Since my return from the Lapita Voyage and my 'blog' last week, I have spent two weeks recouperating. But the following email from Hanneke Boon shows that even after the double canoes were delivered to their islands of Anuta and Tikopia, sea life in the far Solomons is still hard and dangerous...
- James Wharram
Dear James, Ruth et al,
It looks like, due to the bad weather here, incoming phone calls just don't work, so an email for now. I’m sorry I called so late; I didn't know the clocks had just changed. Jamie and I had just come from the airport where 3 of the crew were due to leave, but again (also on Saturday), the flight was cancelled and we had to wait there quite a while, while it poured down with rain.
As I was trying to explain, James, the last part, the return from Tikopia, was quite arduous and I was glad you did not have to suffer it. It was very interesting though, travelling aboard the cargo ship Kesoko (the one owned by Ross Hepworth), where we lived on top of the cargo hatches, under a tarpauline. At first this was OK, then more and more people came on board and it did get a bit crowded. The ship's crew was nice and they kept the ship clean. We were able to cook in the small galley below (well Jamie did mainly, and Karl was also a good cook). A single squat toilet next to the galley, not as bad as it sounds, but James would have had trouble getting to it down the steep stairway.
Then, after 4 nights aboard, we got to the East side of the island of Santa Cruz, where Lata is (Lata was the jump off point on to the ocean islands of Tikopia and Anuta). The ship was first to go to the Reef islands, so it was arranged for us (minus Eve and Rudy, who chose to stay aboard all the way to Honiara) to travel to Lata by speed boat. This took quite a wait, but eventually we got going in a fair sized 'Yamaha' banana boat, a new one with new 55HP engine, thank goodness.
The trip round the island took over 4 hours, quite smooth at first, but when we got to the West side of the island the waves suddenly became very large, the driver was for turning back at one point, but I think that was actually worse in those waves, so we carried on, bailing hard when waves slopped aboard. I was trying to imagine a bunch of tourists going into total panic mode on a trip like that, but our crew from the Lapita Voyage, were all calm and helped bailing and refilling the petrol tank under a plastic sheet. Matt told me afterwards he was more scared at this time than on the whole Lapita Voyage. I was too busy bailing with my back to the waves to worry too much.
Anyway, we arrived here before the weather got even worse, we were actually quite lucky. We are now waiting for the Kesoko to return from the Reef Islands to dock in Lata. The ship will take our heavier luggage to Honiara as it can’t go on the plane.
I hope we can fly to Honiara on Thursday, if not there is still Saturday, so with a bit of luck and some better weather we will be home next Tuesday. Must stop now as my internet time is running out.
Love you all,