The Kingdom of Tonga is a special place for so many reasons. An unspoilt group of islands, cared for by friendly locals happy in the knowledge that they have never been occupied or dominated by any other nation, that there is land for all to grow healthy food and that their culture is both rich and strong.
The Royal family is highly revered and the population deeply religious. The oceans are clean and still provide for all, yet everyone accepts she is under pressure and Tongans truly care. They are now looking for solutions. They are also welcoming. So now Tonga and the island of Nomuka IKI in the Ha’apai group is our new home.
After launching the Royal Nomuka Yacht Club in October 2015 we finally start building infrastructure for our new life in Tonga. Jane and I are very happy about that and we hope to welcome you here in the future.
This season our team of volunteers has grown to include all manner of skills. Eight Kiwi’s and Aussies flying in end of June to join us in Blue Base camp on the beach. We also have a team of Tongans from neighbouring Island of NOMUKA helping with construction and logistics. It will be a hectic fun and productive time.
ROYAL NOMUKA YACHT CLUB (RNYC)
In a few weeks, an advanced team lay the concrete foundations to the temporary Yacht Club, a brand-new military field hospital engineered tent/building 6mtr x 12 mtrs. We will then erect that beginning of July. A 20ft container of materials from China has already arrived and another 40ft container of STUFF will leave China in two weeks arriving late JUNE. The permanent Yacht Club building program will not commence until 2018.
The Club is the host Yacht Club for the www.GoldenGlobeRace.com and we have now volunteered our services to support the sailing program of the 2019 Tonga Pacific Games. It includes Hobie 16’s, Laser radials for women and Lasers for men. Our first task is to work with OCEANIA SAILING FEDERATION who co-ordinate and oversee all sailing in the Pacific, to form a TONGA SAILING ASSOCIATION.
Our plan to build four Puddle Duck Racers (before starting our VAKA building program) is under review. WE may now buy three OPTIMIST sailing Dinghies instead. These will be the first into Tonga and may start others thinking about it. WE hope to have five 6.5 metre One Design Tahiti Wayfarer Vakas built for display sailing by Tongan youth crews at the Pacific Games in 2019.
If you or your friends are sailing through Tonga call in, we would love to see you. If you have an interest in our sailing program, want to assist or support it in any way, we look forward to chatting. If you have a Laser or Optimist dingy sitting idle, or even a Hobie 16 looking for a new home, we would love to get it to Tonga? If you would like to support the RNYC and become a member, email us and we will forward your membership forms.
SC EXPLORER is currently in VAVAU Boat yard fitting our new hard top and completing import formalities. Then we sail south to Nuku’Alofa for commercial survey inspections, skipper/crew license endorsements, coastal trading license, radio licenses, whale license, whale swim guide course certificate and then should be ready by early July!
Much of Tonga’s whale swim industry is under review as there is growing pressure from what current operators call too many boats in Vavau. At a recent three-day whale conference in Nuku’Alofa various speakers talked about the recovery and impacts of whales around the world. We all care about the wellbeing of whales and certainly Tongan whale swim regulations are strong and the Govt. here has recommitted to stronger policing which can’t be a bad thing.
Climate change may have been involved in the arrival of the first whales in Vavau on the 7th APRIL just a few months early!! A big part of our whale swim season on EXPLORER is now reserved so if you are thinking about joining us in Tonga, now is the time..or you can book for 2018 😊. You can follow the latest on our FaceBook page. EXPLORER is ready to support your Tonga Adventures.
McIntyre Adventure Marine Discovery Centre (MDC)
In 2016 we presented a proposal to the NOMUKA Marine Committee to undertake three programs. 1. Carry out the first ever swim through survey of their coastal Specially Managed Area (SMA) 2. Develop a Snorkel Trail in that area, then train school kids to snorkel and take them on that Trail. 3. Establish a Fishing Effort Catch Data Log book system for all Nomuka Fishermen. They agreed.
Three of us spent two days doing the in-water survey and a few more writing up reports. The area had not been touched for nine years. It was an emotional moment entering the water. Large Fish, turtles, sharks, rays and healthy coral everywhere. Presentations were given and reports delivered in Tongan to various parties. 25 sets of snorkelling gear and life jackets are in the 40ft container headed to Nomuka IKI for the kids snorkel trail this season, along with the Fishing Effort log books.
In Sept 2016, the MDC decided to support coral reef expert Patrick Smallhorn-West over the next four years with a PHD project based around Coral Reefs, Marine biodiversity and Specially Managed Areas and their effectiveness in the Kingdom. Patrick and his partner Sophie Gordon, also a Marine Biologist and Pearl Farming specialist, were appointed Directors of the MDC in October last year and are a great asset to our future plans. At present, all funding for the MDC funding is supported by Jane and I and any profits from WhaleSailTonga, but we hope to establish it as a NOT for PROFIT Organisation at the end of 2020.
As I write this, Patrick and Sophie are carrying out Marine Biodiversity Surveys around Nomuka IKI and scouting coral reefs for future long term surveys. In September this year, we undertake our first nine-day Marine Science Voyage with EXPLORER in conjunction with James Cook University and Queensland Museum personnel. It will focus on identifying suitable sites and issues for future collaborative research. Our objective is to involve other international universities, a Chinese university and possibly the University of the South Pacific moving forward and on each occasion sponsor local Tongan University students to partner and participate in these field programs at the same time.
The MDC is working with the UK National Aquarium, the OPEN UNIVERSITY and News Corp ltd to establish an educational outreach program within the 2018 Golden Globe Race that will have a global following and create increased awareness to Reef issues.
The first 6mtr x 6mtr Cabin for the MDC will be built this season, and much of the equipment and boats we need to support it will arrive. WE are setting up a boat launching facility to pull work boats up onto the island when not needed. A small jetty running out from the beach to the reef edge is scheduled for construction in the next two years.
If you would like to be part of these future MDC plans and help in the field, we will be looking for volunteers in the future and subscribers to assist financially. The web site will be up in July with all the details.
BEST JOB IN THE WORLD? Volunteer caretaker. No pay, Big benefits!
Ever wanted to live free as a bird alone on a tropical island for six months. We are looking for a Caretaker couple to live on the island over summer. You would tend the food gardens, keep an eye on the young giant clams out front, keep the tracks clear and do a few odd jobs. Go fishing and snorkelling whenever, take long walks on the 4.8km of surrounding white sandy beach, maybe a bit of surfing and you can tell the world what you are up to. We have phone and internet on the beach.
The 500-strong community on the Island of Nomuka just one mile across the water has a police station, small medical clinic, one small shop and seven churches. You will live in a comfortable 6mtr x 6mtr cabin living off grid with solar power, tank water and composting toilets. The Ferry calls in twice a week for deliveries.
Your adventure starts first week of NOV. 2017 and you head home end of April 2018. Jane and I are waiting for your call. This opportunity is available every summer in the future.
YOUR NEW ISLAND HOME?
Had enough of the Rat Race? Want to reset, reboot your life? Are you looking for an island retirement? Jane and I are looking for two other families, or couples who would like to join us and make a permanent home in the Kingdom of Tonga on Nomuka IKI. Build your own simple off grid waterfront beach cabin with sand between your toes all the way to the water. Grow your own food, catch your fish, be part of something special. Watch the sun rise and set over water every day, join the Yacht Club, MDC, sandalwood plantation, Vaka sailing school, William Bligh Museum and meeting all those cruising yachts during the season. Think about it and call us 😊 This truly is a once in a life time opportunity for the right people.
BLUE BASE CAMP
This season it will be filled with working volunteers and beautiful blue kingfishers, but there is every possibility we may have spots available for holiday visitors next year. We have purchased a couple of exclusive 5m x 6m luxury safari tents that will have their own ensuite toilet/shower right on the beach. Watch the whales play from your queen bed and heavy cotton sheets. Start planning now and watch the web site. Come to play or come to help, up to you.
It has been a long time between newsletters but with so much happening we hope to keep you updated regularly in future. Thanks for your interest.
Don and Jane