pos 8:51.08S 160:44.05E
Tuesday 3rd of August
2015-08-03 Malalita Dawn saw us off Auki, lining up with red lead-in lights that directed shipping through the reef. Just to be sure we hung off for half an hour until the sun was high enough to see the reef and get our bearings.
Motoring into the bay we anchored near the lead-in lights off a large modern dock before launching the dinghy and heading to town. Where we landed the bottom is covered in plastic bags and garbage, yuk, but manage to step directly off the dinghy onto shore.
On the walk into town we pass a lot of small wooden stalls selling beetle nuts to the sound of heavy beat music coming from a pickup parked nearby, before joining the main road. The road in fact would make an ideal tank testing ground with pot holes capable of swallowing a medium sized bus.
Doing a recce around the town we find the Bank and an ATM that willingly spits out cash, a Bakery where the bread will be ready in another hour, and Bottle Shop that has Gin and Wine as well our favourite cheese.
So it’s off to the market, in fact there is another fenced area full of stalls all selling beetle nuts before we enter large concrete covered market (Donated by the Japanese) selling Kumaras (sweet potatoes), bananas, mangoes, more onions as well as aubergines. No lemons or limes but we have lime cordial for our Gin.
Back for the bread, but if we want it sliced we’ll have to wait another half hour while it cools, so next to the Bottle Shop. The spirit prices are incredible, £50 for gin and rum so we ration ourselves to two bottles. Wine is £13 a bottle and we clean them out of the decent stuff as they only have 12 bottle.
A case of tonic (Schweppes, made in Indonesia) and some cheese completes our purchase. Meantime Shan had gone back to the Bakery and picked up our bread and some butter
Returning, the tide has receded and we manage to find a sandy patch of bottom free of the filth to wade out and launch the dinghy into deeper water.
Returning we set off down the Langalanga Lagoon, a long strip of water contained by a large reef on one side and the mainland on the other, interspersed with islands and reefs forming a central channel.
It’s reasonably well marked for the first couple of miles, but disconcertingly the chart goes blank and everything is blank for the next few miles, only resuming at the far end of the channel. As we motor cautiously down we discover it is quite well marked so are able to progress relatively easily.
About three quarters of the way down, the mangroves have now populated and taken over the reef. At about one o’clock we pull in alongside them and anchor in their shelter. Lunch and fall into our bunks exhausted, to recover from our long battle with the ocean, third world shopping and a sleepless night.
When I finally wake and having got my brain in gear, I start Blogging. Reaching for my net book which runs my navigating programme which is parallel with Lars’s, I go to check on the correct names of the places we have visited and cannot find it.
Soon we’re all searching for it. Impossible it’s nowhere to be found, so we call halt hoping it will magically reappear later.
Soon the dugouts start arriving. First two very giggly girls and as word spread whole families, with kids as small as two sitting in bows like little naked Buddahs completely confident in their craft but reduced to tears at the sight of these strange white people.
As school finishes we have the usual run of visitors and one them advises us that the approaching canoe contains a teacher from the junior school nearby. I’m below showing Colin, a very studious young man, around the yacht when I get a call to come on deck.
William, the teacher has asked Lars if we are missing anything, to which we confirm in the positive. Apparently he and his friend Francis are aware someone has been on board and stolen something, “Leave it with me,” says Francis. Encouraged we agree to meet him tomorrow as he assures us it should be resolved.
We are very shocked and disappointed, probably as much as they are that such a slur should be put on the village. But at least my sanity is no longer called into question and we hope for the best.
By around 6 pm we must have “Lolipoped” every child in the village when one last family canoe arrives with Prudence and her daughter. She has the most beautiful shell necklaces she wishes to sell and after some hard bargaining $50 and a bag of rice are exchanged for a couple of pieces.
Shan thinks I bargain to hard and smitten with conscience rushes up with a top for her making both of them feel better I guess!
Others are not so grateful. A young muscular, tattooed youth asks if we have a football. Surprise, surprise! Lars goes rooting and appears with a shiny new ball, but this was sneered at as being too light for football. Take it or leave is the deal, in fact you can give us one of those shells you wanted to trade for it. Deal done.
Finally all are sent home and we settle down to “Happy Hour” with our gin, dinner and a read, exhausted after all that entertaining.
Bob the Blog