Monday, October 15, 2012

Caving and misfortune

Today we dinghied from Port Maurelle to the northwest end of Kapa Island (Kingdom of Tonga) to see the much talked about Swallow's Cave (around S18°40.933' W174°02.865'). We identified it by streaks of colour on the rocks. This cave is not actually nested by Swallow birds, but by Swift birds, many of which were present. We dinghied right into the large beautiful cave...

Should be called Swift's Cave

...where we saw a few snorkellers and other admirers of this beauty where you could see the sky through a hole in the top of the cave. We noticed 1 young man walking a ridge going farther back into the cave but we had unfortunately not brought our reef shoes with good traction.

Looking out the entrance from inside Swallow's Cave

Next we dinghied across a stretch of ocean over to another island where we could check out Mariner's Cave (around S18°41.4' W174°04.4'). We had been given the GPS reading, so once in the area we looked for a dark spot in the ocean water. This dark spot identifies where you dive into the water, swim under the ledge, and come up into Mariner's Cave. Sound scary? I thought so!

But Jordan said he would hold my hand and pull me down under the water. I know this sounds strange but I cannot yet dive down wearing snorkelling gear, my body just keeps floating on the surface until I am pushed down or pulled under.

We had been told of the beauty inside this cave so we both wanted to see it. Jordan dived in alone the first 2 times and said it was indeed very beautiful with a green mist of fog every time the tide surged in and out. There was a bright blue where the light would shine from outside the cave. He said I would be able to easily make it in with his help.

So I grabbed his hand, and with big breaths, we both went down. But as Jordan pushed me in, he came up too soon and soundly bashed his head into the sharp volcanic rocks. He was bleeding profusely so we left immediately before any sharks got whiff of blood. After a quick glance around inside Mariner's Cave, we both dove down and back out.

As we climbed back into the dinghy, Jordan was still bleeding very badly, as all head wounds do, and he had a flap of scalp hanging. We knew it had to be treated by a professional so once back at Sea Turtle, we immediately headed back to Vava'u Island, about 1 hour away.

Jordan called on the VHF radio for a doctor and the sailors back at Vava'u Island immediately started calling around. They arranged for the local doctor to wait at her office until we arrived, saved a mooring ball for us to tie up to, and dinghied us ashore when we arrived so we would not waste time putting our own dinghy back into the water. On board 1 boat, there was a doctor who said she could patch up Jordan if we could not reach the doctor ashore. Wow - sailors are always there when you need them and all this help was sure appreciated by both of us!

Once at the doctor's office, she agreed that Jordan's head was in quite a mess. She shaved the area and put 8 stitches in the 2 flaps of torn scalp. Don't look at the next pictures if you are squeamish!!!

2 flaps of scalp hanging open for cleaning

Jokingly, Jordan refers to the 2 cut open flaps of skin as his 2 burgees on the port side. Amazingly, he said it hardly hurt at all. And now, sadly, he cannot be in the salt water, so no snorkelling for 7 to 10 days until it has healed and I remove the stitches.


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