Monday, 13 August 2012

Swimming with whales

We love Ha’apai. Period. Vava’u is nice too, but different, both got their good points and bad. Ha’apai is nicer, wilder and less busy, but the only downside is the anchorages aren’t as protected as in Vava’u. We have spent quite a few rolly nights where sleep is often interrupted. A big plus to Ha’apai are all the whales. They are everywhere. One night in bed at an anchorage we heard the tell-tale breathing splash and when looking out the front hatch had whales right next to the boat, which was pretty cool.

The absolute highlight so far is swimming with them! At our last anchorage, a tiny island by a big reef/lagoon called Hakau Lahi we spotted a couple just as we were coming in to anchor. The anchor was hardly set before I was in the water swimming towards them and Phil wasn’t far behind. It was a mother and a calf with a male around as well (apparently not the dad, but the next suitor). The visibility wasn’t the best, and I stayed a good 30 meters away a while looking at them above the water. Slowly the mother and calf dove down and approached me underwater. Talk about adrenalin kick when they became visible underwater just in front of me! It’s one of the coolest experiences I have ever had, right up there with New York marathon and micro plane flying. They hung around the anchorage a while and I jumped back in and approached them again, this time the male was checking me out.

We have been snorkelling lots, fishing, beach combing, making bon fires and just hanging out with Sala. We didn’t find any lobsters at Uonukuhihifo but it was a great place anyway. At Haafeva we snorkelled on a super cool wreck, an old Korean fishing vessel, ideal for snorkelling, the top of the bow was above water, and the deepest part of it was probably only 5-6 meters. Near the wreck Phil and I spotted two lobsters, but we weren’t wearing gloves and Sala were too far away to call. Helen did go back a little later and caught one, pretty yummy eating.

Our time here in Ha’apai is almost over, we gotta go back up to Vava’u later this week to pick up our new water maker membrane and get ready for the passage to Vanuatu. We are going to rent bikes tomorrow and cycle around Lifuka, the island where the main town (Pangai) is.

I’ll try and upload photos to facebook, but I’m not sure it will be successful, if not it’ll have to wait till Neiafu.

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