Global Voyage

A Story About Sailing Around the World

Ray & Jenny aboard the ketch Suka

3 years, 35,000 miles, Nov 1982 - Jan 1986

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Chapter 5: The Kingdom Of Tonga

page 52 of 109


“The world is a great book,
of which they who never stir
from home read only a page.”

- Augustine (354-430)

The Kingdom of Tonga
Where Friendliness is a Way of Life


Setting sail from Rarotonga, bound for the Tonga Islands.

Passage to the Tonga Islands

Winds of the offing were light and shifty, so a disconcerting swell rolled the brig heavily. However, we progressed favorably, and once beyond the zone of confused seas leeward of Rarotonga we found moderate conditions. Bringing to mind the trying nature of the passage from Bora Bora, we certainly relished this easier traveling.


A minke whale pays a visit.

A few days out, during a rain squall a whale appeared on the port beam. It was a magnificent creature, again a minke. Soon, though, its coming close and leaping out of the sea gave us concern. But after the whale departed we forgot our worries and remarked what a captivating show the whale had staged.

Bypassing Winslow and Beveridge Reefs

Again we were thankful to have the sat-nav, mainly while passing by the submerged Winslow and Beveridge Reefs. The previous year a yacht had strayed off course and had struck Beveridge Reef. The crew took to their life raft and drifted for two weeks, until rescued. A few weeks after Jenny and I had passed Beveridge Reef, Don McClead and Mary Frank aboard Carioca, and Jack, Rithva and Benjamin on Kulkuri used their sat-navs and radars to find Beveridge Reef. They entered a west-facing pass, and anchored within the lagoon. There they remained a few days, seeing no land. But a single above-water object stood visible: a masthead. Setting out in dinghies loaded with scuba diving gear, they surveyed what proved to be the aforementioned wrecked sailboat. Little remained intact, but Jack salvaged two anchors and a length of chain. Years earlier, in a remarkable act of seamanship the venerable and now deceased Eric Hiscock and his wife Susan had called in at Beverage Reef, without using modern navigational aids. No doubt many others have done so also.


Early morning on our seventh day we passed close by Niue Island.

Bypassing Niue Island

On our seventh day we passed close by Niue Island. Officials there had recently imposed a $30.00 entrance fee, and for this reason alone we did not call in. Larry and Mollie later stopped there, though, and they reported that the entrance fee was money well spent.

Reaching the Northern Tongas

Zoom out to see where we are.

“In two hours we must have come-about 50 times. Back and forth we tacked, sailing fast but making slow progress.”

Two days after rounding Niue, Suka reached the northern Tongas, where she then stood off-shore in a strengthening south-easterly, hove to for three hours awaiting dawn. Then in the light of dawn, against strong head winds she tacked towards Port Refuge. Jenny wielded the staysail sheets on the primary winches, and I the jib sheets on the coaming winches. The deep reefed mainsail, sheeted hard in, tended itself. A ketch is not known for its windward abilities, and ours was certainly not about to dispel the stigma. In two hours we must have come-about 50 times. Back and forth we tacked, sailing fast but making slow progress while passing a few remarkably steep-to rocky islets. Laggardly windward progress aside, the seas were flat - being protected by myriad low lying, densely vegetated islands that reminded one of short stacks of Paul Bunyan size pancakes - and we thoroughly enjoyed the lively sailing.

Eventually we rounded Vava'u: the principal isle of the northerly Tongas. While closing the Neiafu wharf we saw Bruce and Leslie from A'Strayin. They had arrived a few days previously, and noticing us coming in, they had climbed aboard a small freighter. After directing us to tie alongside this vessel they greeted us with drinking coconuts, and shared what local tidbits they had learned about the place.

The Customs officers boarded Suka, asked a few routine questions, helped us fill out the requisite paperwork, and then disembarked.

Problems with an Inebriated Police Officer

“Three and a half hours, one crumpled cigarette package, and many incredulous stories later, the police officer found the bottom of our bottle where he arrived utterly awash.”

Next, a young police officer wearing the hat of immigration that day boarded and began courteously filling in his forms while engaging us in pleasant conversation. About to leave, he asked to inspect Suka's liquor locker. "Hmmm," he mumbled approvingly, withdrawing an expensive bottle of liqueur. "Would you sell this?" he asked, producing three grimy paper bills called pa'anga. These were worth nowhere near the price of the booze, and besides, I was not vending our stores. So I simply offered him a sociable drink. This proved a gross error, not only in having shown him to the liquor cabinet in the first place, but in not accepting his moldering money and giving him the bottle--for this would have rid us of him. Three and a half hours, one crumpled cigarette package, and many incredulous stories later, the cop found the bottom of our bottle where he arrived utterly awash.

I explained to lightheaded Lave that, as darkness was nearly upon us we now needed to remove Suka to the anchorage. Lave refused us permission to leave. Nonetheless, I started the engine and cast off, and while steering out into the bay I could only listen to our belligerent guest belowdecks demanding that I shut off the engine because it was too noisy. Then he came out and insisted on taking the helm.

We proceeded to the nearby charter yacht company's moorage, where considering the exigencies of the situation I judged it prudent that we collect a vacant buoy. In a gallant attempt to pick up the mooring bridle, our inebriated stowaway nearly toppled overboard, but by grabbing a flailing leg I managed to save him. Once the ketch lay secured, we inflated the dinghy, lowered it into the water, and I prevailed upon the police officer to climb aboard.

Ashore, Lave assured us in slurred speech that should we ever needed anything, just let him know. And in fact, the next time we were to see him, in town a few days later, he acted thinly as though he did not recognize us. The lesson had been a valuable one. I had learned never again to permit an officer to inspect Suka's moonshine. After this incident we would hide it.

An Invitation to a Feast

“Did we wish to buy fruit? No, thank you. Could his wife do our laundry? No thanks. Could he guide us to the cave? No, thank you. He displayed sea shells for sale. No thanks. Tiki carvings. No. Baskets and handicrafts. No, thanks anyway. Tongan feast? "... Feast?”

Early the following morning there came a clunk at the hull. Emerging groggily I found a Tongan gentleman clinging to the rail, while standing in a dilapidated scow. One bum boater, as the nautical term has it, by the name of Alofi. Did we wish to buy fruit? No, thank you. Could his wife do our laundry? No thanks. Could he guide us to the cave? No, thank you. He displayed sea shells for sale. No thanks. Tiki carvings. No. Baskets and handicrafts. No, thanks anyway. Tongan feast? "... Feast?" I asked. Now that sounded interesting. We paid the first fiver, and agreed to pay the second after the meal. Presenting us with a bundle of mandarin oranges tied to a twig neatly in a row, he paddled away.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 52.
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Page Links
GV 001: Title Page
GV 002: TOC
GV 003: Dedication
GV 004: Preface
GV 005: Prologue
GV 006: Beginnings
GV 007: Work Done
GV 008: Making Ready
GV 009: Departure
GV 010: Sailing Credentials
GV 011: First Lesson
GV 012: Sextant Navigation
GV 013: Safety Harness
GV 014: Murphy's law
GV 015: Spirit of Adventure
GV 016: Holding On
GV 017: First Big Storm
GV 018: Storm Intensified
GV 019: Rolling Violently
GV 020: Mizzen Sleeping Bag'sl
GV 021: Freeing the Propeller
GV 022: Visits by Birds
GV 023: Crossing the Doldrums
GV 024: Nearing First Landfall
GV 025: Land Ho
GV 026: Fatu Hiva
GV 027: Trek Inland
GV 028: Anchor Watch
GV 029: Passage
GV 030: Hiva Oa
GV 031: Skin Diving Circus
GV 032: Almost Like a Jungle
GV 033: Polaris Missile
GV 034: Taiohaie Bay
GV 035: Cascade Hakaui
GV 036: Taipi Bay
GV 037: Cyclone Lisa
GV 038: Cyclone Nano
GV 039: Passage of Patience
GV 040: Tuamotu Archipelago
GV 041: Tahiti
GV 042: Cyclone Reva
GV 043: Secret Sharer
GV 044: Moorea
GV 045: Cyclone Veena
GV 046: Aftermath
GV 047: Good Weather in Papeete
GV 048: Huahine
GV 049: Raiatea
GV 050: BoraBora
GV 051: Rarotonga
> GV 052: Tonga
GV 053: Fresh Air
GV 054: Tongan Feast
GV 055: Excursion to Maninita
GV 056: Mariner's Cave
GV 057: Fiji
GV 058: Ndravuni Island
GV 059: Mara Island
GV 060: Aneityum
GV 061: Noumea
GV 062: St Elmo's fire
GV 063: Breakwater Reef
GV 064: Bundaberg
GV 065: Life on the Burnett River
GV 066: Engine Sabotage
GV 067: Flying
GV 068: Aground in Round Hill Creek
GV 069: Gladstone Confinement
GV 070: Tropical Queensland
GV 071: Trip into Townsville
GV 072: Cairns Sojourn
GV 073: Cramped Cooktown
GV 074: Lizard Island
GV 075: The San Michelle
GV 076: Lost Mummy Cave
GV 077: Land's End
GV 078: Darwin
GV 079: Christmas Is
GV 080: Passage
GV 081: Cocos Keeling
GV 082: Crossing the Indian Ocean
GV 083: Rodriguez
GV 084: Mauritius
GV 085: Reunion Cirque de Mafate
GV 086: Reunion Cirque de Salazie
GV 087: Passage to Africa
GV 088: Kruger National Park
GV 089: Richards Bay
GV 090: Durban
GV 091: Port Elizabeth
GV 092: Cape Town
GV 093: Storm Passage
GV 094: St Helena
GV 095: Passage to Brazil
GV 096: Fortaleza
GV 097: Passage to Caribbean
GV 098: Bonaire
GV 099: Passage to Panama
GV 100: Panama
GV 101: Panama Canal
GV 102: Medidor
GV 103: Costa Rica
GV 104: Passage to Acapulco
GV 105: Acapulco to Cabo
GV 106: Baja
GV 107: Home Port
GV 108: In Retrospect
GV 109: Next Time
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