Overlooking the bay in Tonga wearing our Baths shirts from the BVIs.
Brandon and Kathy
Whale breaching in 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|C. Brandon Jones
email: Brandon "at" cbjones.info
|updated June 11, 2005|