By the late 1960's times were becoming tougher for the Queen, Chartered variously to Mersey Docks Board, P&A Campbell and ultimately Norwest Hovercraft between Douglas IOM and Fleetwood.

A kind of aimless wandering, bits and pieces here and there and never quite fitting in.

As the Beat Generation gave way to Flower Power, a new opportunity appeared.....

In mid-1968, at the request of the Government of Tonga, a United Nations shipping expert visited the Kingdom of Tonga to survey the financial health of the national shipping activity, and to advise on how to improve operations. One of the recommendations was that a year round service linking the island ports of Vava'u, Ha'papai and Tongapatu in Nuku'alofa be developed to meet the present and expected needs of trade, passenger traffic and the demands of tourists.

Acting on this recommendation, the Tonga Marine Department began looking for a suitable vessel. The firm of Casebourne and Turner from Liverpool were engaged to sur­vey the Queen of the Isles with a view to eventual purchase. Maybe, at last, in a unique turn of events, a market had been discovered for a unique design of ship!

His Royal Highness, Prince Tu'ipelehake recommended to Tongan cabinet that the government acquire the Queen, and that Captain C.H. Hill-Willis be appointed as representative. Before long the ship was acquired by the Overseas Development Corporation of the British Government on behalf of the Tongan Government.

In October 1970 a crew of ten men flew from Tonga to Penzance to deliver the Queen to Nuku'alofa, capital of The Friendly Isles. The ship, soon to become the Olovaha, was under command of Captain J.M. Stott. She cleared Penzance on November 27th 1970 for Port Balboa in Panama, arriving on December 29th.

She sailed via Panama Canal to Tonga where she was renamed Olovaha for the Tonga Shipping Agency, Nuku’alofa.  She spent an interesting and sometimes eventful few years operating within the Tongan group with the occasional voyage to Fiji.

Voyage Statistics were: Penzance to Azores:- 1,208 miles, Azores to Panama:- 3,291 miles, Panama to Tahiti:- 4,469 miles, Tahiti to Nuku'alofa:- 1,440 miles, Total Delivery.:-10,408 miles, 40 days cruising, average speed 11.5 knots

In 1972 the Tongan Government formed a National Shipping Line called Pacific Navigation Company with a share capital of T$ 2,000,000 and ten vessels. The share­holders were the Tongan Government, Tonga Copra Board and Tonga Produce Board. The Queen of the Isles now reg­istered her first name change to Olovaha and registered in Nuku'alofa. She traded four times weekly between the island ports of Vava'u, Ha'apai and Nuku'alofa carrying up to 300 day passengers and 100 tons of cargo. Perhaps, at long last, the ship had found a situation in which she could trade profitably given her unique features.


Now called Olovaha, the Queen of the Isles appeared on a postage stamp in Tonga
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All Rights Reserved. Copyright © www.queenoftheisles.com.