The birthday boat on the Marovo Lagoon

Mon 20 Oct 2003 16:01
Title: Dear All

20th October 2003. From the birthday boy in the Marovo Lagoon.


Dear All,


We write to you having just indulged ourselves in relative luxury for Pete’s 30th birthday.  We are anchored in the Marovo Lagoon which is said to be the largest lagoon in the world and is also considered so spectacular that it is in the process of becoming a world heritage site. Some say it is the 8th wonder of the world.  We have not seen that much of it yet but so far it has been stunning.


We left the Indispensable Reefs rather disappointed, as we did not manage to leave the boat and explore this sub sea world.  The weather was ferocious.  Firstly we had torrential rain and then a steady Force 6, which was fine as far as the ocean swell went but as the lagoon itself was so large we had a pretty long fetch (about 11 miles) and so a fairly severe chop. 


We headed for Rennell Island.  It is another of the Polynesian Outliers like Tikopia and will be the last time we will see any Polynesian culture.  The island is apparently the largest raised coral atoll in the world.  It is a certainly a pretty big island and Kanggava Bay where we anchored looked absolutely stunning.  The coral rises vertically from the sea so you end up with extremely steep cliffs of either impenetrable jungle or stunning bare white dead coral which is very like hard chalk.  Occasionally there is a white sand beach where coconuts have been planted or a tiny village like the one we anchored off.  The bay itself has a pretty treacherous scattering of coral heads.  Again we arrived only just in time to be able to see them before the light faded and were not helped by a sudden rain squall.  Just as we were happy we had got the anchor settled, a canoe turned up and William the ‘Harbour Master’ jumped aboard announcing that there was a better anchorage off his village and he would guide us in.  In fact the holding was better in sand free of coral heads, but he admitted to me that they preferred yachts to go there as it was not so far for the dugouts to paddle to visit us!  And since we were the first boat to call there this year they probably had lots of lost time to catch up on.


In fact we hardly spent much time on the boat.  Rennell is famous for having the biggest fresh water lake in all the Pacific Islands and having not stretched our legs for a while we were desperate for a walk.  It turned out to be about a 15-18 mile round trip which took us about 6 hours.  We only had time at the lake to find delicious coconuts to drink, have a chat to the school teacher and dangle our legs in the lake before starting back to make it home before dark.  The walk was lovely and pretty easy going, along the only road (country lane) in the island which was cut right through the jungle.  Funnily enough it felt just like walking along a country lane at home, only on a very hot day! There was loads of wild life on the way and loads of the birds are unique to Rennell and are pretty fearless.  Most striking was the pigmy Ibis which were just everywhere.  On the way back we saw loads of flying foxes (fruit bats) which we have not really see until now so that was cool.


But Pete’s birthday was looming and so we set off for the Marovo Lagoon in the hopes of finding a meal ashore (maybe some meat) and some alcohol which we had now completely run out of.  Can you imagine, Kokiri a dry boat?


Uipi Island is pretty much the only resort in the whole of the Western Province so we headed there and had an exceptionally fast sail up from Rennell, for the first 36 hours we were going over 7 knots over the ground the whole time!  It was lovely.  We decided that Peter’s real birthday treat was that we would go diving.  It was just the most wonderful thing imaginable.  There are loads of the black-tipped reef sharks here.  We had been feeding small ones scraps of fish from the jetty the night before.  Jill (who owns this place) showed us how to tie the fish to a string so that the sharks can be played.  It was really exciting it has to be said.  So we knew there were sharks around and we did see a lot and one quite big one.  But it was really everything else that was so amazing.  100s of fish, not in the least bit bothered by us.  Wonderful corals, fan corals, soft coral, brain corals etc.  And it is just the little things.  The hundreds of colours of the christmas tree worms, the giant clams and just being able to breathe underwater and be a part of the whole place.  All it really did was confirm that we have to find the time and the money to get ourselves diving.  We are in the very best diving in the whole world and will be for the next 4 months or so and we really should not waste it.  Here is definitely too expensive to get Peter certified (K already certified!), but we will try elsewhere.  The snorkelling is great, but the diving is so much more exciting.


As promised, we had plenty to drink in the evening and wonderful birthday meal and even chocolate birthday cake.  We definitely made the right decision coming here.


We hear from Al that Sass and Rich are now the parents of Fred.  Congratulations both of you and we send loads of love to all 3 of you, and we think Fred is a great name!


Also we hear that Edwin has also got engaged since we left.  We didn’t think it would be long and are just really thrilled.  Congratulations all around in the Teall family!


Hope you are all well and happy


Loads of love as ever


Katharine and Pete