Tahina Off the Net

We have been disconnected from the Internet quite a bit here in Ha’apai in the Kingdom of Tonga. Which is why there have been fewer blog posts the last few days. This place is much more laid back, and Internet is few and far between. The little net connectivity they do have is quite slow indeed. Especially for uploading photos. The people here are very nice!

We have been staying in the northern Ha’apai islands awaiting the arrival of our new crew member: Paul van Dinther will be arriving today from New Zealand. I’ve known him for a few years through my writings on the Google Earth Blog. Paul has written some of the slickest simulations for Google Earth to date which you can find at his web site PlanetInAction. Paul wanted to join us for the trip from Tonga to New Zealand – which we had first discussed 2 years ago, and now is becoming reality.

Kite photo of Foa, Ha'apai, TongaMeanwhile, Karen and I have spent a lot of time near Foa and Nukunoma (which means Mosquito house – but, we haven’t seen any mosquitos there). These two islands have beautiful beaches and fantastic coral reefs. On Friday, we finally managed to take some kite aerial photography of Nukunoma – which is a very beautiful uninhabited island. Here is an example thumbnail photo of the nearby Foa island taken from the kite. Once we get to New Zealand, I’ll finally be able to upload these photos so you can really see how beautiful this place is!

The locals on Foa were excited to see these aerial photos. Google Earth only has very low resolution Landsat photos of the area. I managed a few oblique shots of Foa as well and captured the beautiful location of Matafonua Lodge. Sally and David are the owners there, and were thrilled to see the kite photos showing their resort (seen in the thumbnail above). They have a fantastic location and a nice restauarant there. We went there for a BBQ on Saturday night and had a great time.

We also went diving with Happy Ha’apai Diving. The dive master there named Darren was anxious to meet me. He is a real photography enthusiast, and had heard about my kite aerial photos from other boaters who got here before us. He was thrilled to hear I wanted to take kite shots of the area. We had many discussions about photography. He has some fantastic underwater HD videography for National Geographic, Discovery, and BBC. He is now using a Canon 5D for most of his personal videography and has done some great stuff! Darren took us on a couple of dives near Haano. We went through some caves and on a sea mount. Saw fantastic fish and coral life.

We also met a couple of Googlers, from the Dublin office on vacation here in Tonga, during the dive and a couple who live and work at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. And we’ve met a number of other cruisers as well including a couple who have been working at the resort where Darren works during the season, but in New Zealand the rest of the time.

The winds have kicked up a lot the last few days – and this will last for a few more days as well. We sailed with a triple reef back to town yesterday and were making 8-9 knots in 25 knot winds. We also spent the weekend cleaning up the boat in preparation for our guest.

Sorry for the sparse blogging! I’ll try to get back on a daily schedule, but don’t expect lots of photos until we get to New Zealand.

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