family cruising

HIGH RISK CRUISING IN TONGA…

Published on 01 october 2015 at 0h00

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Adventures in the Ha’apai islands, the dangerous archipelago...

Ha’apai, in Tonga. Large islands, small islands, and reefs. Hundreds of reefs... 11th October We cleared out of the Vava’u Group, filled the jerry cans with petrol, visited the fruit and veg market, then the Chinese shop, then we went to sea without delay, heading south towards Ha’apai, the archipelago situated between Vava’u in the north and Tongatapu to the south. The sailing boat La Tortue, which we had met in Niue, had just been wrecked there. As is very often the case in incidents at sea which end badly, they were victims of an unfortunate succession of technical problems which progressively worsened the situation, until it became worrying, then unpleasant, then finally disastrous. A quite classic process. We were going to the spot to see what we could do, recover some equipment at the worst, at best see if the boat could be refloated, and if not, make the wreck safe, as a minimum. The crew was already safe in Nuku’alofa, and we were in contact with them. I call Ha’apai the dangerous archipelago: it deserves the name. Probably even more so than the Tuamotus, where the approach to the atolls is often clear, steep-to. Few sailing boats venture there, at least in its most remote parts. Which in itself for me was sufficient reason to justify going to have a look... This was not without a price, as you will soon see... The Ha'apai Group is definitely not a good spot for apprentice navigators. Even ...

This article appeared in issue 144. To read the article in full, buy this issue individually

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