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The Final Push

Lapita Voyage Blogs

By Matt Fletcher

Position:09° 23' S, 160° 08' E

The expedition boats under sail
The two boats had to 'perform' for the German film crew that had flown out to Honiara for a week
Locals performing a dance act outside a yacht club
Tikopia/Anuta party at Point Cruz Yacht Club

The German TV crew have packed their cameras, we threw a party in the Point Cruz Yacht Club with expat Tikopian and Anutan communities, ate well in a fine restaurant one last time and today finally left Honiara. It feels like the final push, the downhill run to Tikopia and Anuta. The local MP in Honiara has radio contact with the islands and apparently preparations for our arrival have already begun. But first we have the little matter of 400 odd sea miles along the northern coasts of Guadalcanal and Makira to Lata in the Santa Cruz Islands.

People sat at a table on a beach with boats on the sea
Party at Point Cruz Yacht Club. The two boats are moored off the beach.
People sat around a table at the yacht club
Discussions at the yacht club. Left to Right: Keith Dobney, Atholl Anderson, Matt Fletcher, Ingo Inesee (German cameraman).

We need to make this passage before the North East monsoon winds we've enjoyed thus far turn into the prevailing South East Trade Winds that will hit us head on and quadruple the distances we need to sail. It will be the sailing equivalent of running through treacle.

Keith at the helm
Keith Dobney, on board for a couple of weeks to check on the DNA sampling.
Keith and Atholl
Keith Dobney (Durham university) and Atholl Anderson (Auckland university)

Keith Dobney is aboard now checking the DNA sampling that we have done already and helping us gather more data along the next stage. Sampling continues to be both good fun and a great icebreaker in the villages we visit. And importantly the data set should be big enough and varied enough to give Keith and his team further insight into the movement of man and beast through the South Pacific.

Keith and Matt plucking cat fur
Keith and Matt take fur samples from a local cat for the DNA studies
An island with lots of trees, surrounded by the sea
Sailing along the North shore of Guadalcanal

The next exciting sampling stop will be the Three Sisters Islands, that lie off the north coast of Makira Island. I hope their chickens are ready.

- Matt Fletcher