In this section we are going to write the news of the KT3D Expedition
KT3D Video de la primera etapa
KT3D Expeditions goes ahead. Always towards west.
We just came back from another of those remote and unknown places where just the name sound as mythic sailors, traditional villages and magnificent marine fauna: the kingdom of Tonga islands.
These islands are located between French Polynesia and New Zeland, in the South Pacific, formed by 170 islands, but just 36 of them inhabited. These are distributed in 4 archipelagos south-north along an important 22.000 ft deep tectonic submarine fault: Tongatapu, Ha´apai, Vava´u and Niuas.
Tonga is the unique nation of the Pacific islands who was not formally colonized by Europeans and also the unique run by a sovereign monarchy.
We choose Vava´u for 2 of our trip spirit motivations:
In one side, for its shape, location and orientation of the islands looks like a good place to try another balloon flight.
In the other side these islands, at this time of the year, are home of some whales and we want to try to swim with them in their environment.
We want to enjoy Tonga in the 3D: by land, sea and air!!
During our first days of navigation in these islands we know some other sailors.
Some of them we already met along our trip and it´s very funny when every time, after lots of miles we meet again and we share our oceanic histories. Other ones is the first time we meet them. All of them are very different, coming from different countries, using different boats, with different personal trip motivations. They are very different from us also, but all of us have the same adventure spirit and the same love for the sea.
Here we meet some interesting people like Humbert: “El holandes errante” who is sailing solo for more than 9 years.
Or Eduardo and Pilar, a couple from Spain who arrived sailing here more than 30 years ago and fascinated for the beauty of this place the settled in one of this inhibited islands, in Tapana island in a simple hut like Robinson Crusoe. Nowadays they have a kind of restaurant where they offer the typical Spanish paella and he do a good music show for the sailboats passing trough.
In fact it will be here, in Tapana, where we can get our dream reality to fly balloon for first time in history in Tonga.
For its location we think Tapana can be a good place to take off with SE wind to the main island to land. Eduardo had a great emotion with this opportunity to make history especially from “his own” island.
First problem is that there is not space to inflate the balloon. Just a little open space among some palm trees allows us to extend the envelope touching the trees.
Next problem will be the strength of the wind. Day and night Alizes wind are blowing non stop around 20 kt.
Finally, in the evening we decide to try an inflation attempt and we get the Kon-Tiki balloon up and take off in a swinging ascent among the palms. After that the balloon stabilize over the sea letting back Tapana island in an amazing flight under the sunset light, overflying 3 more islands to get the main one Vava´u and landing in the jungle, near to a small village who came to welcome and help us, extremely surprised for this strange flying machine.
This is one of those emotional situations when one feels like a discoverer, satisfied to get reality another dream that could seem as an impossible.
Nobody had flown ballooning in Tonga before. Why? Because it was impossible or because it was not tried??
Once ballooning challenge was completed we concentrate our efforts in looking for the humpback whales. These use to travel every year from Antarctica to here to train and educate their child baby whales.
This kind of whale is the one who make the longest migration in the world among all the mammals. Watching and even swimming with these amazing animals is getting one of the tourist attractions of these islands. Some operators, not without some controversy, are already offering this activity.
We decide to look for them on our own. Nearly every day we can watch some whales jumping out of the water for breathing or for playing but always from some distance.
These enormous mammals can dive for 30 minutes!
Finally we get our prize for our patience. After a full day watching a mum whale with her baby we can approach them with our snorkel gear. The experience to swim with these magnificent creatures is difficult to express in words. Mum whale was approx 12 meters long and 2o tones of weight. After 2 hours of interaction especially with the baby we can even touch him!! After all we think that, as relative mammals we are, this 4 meters long and 5000 kg baby, enjoyed playing with us like we enjoyed playing with him.
Some days later, during another scuba dive, we can enjoy for more than one hour the famous whale songs. The alone humpback whale males makes some amazing singing for attract females. They can sing for hours these underwater melodies that can be hear from kilometres of distance due to the conductivity of the water.
For us, to be diving hearing these harmonics and powerful sounds underwater, not being able to see the creature from they come from, was also an experience that will be recorded in our memory forever.
Rethinking our itinerary
After our Tonga stage we have to rethink our itinerary from now on.
We wanted to do a stage in Papua and after that to visit Indonesia before to go trough north Indic to enter the red Sea and then to the Mediterranean trough the Suez channel.
But all the sailors we met and even the Spanish Navy discourage us to follow that way due to the continuous reports of attacks from pirate groups in the sea near Somalia, Eritrea and the entrance of the Red Sea.
Then, our alternative is to sail as soon and direct as possible from Fiji to Bali trough Torres strait and then to Mauricio and South Africa trough the south Indic to avoid the cyclone season.
more pic HERE
|august / september 2013
KT3D Expedition, round the world mailing + ballooning goes on. Sorry if our information has been not well updated. We are also having problems with our SPOT satellite position to show our track in real time. It has not good coverage in some remote areas. Another important change is that we have changed our itinerary from now on due to the reports we have about pirate´s attacks in Somalia area. We´ve decided to avoid Indonesia and north Indic for security reasons. Now we´re in Fiji. We´ll sail straight to Bali and from there we´ll sail to Mauricio and then Durban (South Africa) trough Madagascar. Shortly we´ll update with some text and pictures about our great experience in Tonga where we could do an amazing balloon flight and also snorkel with whales. Some pictures soon!