Tonga, Part IV

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Date: August 23 - September 1, 2005
Destination: Ha'apai, Tonga


Linda Hanley gets close to a mother & calf.
Double breach.
Yet another beautiful desert island...
Snorkeller's view of NAI'A's stern platform.


After travelling with us in Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Phoenix Islands, plenty of our guests returned again to the good ship NAI’A – this time to try their luck at swimming with whales in Tonga. The Knoblocks – Kathy and Al – were their usual ‘quiet and reserved’ selves, going almost unnoticed by the rest of the group; and tagging along on their recommendation were doctors Bruce Wapen and Yelena Arlege, at the ready with scalpels to perform minor surgeries on crew and passengers alike. Jim Stringer, who has logged almost as much NAI’A sea-time as some of the crew, had his cameras at the ready both above and below the water and, as usual, captured some great images, taking the prize pool with his double breachers. Joe Smallman, another ‘quiet and inconspicuous’ traveller, picked a bad time to take the day off but still managed a rare triple tail shot – an image unfortunately burned into many an eye. Photo competition winner Andrew Woodburn was another shutterbug always at the ready and first in the water for some spectacular photo ops … and was still snapping away on land with the help of partner Clara Simper, modelling some rather painful-looking yoga moves.


Emperor shrimp.
Doug & Gayle Smith.
Ralph & Sue Youngs.
Mother & calf.


Dan and Cathy Harris were the stalwarts of the top deck lookout team, making sure we were aware of not only the blows and breaches, but most importantly the snack and meal times. Ralph and Sue Youngs were back for their second NAI’A adventure, a constant source of smiles. Doug and Gayle Smith, also back for more, may initiate a “no computer clause” before signing up for their next trip. Linda Hanley, yet another NAI’A veteran was on Part One of her South Pacific adventure and moving slowly into the digital photo world – topside first. A couple of last minute additions saw Erika Palmer Rogers, with her insatiable thirst for books, and David Alford with his trusty shark whacking stick ensuring safety for all.

Oh, and whales, we also saw whales – some very nice encounters, including the best photo opportunities provided by the friendliest mother and calf in NAI’A history.


Flathead's eye.
Joe Smallman, Kathy & Al Knoblock.
Kathy's trademark handiwork.
David Alford.
Cathy Harris and captain John.





Close attention and safety concerns from the staff, excellent ship, great whale encounters.
Bruce Wapen, Foster City CA

This is our second voyage aboard NAI’A. The crew, the food, the experience was fabulous. Thank you all, old friends and new!
Sue and Ralph Youngs, Annapolis MD


Clara Simper takes in the view from the crow's nest.


We had a fantastic time whale watching and swimming with the whales on the NAI’A. Thanks to the wonderful crew for making our experience unforgettable.
Dan and Cathy Harris, Panama City Beach FL

Crew attitudes and service were excellent!
Yelena Arledge, Foster City CA


Mother and calf.


Excellent service by an awesome crew on a great boat.
Doug and Gayle Smith, Carmel CA

Thanks for another wonderful trip! Love to all.
Linda Hanley, Oak Grove MO

Great work Josh & all the crew! I had a wonderful experience!
David Alford, Green Valley AZ




Andrew Woodburn's photo gallery, Wild Woodburn Photography -

Andrew Woodburn.
Dan Harris.
Hermit crab.
Linda Hanley in the engine room.
Bruce Wapen.
Yelena Arledge.
Jim Stringer & Erika Palmer Rogers.