Liveaboard Nai'a Almost Lost

The famous Fiji-based liveaboard dive vessel Nai'a was almost lost last week while on a whalewatching trip to Tonga. On August 10, an unannounced storm threw the Nai'a up onto a reef at Luanamo Island in the Ha'apai Group. On August 17, a Tongan government boat, the MV Hifofua and a rescue barge arrived on the scene. The barge was able to maneuver in close to the reef and the Nai'a was pulled off.

All seemed well as the Hifofua began towing the Nai'a and the barge back to Nuku'alofa. Then another freak storm hit the three vessels just after they had passed Hunga Island. As the barge began taking on water, the chained convoy turned back toward Hunga for shelter. This only made matters worse and the barge began to sink, pulling the Nai'a with it.

At that point the order was given to cut the barge free to save the Nai'a and the Hifofua. Five crew members aboard the barge managed to escape in a dingy, and on August 19 the two surviving vessels and all 35 mariners aboard arrived safely at Nuku'Alofa. Yesterday the Hifofou began towing the Nai'a back to Fiji where it will go on the slipway at Suva.

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