain and 1st Mate's introductions and safety briefings in the morning and then harnesses were issued and all were taken aloft for sail training.

Leaving Tongatapu we set out on this, the first of our two school voyages. Conditions were favourable and I felt it would make a good start to our project to sail off the anchor. This involved everyone hauling halyards and using the sails to maneuver the ship, without the aid of the main engine, as we heaved up the anchor and payed off onto our first sailing tack.

We had a good sail to Nomuka with a ESE F4 tradewind which carried on through our overnight sail. All landed on Nomuka where we visited the school & walked across the island. We found a place of some historical significance - the waterhole or pond that was used by first Tasman and later by Cook and then Bligh to take on water supplies. The students found it hard to believe they drank such muddy water !

In the afternoon we moved the vessel across the channel to the smaller island of Nomuka Iki where again the Avon inflatables were launched it was all ashore or snorkeling and bush walks.

Friday 19th: 0600 we 'up-ed anchor' and motorsailed to Uoleva. There was great excitement on deck as a pod of humpback whales were spotted and we witnessed them breaching spectacularly.
Arriving at Uoleva in the afternoon the shore party went to explore the deserted beach.

Sat 20th: Uoleva - This is a wonderful spot to have a beach BBQ and so Tracey and Nicki packed the lunch supplies into the Avon for a meal ashore. By 1400 the crew were all onboard after BBQ and we prepared to get the ship ready for sea. The weather by now was a strong F5/6, from the SE which was favourable for our course north to Vava'u but squally with some showers (it strikes me as strange that the weather always deteriorates when we have a BBQ..)
With 1 reef set in the mains'l we got underway from Ouleva by 1725 - ETA Vavau Sunday 1100. Our Coopers Coborn crew are doing well - they are adapting to the ship and the tropics quite quickly and are keen to join in. My only problem is their water consumption - 350 gallons yesterday! (However this will change..)
This being the weekend we did our normal 'Captain's Rounds' - a cabin inspection and review of general tidiness. The 1st Mate was only slightly gleeful at the number of untidy items this inspection collected for our public auction and peer pressure made for some high bidding among the student voyage crew.

Sunday 21 July:
Arrived Vava'u 0800 today. We had a fast a relatively rough trip up into Vava'u with some great sailing with Soren Larsen averaging 7-8 knots over the watches. There were some green faces as the new voyage crew got their first taste of open water sailing but I thought all did very well.

Spent the day at anchor Pt Maurelle with still strong F6/7 & cloudy. This morning all hands gave the ship a thorough clean and a harbour stow on the sails and this afternoon some team games were organised.

A convoluted challenge involved traversing an egg across the vessel and into a bucket without breaking tested the teams ingenuity& a treasure hunt around the deck and rig discovered how much everyone has learnt about the ship so far. Being Sunday our evening dinner was a smartly dressed affair but the after dinner entertainment by students was great - a hilarious skit sending up the permanent crew.

Tomorrow, Monday, to Neiafu - and V/Crew will ashore to explore the old town while I go to try arrange Tongan feast and evening of local entertainment.



Dave Igg's View:-
The ship's 2nd Mate David Iggulden writes here of the voyage so far...

Where the 1st voyage of these Sth P’fic travels from Auckland was contrary winds, driving rain & a lumpy sea that made Farmer Giles’ cart track appear like the M4, the present 3rd voyage is the idyllic Pacific Cruise of the holiday brochures - waves of sunshine, snicking palm leaves, beach bonfires & the hissing of gentle surf.

In between, the 2nd voyage around Tonga was a little of both; a combination of adverse winds & tropical squalls interspersed with brilliant sunshine over deep blue seas, allowing for some fine snorkelling amongst the coral reefs.

The present school charter voyage crew have all found their sea legs, & ALL hoisted their buttocks over the futtocks at the 1st attempt on the day they joined ship. Deck and entertainment competitions between the 3 watches as well as the permanent crew have featured eggs encased in bananas whizzed across hatches on flying foxes to scenario commentaries worthy of the best of Tolkein. The permanent crew haven’t won yet, but they’re girding their loins for a major effort.

The 22 voyage crew are assessing their individual characters; the boisterous and effervescent ones naturally came to the fore in the initial stages of the voyage, while the more reserved & considering are now allowing their natures to shine and contribute. There is great humour and banter between themselves & with the permanent crew, as, perhaps, only the British & Soren Larsen know how.

A few days more in Polynesia - including a traditional Tongan feast in a village on Pangai Motu of the Vavau Group - and Soren Larsen sets a course westward to Melanesia & the Feejees. This ocean passage, assisted by the South Sub-tropical Current, passes through the exotic Lau Islands, following in the course of Captain Bligh’s legendary open boat journey of the late 18th century (the Bounty Mutiny took place in Tonga - Fletcher Christian set Bligh adrift in the boat's boat near Tofua in the Haa'pai Group)


NEW! The Kingdom of Tonga V66 page 2 Vavau feast night 11 July here

Here are Captain Tony's reports from the ship of the first Kingdom of Tonga cruise V166 - here.



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