The Voyage of the Swan
The Voyages: Tonga and the Whale
The first four days out from Bora Bora were some of the most beautiful sailing days I’ve ever experienced: sunny days, moderate wind and unbelievable starry nights. After that, everything went sour.
We were becalmed one rainy day, then the wind increased over a 12 hour period to gale force. It blew 38 knots with gusts over 40 until the ocean heaped up into steep and lumpy seas. It was finally blowing so hard we were unable to set any sail and we were worn out, so we lay ahull overnight to get some rest. It was a rough night. Seas broke over the boat with a loud bang making it tough to sleep.
The following morning, I was able to get the stays’l up and we made way at four knots on a beam reach, wet and wild sailing, though the motion resulting from the Swan’s Crealock pedigree was never uncomfortable. Great sheets of water blew back from the bow deluging the dodger and cockpit. But Swan took it all in stride. After two days the wind abated to 28 knots and we were able to set the double reefed main, making five to six knots. That was the story for the rest of the trip into Vavau, where we dropped our hook at Port Morelle at midnight of the 17th of July.
There’s one final footnote. Twenty miles east of Palmerston Atoll, we ran into a whale just before dark. It was a terrific thud, stopping the boat completely. Rhonda was thrown from her bunk and I looked up just in time to see what looked like a juvenile blue whale emerging on the port bow. We went into survival mode, preparing for the worst, but we could find no water entering the boat and no damage from the interior perspective. “Thank God,” we both said to each other, and continued the voyage, though gingerly. Although the whale disappeared, we could not keep the thought from our minds that either he or his friends might retaliate. That first night after the collision was a frightening one. Sleep was impossible. But the happy bottom line is, Pacific Seacraft builds some really tough boats and Swan kept us safe.
Tonga was beautiful, our favorite stop so far. We were also reunited again with Innocenti, Pacific Star, Gingi and Prairie Oyster.  Together, we had some really great times. We left for Fiji at the end of August.
Leaving Bora Bora. It was sad to leave this beautiful place with its immense lagoon.
At Sea, before the gale.
Swan at anchor in Neiafu, Vavau, Tonga. It was so good to be in protected waters again. First order of business: fishburger and a milkshake.
At Anchor at Port Maurelle, in the center of the Vavau group.Water visibility is 150 feet. Rhonda saw here first sea snake here
The Vavau group is dotted with many small islands. Humpbacks were calving in these waters when we were there.
Dave catches a surgeonfish. Yum!
Unusual starfish of Tonga, red and bright blue. Rhonda  made sure I returned them to there homes after the picture was taken.
View from a Tongan village.
A traditional dance by a girl at a Tongan village. We ate a wonderful meal here, cooked in an oomu, a earth oven. It was delicious.
Swan sailing between islands. Courtesy, Horst on Pacific Star.
Dave free diving in Mariner’s Cave. The visibility was at least 150 feet. We went to the cave aboard Innocenti.
L to R: Amanda (Gingi), Diane (Prairie Oyster), Rhonda, Dave, John (Gingi) and Jim (Prairie Oyster) at Mermaid Cafe.
With the Willisons (Innocenti), minus Fergus. We had great times with this adventurous family. The kids are expert in water skills as any adult.
Spectacular northern Vavau. We sailed by this coast on our approach to Tonga.
Rhonda inside a Tongan room finds the shell of a one time meal.
Islands, islands, islands.
Run through the jungle.
Pine trees in the tropics.
The family of our sweet friend, Mapa (next to Rhonda).
Rhonda presents pencils and toothbrushes to Tongan children.
Courteous and friendly, Tongan officials process our entry into Tonga.
The outdoor market at Neiafu featuring fruits, vegetables and handicrafts. Everything was a bargain and the people were beautiful.
A beach and fishing hut on the main channel to Neiafu.
Sailing between the islands of Vavau—this time from Port Maurelle to Neiafu.
Mapa, Henele and their daughter at their stall in the market. We learned so much about Tonga from them.
It’s no secret that Rhonda loves babies. These are members of Mapa’s family.
A sea turtle swims by us at Port Maurelle. It is always a thrill to see one and hear their quiet blow when they surface.
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