Rob Roy Island

Lars Alfredson
Wed 22 Jul 2015 11:04
pos 7:26.58S 157:33.65E
Rob Roy Island

2015-07-21 The usual morning routine, breakfast, juice, toast and a choice of toppings and coffee (“Instant” for the non-believers) All finished and with engine started, I assume my place at the bow where, putting heel to the footswitch I start to hoist the anchor, while using hand signals to “mon Capitan”  at the driving end, to indicate its upward progress and direction of lay. This helps to pull the anchor “Up” rather than dragging it forward, with the risk of it digging in further and snagging a rock.

The wind is blowing some 16knots about 50degrees off the starboard bow, perfect, so without further ado, it’s up with the mainsail and out with the genoa. Engine off, silence at last, and as she fill her sails we’re up to 8+ knots in no time at all,  cutting through the marching line of half metres swells giving a not unpleasant seesaw ride.

Today we’re crossing the New Georgia Sound to Rob Roy Island at nearly 1000 metres deep it rises steeply as we approach the islands on the far side. Here, tightly packed contours having reached the 100 metre line now rise again, almost vertically, to form the numerous islands and reefs to make for a challenging passage in these uncharted waters.

Lars gets out the fishing kit and sets about making up a new and more deadly lure consisting of two lures plus a long wire trace to replace the previous model which had had bits of the lure bitten off and been nearly severed by a nasty nip from something we failed to hook.

Arriving, we look for a sheltered anchorage from the wind which is blowing down the line of island. We find a suitable looking creek behind a long reef and ease our way past its mangrove fringed sides to find shallow water at 12metres, also several nasty looking coral heads that need to be considered.

Its low tide and a bare patch in the mangroves looks like good crocodile country also it’s very difficult to see the bottom despite its relatively shallow depth. Volunteers for swimming are extremely sparse.

Not long after we have settled down for an anchor dram than a large dugout canoe with two young girls, two old ladies and three men, one lying against a large bundle covered in a tarpaulin, another sitting on the stern picking his nose and the other, who has been driving the outboard, standing up to engage us in conversation.

We gather that the two old ladies are the Chief’s (Numangarei) sisters and the two older men his sons. After the usual, “Where are you from,” the subject of anchoring fees comes up (Civilization has at last reached the outback) He points out that they own all the island and seas and that failure to pay has two options. “How much?” we enquire, which sets off a little consternation in the camp. Whereupon clutching a wildly optimistic figure from the air he say “$400 Australian”.

“Think again says we,” as we go to start the engine. “$100”, “Solomon$50” I counter, and two lollipops for the young girls to sweeten the deal. He accepts and then asks if we have an e-mail address as they want to develop a resort. I point out a flaw in his business plan with his charging policy, while he sees a multi-million pounds investment opportunity coming from these visitors.

We tell him were on our way to the Anarvon islands, which according to the “Lonely Planet” guide book says, “Is the provinces diamond tiara. It’s a conservation area and one of the world’s largest nesting grounds for the Hawksbill Turtle and has phenomenal snorkelling”. “Ah!” he says, “my brother works their as a conservation officer his name is Lionel, my name is Roger”.

So with our farewells and a promise to say hello to his brother, they motor off into the mangroves and back to their village.

A quite night, though, as we are playing MexT we hear a voice in the darkness off our stern, a late night visitor. After abrief chat he asks if we have any cigarettes. “Afraid not,” says Lars “and you do realise they are bad for you.”

“Do have any English books?” We send him on his way cigarette less, clutching and old Yachting Monthly, not quite the nicotine dream and girlie magazine he’d been hoping for we feel.

Bob the Blog