Mboli Passage

Lars Alfredson
Thu 13 Aug 2015 07:34

pos 9:9.74S 160:13.14E

Bololonga village


2015-08-12 With no light pollution we swing on our anchor under a brilliant star studded night sky off the village of Siota. As the dawn breaks the skies stay clear and it’s the start of a bright sunny day.

Just before we leave a large passenger vessel comes up the channel on the opposite side from our mooring, dropping off a few people before continuing out of the channel and into the open sea.

There’s no sign of our fisherman, perhaps we dreamt it after all, so, after breakfast and with the last of the falling tide and current against us, we set off down the Mboli Channel leaving the village and channel entrance behind us.

The channel narrows quite rapidly and soon it’s less than 50 metres wide, the mangrove banks closing in on us. There are signs of activity ashore, paths through the mangroves leading to the hillside clearings that are now gardens, an old wooden dock and quarry left over from some old logging operation with the bare hills round about bearing mute testament to that activity.

Coming around a sharp bend we are confronted by the sight of another passenger boat stopped in the middle of the channel. The “Express Pelican” had evidently seen our mast approaching over the mangroves and was awaiting our appearance before proceeding.

It was full of passengers and a few white faces also appeared to be aboard. About two thirds of the way down, the channel widened into some side bays and we start to see the first signs of habitation. A canoe comes out and hails us, so we cut our engine and ask what we can do for him. “Can you send an email as I would like to contact and English friend to find out where he is?”

The doing is not a problem, we can use the satellite link as we do for the blog. But how will he get a reply. “How long are you staying here?” “We’re not,” is the reply. End of conversation and with a fond farewell we bit him goodbye.

As we reach the far end the channel opens into large bay with island, reefs and lots of settlements. The wind, which had been given added impetus as it funnelled up the channel, now drops to half its speed though the sea is choppier with its greater area.

Passing out of the channel, we turn to port and eventually tuck in between a large reef off a sandy beach near the small village of Bololonga, home to some 200 people. Two young girls row up to us asking if we want some pineapples. “Yes indeed,” say we handing over $20 (£2) for two freshly cut specimens.

They are also rewarded with a lollipop, whereupon the old man in his canoe says something to them and they hand over another for “Free”. He has some wood carvings he’s trying to sell. The war canoe is pretty crudely made and the wooden mortar and pestle little better. Neither of which we’re interested in. So after a chat he’s on his way.

Meantime Shan’s had a fit of the domestics and is busy de rusting and polishing the ships chrome ventilators and making somewhat of a mess of herself in the process.

Another canoe with a right motley crew turn up, one of their number, his teeth stained bright blood red from chewing beetle nut looking like something from a “Zombie” horror movie. He professes to be the village chief and asks for a $200 mooring fee. “No,” he’s told in no uncertain terms. “Ah,” a puzzled look on his face, “How much then?” “$50,” says I “That what we’ve paid before.” “$60” he counters. Which bit of “no” doesn’t he understand, and off he goes clutching his $50.

We make a couple of reef visits during the day but the visibility is a bit disappointing. In the evening Tuna reappears for dinner in a cheese sauce with macaroni, well it’s different. MexT the last six games and Shan beats us both. Lars was hoping to get his revenge with Yatzee, but, due to and administrative error in the scoring department, the game was abandoned, no more red wine for Shan.

Bob the Blog