Thursday 9th September 2016
As we started to plan our passage down to New Zealand a few weeks ago, the weather here, as if to prepare us for more southerly latitudes, became quite cold. Well, not cold, but cool enough to discourage us from a casual swim, to put on wetsuits for snorkelling and long sleeve tops in the evening.
But it has meant that the rain that has plagued us for the past month has cleared, so for the last week we have been cruising around the outer islands of Vava’u enjoying quiet bays and stunning white beaches.We have had a great time taking the dingy slowly along the shoreline investigating the caves, shallows and forests. On Pangaimotu we spotted a bright blue Tongan Kingfisher perched above our heads, had a herd of cows wander along the beach and marvelled at how the shrubs and trees appeared to grow straight out of the rock. On Nuku Island were flocks of seabirds, we approached slowly until they took to the air, leaving the beach empty for us to walk barefoot on soft pristine coral sand.
We have snorkelled the local reefs, the coral and fish life here is not as spectacular as French Polynesia but enjoyable nevertheless. We have had fun spotting some unusual and in some cases less savoury creatures. We have seen starfish in many shapes and sizes, from the long legged blue ones famous in Tonga, to a plump pink variety, to large richly patterned brown and black species.The sea floor is littered with the rather unappealing sea cucumbers, including many giants that reach two to three foot long. In the crevasses of the coral heads are brightly coloured clams, spiked sea urchins and beautiful feathered stars
And then back at the boat we have been scrubbing our very disgusting keel that has grown its very own ecosystem. Jelly like fingers hung off the waterline which was coated with a thick green slimy weed, barnacles had sprouted soft branched structures and a multicoloured fuzz had coated everything.
Mostly however, we have just been enjoying the incredible turquoise views from the cockpit.