Water Nomads New Zealand | Tonga Part 3


Water Nomads in Tonga Part 3

After 5 days of boardpacking, we developed a bit of a routine and gained confidence. The boards (despite the broken finbox on mine) performed well and we thoroughly enjoyed sailing them. However, it was time to get away from civilisation, and we had our longest open water passage ahead, approximately 10km.

The morning when we wanted to move on from Tapana to Euakafa, we were woken by the wind blowing straight into our little campsite. The conditions looked absolutely stunning for windsurfing! The wind direction was perfect to get to where we wanted to go, sailing in a slight reach, though the approximate 20 knots of wind might be pushing it a bit for those boards and with all the luggage…..

Boardpacking Tonga

We couldn’t forget the stern warnings we did get from Ian Fox, the president of Starboard, when we told him about our plans:  “I wouldn’t do it!”

Boardpacking Tonga Map

In 2016 inflatable boards were still pretty new to the market with failures across the industry. Subsequently boards have vastly improved since. We were fairly confident in our boards, as all the seams were welded, not glued. One of our biggest concern was the mast base attachment being the weak point, as windsurfing puts a lot of strain on the sail-to-board connection. Another point of concern were the finboxes, as they were only glued on. And mine wasn’t even fully there anymore, tied on with a piece of cord! These boards were designed to potter around in up to 10, maybe 12 knots. Not to be sailed across extended stretches of open water, loaded up with 15kg of luggage, 1 meter rolling swell and 20+ knots of wind!

Silverlynx came to the rescue. They were about to move location as well and offered to give us a lift to Euakafa. Not wanting to be stuck on Tapana much longer, we accepted and moved all our luggage on board. Still, what a shame not to be able to windsurf in those stunning condition! Well, there is a thought: We have a support boat now! Might as well try and sail (without luggage) across to Euakafa. If things go wrong, I’m sure they are going to pull us out!

Boardpacking Tonga

It was an absolutely amazing passage: Deep blue water, steady wind, lots of fun to steer the boards through the (surprisingly big) open swells, all along trying to put not too much strain on the poor boards and fins. The boards handled surprisingly well and were good fun.

Approaching Euakafa, we saw a wharf sticking out at the northern end. That looks like a resort, maybe we could get a cold drink and a bit of luxury there! While we waded in through the shallows, a couple of lads from further up the beach were frantically waving and yelling at us. Investigating what they wanted, it turned out that they told us not to land at the resort. Apparently the owner of the resort was a bit odd and didn’t like guests. His dogs would come and get you. We were instead invited to stay with Brett at his Blue House.

The next few days on Euakafa are some of the fondest memories I have of this trip. Lazy days chatting and exploring the island with Brett, who moved there a few years earlier from Australia. He leased the land (in Tonga foreigners can only lease land, not buy it), cleared it and built his Blue House all by himself. Well, that is together with his Aussie Shepard dogs, Diesel and Willow. He used to have more dogs, but some of them did get shot by the neighbour, others eaten by Tongans (according to Brett). Diesel and Willow were fantastic company – who doesn’t like getting woken up by a friendly dog in your face in the morning!

We started to realise that our original vision of our adventure was very different to the reality of it. We had expected to get away from it all, exploring uninhabited islands, being seriously remote and self-sufficient. Now we found ourselves constantly meeting people and not being remote at all! Though it was exactly all those encounters, that made the trip as special as it was. Everyone we met had a story to tell. Some of the people lived in Tonga as expat for various reasons. Others were sailing the world alone or with a family. They all had an interesting background story, how they did get to that point. They all were adventurers. We really enjoyed learning about all those different ways of life and getting to know those people. With some of them we stayed in touch years after.

All good things come to an end, and we were soon running out of days to make it back to Neiafu for our flights home, so we had to move on.

Our next destination was Mounu Island, where our friend Kirsty lives. Together with her parents Allan (Alani for the Tongans) and Lyn, they operate a luxury resort, specialised in whale watching. The Bowe family were one of the first palangi (white) families to set up a whale watching business in Tonga and are very well respected and part of the local community.

We were super keen to check it out and meet Kirsty and her family!

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Boardpacking Tonga, Euakafa

Our Tonga Adventure

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