Monday, 24 November 2014

Lindblad Expeditions in the South Pacific: Foiled by Nuatoputapu

Zodiacs probe for entry through the lagoon at Nuatoputapu

GPS tracking shows Tim's attempts to find an entry
Sunday 23 November 2014

15 deg 57.13 S 173 deg 45.6 W

Sometimes called Keppel or Traitors Island, the locals served up a warm reception for Dutch circumnavigator, Willem Schouten in 1616. So warm in fact that muskets were needed to cool down the welcome.

Today Nuatoputapu would thwart us as we tried to get ashore for a village visit. The falling tide made finding the tiny channel tricky and outboard props were tilted almost to 45 degrees to try and avoid striking the limestone bottom.

Expedition leader, Tim Soper, a chap very experienced in navigating reefs and shoals in the robust Zodiac tenders.

"We think we've found the channel now," calls Tim over the 2-way to our skipper, Dave Cothran, interrupting an impromptu lecture on atoll formation under way in the brief lull in our forward progress.

But that progress fell agonisingly short of our objective, the village of Hihifo in the SW corner of the island. With tide continually falling Tim, imagining the bosun's displeasure at damaged propellers, called stumps and the tiny fleet made its way back to the ship.

Such is expedition cruising.