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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cruising Tonga's Beautiful Ha'apai Islands...

The Ha'apai group of Tonga (the middle islands) are comprised of 4 smaller groupings; Lifuka, Kotu, Nomuka & Kelefesia. Within those groupings are many motus, islands and villages. Friday, Oct 10th we traveled the short distance over to Lifuka Island and the town of Pangai. This is the main village of Tonga's Ha'apai group, housing the government offices where we checked in and out in the same visit. As far as we could tell there was only one restaurant, The Mariner Café which was also part of
a small hotel, a couple of stores and several closed down (dilapidated) buildings, many churches and a few fairly large schools. Mama pigs with babies trailing along behind them graced the streets, yards and sidewalks. We lunched with Bold Spirit, Morning Light & The Dorothy Marie and walked the town a little but didn't do much more than that. We stayed a couple of days here and then moved onward to Uoleva Island where we once again found paradise.

This beautiful bay was painted in so many hues of blue and turquoise that we feasted our eyes and senses for days. An American expatriate named Patty was in the process of building Patty's Place; a Balinese style resort situated on the most prime real estate of the island. It housed 4 intimately placed beachfront guest cabins and several open air pavilions (can't remember what they are called), one was her massage hut, and a few others were just quiet areas laden with cushions and pillows surrounding
big beautiful tables in the center decorated with candles. In the main pavilion was the kitchen, dining and lounge area. Her property extended across the island to capture both shores. The vistas and beaches near each cabin were so lovely that we thought it the perfect honeymoon spot, or just the spot for any type of getaway. Patty and her companion Sammy welcomed us giving us a tour and urging us to come and hang out while they busied themselves arranging the kitchen, getting water lines and
electrical systems installed. Of the 9 yachts gathered in the bay most were Americans: The Dorothy Marie, Morning Light, Charisma, Bold Spirit, Don Pedro, Intention and then of the European lot was Kind of Blue, Mama Cocha & Stomper. We had previously met all but Stomper, Intention & Don Pedro. We snorkeled, beach combed, and generally hung out in Patty's cozy lounge. The snorkeling was like nothing we have yet seen - we couldn't get enough. I even treated myself to one of Patty's outstanding
massages. One night we all gathered for a "bring your own meat and a dish to share" Pot Luck, cooking our food over an open pit grill. Another night Sammy announced that he was going fishing for our dinner and would provide the main course if we brought side dishes. Once again we all feasted, pronouncing each other to be great cooks, and then gathered around the fire afterward for music and fellowship as Glen from The Dorothy Marie brought out his Saxophone & Alicia from Intention played guitar.
It is during times like these that we love our life so much and wish we could share these moments with our friends and family. We never wanted to leave here and hope that we will have a chance to return next season.

Next Stop: Nomuka Iki. We had great winds for the sail from Uoleva. Great sailing winds but pretty rough for anchoring at this little island which was the natural "next stop" working our way down the Ha'apai group. The beach had the softest sand yet and of course the waters continued to exhibit their kaleidoscope color variations of blues and greens. There was a wrecked ship on the shore and somewhere hidden in the recesses of the over and undergrowth of foliage sat an abandoned prison. This
would be a great stop for a kid with an imagination for adventure. We ventured to shore for a leisurely walk and while I strolled along picking up shells Frank laid down in the softness of the sand to make Sand Angels, eventually falling asleep. These are great Spiritual moments. We only lingered in Nomuka Iki for one night and then set off for Kelefesia with the hope of finding shelter from the high winds.

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