Welcome to The Kingdom of Tonga!

Salt! For centuries a principal actor on the world economic stage, but now it encrusts RED like an evil shroud. Rain at Minerva Reef washed it away, but like a dog on a porcupine he went back for more on the journey to Neiafu, Vava’u, Tonga. The place doesn’t roll off the tongue if you’re not Polynesian; but if you are you say it with such a melodious fluidity it reminds that Polynesian may be the most delightful language on the planet. Tonight it is rain, so they say, we pray the soothsayers of weather know; it is like slimy fish touching anything on deck.

As passages go these weren’t exceptional; windy and lumpy but fast from The Long White Cloud to a mystical place in the middle of the ocean called Minerva Reef; fast then slow and bumpy on to Tonga. Arriving in late morning, precariously tying up to a wharf designed for big ships, we are greeted in Polynesian style – ” Welcome to the Kingdom of Tonga!” in that booming voice with its special lilt by a big man in a lavalava with unmistakable sincerity; damn, we’re here again; it was worth the passage.

Cheeseburgers In Paradise; they’re all that you dream of after a passage. Of course you confuse the waitress by ordering two Popau beers at once; to do otherwise risks a lengthy island time delay for the inevitable second. They’re delicious; Oh My God how could any thing be so pleasing as a cheeseburger and a cold Popau?

To RED’s left, a quarter mile across the placid waters of Neiafu Bay, the laughter of Tongan teenagers doing some kind of physical sport; unconscious laughter, the kind that only those that know no cares can have. Choir practice to the right reminds that Polynesians have taken the best parts of western religion and made them their own. Group singing is life here and it is done unimaginably well.

Tomorrow passage ends on board RED and we put him and our lives back to normal. He’s our home, and a comfortable and gracious one when we’re in port. On passage it’s different; sometimes things fly around, anything not secured well enough is inclined to do so, and some that you thought were; put it on the floor somewhere out of the way, that way it can’t fall any further; secure that drawer before it launches itself; damn too late! Now he returns to the home we love.

What a lovely place Vava’u is, we can’t wait to enjoy its true beauty and the waters. The whales will be here soon; the reefs are pristine and await our presence; and the flesh pots of Neiafu punctuate our time here.

What are you waiting for?


  1. What a poetic description of your voyage! I am amazed that you refer to RED as him, I always thought ships were “she”… I agree on the choir singing, I have never heard better a capella religious singers than on Fiji. Will you get there on your travels? Looking forward to your next set of photos!