Salomon Islands, Boddam - a trip ashore looking at the past
Date Wednesday 27 April 2016
On Wednesday we walked through some of the ruins of the settlement and found the remains of the brick and concrete built church. This was an industrial scale copra drying and processing operation, it even had a small railway for trucks to be pushed around carrying the coconuts between the different bits of the process. The copra industry was closed down and the population were removed to Mauritius between 1968 and 1973 as a condition of a treaty whereby the British Government leased Diego Garcia to the Americans.
Up until about 2010 when the approach taken by the BIOT (British Indian Ocean Territory) administration changed and the four-week maximum permit system was introduced yachts would arrive in the Salomon Islands and stay for six months of the year. A cruising community of up to 50 yachts would take up residence and organise themselves with life sounding to get very organised and proscribed by their own rules. It sounds very “Lord of the Flies”. Seeing the odd bit of wreckage remaining and reading accounts from those times makes one start to realise why the BIOT authorities in London instituted stricter rules limiting stays for genuine transiting yachts, requiring insurance to cover wreck removal, boat and persons, and generally being restrictive.
For our part we have arrived in a paradise and for the time being we have it entirely to ourselves with no other human beings within 100nm.
A monument erected in 2006 by visiting Chagosian’s
The inscription on the tablet below the cross says it all
Remains of roof tiles have the inscription “Martin Freres, Marseilles”
We also found British made bricks
One of the buildings used in the Copra Industry
Remains of the tramway used to move material around the island and processing plant
The church in common with all of the other buildings has had its roof removed
We even found a four cell lockup
This large crab has taken up residence where the cell door hinge has been removed
Previous generations of cruisers set up their own space – The Chagos Yacht Club
A well and tubs for washing clothes, complete with a washboard are evidence of the cruiser community that used to set up camp here in the past
In the end everything reverts to jungle.
The evidence ashore indicates that when the island was depopulated all rooves, doors and a lot of material were removed as there is little wreckage other than the walls.