2015-07-28 Once out of the shelter of the island we encounter 30 knot winds and a terrifically confused ocean swell rising to three metres and tossing us about most uncomfortably. Boat speed drops down to less than 2 knots which will just prolongs the agony.
To add to this it goes from overcast to serious rain, but we can’t retreat into the shelter of the wheelhouse because of the reefs situation, not that you can see much.
Approaching our destination we start to turn through the reefs and this has the effect of bringing the wind to around 20 degrees off the bow. We try a hard sheeted, well reefed genoa and suddenly our speed starts to pick up, we’re doing up to 7 knots and the ship is much steadier as we plough into the seas sending greenies across the deck as the bow dips into the troughs. The spindrift from our bow wave making things a little damp at the helm.
At last we turn in amongst the small mangrove covered islands working our way through the channels with a constant look out for reefs. The water now much flatter and the wind reduced in their shelter. The water shallows to 12 metres and we spot a large village nearby and according to our chart we should also see several large rivers but the coast line is one continuous line of mangroves.
Continuing into the bay near where we think the river enters the depth shrinks to 4 metres we drop anchor into the muddy bottom for the night, crocodile heaven by the look of it! Despite this we dive in to cool off a bit as the water temperature is not a lot less than the air.
A lone canoeist is spotted heading our way and what a surprise it’s a pretty young girl. As we chat to 17 year old Edna another canoe with three young boys approach but keep their distance. “They haven’t seen white people before,” says Edna. We ask her to tell them that we won’t eat them and we have jar full of lollipops.
Soon another gang take courage and all clamber aboard the sugarscoop as Shan dishes out the lollipops and Edna introduces everybody. She goes to secondary school in Honiara and has seen plenty of whites including some of her teachers who are from Australia and New Zealand.
Suddenly at around 6 she announces they all have to go to attend church and with an invitation to visit her and her village tomorrow off they paddle lollies firmly in place in their bulging cheeks.
Bob the Blog