Saturday evening we spent in the Aquarium with Chris and Ian. We said our farewells to them both whilst enjoying the most spectacular sunset and a few cold beers.
Sunday we were up at a reasonable hour and slipped away from our mooring and headed to the outer islands. We enjoyed the view of the numerous wooded limestone islands and spotted numerous caves along the way.
Our destination was the private Mounu Island Resort. This was founded by a New Zealander who became pally with the then King of Tonga and, unusually for a pelangi (Tongan for ‘foreigner), was granted a 50 year lease on this little bit of paradise. We knew that this was an exclusive private resort so we radioed ahead and asked permission to pick up a mooring. This was granted and we were delighted to find that we were the only boat there. Stunning, picture perfect, just plain beautiful!
We got ourselves settled and asked permission to come ashore. We were welcomed to the island by Kirstie and Amber – daughters of the original New Zealander – who told us a little bit about their family history. Their dad, sadly, passed away this year and the family were granted permission to bury him on the island – definitely a fitting tribute for this entrepreneurial man who was responsible for bringing tourists to Tonga to see the humpback whales. His love of the whales lives on in his daughters who are incredibly knowledgeable having been brought up here. We were welcomed as though we were guests and given permission to walk around the island which we did in about 10 minutes enjoying the spectacular scenery.
We then had a few beers enjoying the breeze and chatting to a few of the guests – there are only four rooms on the island – before returning to Morphie just as the sun was going down.
Monday we had a lazy morning before heading ashore in the early afternoon. We enjoyed ourselves bobbing in the beautiful clear water and greeted the whale watching boat as it returned. The guests were so excited about seeing and swimming with whales that we decided to book ourselves to go out with them the following day. Third time lucky! We had a lovely afternoon on the beach – it seemed like a very long time ago since we did this.
Tuesday morning we were up really early and headed ashore by 7 am. The maintenance guy was waiting for us on the beach to help bring dink right up above the water line and tied him off to a tree. We then waited for the remaining guests – four Australian girls – to finish their breakfast and we headed out in the boat. We drove around for a while before we started to see some whales…..and then more….and then more. Just amazing especially the one who decided that our boat needed a very close encounter LOL.
We did manage to get in the water with them twice and at one point the female turned and showed us her white belly as she rose from the depths. Sadly they were too deep to get real good shots but just the memory of seeing the whales below us. watching their bubbles, and hearing their songs in the water was just fantastic.
We continued to have more surface encounters which just topped off a very special memorable day.
We returned to Morphie very happy but tired so had a rest before returning to the island for sundowners. I went and chatted to the pet parrot while Richard got acquainted with the Royal pooch Otto – he was left on the island by the old King when he travelled abroad and, sadly, he died whilst away so never returned for him. A real character who quite enjoyed a cuddle!
We had a few drinks with everyone before saying our sad farewells. We had thoroughly enjoyed our time on Mounu and were very grateful to Kirstie and Amber for giving us permission to visit their little bit of paradise.
We had an early night after dinner and were awoken by the sound of torrential rain. Typical! But at least we’d had good weather whilst on the island. Sadly, this morning Wednesday, the forecast was for unsettled weather with high winds through to and including the weekend. So that put paid to our idea of continuing to explore other islands so we returned to the safety of the sheltered anchorage in Neiafu and picked up a mooring ball just as the heavens opened again.
We also spotted a problem with our Iridium Go! unit which today decided to stop charging via the USB connector. Grrrr…. This is our lifeline for weather updates via the satellite system so we have switched it off and sent an email to the support desk to see if they can give us a workaround. Richard thinks it is actually the connector in the (sealed) unit that has developed a fault and if we can’t charge it when the battery runs down the unit is useless until we can get it fixed. And obviously that won’t happen in Tonga. That also puts the tracker out of action unless we can conserve enough power just to turn it on every third day or something so that it puts a position in. Of course that also means no satellite emails or blogging whilst at sea – what am I going to do with myself!?!
Seems strange to be back in town but glad to sit the weather out here with easy access to restaurants and bars particularly as we are celebrating Richard’s 60th birthday on Sunday! Not where I had hoped to be but, hey ho, I’m sure we’ll have a good time anyway. We decided today, because of this slight weather delay, not to visit the Ha’apai group of islands so instead we are going direct to Tongatapu – a passage of about 36 hours – once the weather settles back down next week.
Bye for now