Tallship Soren Larsen ~ 2003 Archive Voyage Logs

Austrian Voyage Crew Emil Gruber flew out to New Zealand to join Soren Larsen for the entire 5 month 2003 Pacific season.

This is his second instalment - the Kingdom of Tonga cruise.

After so much sea in part one let us start with a place on the shore, but with a look at the sea of course.

Tongatapu is the main island of Tonga. even it is flat as a pancake, there is one amazing attraction which is in some moments probably higher than the island - the fountains of the Mapu’a’a Vaca Blowholes. Big reefs, where thundering waves force the water with high pressure through small channels in the rocks and spit it out sometimes up to 30 meters. Like machinegunfire the waves produce hundreds of jets for miles. But that the real big boys are coming, you have to yell as loud as you can.
Bill, a local, told us this secret and believe it or not, it works.....

After some other days of relaxing and exploring the capital Nuku’alofa the new voyage crew arrived and the anchor was heaved again. A perfect night sail brought us to Tofua, one out of three islands of Tonga with an active volcano. A bright blue sky and a very smooth swell made a landing with our rubberboat on the shore of Tofua quite easy this time, a reward for the brave sailor. We climbed through dense weed first, passed a small abandoned village with orange and lemon trees and found a path up to the hill after some time. Then we sweated up in the heat to the top for an hour.


On the rim the view was gorgeous, on the one side the deep inside with a big blue lake, surrounded by thicket and wasteland with some small extinct cones of former eruptions and in between - Lofia - the smoking king of the landscape - with a lot of steam and sometimes a little roaring. On the other side the perfect shaped cone of the sister island Kao with a height of more than 1000 meters filled the view and we lifted our caps in face of her majesty too. The way back was easier in the beginning, but then Simon, the second longtime voyage crew membe rand me started a new game: Getting lost in the dense forest of a southseas island. We missed the last part of the track and like early explorers we had to remove a lot of dense rampant undergrowth and had to crawl and climb until we reached the shore, after some balancing over lava rocks we were back in civilisation and were “rescued”. Oh what a fun and unforgetable experience.

The next nightturn, with Jim singing shanties, a clear milkyway overhead and a phosphorizing sea below us, was an enchanting moment. These are the hours, that burns the sea unforgettable in our hearts.

We reached Neiafu, the maintown of the Vava’u islands group, a small harbour village, which can be crossed in about 10 minutes. We took our beer in the Bounty Bar, the central communication point, had a beautiful look over the bay, where all the other yachts were surrounding the Soren Larsen like the good old indians had done it with the cowboys in the wild west. But this time they crossed our way in friendly and more curious intention. The memorable events went on for the next days. A dinner in a village on Hinakauea Beach with all kind of fantastic local food, like roast pig, lobster, curried octopus, clams, beef and fish cooked in coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves.

Or if you prefer more water, we snorkelled into Mariners cave, this blue glittering mystery spot, which can only be reached after a four meter dive under the rocks. There the light fills a huge cavern full of stalagmites and the rays of the sun are reflected from the bottom under your fins. For those who want to stay dry, Swallows cave is the perfect place. Accessible by small boats only we had to be a little cautious, because the ceiling of the cave was full of bats and what a mess, if they would wake up when our boat is just underneath....

But it seemed, that they had a long stay out last night, maybe some animal party with their relationship on Uoleva. This was our anchorplace on another day. This mostly inhabitated island can be circled on a perfect white sandy shore in about three hours and looking on the high waves on the outside reef with big coconut bats flying over our heads was a Robinson Crusoe feeling rated class A. After the walk the crew was in progress to a beach barbecue with chickenlegs and sausages on the campfire and after some time everybody was gathered around and songs filled the air again.

After these wonderful nights with fantstic meals we needed a workout very urgently and so the next two days were the days of practising sailing. We brassed and sweated and tailed, made fast and let go until we got in nice shape again.

And now we are in Nuku’alofa, where it all began, again. These days in paradise got to an end, but soon new ones will follow.



See Noreen's Picture Page of this trip here

Read more of Emil's account's of a Voyage Crew's tall ship adventure.
Auckland Kermadecs Tonga voyage here
Kingdom of Tonga here
Tonga to Fiji here


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