Looking for a new spaceship captain? Try the skipper of the Niuafoʻou ferry

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All photos used by courtesy of Maxim Chervyakov

If the Russians need a new spaceship captain, they should look to the skipper of the Niuafoʻou ferry.

According to Russian tourist Maxim Chervyakov, who witnessed passengers being brought ashore at the remote island, the ferry skipper showed he had all the skills needed to dock a spaceship.

Chervyakov brought back photographs showing passengers gingerly transferring from the ferry MV ‘Otuanga’ofa, waves hurling the barge back towards the shore – and a tiny baby who slept through the whole process.

The Russian said he had been told that one passenger had broken an ankle while disembarking.

He said he had also been told that last year the barge had capsized, but nobody had been hurt. From what he had seen, he thought it was possible it would happen again.

He said it nearly capsized while he was watching from the ferry on March 20.

The ferry has to heave to in the open sea while cargo and passengers are offloaded into a barge.

The six metre long barge then conveys the passengers and cargo to land where they have to be cautiously helped ashore by local people.

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One of the passengers is being helped out of the vessel into the barge. Photo/ By courtesy of Maxim Chervyakov

One of the photos, taken during the transfer of passengers, shows a baby being passed from the ferry to the barge.  The baby appears to be fast asleep.

Chervyakov said some people jumped from the ferry into the barge. In one of his photos a man can be seen being helped out of the vessel into the barge.

He said the process took almost two hours, during which the weather got worse and the waves repeatedly threatened the safety of people at the jetty.  Eventually the procedure was called off and the ferry left for Vava’u.

He said he saw people repeatedly trying to push the barge back out to sea, but the waves kept throwing it back before they finally got it underway.

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The barge is being struck by waves at the jetty. Photo/By courtesy of Maxim Chervyakov

“The barge captain is just an ace. He could pilot and dock a spacecraft I think,” Chervyakov said.

He also said it appeared that the way the islanders handled the disembarkation was “normal routine.”

“I think the men are super skilful in such unloading.”

Chervyakov hailed the bravery of the people involved in the unloading and disembarkation.

“It was really epic,” he said.

“Tongans are the same crazy as us Russians when we are determined to do something.”

“I wish they had a safer wharf there. It is a real challenge to unload when the sea is rough.”

Chervyakov said he had encountered some difficult situations in the past, but nothing like this.

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The barge is being tied to the MV ʻOtuangaʻofa ready to transfer passengers and cargo to the jetty. Photo/ By courtesy of Maxim Chervyakov

About Niuafo’ou

Niuafo’ou is regarded as one of the most isolated islands in the world.

Located in the north of the kingdom, it is the furthest island from the mainland, Tongatapu, where the capital city Nuku’alofa is located.

It is a volcanic island meaning there are no surrounding reefs around to protect the land from the sea.

We understand people from inland who do the unloading and disembarkation at sea must be experienced people who know how to read the patterns of the waves.

They have to count a certain number of big waves before allowing the barge to come on shore.

While at the jetty the barge has to be unloaded and passengers disembarked as quickly as possible and put out to sea or the next big waves strike it against the rocks.

A vessel from Tongatapu arrives at Niuafo’ou once a month with passengers, goods for the shops, petrol and mail.

Niuafo’ou is 574 km away from Tongatapu. According to the 2006 census it has a population of 650.

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The barge arrives at the jetty and is being controlled by the people with mooring lines. Photo/ By courtesy of Maxim Chervyakov

The main points

  • If the Russians need a new spaceship captain, they should look to the skipper of the Niuafo’ou ferry.
  • According to Russian tourist Maxim Chervyakov, who witnessed passengers being brought ashore at the remote island, the ferry skipper showed he had all the skills needed to dock a spaceship.
  • Chervyakov brought back photographs showing passengers gingerly transferring from the ferry MV ‘Otuanga’ofa, waves hurling the barge back towards the shore – and a tiny baby who slept through the whole process.
  • “The barge captain is just an ace. He could pilot and dock a spacecraft I think,” Chervyakov said.”

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  1. Kumi ha kapiteni vakavavā foʻou? ʻAhiʻahiʻi e kapiteni ʻo e vaka NIuafoʻou.

    Kapau ʻoku fiemaʻu ʻe he kau Lūsiá ha kapiteni vakavavā foʻou, ʻoku totonu ke nau ʻai e kapiteni ʻo e vakatahi Niuafoʻoú.

    Fakatatau ki he tokotaha Lūsia ko Maxim Chervyakov, ʻa ia ne ne sio tonu ʻi hono fakahifo e kau pāsese ki ʻuta ʻi he motu maʻomaʻonganoá ni, ʻokú maʻu ʻe he kapiteni ʻo e vaka ki Niuafoʻoú ʻa e pōtoʻi kotoa ʻoku fiemaʻu ke fakatūʻutaʻaki ha vakavavā.

    Ne foki mai ʻa Chervyakov mo ha ngaahi ʻata ʻoku hā ai ʻa e mātuʻaki fakaalaala hono fetuku ʻo e kau pāsesé mei he ʻOtu Angaʻofá, fetāʻaki ʻe he peaú ʻa e lafalafa ne ngāueʻaki ki he fetuku ki ʻutá – pea fai e fehikitakí ni lolotonga ʻoku maaʻumohe ha pepē.

    Naʻe pehē ʻe he Lūsiá naʻe tala ange ki ai ne lavea e tungaʻivaʻe ʻo e taha e kau pāsesé lolotonga ʻa e fakahifó.

    Ne ne pehē naʻe toe fakahā ange ki ai ne mafuli ʻa e lafalafá he taʻu kuo ʻosi lolotonga ha fakahifo, ka ne ʻikai lipooti ha taha ne lavea. Fakatatau ki he meʻa ne sio tonu ia ai ko ʻení ne ne tui ʻe malava pe ke toe hoko haʻane mafuli.

    Ne ne pehē ne toe mei mafuli pe lafalafá lolotonga ʻene tuʻu pe ʻo sio mei vaka kae fai ʻa e fakahifó mo e fetukutukú ʻi he ʻaho 20 ʻo Māʻasí.
    Ko e fetukutuku foki ko ʻení kuo pau ke lepa ʻa e vaká ʻOtu Angaʻofá mei he lolotó ʻo fakahifo ai ʻene kau pāsesé mo e utá ki he lafalafá.

    ʻE fetuku leva ia mei ai ʻe he lafalafá ki ʻuta ʻo fai ai hono tokoniʻi mātuʻaki tokanga kinautolu ki ʻuta ʻe he kakai ʻo e motú.

    Ne ʻasi he taha e ngaahi ʻata ne ʻai lolotonga hono fetuku ʻo e kau pāsesé ha pēpē ʻoku paasi mei vaka ki he lafalafá. ʻOku ʻasi ʻoku maaʻumohe ʻa e pepeé.
    Ne pehē ʻe Chervyakov ki he Kanivá naʻe lava pe niʻihi ʻo puna mei vaka ki he lafalafá he fai ko ʻeni ʻo e fetukutukú. ʻI ha laʻitā ʻe taha ʻoku ʻasi ai ʻa hono tokoniʻi ʻo ha tangata mei vaka ki he lafalafá.
    Ne ne pehē ne mei aʻu ʻo houa ʻe ua e fakahifó ni lolotonga ia ne ʻalu pe ke koviange ʻeá pea fakamanavahē hake ʻa e peaú ʻo ʻau ki he kakai he uafu maká. Ne iku leva ʻo taʻofi ka e tuku folau ʻa e vaká ia ki Vavaʻu.
    Ne ne pehē ne toutou feinga e kakaí ke teke e lafalafá ki tahi kae toutou taaʻi pe ia ʻe he peaú ki ʻuta ka ne iku pe ʻo toki lava ʻo tuku ki tahí.
    Ko e kapitení ko e foʻi hai. Te ne lava ʻe ia ʻo pailateʻi mo fakatūʻuta ha vakavavā, ko e anga ia e tui ʻa Chervyakov.
    Ne ne toe pehē foki ko e anga hono fakahoko ʻe he kakai e motú ʻa e fakahifo ne hā kuo hoko pe ia ko e meʻa ʻoku angamehni pe ia kia kinautolu.

    Kuó u tui ko e kau tangatá ʻoku ʻamoʻamo atu ʻenau pōtoʻi hono fai ʻo e fakahifó.

    Naʻe fakahikihikiʻi ʻe Chervyakov e toʻa ʻa e kau tangata fakahifó foki.

    Naʻe fuʻu tika ʻaupito, ko ʻene laú ia.

    Ne ne pehē ʻoku tatau pe kakai Tongá mo e kau Lūsiá he taimi ka nau ka ʻū ai ke fai ha meʻa.

    Pehē foki ʻe Chervyakov ʻokú ne fakaʻamu pe ʻi ai ha uafu lelei ʻo Niuafoʻou. ʻOku faingataʻa ke fai ʻa e fakahifó he taimi ʻoku kovi ai ʻa e tahí.
    Ne ne pehē foki ne ʻosi fetaulaki pe mo e ngaahi faingataʻa peheni he kuohilí ka ne ʻikai tatau ia mo ʻeni.

    Fekauʻaki mo Niuafo’ou
    Ko e taha ʻa Niuafoʻou he ngaahi fonua maʻomaʻonganoa ʻo e māmaní.
    ʻOku tuʻu ia ʻi he noate ʻo e puleʻanga fakatuʻí, pea ko e mamaʻo taha ia mei he motu lahi ʻo Tongá ʻa Tongatapu ʻa ia ʻoku tuʻu ai ʻa e kolomuʻá, Nukuʻalofa.
    Ko e motu afi foki ʻeni ʻo ʻuhinga ia ʻoku ʻikai ha toe hakau takatakai ia ke ne maluʻi ʻa e fonuá mei he tahí.
    ʻOku mahino foki kia kimautolu ko e kakai ko ē mei loto fonua ʻoku nau fai e fakahifó mei tahí kuopau ko e kakai taukei mo nau poto he lau peaú.
    Kuopau ke nau lava lau ʻa e pēteni mo e anga e aake ʻa e ngaahi peau lalahí pea fikaʻi mei ai ʻa e taimi ke fakaʻatā e lafalafá ke fakatūʻuta ki uafu maka.
    Lolotonga ʻene ʻi he uafú kuopau ke fai ʻa e fakahifo he vave tahá ki muʻa naʻa taaʻi ʻe ha peau lahi ki he maká.
    ʻOku tuʻo taha pe tau ʻa ha vaka ʻalu tahi mei Tongatapu ki Niuafoʻou he māhina mo e kau pāsese , koloa ki he fale koloa pehē ki he petulolo mo e meili.
    ʻOku feʻunga mo e kilomita ʻe 574 ʻa e mamaʻo ʻo Niuafoʻou mei Tongatapú pea fakatatau ki he tohi kakai ʻo e 2006 ne toko 650 ʻa e kakai ne nau nofoʻi ʻa e motú ni.