Internet at 1 byte a second!

Well it has been awhile and internet is now just simply hard to find and slow!.very slow..no way to send pics??.we are in Lifuka and there is only one place for a connection..we have been out of contact for a couple of weeks coming up through the islands of the Hapai group…in a word..amazing…whales all around the horizon, beautiful anchorages, interesting locals, great snorkeling and diving, other cruising yachts and tomorrow we start the hunt for a very significant wreck, which is or has been very well known, but now no one seems to know where it is…this particular ship has been a major part of Tongan History beginning over 200 years ago and continues to be right to the present day and can be considered a delicate subject??!!..so we will just tread carefully…I consider it a tourist attraction waiting to happen and certainly it has already been plundered so nothing new in that…it is called the Port Au Prince.

The local market here for the biggest island has bananas and Kasava (a root Vegetable)..nothing else..that is it so the veggies are a bit thin on the ground for the moment. As usual though the people are all smiles and the kids have been fun. We arrived here on the Day that the new police station was being opened and were immediately invited to the feast, a Tongan tradition. The station was funded like so many of the utilities by Australian Aid.

I am stunned at the number of whales. You cannot motor for more than 30 minutes without meeting another lot and a scan of the horizon on calm days is spectacular…and this is only 10% of what there used to be a few hundred years ago!! Last week we were towing Kylie as fast as possible 50mtrs behind ICE on her surfboard and had a couple of whales pop up in front of her!! Then about 30 minutes later, as we were stopped to recover her, two HUGE humpbacks as big as ICE, came up out of nowhere between her and the boat just 7mtrs from the side of ICE ( we were stopped at the time) just to have a look at what was going on!! We were all screaming! There have been some amazing whale experiences…that was followed shortly after by 30 dolphins all over us .

Yesterday we met up with our friends on the Sea Shepherd boat “Bridget Bardot” the high speed wave piercer used in the Antarctic chasing Japanese Whalers.They are here on a shark finning awareness exercise having already visited the Solomons, Vanuatu and Fiji. This was the last place I expected to see them, but there are some sad conservation issues all through the Pacific. Kylie would love to crew on their Antarctic campaign !!

Next week I have Steve Fraser a photographer friend joining us for two weeks and we hope to make straight for Tofua the active volcano where Bligh started his open boat voyage after the Mutiny…I was there with the Talisker Bounty Boat ofcourse but now I want to get to his cave and try to photograph it as well as the crater…could be fun..this is also the place which is teaming with Sharks but the Tongan believe they will not get bitten..well!!..last week we met a guy who’s father was!

We should be headed up to Vavau by the middle of this month..we have a few “projects” to consider up there including a bio-diversity survey of some reefs that are being “hammered” at the moment.

all OK here …Don

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