Overlooking the bay in Tonga

Overlooking the bay in Tonga wearing our Baths shirts from the BVIs.

Brandon and Kathy

"Explorations"

Whale breaching

Whale breaching in Tonga.


Colorado

The BVIs

Tonga

2001 - Another Year of Firsts

Continental Divide, Southern Cross, Southern Hemisphere

In 2001 we went on a ski trip to Colorado, went sailing in the British Virgin Islands and went on a whale watching trip to Tonga in the South Pacific. The pictures below provide a glimpse of the sights that we saw.

Colorado

Continental Divide

Beaver Creek Lifts and Trails

In March we went to Colorado. My friend Mac has access to his father's house in Arrowhead (near Beaver Creek). Each year he invites several of us to come up for a week of skiing. This was Kathy's first year so we did some sightseeing and she saw the Continental Divide for the first time.

British Virgin Islands

In the spring, along with our friends Tom and Jeanette, we charted a sail boat in the BVIs. (We didn't sail the boat - it came with a captain, cook and first mate.) We went to a different site each day. The first four pictures below were taken at "The Baths". The last two were taken when Kathy and I made a dive on the wreck of the Rhone (where "The Deep" was filmed). While we were in the BVIs, Kathy saw the Southern Cross for the first time.

Group at The Baths

Kathy in the surf

Kathy in the water

Beautiful Water at The Baths

Kathy at the Wreck of the Rhone

Turtle near the Rhone

Tonga

Scott in the skiff

Tom free diving

In August we went to Tonga in the South Pacific on a trip organized by our friend Bob Straight. This was Kathy's first time in the Southern Hemisphere and of course our first time swimming with whales.

My brother Scott went on the trip as well as our friends Tom and Jolene Eizember. That's Scott in the picture on the left and Tom in the one on the right.

The main purpose of the trip was to swim with humpback whales. We were on the boat (the Naia) for 9 days and the whales only cooperated for two of those days. But those two days were amazing. Snorkeling and free diving with as many as 5 whales at a time was an experience that we will never forget. Unfortunately, to get a picture of an animal that is 40 feet long you can't be very close. So the pictures are a little soft. But they let us renew our memories.

Freediving with whales

Humpbacks

Humpbacks

Kathy looking for whales from the skiff

Tom above a feather star

On days when the weather was bad, we visited villages on the remote islands. When there was good weather but no whales, we went scuba diving. The diving in Tonga is not as good as in nearby Fiji, but we still saw some interesting sights.

The picture on the left shows the skiff that took us to the dive sights as well as taking us in search of the whales (Kathy's in purple). On the right is Tom hovering above a crinoid.

The pictures below show (from left to right) clown fish on a night dive, clown fish in their anemone and a Spanish Dancer.

Clown fish on a night dive

Clown fish

Spanish Dancer

In addition to the 9 days on the boat looking for whales, we spent a few days at the start of the trip in Nuku'alofa, the capitol. We went to church where the king goes, and sure enough, he was in attendance. The singing was wonderful.

At the end of the trip we spent some time in the northern Vava'u group of islands. When sailors charter yachts in Tonga, this is where they go. There is also some diving here and you can go exploring by kayak.

All in all, the trip to Tonga was quite an experience.

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C. Brandon Jones
email: Brandon "at" cbjones.info
updated June 11, 2005