Position 18°42’560S 173°59’221W
At anchor Tapana Island, Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific Ocean.
Hi dear friends, thank you for following my journey. Here is this week’s update.
Talitali fiefia (pronounced tah-lay-tah-lay fee-ay-fee-ah – meaning welcome) to the Kingdom of Tonga
A slow start to our week for we are now on ‘Fakatonga’ time or better known worldwide as ‘island’ time so there is little to do other than socialise, which inevitably means having a drink or two.
An earthquake measuring 6.8 was recorded at the beginning of the week, 98 miles off Southern Tonga.
On Thursday we anchored off ‘Sisia’, a deserted Island with our own beach etc, a little offshore there was an Island, which looks exactly like ‘Tray’ Island. Tracy Island for the those non ‘Thunderbirds’ fans out their was (and still is) a cult ‘puppet’ TV show in the UK back in the sixties, later re-shown in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and this millennium. The Island is called Mu’Omu’AL.
We later moved around to ‘Ofa’ Island, this was a tricky passage working our way through a reef using little more than ‘eyeball’ navigation. That means looking at the reef, the colour of the sea, depth gauge and working out a route through. Although a channel was market by three very small floats, they were almost impossible to locate with the chop and their colour (black).
The following day with 20 – 28kn of wind, near zero visibility we made our way back, we had arranged a ‘Tongan’ feast at ‘Ano’ beach. Food is cooked the traditional way in an uma or hot rock pit for several hours.
A long table was covered in leaves; this was piled high with fish (ota ika), clams (vasuva), both marinated in lime juice. Pork, chicken, banana bread (very much like banana suet pudding) etc, all cooked in an earth. On top of them were many different verity of more pork, chicken, fruits of every description and fruit bread itself. All presented in ‘natural’ plated. By that I mean the inside of a hard bark like material used as plates, think of a very large peace of celery around 6 – 10cm across and 15cm long. The food is placed inside your plate. The plate is not eaten for it is a very hard material and can be washed and used repeatedly. There was enough food for more than the 20 people present; indeed a third was left after several hours of eating!
After this the village children performed traditional dances, there was one little girl, around seven years of age that captured everybody’s heart for she had that Polynesian smile that beamed all night long, even when not dancing. Later the ‘kava’ party started, although we did not stay long for the weather was terrible so headed back to our respective vessels.
There as some back home who have the idea that all we do is ‘socialise’, well indeed you are right, and I can tell you it’s not easy to do, day-in, day-out, but then hey, someone has to do, is so it might as well be us (laugh).
A Sunday in Tonga.
A clause in Tonga’s constitution declares, “The Sabbath Day shall be sacred in Tonga forever and it shall not be lawful to work, artifice, or play games, or trade on the Sabbath.” The penalty for breaking this stricture is 3 months in jail at hard labour. Although hotels can cater to their guests on the Sabbath, almost everything else comes to a screeching holt. Stores are closed, airplanes do not fly, most taxis don’t operate, and most restaurants other than those in the hotels don’t open. Tongans by the thousands go to church and then enjoy the family feast and a day of lounging around in true Polynesian style.
Beer locker restocked!
Fair winds, calm seas.