Florida Islands

pos 9:03.85S 160:18.61E

Siota, Florida Islands.

 

2015-08-11 The wind has died and the Lagoon is flat calm as the village stirs itself to a new day. The smell of wood fires lit to prepare food wafts across us. Still no sign of Francis.

We need to leave early to make the 30 miles across to the Florida Islands in daylight so we go ashore to see if we can find out where our elusive man is. His sister in law is outside her house when we land and she tells us he has gone to Auki and doesn’t know when he’ll be back.

So leave word with her that we will probably see him in Honiara in a weeks or so’s time, then we head for the Taklaban Passage and out of the Lagoon. Nearing the entrance we see a speeding “Banana” boat or “Fibro” as they are called here, heading towards us so we slow down to let him pass ahead as we already have our fishing line out.

Instead of passing in front he appears to be heading straight for us and its then we realise Francis is up in the bow. Pulling alongside, he tells us that his mission had failed as they ran off into the woods but he has been to the Police in Auki to tell them all he knows.

So bidding farewell until Honiara, we continue on out into the “Indispensable” Channel and a brisk 25 knot wind. Pulling the Genoa fully out, we’re on a beam reach being rolled by a two metres sea. To our portside is a long large cloud mass from which several large rainstorms are falling.

Under orders from the Chef, that its hard tack and weevil unless we catch a fish, we put a second line out and hope for the best. It pretty rough as I take station on the “Throne” at the bow and ride the bucking bronco. From here I watch as we scatter flying fish from our bow and they take flight on their gossamer wings gliding across the waves before dropping back into the sea some 60 metres away.

Finally a sneaky rain storm blows across from the islands as I beat a hasty retreat to the cockpit. Just in time to close hatches as the heavens open, well at least it’s has washed the salt of the decks. It has long passed when we plough into a massive wave that sends a large green foaming waves across the wheelhouse and decks, so much for the de-salting of the rain shower.

Lars looks up from his book, “We’ve got a fish!” and what a fish, a beautiful metre long, Yellow Fin Tuna. It’s very lively but the swift application of the “Priest” sorts that out though the sugarscoop is now covered in blood splatter. Lashing it to the stern it awaits calmer waters and the attention of Lars.

We are heading for a channel that splits the island in two. There are no charts of course as “Navionics” evidently don’t expect and commercial shipping to be daft enough to actually go through it. So we approach with great care and spot marker posts, though we’re in a quandary, which way do they run?  Do we keep the port hand marks to port as if we are entering or have they set them from the other end of the channel and its vice versa.

The entrance is a maze of reefs, so it’s a case of “Suck it and see” as we nose up to the first mark, it looks like Port to Port as we make our way towards what turns out to be a large Secondary School and village. We anchor just off the reef that runs parallel to a long white beach.

The first kid laden canoes arrive as Lars sets about the Tuna and pretty soon we have two massive filets. Shan bags up the rest and gives it to a canoe full of kids much to their delight.  Then after skinning and removing bones etc. she makes up another bag which is gratefully received.

It’s time for a swim and after a couple of laps around the boat another canoe pulls up to the stern. A lady in her 40’s (?) shows us some shells she wants to sell but we can take our eyes of her other basket that is full of large green limes and a nice thick snake bean. Ignore the shells and the very pretty bouquet of flowers we settle on the limes and after she departs we declare happy hour and put them to good use.

Then comes another canoe, it’s the boy we gave the fish to, his mother has sent him over with another load of limes to thank us for the fish. It’s a bit like buses, there’s either none or a string of them.

Just before dinner, fresh Tuna steak, marinated in white wine, with sautéed vegetables, another dugout approaches with a fisherman asking if we’d like some lobsters. “How much?” says we, “$20 (£2) for a biggish one,” says he. We accept the deal and he, little realising how near he had to getting his hand bitten off, disappears into the dusk.

MexT and Lars is now the comeback kid and is in the lead after 6 games, we’ll sort him out tomorrow.

Bob the Blog