Mark, Phil and I explored more of Tongatapu by car, ending up descending deep into limestone caverns carved out through the ancient beds of coral. Spectacular stalactites and stalactites reached towards each other often forming thick pillars that must have taken ages to grow. As we descended with our guides we could bear splashing and shrieking, and it soon became apparent that there were fresh water lakes down there. Two expat Tongan families visiting home from Hawaii and Texas were back g great fun leaping in. Neither of my companions fancied it, but as we left I found another set of steps leading down to water and, reluctant to miss a wild swim, I stripped off and went in. The water was surprisingly warm and delicious. I explored more of the cave u til I joined up with the families who all were thrilled to find a new area.
The next day was mirror calm so we took Tin Tin out through the reef to look for whales and were thrilled to come across several groups with mother and calf gently cruising along.
Phil, who is a determined fisherman has just lost his lure to a very big fish strike in the reef pass, so the whales were a nice compensation. We anchored lose inside the reef and had an exceĺlent snorkel amidst completely new coral scenery, reminiscent of spreading acacia trees on the Serengeti plains. The trees were two or three feet across and were vivid lime green, copper, and purple and blue. Fish didn't seem as abundant but there were shoals of lime green "leaves blowing in the breeze".
The next day Justin and Siobhan arrived and we had the whole boat shipshape after our maintenance work. That evening we anchored TinTin off the Big Mama Yacht Club again and enjoyed the sunset together over a drink.
This morning I had everyone up early for busy day. I set old with Mark at 07:30 to spray paint Tin Tin' s logo onto the wreck by the yacht club, then got everyone to immigration at 09:00 in order to sign on the new crew and get our clearance to head north to Vavau. J&S then set off to explore Tongatapu by car whilst we lads restocked with vegetables and other groceries, and filled up with fuel before returning the car. Of course here one must take it to a carwash first! Driving anywhere was slow today as the streets are full of processions of trucks pumping out music, decked out with flags and balloons and laden with people waving flags in readiness for Saturday's rugby match vs Fiji
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