May 9, 2012

Two days on Nuie

We are sailing for Tonga after a short break on Nuie with following winds and seas. Downtime feels like a baby cradle compared to out last trip rolling along downwind at 6 to 7 knots.
We spent two days in Nuie a 100 square mile pinnacle of land that rises up out of the depths of the ocean. It is amazing that just 1/2 mile off shore it is over a mile deep!
We had just a few things to repair on Downtime and on Sunday Steve paddled the kayak to church while Daria and I relaxed in the calm anchorage. On Monday I went for a dive with Nuie Divers and they took me to two really cool cave dives along he shore, The first part of the dive was like swimming over the moon since all the corrals were scrubbed clean during the cyclone of 2004 a storm that battered the island with huge waves that even destroyed many home and building sitting 60 feet above sea level!
Most the island is made of limestone and where water seeps through over the ages dissolves the rock forming these spectacular caves. They both had entrances about 20 feet below the surface and a 200 foot winding tunnels to get into them. We had flashlights to find our way in and saw schools of fish hiding in all the nooks and crannies along the walls. It was breeding season for sea snakes and there were heaps of them swimming with us! These snakes are 2 to 5 feet long and are poisonous! The good thing is that they are non aggressive and have a mouth that is too small to bite a human. They are just curious and come swim right up to you until shoo them away. They are making their way into the caves to lay their eggs, since they can not lay eggs in the water. They go into the cave and climb up on the jagged walls and after laying their eggs they simply plop back into the water.
These are the darkest caves i ever dove in and when you shut off your light it was pitch black! Hmmm take a minute in your mind and go for a swim in a pitch black cave with sea snakes all around you....a little creepy!
On our way between dive sites we encountered the local talent, a school of spinner dolphins and I jumped in with them holding onto the boat and they swam along side me as we motored slowly forward.
While I was diving Daria and Steve went on an island tour with one of the locals Steve met at church. Nuie is a beautiful island that at one time sustained over 5000 people but now there are barely 1500 living here. There have been attempts to teach the natives to farm and ranch but no sign of any of these activities were going on. In my mind growing at least fresh fruits and vegetables in this tropical paradise would be a no-brainer. Nuie is owned by mother NZ and appears to give most of this nation government jobs and plenty of subsidies. While we were there the supply ship was unloading and at least 40 men were involved with this two day process. Customs and immigration had a few full time staff to clear the 30 to 50 visitors a week(the only plane comes in on Friday)
But all bureaucracy aside we found the people here genuinely caring and friendly and enjoyed every minute of our short stay here.
I am sure Daria has lots of pictures to post when we find internet in Tonga, until then please be
Sailing along to Tonga, Downtime and her crew

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