massive clams and mangroves
03 November 2010 | gizo, solomon islands
We tied our vessel up to an underwater shipwreck from the bow and a coconut tree from the stern. Frenchie (Ben) tying bowlines to the dock from the dingy , and Capt. Alex leaping dramatically off the stern of the boat with his snorkel mask on to check the ties from underwater. (something he usually does when we set anchor.) We had arrived in Boroko, N. side of New Georgia Islands. We quickly leaped into the water, Frenchie with his spear gun, and all of snorkel geared up. The wreck was Amazing! we were able to dive in between the cabins and doorways of the wreck, and even see where the truck had hit the ship and exploded. History stands still underwater in its natural preservation and incredible coral, clams and algae clung to it all over, not to mention the various fish swimming about. However, with only one large fish and Ben and I chased, and one close call of near-spearing the blue fish, but instead sinking the hook into the underwater metal walls, we had to trade off breaths of water to take turns diving down to retrieve our hook. Sun was cooling off, and skinny Ben needed to eat.
Captain and I(Tree) took off in the dingy to explore the mangroves. Its like being thrown back in time. You instantly feel as if your dingy should be a wooded carved out canoe and you are on a crock hunt! We swore we could see some of those logs come alive!! We returned back to the ship, promising to return the next day to show Ben. Captain brought a bag of rice to the local family in thanks for letting us stay on the wreck, and we made dinner and crashed out with the sun setting.
The next day we went for our usual morning swim, shipwreck style, then hopped into the dingy to explore an old coconut factory, and a WW2 cannons abandoned on the beaches that the Japs had left when attacked by US troops. The man at the coconut factory's father led the Americans 5 miles down the island so they were able to come in through the jungle to approach the Japanese from behind and overtake them.Then back to the blue-green murky waters of the mangroves. We found some logs to do back flips off of, and a secret canoe path for locals, which of course we followed and captain had a bright orange spider land on his shoulder the size of the palm of your hand! The habitants weren't home but we saw their tree-house, and WW2 gun artifacts strewn about their yard!
Since I joined the boat I have only experienced intense sunny days and quick rain showers. I have sun burned my back intensely from the first day standing on the bow of the boat searching for coral and dancing to Euro-pop. Today God has given us a gift of CLOUDS!! weeee~ I have always been a fan of clouds, fascinated by them for their use in firefighting in Alaska, they help us to figure out wind changes and fire weather. But today I am exceptionally stoked on these sun-beam covering clouds. We sailed by Kennedy Island, which is where PT109 vessel was struck by a Japanese battle ship going 30 knots in the middle of the night, and sliced the ship in half. Kennedy was able to swim to the island to survive. We sailed onto "Fat Boys" and anchored the boat, where we soon met "outside Eddie", which Captain called him because he constantly re-introduced himself to us, inside the cafe, and outside on the dock. Since Eddie worked at SanBis Resort, where we were headed, we decided to take "Outside Eddie" onto the ship with us and help pull in the anchor and sail. Mostly he just repeatedly asked if we were Australian and if the three of us were all married. Eventually we had to just nod and agree that he was right. Somehow he believed that more than us being complete strangers who were on a ship together. San Bis resort is apparently famous for their Pizza, so Alex gave it a try. I was intrigued by the sink there that was made out of a massive clam shell, and Ben sat in a trance watching an 80's hair band on TV. We took off to Noro where we had to anchor up to a tugboat. Noro is a pretty small place that tug boats arrive, drop off crates of goods,(mostly school books and cheesy poofs), then leave. We just fetched water and did visa arrangements.
Off to Gizo, where we wandered the hot streets and got market fruit rations. Frenchie and I stayed on the ship swimming and playing with three boys that came to visit us daily and brought us mangos. They loved doing back-flips off the boat and lounging around Ben when I treaded water to stay cool. Ben and I set up a rain catcher for fresh water to the vessel, but for the first time in our trip, the rain was nowhere to be seen. Captain raced around in the dingy doing errands like the responsible party that he is. Us three shipmates took the dingy to a clam nature reserve and snorkeled around looking at MASSIVE clams, about 2 foot across and 3 feet long, which apparently take 10 years to grow that big! it was pretty incredible, it gave me a new appreciating for clam chowder! Captain stuck his finger in the out-breathe hole and the clam snapped shut, almost swallowing captain up! Back to the sailboat just as sun was setting and Alex insisted we go to a special Telekom party(local phone company). We were seated at the front of the room with "Steve", the boss of all Telekom for whom they were hosting the party; a rad dude from England, whom we all instantly liked. Dancers in traditional clothes were doing the Solomon dance, and a string band came to entertain as well. It was really great. Steve even got up front with us all and linked arms and swayed a bit.
The next day we went on a surf adventure, walking across the jungle island to incredible white sand beach, (first one any of us had seen) and a wonderful local family who spoke a tribal language, but we communicated with hand gestures. We swam out to the surf and attempted to catch the big wave, but were more successful in finding brilliantly blue colored starfish and little boys in wooden canoes on the ocean to watch our funny behavior. We were dying of thirst, but duties had to be done. Frenchie and I took the dingy numerous trips to a remote water spout to fill up on the only drinking water on the island, while captain tried to convince the authorities to let us sail away to Papua New Guinea. (PNG). We decided to take off anyways after one more wild trip to the market to fetch eggplant, potatoes,papaya, watermelon, and peppers and lime. (luxurie