We were dropped off on the beautiful deserted Tongan island of Kenutu by Steve and Leslie, piloting the 38-foot Mutiny, which they had only recently sailed across the Pacific.
During the voyage, Leslie fed us a fabulous lunch of sliced eggplant, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes lightly fried in double virgin olive oil, accompanied by creamy cheese on sesame seed crackers and a cold Stienlager.
Unbeknownst to us at the time, this turned out to be our last good feed for a few eventful days.
We were in high spirits by the time we hit the beach. That our yacht was namedMutiny should have been an obvious sign something might be coming down the pipe.
We were located not far from the Tongan island of Tofua, where on April 28, 1789, Christian Fletcher set Captain William Bligh adrift – as described in the famous taleMutiny on the Bounty – in a 23-foot open boat with 18 other men, three swords, a sextant and a pocket watch.
Outfitted with only this gear, Bligh began a 47-day, 6,710-km odyssey, with no charts, to Timor. Like us, he had also forgotten the beer.
Aboard our Mutiny, we had no sextant, swords or pocket watch, but we had on hand a GPS, a lovely Hunter Valley chardonnay and a CD of Bob Dylan’s greatest hits.
Being newcomers to deserted island camping, we made some – actually, quite a few – rather obvious blunders. One of the most glaring errors, aside from the fiasco resulting from low-marking the high tide line, was not bringing enough food or water.
Oh, and we had no beer at all!! How un-Canadian.
What with all the comings and goings of island life, we ended up staying several days longer than originally planned. Supplies dwindled.
Cooking over a fire on Kenutu was a non-existent option, as during our first evening we had encountered a few feet of driving, torrential rain that soaked everything remotely combustible. You would have been hard pressed to start a fire with a Herman-Nelson and a gallon of gas, not that I’ve ever tried.
We had so much water in one hammock you practically needed a snorkel to sleep in it.
A lizard fell out of a tree onto Catherine’s shirt one day, but some instant and frenzied action on her part prevented its capture, thereby saving its life, as we might have needed to consider cooking it – assuming we somehow managed to get a fire going.
If we’d had any yams lying about the place, I would have considered eating them, for heaven’s sake. Things were getting that desperate.
One sunny afternoon, whiling away the hottest hours of the day swinging in our hammocks and keeping an eye on the incoming tide, we saw fruit bats the size of ospreys flying overhead. I joked to my better half that, since we were so low on grub I could have eaten a schnauzer, we should try to nab a bat we could roast up.
It seems, however, bat roasting is no joke around here. Neither is lizard or schnauzer roasting.
“The fat is falling like teardrops,” we were informed by grinning local Fetoleva Havili some days later, when we had returned to civilization. He described to us how a flying fox actually looks as it is roasting.
Apparently Tongans take their bat and schnauzer roasting seriously. Almost anything that moves in the bush is fair game. They will not, however, eat the big hairy bush spiders, so there are some limits.
Fetoleva helpfully informed us that, in the absence of a tasty bat, he enjoys toasted bacon and banana sandwiches. There are pigs everywhere, both wild and domesticated, on the inhabited Tongan islands, but catching and dispatching a wild pig with a multi-tool is not one of my strong points, so bacon or ham sandwiches were out of the question.
Tongans will go to court over the unauthorized taking of a pig which is theirs, although I am unsure of all the details.
Fetoleva also has a penchant for peanut butter and banana milkshakes. As I eat neither peanut butter nor bananas, I prefer to go with slices of fresh papaya sprinkled with a squeeze of lime juice served with plain yoghurt, which is fabulous.
Honeydew melon or cantaloupe dished up with plain yoghurt and muesli is an alternative more readily available to Yukoners, for whom wild pigs are few and far between.
I have to date espied roasted pig here in Tonga, but no fruit bats or schnauzers as yet. I’m not certain about lizards. Stay tuned.