Antics in Vavau Tonga

So firstly an update on my patented ‘A Schellens Peach puree lure’ which I humbly created a few weeks ago. I was trawling said lure on our crossing up from Tongatapu to Vavau when I had an almighty strike and the drag begun reeling out line very fast. I lept to the auto pilot and round up into the wind to slow Tangaroa down, I then pounced on the reel to tention up the drag, the line was still reeling out fast and as the tention came up my very sturdy rod began to bend hard. I was fast running out of line when Luisa came up on deck to find out what the comotion was. As she and I looked out behind Tangaroa a massive Marlin spectacularly lept high out of the water less than 50m off our stern, writhing against my line, this giant of the fish world, flying high in all it’s majestic silvery blue glory. The sight will stay with me forever, and alas this was the only sighting we had as shortly after the fish returned to the water the line on my reel ran out, the rod bent almost double in the rod holder and snap! The Marlin was gone, taking my Peach puree lure with it. I can only hope the lure wont give him to much trouble for the time he carries it. I have since made peach puree lure No.2, with a stronger and longer braided wire trace and with heavier line in preparation for round 2 with a big fish.

My fishing antics have changed considerably since getting to Vavau, I’ve met back up with Alex, a young solo sailor from Australia who we met in Tongatapu, he is a mad keen free diver and spearfisherman. With Alex I have learned so much, my personal freediving depth record has gone from a meagre 8m deepest dive to 20m deep on a single breath (still pretty meagre in free diving circles) and I now find myself spending time comfortably in the 10 to 15m depth range hunting fish with a newer and larger speargun. Alex and I rarely come back to our yachts without several very nice eating fish, Grouper, Trevalley, Sea Brim, Job fish to name a few. I also shot an angry looking Barracuda yesterday, but sadly fed it back to the fishes when I learned they are very prone to carry ciguatera poisoning. I also shot a sizeable Tuna with my smaller spear gun which powered off snapped my line and I guess is still swimming about with a 100cm spear hanging from it’s flank.


Start small for me…



My first decent fish.

Apart from all the fresh fish eating, the girls are enjoying the slow life, swimming and snorkelling lots, enjoying a rope swing I rigged from our spinnaker pole, also lots of paddling around in 2 plastic kayaks we picked up from a fellow yachtie. Amber can drink her bodyweight in fresh coconut juice which means my palm climbing and coconut opening technique is improving.


Yum, More please dad.


Hunter and gatherer…


Rain catcher Mk1

I rigged up a rain catcher from a tarp (which the kids promptly turned into a cubby house) and caught 400lt of much needed fresh rain water in a single night. Tangaroa can carry 1200lt of Fresh water in 3 inbuilt tanks, and had just run out of fresh water we had taken on in New Zealand. She also has a reverse osmosis water maker aboard which can make about 200lt a day, but this requires frequent running of the engine to maintain the batteries so the watermaker only tends to run when we are motoring somewhere or when our wind turbine is spinning fast.

Tangaroa is behaving better than ever since I got her gearbox back in. She had since we bought her a lumpy gear change mechanism, but with a modified damper plate fitted and few adjusments to her morse cables she changes into gear smooth as silk. I also serviced the engine, replacing all the oils in the engine, gearbox and windlass along with all new fuel and oil filters.

We have around 2 weeks left in Tonga before we begin seriously looking for a weather window for the 400nm crossing to Fiji. Looking forward to what adventures Fiji may bring.

Anthony Schellens

5 thoughts on “Antics in Vavau Tonga

  1. Brendan Bush says:

    You all seem to be enjoying the adventure. I am envious of the warmth, because it has been very cold here. Continue to have a great time.
    Brendan Bush

  2. Rhian Salmon says:

    Hooray for fish and coconuts, and gearboxes. That’s pretty much the full Pacific experience I think – and all in the first month! Love to the girls – and you of course. xx

  3. B says:

    Looks amazing! About time you learnt to actually catch fish though rather than you just giving them a bad hair day.

    We are very impressed by the coconut tree climbing – have learnt first hand that they are slippery suckers!

    Ashie wants to know what the big black fish is why yours are so small?

    1. Ant says:

      The Black fish is a Grouper or sometimes called a coral cod. And my small ones ate Job fish, very tasty. Tell Ashie I’m still learning and the fish I shot today was much bigger, they all taste pretty nice. Ask Ashie when he’s coming to visit?

  4. Steve marcroft says:

    Hi Anthony, the trip looks amazing. How will you ever return? The sailing club politics continue with the council- I’m missing you a lot!!! But we got the training grant, have removed the internal walls and are about to start painting. We are off to Canada for 2 weeks. Can’t wAit to catch up. Steve.

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