Humpbacks of Tonga, part III

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Date: August 25 - September 3, 2004
Destination: Ha'apai, Tonga
Returning Passengers: John Sorenson

In-water encounter. Photo: Pamela Rewers.

Pamela Rewers makes it onboard just in time for her birthday.
Jodi & Victor Zucker get some topside photos.

Just when we think it’s about as good as it gets, the Tonga whale season just keeps on getting better – more in-water, up-close and personal encounters, more aerial acrobatics, and more rampaging bulls than our cameras can keep up with. Yet again, our calls for patience and perseverance were proven unnecessary as Day 1 yielded extremely close encounters right under the ship with two large and very curious juveniles. And when the weather turned nasty the whales just got crazier. Wearing wetsuits and masks while standing on the bow, Nathan Yoffa and Tracy Harachi – later joined by Mike & Alison Pollack – braved the 30knot winds and pouring rain to be treated to an unprecedented display of breaching, slapping, and spyhops as NAI’A was surrounded by whales trying their best to be noticed. As the rain passed, the rest of our group emerged as the revelry continued, setting shutters clicking and chewing up hours of videotape with a breach or slap every 15-20 seconds and continuing for hours. Other days proved just as exciting with more friendly whales, including a meeting with seven large males who got very close… in fact, almost a little too close to NAI’A Tonga veteran John Sorenson, making his seventh adventure an adrenalin-fuelled ride. And when the whales took a break we dived the reefs, finding great new dive sites (much to Jioji’s surprise) which were still not enough to wear out Chris Watson – the diehard “never miss a dive” diving machine. Pamela Rewers joined us a little late after escaping super-typhoons and airport delays. Victor Zucker celebrated his last trip shooting old-skool film, while wife Jodi had the encounter of her life when almost everyone left in the skiffs and she had the friendliest whales of the trip all to herself, spyhopping her as she descended the ladder into the water. John & June Barclay, Howard & Stephanie Bunyan, and Alan & Susan Gill combined to form “Team UK” on their reunion cruise, in the process helping the boys get through their kava quota for the week and teaching them a few new tunes along the way – Let’s do what in Hawaiian?

Quadruple spy hop. Photo: Nathan Yoffa.


We've had a wonderful time. We'll be dreaming about whales for a long, long time!
Michael & Alison Pollack, Cupertino CA

So much has happened in nine days, and the crew are so happy and helpful. It's been really lovely, the best I've had, and we agree that we would love to come back and see you all again. Yours is a very special liveaboard.
June & John Barclay, England

What a gift to see eye-to-eye with these wonderful creatures. Thank you.
Victor & Jodi Zucker, Granada Hills CA

Alan Gill talks dirty in Hawaiian


Alison & Michael Pollack.
Spanish Dancer nudibranch.
Photo: June Barclay.
Susan & Alan Gill.
Nathan Yoffa & Tracy Harachi.
Chris Watson
John Sorenson likes his kava.
John & June Barclay.
Watching the top-side action.
Stephanie & Howard Bunyan.