Blogs from Ha'apai, Tonga, Oceania

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Oceania » Tonga » Ha'apai January 27th 2012

On Lifuka, in the Ha’apai island group, a chance encounter led to the semi-mothballed arts and craft centre being opened for us. An elderly Tongan lady showed us how to weave with strips of dried tree bark. Her birth-marked arm and crooked arthritic finger worked faster than we could comprehend, creating a patterned mat. It was getting late, and she had to be persuaded to let Mina finish the job another day. Which she did, with admirable patience and skill. Although Ha’apai is now a relative backwater in Tongan terms, it was the site of two notable pieces of British naval history. The mutiny on the Bounty took place in these Tongan waters, in 1789. Almost twenty years later, the privateer ship Port-au-Prince was ransacked, burnt and sunk, just in the bay by where we stayed. ... read more
Brian, our divemaster
Different kind of feeding
Uoleva Island

Oceania » Tonga » Ha'apai June 12th 2010

Oceania » Tonga » Ha'apai July 25th 2009

Well, it's not the Cat Knapp... let me assure you that it was totally worth my while. I didn’t think that I was going to be able to dive again in Tonga but timing worked out perfectly for a small group to go out with Brian and Sabine’s dive shop, Fins -N- Flukes. Sabine is originally from Germany and Brian from Ireland, how the two of them ended up in Pangai is beyond me, but I met them earlier at Mariner’s Cafe. They have the cutest little puppy and great attitudes, just good people to hang around. Jay and Thomae had made friends with them early too, so it was easy enough to get additional divers (Me, Derrick, and James) together. Though a bit of a cloudy day, we left the ship early and met on ... read more
The Dive Shop
Yes, this is the boat
Stonefish

Oceania » Tonga » Ha'apai July 18th 2009

I was lucky enough to fall into a group going on a dive trip on Sunday. In the Tongan constitution, the law states that no one is allowed to do any kind of work on Sundays. So, most establishments are not allowed to offer any services of any kind. Luckily, this place, Happy Ha’apai Divers got permission from the village elder and 7 of us left for Foa to experience some Tongan diving. I persuaded Brittany to come out with me, Kyle ditched us, but we left on the 8am RHIB. Twenty minutes after getting ashore, we arrive at Happy Ha’apai Divers, walking our gear down to the beach where another RHIB awaited us. As I looked out at the boats, I imagined that we would be on the small dive charter boat. Lucky us, ... read more
Getting out to the Cat
Our Dive Boat the Cat Knapp
Dive Brief

Oceania » Tonga » Ha'apai July 16th 2009

Okay, so this consists of going to Mariner’s Cafe and having Aussie beer (or American beer if we buy some from MWR) and getting Magda to make a pizza for us. Kyle, Brittany and I hang out with some of the ADVON (Advanced something, pretty much the advanced party). Here are some photos of everyone but me getting crazy. :) We hung out with some Australians from the HMAS WEWAK as well, a LCH... their oldest actually, that has a stag crew (that’s what they call it anyway, all guys). Funny thing happens, it’s a pretty good story if I can tell it right. I need to get a little background first. Right now, the BYRD consists of Ship’s Company MILDET, Civilian Mariners, PHIBRON 1 and all the personnel embarked to them. PHIBRON is somewhat ... read more
Ryan (Fish) and me
Cheesy Hyram
The Crew

Oceania » Tonga » Ha'apai July 15th 2009

15JUL As usual, I digress... let’s see if I can keep on task to describe the day’s events. I went on a COMREL to one of the elementary schools (Pangai Primary School) with Lauren Rago and Rick Parry (the two Aussie Public Affairs types), Todd (the Chaplain), Beav (the TACRON, or air operations guy), the musicians and a few other CivMars from the ship. It was so much fun, the kids, faculty and parents all came to have a program involving all of us. We really didn’t know what to expect, but we came away rejuvenated, elated and feeling like we had just had a vacation. We danced, drank coconut milk, played frisbee with the kids and just had a great time together. What an amazing day! To begin, the group arrived at the Primary School ... read more
Dancing a lot
Learning a new dance
Making faces

Oceania » Tonga » Ha'apai July 14th 2009

Don't worry, me either until this trip... Anchoring at Pangai, Tonga was a little bit of a nail biting experience. The water is incredibly clear and the reef system is very intricate. Making the evolution a little more difficult, there was a storm front that blew through the entire day with lots of fog and rain. As I stood watch on the bridge, Kyle looked at me and told me to come out on the bridge wing. He saw two whales breaching, but I didn’t see a thing! What a bummer... oh well, I’ll keep my eyes peeled around the ship. Apparently in Tonga from June to September is the humpback whale calving season, the archipelago’s only real tourist attraction. There are about 150 or so whales that come to these waters every year. I finally ... read more
Blue Waters
I must dive this place
BYRD from the bird




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