Roderick Bay

Lars Alfredson
Sun 16 Aug 2015 11:44

pos 9:0.94S 160:7.36E

Roderick Bay Hideaway


2015-08-15 Leonard arrives and plonks himself down between the wheels. Whilst the others bury their heads in books he and I engage in a long detailed discussion. Quite what it was about, considering I didn’t have my hearing aid in and he speaks a mixture of English, pigeon and his native tongue, no one really knows but, 45 minutes later we give him a final gift of a pair of glasses as we bid him farewell. We up anchor and set out for Roderick Bay Hideaway.

Our route takes us through the troubled waters where we had been searching for our Mantas but apart from battling the currents the ride is somewhat smoother than in the dinghy and we’re soon through and out into the open ocean.

Our route takes us around Sandfly Island and into another passage with similar tidal properties. There are also a few small dodgy rocks and a very small islands marked in the middle of the passage, but we’re never too sure of the reliability of the charts.

There is a sky made grey with high cloud that reduces the heat of the sun as we make our way into the straights. The sea before us is another confused mass of over falls and troubled waters with a distinct tide line of smoother water beyond.

Steering between the island (Unseen) and the two hidden rocks, we see the results of failure to keep a good lookout as, on the shore ahead of us lying on its side is a large passenger ship. Apparently she struck and being seriously holed was run aground to save her.

Word got out to the Malaitians, the warlike tribe we have recently visited. They drove the local people away with their guns, boarded and stripped the ship of anything useful. Since then the returning villagers have been aboard and the fruits of their labours can be seen in many a village.

On our way in we are boarded from a canoe by a man who gives us a book full of comments, pictures and cards from visiting yachts. He is John the chief’s son. Having tied his canoe to us he suddenly notices it’s sinking, being dragged under by our wake.

Lars cuts the engine and in the excitement of trying to rescue him and his boat we are caught in the current and swept over those same rocks. The bottom rises sharply and next minute we can see the coral clearly and were now in 3 metres. After some frantic motoring were out of danger, the canoe is full of water but just afloat and John is busy bailing. We note that for once the chart is spot on!

 All sorted, he guides us to a mooring which he assures us is the best, as one of the yachties had dived down on it and repaired it. “That was me,“ says Lars. On their previous visit it had broken when they had been tied to it. Consequently, Lars had donned his gear and diving down to 30 metres, replaced the failed, rusting shackle with a stainless steel one.

All safely moored and a beer to hand we read through the visitors book and find our two Australian yachts “Wandoo” and “Honeymoon” have been here four days earlier and are heading back to OZ. Maybe we’ll catch up with them in Honiara.

At the Retreat we are greeted by Lillian the Chiefs wife and her family but there is some confusion as Lars asks here where the Chief “Roderick” is. It turns out his name is John, like his son who came to greet us, but is currently away with some of the family in Honiara.

She introduces us to family and takes us on tour of her village and gardens filled with all sorts of exotic flowers including double headed hibiscus and an arched walkway formed by the same.

Here, evidence of the plundering of the wreck is everywhere. There is a bath sitting in a garden, an old Cairly liferaft container in a shed and a wondrous version of pan pipes, played with flip-flops, made from plumbing removed from it.

We check the reef on the way back before returning to explore it. The visibility is good and there is a gentle current to drift along on. I’m busy filming on the edge of the drop off when something catches my eye, two large Sting Rays flying effortlessly on their great wings. I’m so surprised I just manage to swing my camera in time to catch them disappearing into the gloom.

That afternoon Shan takes all our remaining give away clothing, more pens and colouring pencils as well as a pair glasses for Lillian for her to dish out.

The afternoon starts by repelling boarders with lollipops before the serious traders arrive. Exotic shells by the canoe load, more dark green limes, three bright yellow water coconuts, a bowl of large hazel type nuts and two large Pawpaw. They come from near and far, one had walked across the island for over an hour before borrowing a village canoe to paddle out to us to sell carvings and shells.

“Happy hour” and as I restock the fridge, a dire discovery, we’re down to our last two tins of Tonic! A dinner of Spag Bol, a game or 6 of MexT, I win, it won’t last, and a quiet night at last.

Bob the Blog

P.S. These are trying times, stripped to our underwear by the natives and no Tonic. What will we drink tomorrow? Will we last to Honiara? Don’t miss our next thrilling Blog.