This time our foreign correspondent interviews Aud and Jolanda from a sailing boat wind song. They have just arrived at Tonga, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. It took a while because of the 2.5-year lockdown – due to Covid and volcanic eruptions – but Tonga (a Beloved Island for seafarers) can be accessed again. And wind song A welcome first Dutch boat. After sending a firestorm of questions, there was sudden radio silence.
The reason for this is that after a few days an automatic reply will be sent online via a message. On Friday, November 11, 2022, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake occurred, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), US Geophysical Union. An official tsunami warning was issued following the earthquake.
in the flow
“An alarm was heard from our anchorage on the side. Very strange!” Ad and Jolanda announce from their winner. “So we immediately anchored and quickly opened about 300 meters of water. There we spent the night ahead”. Hold the bag Ready and all chicks are tightly closed, they are waiting. “Don’t you know what awaits you, like January?” Jolanda informs us later that night.
Internet was also routinely shut down to save power on the islands. “It makes the situation even more unsafe,” says the Dutch couple. As sailors of the world, they themselves have a satellite phone whose home always sends the latest news. The warnings were withdrawn after 1.5 hours. “Luckily, we didn’t notice the earthquake, but it was an adrenaline-pumping event.”
Disaster after disaster
Earlier this year, Tonga was completely cut off from the world because of a submarine Volcanic eruption Near Tonga. Many houses have been destroyed, some islands have been evacuated, three victims have fallen and tourism has not benefited for almost three years. “They were hit hard, and still are,” notes Jolanda, shortly after arriving in Tonga. “A lot needs to be renovated and many are still closed, the famous Cruisers Cafe Marinere here in Bangui”.
At the last moment
wind song She was the fifth sailing yacht to arrive in Tonga from Bora Bora. “As we tried to schedule work on a yard for much-needed maintenance on the boat, we were told that the marinas would open on October 1”. It was only a few days before that date that it was final and the couple was able to correct their course. “Tonga was on our wishlist because it’s a great departure point to New Zealand, for example, from Fiji”.
Tonga is known as the “Friendly Islands” and the couple soon noticed that. “People are really happy to see us. Especially the kids gape at us because they haven’t experienced tourists with awareness yet. They are welcomed by everyone, photographed or volunteered to help. “When we walked to the petrol station with three cans of diesel, one gave the dinghy a lift back and forth”.
To one of the initial questions about the extent to which Tonga meets expectations, they answer the following. “We didn’t have any special expectations for it, but it surprised us.” They found it special to meet friendly citizens. For example, after attending a church service, they are invited to eat with the entire church community. “In a large open space, long tables were filled with enough food for everyone. We feel privileged to be the first in Tonga after many years. It gives an extra dimension to our visit.
Text: Greetje Tops
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