• Our impact on the Pacific and Micronesia – it’s not as far away as you think

    Being back on land and reflecting on close to a year cruising the pacific islands and Micronesia I realise how much I’ve gained from the experience – Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. Before just names on a map, dots in a vast blue ocean. So what is different now?

    The reality of life in these places has been experienced. Ties have been made with people, faces aligned to a country, and an understanding of the land that they live on. My latest assignment for my development studies course is on development induced migration. You might think about the three gorges dam, or other high profile mass re-locations.  But there are countless stories like this on smaller scales around the pacific.

    Right now I’m thinking of what we’ve seen along the way, not necessarily experienced directly, but through the stories of people we’ve met…

    * Displacement from Bikini island for nuclear testing for “the good of mankind”

    * The impact of world war two on the Marshall islands and Kiribati.

    * Displacement from French nuclear testing in polynesia

    * Banaba island resettlement to Rabi island Fiji. And while we can say the above didn’t have a direct link to New Zealand – this last one did.

    Phosphate spraying in Northern NZ from 'Our sea of phosphate' by Katerina Teaiwa

    Phosphate spraying in Northern NZ from ‘Our sea of phosphate’ by Katerina Teaiwa

    For a low price the British Phosphate commission (BPC – including NZ and Aus) stripped Banaba of it’s phosphate by the ship load. Much of this was used in New Zealand for fertilizer turning hill country soil into arable and lucrative land. So we are connected to the people of Banaba as the phosphate from their island helped us increase agricultural fertility in the 50s and 60s. And we are connected to the people of Banaba in the sense that in gaining our fertile land, they lost theirs.

    This connection isn’t just true for people of the pacific. We are connected to people in China who make some of the products we consume, the factories that serve us derive their power from the three gorges. We also may even be connected to the people in Congo who work in Coltan mines so we can have phone batteries, and other electronics. We live in a world where we have no idea who makes our products. We don’t see who, or what environments are affected by our purchases.

  • Tonga to Fiji – Day 2

    An ocean passage is made up of a series of highs and lows. One day you are cruising in a gentle breeze, under moonlight, with whales spouting around you. The next you are in strong winds and picking the curry, that should have been a well deserved dinner, off the carpet. Confederate now smells like salt and curry leftovers. Good good.

  • Sailing Tonga to Fiji

    Can you imagine? I’m looking out at the horizon, the sky is black, but littered with stars ablaze. The wind is gentle and we’re literally drifting through the night air. Suddenly I think I see a fire in the distance but we are already well offshore. The fire grows until it forms a huge orange circle in the sky and slowly turns into a more familiar full moon. This was one of the most amazing natural experiences I’ve ever had. To see the full moon rise over ocean near the equator is spectacular.

    Just when I was thinking it couldn’t get any better than this a pod of humpback whales appeared around us. I couldn’t see them but I could hear the water spouting from their blow holes under the moonlight. I woke Robin up to confirm I wasn’t dreaming, and thankfully they surfaced again minutes later. Special.

  • Crab

    Bella this is for you! The extreme potential of the go pro, our best footage from Tonga. Haha. But we’re getting better and aided by a screen which has helped us avoid catching footage of sky and horizon whilst a gigantic whale cruises past out of view. xx

    thecrab from Anna Cleal on Vimeo.


  • Kenutu Island – Number 1 Anchorage in Vavau

    One our favourite anchorages in Tonga is Kenutu. This island on the more remote Eastern side of the Vavau group has an incredible isolated “edge of the world” feeling. There’s been a few spots like this around Tonga but note others with an incredible sandbank for kitesurfing a short dingy ride away. Here are some pictures taken from the top of the mast as we weaved our way through coral reefs. Oh yeah and on the outside of the reef is where I snorekelled with my first tiger shark. Thankfully it was catching some zzz’s on the sandy bottom of the lagoon. While these incredible moments are what we are loving about his trip I didn’t feel like I needed to stick around until it woke up. In fact Robin said he’d never seen me swim so fast back to the dingy. Congrats Kenutu for being our #1 spot in the Vava’u group.





  • Kelefesia Island – Our favourite Anchorage in the Ha’apai Group, Tonga

    Sometimes pictures speak louder than words. This was a hard place to get into. Waves were breaking on reefs dotted outside the anchorage. I was up the mast guiding dad and Robin through the maze of reefs and telling them where I could see waves breaking. The reward was this…

    Kelefesia Island


  • The passage is over

    It’s a surreal feeling stepping onto dry land after being at sea for 11 days. In actual fact I could have kept going with the stress free, internet free, and equally shower free life, crazy as it may sound. I haven’t had very many times in my life where I have been subject to less information. By this I mean you go every day looking out at the ocean seeing nothing else. Occasionally you might see a rainbow or a really spectacular sunrise and it becomes the highlight of your day. You might catch a fish, and that becomes the highlight of your day. Or you have a really good yarn to the people you are sharing the journey with and that becomes the highlight of your day. The definition of simplicity. At times like this I want to keep going, to throw my computer off the boat, keep only tow or three favourite books, my guitar and pick up all my loved ones. Alas not everyone wants to sail the world, and for that reason alone I will always be pulled back to reality, and probably at the end of the day life in the city of Auckies, NZ. But while you’re out there, eternity is close, the sun rises and the sun falls, the birds fly and the fish jump. the wind breezes and the waves roll. The rhythm of life continues as it has for many years.

    Rainbow on passage

    Mahi mahi

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