Paradise Bay

Lars Alfredson
Fri 14 Aug 2015 08:51

pos 8:57.39S 160:3.77E

Sandfly Island


2015-08-12  There is already a canoe at the stern trying to sell us some “precious rocks” which turn out to be Stalagmites. Failing in that department he produces a bag of coins which includes and old 1913 penny, no sale here, so with him on his way we’re off to Mbokonumbeta Island.

We haven’t gone a half a kilometre when we spot a flock of Tern ahead of us and fish jumping everywhere. Suddenly there’s a great big black fin, a Ray looks to be feeding and the Tern are taking full advantage of the panicking fish, jumping to escape one predator only to fall foul of the birds hovering above.

The wind is on our stern blowing around 14 knots with a medium sea, so with a full Genoa we sail along at 6 knots. The line is out but although nothing is caught something has been having a nibble as there isn’t much of the lure left!

Arriving at Numala Bay or “Paradise Bay” as it was named by the Dawnbreaker crew on a previous visit, we try and set the anchor off a village with a nice sandy beach. There is an incredible tidal race running through here which has scoured a deep channel between the islands and we cannot get hold before were back in 35+ metres of water within 5 metres of the shoreline.

Having failed several time we make our way across the races with their whirlpools and over falls that would do justice to the well know Gulf of Corryvekkan, to seek a more sheltered spot behind a small island and reef in the centre of the channel.

Three attempts and were hooked.  As we hold forth with the head of the family that live on the island, Lars looks down and our stern is a metre off the coral, having swung in and ridden in on our 50 metres of chain. It’s one more go before were settled again.

John is the father of eight children and they all live along his father on this very small island, about the size of two football pitches. For their livelihood they fish and have a garden on the mainland. He also has a banana boat for which he charges $2000 for a return trip to Honiara

After he leaves, a thin stubble chinned man, his father Leonard appears. He regales us with tales of fishing and then asks if we have and hooks and line. Once more into the stockroom and Lars appears with a selection of hooks and a reel of line. He evidently has a date that night as he also enquires if we have a razor! Needless to say one is produced and he’s sent on his way a happy man.

Donning our gear we swim off in the direction of the slack water off the reef. The visibility is the best we’ve seen, the fish and variety of all types of coral is fantastic. As we work our way along we pick up the current and are carried along at a couple of knots allowing me to silently film the scene.

As we reach the end of the island things get a bit out hand as the reef drops in the deep channel and the main current get a grip. We now have a struggle on our hands trying not to get swept out into the Bay and after some frantic finning manage to get back into the shoreline and find our feet.

The line of swim back to the yacht seems to be in a relatively slack area of the current and Lars decides to go back and get the dinghy so we can then proceed out into the maelstrom in search of the Manta Rays that feed in the current.

We arrive on site in a very confused sea and swirls of water that spin us all over the place but without success. Earlier a dive boat had arrived and disgorged its clientele over the site so maybe they’d had enough interference for the day.

As we’re coming back we watch little kids negotiating their canoes through the rip, taking full advantage of the various flows of the current to aid their progress while we happy amateurs plough or way through, engine revving on full bore.

Back aboard, happy hour and just before dinner is to be served (Spanish Omelette) John reappears. “Do we have any hooks?”  “Have you tried your father?” we enquire. Giving him a beer Lars heads into the “Emporium” to produce a couple hooks of the larger variety.

Despite hints that it’s time for our dinner and he should depart he settles comfortable to watch the spectacle of the Whiteman feeding and their native customs. Having taken due note for his next book on “The finer points of the foreign species’ feeding habits” and armed with empty wine bottles as research material, he finally bids us farewell.

Uno, Lars wins. What else is there to say!

Bob the Blog

A note on “Dugout” canoes; Despite being carved out by chain saws these days they are incredibly  finely finished, they are paddled and controlled by children from the age of about 5, they all leak and require a certain amount of bailing. This is achieved by whatever is available, an old plastic bottle, flip flops on the hands or just the bare feet. There is hardly any freeboard which contributes to the above. They are in fact the equivalent of the bicycles of western kids and the cars of adults.