Vella Lavella Island

Lars Alfredson
Thu 16 Jul 2015 01:07
pos 7:36.39S 156:38.03E
Doveli Bay

2015-07-13 A

It’s a long passage to Doveli Cove on the next island and today it’s no wind, so we’re motoring all the way. The seas moderate and change to a long low swell with overcast skies and isolated rain storms skirting around us, making reef watching almost impossible

Then, on the horizon we spot a massive pod of Dolphins charging towards us like a hoard of angry Indians taking up station around the yacht riding in our bow wave. They are magnificent to watch as with hardy a flick of their tail they easily match our 6-7 knots of boat speed.

The precision of the station keeping is incredible and as one drops off another fills the gap, coming up for air without a pause and diving again. After half hour they’re off, the morning show over.

Now it’s the turn of the flying fish who take off in front of us flying up to 80 metres in all directions.

Then a nasty surprise, when suddenly out of nowhere this large triangular bamboo tower mounted on a float appears in the middle of the ocean. We have since learned they are “Fish Aggregator Devices”! They have a net encircling the float the attracts small fish within its shelter, this in turn attracts larger fish looking for an easy dinner which in turn attracts the larger ones which the fishermen hope to catch.

Unbelievably they are anchored in some 2000 metres of water with a couple of concrete filled oil drums, nylon rope and a stainless steel strop at the top to prevent sharks and people cutting them loose.

In front of us is large flock of seabirds, diving down and decimating a shoal of fish that have probably been forced up by the Dolphins, who blow bubbles while encircling them to force them into a tight ball near the surface for their dinning pleasure.

We arrived at Doveli Bay, a long narrow waterway with villages on either side and up onto the hill. Anchoring is a nightmare, we’re in 80 metres and searching for a shallow patch, but the sides of this bay are reminiscent of the Fjords as they are nearly vertical and we’re practically ashore before it starts to bottom out.

At 20 metres we drop the stick and motor gently backwards to help it dig in. Chance would be a fine thing. The anchor refuses to grip the rock bottom snagging then bouncing free, then, to add to the misery and amusement of “Others” its starts to rain. Not that mealy mouthed UK stuff but cats, dogs and buckets.

All alone on the bow operating the winch, I clutch my multi-coloured umbrella in a futile effort to stop the lashing of the rain though, to no avail, we can’t get a grip. With the rain now washing down the gunwales in a great flood and heading for firehose strength we finally lock into the bottom.

The good news is at least the rain is warm, and as I go into a recovery mode clutching a beer I steam quietly.

Rain over and our first visitor paddles over, Henry, a well-spoken gent who explains to us that the village has extended up the hill after a Tsunami hit several years ago. Fortunately they had been taught all about them and the procedures to follow and everyone made it to safety.

A mother and child come paddling past so we ask her if the child would like a lollipop, they were over tout suite. One more satisfied customer.

A quick swim before dinner, the water is lovely and warm and although Henry had said there was an increase in crocodile numbers they only feed in the morning and evening, they didn’t come this side of the mangroves!

As we enjoy a refreshing and medicinally required dose of quinine (plus Gin) pre dinner, we are entertained by the choir practicing over in the village. A Carbonara dinner and a game of Mexican Train, then to bed.

Bob the Blog