16:26.70S 179:56.32W

Wed 8 Aug 2018 01:39

16:26.70S 179:56.32W

In Tregoning’s Wake to Albert Cove

The new day dawned hazy and Zoonie’s topsides were covered with red/black gritty dust. I was relieved I hadn’t hung the washing out overnight. Vanuatu’s volcano had once again erupted and filled the atmosphere with harmful burnt particles and the fresh wind brought it our way. Fishermen in their plank constructed outrigger canoes slowly wandered shoreward after a night of fishing, each to his own gap in the mangroves leading to his home.

We wandered along behind Tregoning keeping a good lookout for the reefs to starboard. Pale green water extending towards us from both sides of the entrance pointed towards the dark blue channel between and soon Zoonie was festooned with towels, Tshirts and underwear while I baked an upside down pineapple cake with the last fresh pineapple.

Next day we snorkelled both sides of the reef with Alison and Randall who towed the dinghy behind him. Yet more diversity of fish life amazed us and there was plenty of undamaged coral.

By the next morning both my ears were completely blocked, as sometimes happens. The seawater had probably loosened whatever stalactites of wax were hanging around so I took one of Rob’s syringes left from when I was his acting Nurse Emanuel feeding him Antibiotics through his pic line all those months ago. In the kettle was some boiled and cooled water from the day before and within minutes I had my hearing back. But I felt as if I had a cold so gave snorkelling a miss that day and while the others were away I buried my nose in ‘Farther Than Any Man’ a version of the story of Captain James Cook written in 2001 by Martin Dugard that Alison and Randall had kindly given me since they understood my interest in the great man.

The next day we went ashore as a foursome to meet Monica and her partner Sim who live temporarily in the thatched huts while they are doing some farming. There was no need for sevusevu as there was no village or chief so we chatted and handed them our gifts of fish hooks and dried food. Slim Sim ran up a nearby coconut palm and chopped down and shucked four coconuts for us, then we wandered along the paradise shore watching three of their friends walking into the water one of them carrying a fishing net over his should. They spread out and slowly walked the net toward the shore, gathering it up to see if they had been lucky. A safer more relaxed method of fishing is hard to imagine except perhaps sitting on the bank of a slow moving river on a warm summer’s day in England.

Back on board Tregoning we firmed up our plans to leave for Budd Reef two days later.

On our final morning in this pretty bay we scrambled ashore at first light to do some bird watching. Mindful that a falling coconut can terminally rearrange one’s brain I was careful to stand out of the drop range of the palms while looking at a striking multi-coloured Fruit Dove with a crimson head. We saw and heard Barking Pigeons calling to eachother, maybe a warning about us and little swiftlets zipped about between the palm fronds.

Along the shore there was more plastic than we had seen recently and then it wasn’t much, a ubiquitous flip flop and a toothbrush. Inland this was a true wilderness, as Monica explained there is no road or trails and the only access is by boat.

“Well are you coming snorkelling this afternoon Barb?” Randall asked.

“If I don’t I know I will regret it.” So we were a team of four again.