Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kelefesia Island

At 3:30 this morning, we heard a faint rumble and when we got up to look out we saw the supply ship making its way into the anchorage and pier of Ha'afeva Island. The dead and dark of the night was transformed into a buzz of activity under the floodlights of the dock as people came to pick up their supplies from the ship.

We weighed anchor bright and early at 06:45 to head south for Kelefesia, the most southerly and last island of the Ha'apai Group of the Kingdom of Tonga. We sailed with 20-knot winds under sunny skies with only a few clouds. A few hours out (next to the Nomuka Group of islands) Jordan snagged 2 tuna at the same time on 2 trailing lines. It's been awhile since his last catch of good eating fish.

Using the fairly accurate electronic charts we skirted around the reefs and breakers of Kelefesia Island and set the hook at 14:15 (S20°30.144' W174°44.352') in this very small anchorage which was only large enough for 3 boats. The bottom was sandy with some easy to see coral heads, as have been all of the anchorages that we visited in the Ha'apai Group. But we were all alone in this idyllic spot.

Palm trees on the dramatic bluffs rising above the sandy beaches, breaking rollers over the nearby reefs on each side, clear turquoise waters, and no one in sight on this deserted island. This is what we have been waiting for since we left our home back in Victoria BC Canada! And to think that not many sailors stop here in their rush to the last stop before New Zealand.

Sea Turtle in front of distant bluffs

I immediately doffed my clothing (oh wait - I wasn't wearing any clothes!) and jumped in the clear warm water. What a thrill! Jordan tossed me my snorkelling gear and asked me to ensure the anchor was set as he still could not go in salt water because of his head wound.

I saw a couple of new fish that I had never seen before and admired all the coral. Red coral, which is endangered, is present here but we could not take any samples of the dead coral from shore for fear that New Zealand would confiscate it - even if we found it on shore.

We both then went ashore and observed there were not a lot of seashells but the giant clam shells were evident. We found the remnants of a wrecked sailboat, only the mast partially buried in the sand. We learned later that other larger parts lay submerged in the area. As we walked around to the back side of the island, we discovered the island was not deserted but had 1 lone resident, the island's caretaker. He had a couple of pigs strolling around and a very basic open-air lean-to for a kitchen.

Jordan and caretaker next to humble abode

Kelefesia was a gift from the King to a Tongan family. Their descendants visit occasionally and allow cruisers to wander freely. But due to heavy tree growth, we had a hard time trying to make it through them.

Judy strolling towards steep cliffs

As we headed back to Sea Turtle, we noticed a few ledges of amazing coral where Jordan would have loved to dive beneath. How unfortunate the he could not.

We had a glorious evening, being the only boat with no one in sight. The waters were extremely calm and so quiet. What more could you ask for!

Looking back towards the island from its sandy beach

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