Waiting out the terrible weather for a week in Ha'apai was totally worth it as our weekend was one for the record books. The weather has been spectacular, full of clear skies with just a few puffy clouds, and ten to 15 knots of wind to keep the temperature comfortable and the sails full.
We left Uoleva on Saturday and set sail for Ha’afeva with one of our buddy boats, Arbutus. We had a three-hour, 17 mile, lake-like sail and anchored in 20 feet of cyan water over a sandy bottom. Ha’afeva is one of the eastern islands in Tonga’s Ha’apai group, so we’re excited to have the calm conditions to explore her and the surrounding islands.
We found other buddy boats in the anchorage, Peregrin, Full Circle, and Oceanna arrived before the sun started to set. Greg aboard Oceanna had great success spearfishing dog tooth tuna before leaving Vava’u, so he delivered fresh filets that we coated in sesame seeds and threw on the barbie for dinner. That evening we all headed ashore to socialize while enjoying a starlit bonfire.
Sunday morning we slept in and all met aboard Silver Fern to start the day right with Bloody Mary’s, crepes, and a tour of their 70-foot custom monohull that they spent four years building and eleven years circumnavigating. To Dominic’s delight, their design included a walk in engine room and extra large lazarette designed to house a dirt bike. They also shared photographs of a faux .50 caliber machine gun which they constructed on deck to keep the pirates away during their 2010 pass through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea which is infamously known as pirate alley.
After brunch we donned our snorkel gear to check out a sunken Korean fishing boat that wrecked on the reef (pictured above) just outside the anchorage. The surrounding coral was completely out of this world: brightly colored, hard and soft, alive with reef fish and entirely unending.
After the snorkel, the winds completely died, and I had my first try at wakeboarding in the glassy waters around the anchorage. It was not my most graceful experience—it took at least ten attempts to get the board underneath me, each of which included face planting and being dragged a bit through water—but with patience and coaching from Dominic and the Oceanna crew, I got up and had an awesome rip flying above the coral and fish in Ha’afeva’s lagoon. It was like getting to time travel and snowboard again for the first time: thrilling, breathtaking, and marked by subsequent days of sore muscles.
Then we barbecued tuna burgers and spent a long night aboard the catamaran enjoying delicious food and excellent times. Today has been easy and productive, but Paul and Sundy aboard Arbutus just arrived bringing tidings of an invitation from the local villagers to enjoy a traditional feast this afternoon, so I have a feeling that many good times are still in store for us in this lovely sliver of paradise.