Voyage Crew Emil Gruber flew out to New Zealand to join
Soren Larsen for the entire 5 month 2003 Pacific season.
is his second instalment - the Kingdom of Tonga cruise.
so much sea in part one let us start with a place on
the shore, but with a look at the sea of course.
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
Mapuaa 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
Bill, a local, told us this secret and believe it or
not, it works.....
some other days of relaxing and exploring the capital
Nukualofa 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.
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.
reached Neiafu, the maintown of the Vavau 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....
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.
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
And now we are in Nukualofa, where it all began,
again. These days in paradise got to an end, but soon
new ones will follow.
Noreen's Picture Page of this trip here
more of Emil's account's of a Voyage Crew's tall
Kermadecs Tonga voyage
me to periodical Voyage Log reports from the ship