It is with mixed emotions that we prepare for departing Tonga to sail to our next destination in this adventure. We are all excited for the future experiences that Fiji will bring, yet we are a little sad to leave a country that we have grown so fond of over the last 7 weeks. I have so many good memories of this time that the most efficient way will be to write them in a list. So, in no particular order, here are some of my highlights of my time cruising in Tonga, living aboard Tangoroa:
1. Sipping the cold, sweet, slightly effervescent coconut water out of a coconut picked from a palm on the edge of a tropical beach by my ‘gatherer’ husband and chilled in our fridge.
2. Having a fridge on the boat that is powered by the wind and sun and big enough to fit in sufficient coconuts, beer and food to keep everyone happy (I think I could even fit in the fridge, whilst drinking a coconut, but I don’t plan on testing this out!)
3. Waking up to the crowing of roosters each morning when we are anchored near a village. Pigs and chickens wander freely throughout the islands and can often be seen on the beaches; a comforting contrast to the disconnection that exists between much of western society and the source of sustenance.
4. Eating fresh fish most days, caught by my ‘hunter’ husband and spear fishing friend, Alex.
5. Snorkelling above Alex while he skilfully free dived down amongst the coral and hovered at the bottom waiting for a fish to accurately spear for our dinner.
6. Snorkelling with turtles, reef sharks, an eagle ray and abundant colourful reef fish.
7. Snorkelling in Swallows cave surrounded by thousands of little fish that glimmer when a ray of sunlight reflects off their bodies.
8. Regularly making bread that is actually pretty yummy and realising that it’s not very difficult and is something that I should have been doing for a long time.
9. Buying fresh produce from the market upon our return to town every 7 to 10 days, where items are bundled into little piles, generally costing either 3 or 5 pangai. Amber loves to have a handful of money and wander around the market by herself choosing the most delicious looking piles to purchase from the Tongan ladies.
10. Building up a community of cruising friends. It is always exciting when you sail into an anchorage and see a boat you know or see some friends sailing towards where you are already anchored. Provisioning in town, where we were strangers only weeks before, becomes an enjoyable social re-union of many friends made in outlying anchorages.
11. Swinging and climbing on our boat rope swing and jumping into the clear, turquoise water.
12. Enjoying many shared dinners, mostly including fish, on our boat, other boats and sometimes beaches (although I don’t enjoy the sand that gets into our boat after the latter!)
13. The freedom that the girls feel when they swim or kayak to another yacht and spend time aboard without their annoying parents (and a double benefit of this is that we get to enjoy some time without them to annoy us too)!
14. Watching fish eat the scraps that we throw overboard into the crystal clear water.
15. Swimming in the dark amongst the phosphorescence, so magical until the thought of a lurking, hunting shark turns the experience into one of mind control rather than relaxation.
16. Listening to the cruisers net on the VHF radio each morning to hear what’s going on around the Vava’u island group, the weather forecast and any other yachtie news.
17. Trading items such as fish and bread with locals and other yachties. Items hold much more meaning than money in this type of lifestyle.
18. Waking up to the sound of the whales singing and breathing and sailing amongst them while they breach and flick their tales. Smelling their breath in the air was also part of this unique experience.
19. Catching rain water to fill our tanks during the only downpour during our time in Tonga; particularly exciting because our tanks were low and the choice for refilling was either local bore water or desalinated water from our on board water maker, each of which have different mineral contents and a unique taste that takes time to become desensitized to.
20. Dancing with my groovy girls and other friends to music played by an eclectic group of incredibly talented musicians, putting their souls into their harmonicas, voices, guitars, keyboard and percussion to fill the souls of those lucky enough to hear with happiness.
21. Delving into our $4000+ of New Zealand provisions to pull out something that tastes extra delicious due to it not being available anywhere near here and because of the precious space it creates in the once full-to-the-brim cupboards.
22. Having time. It’s amazing how much of this valuable resource there is in a day when your life resides in the confines of a yacht.