Archive for September, 2015
Weather or not — To Go!

After a few days rest we were nearly blown off anchor from strong trades howling the night before last. Good work for the storm anchor and full chain rode deployed in a sandy bottom. Yesterday morning we weighed anchor with the goal of knocking another 40 miles off the trip ahead. This brought us across the channel and well inside the Tawa Tawa Mal reef with its extensive lagoon.

There is a charted anchoring spot near Moturina Island where former SIL Wycliffe members had, some time ago, finished the Misima language scripture translations for both New and Old testaments. We knew there is a small village nearby so we prayed to catch some nice fish to bring for a gift, in addition to having a safe transit. As so there you have it, God provided a handsome Mahi Mahi before we reached mid channel. It took Colton some time to reel this one in. It measured just over 50 inches. The crew is becoming adept at landing fish, in the sea chop and wind. All hands were safe, except the fresh fish that came on board…well, reluctantly.

Upon arrival Colton and Jim headed over to the shore where a gaggle of kids (pikininis) were swimming and waving. Being shy, they moved westward 30 meters as the Sweet Dreams shore boat (newly named Moonshine) came up in the surf and was landed on the beach about as quickly as Navy Seals might handle it. Colton is quite strong and with the help of Moonshine’s stern-mounted wheels he and the Captain were able to beat the waves.

It was good timing as a young mother had come to fetch the children back to the village. The sun was setting. We made good talk as she was quite fluent in English, having been taught by a best friend who became a school teacher and went to mainland PNG to teach 10th grade. It is good to have friends! She accepted the gift on behalf of the headman, who was on the neighboring island fetching water from a well. It has not rained here in 6 months and the local residents are suffering from a water shortage. That aside, the shore party walked the distance around the corner to the main village where other family members quickly appeared.

They are very nice people and have a very tidy village. Some good story time was shared and it was agreed they could bring us some fresh fruits the next day. We had run out about 3 days ago. Pictured here is a gift basket with some nice fruit, along with seashells for Niki.

It’s hard to go when to find such a nice place to stay. But, the next adventure beckons us. Tomorrow we’ll set sail heading further SW 20 mile before getting back into open water on the Coral Sea. It’s time to check the forecasts as it is 4 full days and nights travel to the Great Barrier Reef entrance.

 
Stopover

Leg 1 of our journey to the Torres Strait was safely completed yesterday (9/5/15) at around 4:00am. For you mapping buffs, our exact lat/lon is: 10⁰52.865’S and 153⁰09.366’E or just east of Renard Island. Sailing along at a much faster pace than anticipated resulted in us reaching our anchoring waypoint in the dark. Having a safety policy to enter new anchorages in the daylight, we proceeded to hove to and wait for the sunrise. Once enough light filled the sky, we headed through the beautiful blue waters to our sandy, calm anchorage.

Immediately, we saw what appeared to be another sailboat. A quick view through the binoculars clarified the vessel was of a local, handmade Kon-Tiki type sailing outrigger. Three men aboard skillfully sailed over and came alongside once our anchor had settled in the sand. Having readied several fenders, they came along side and began to talk story. This was our first encounter with a local, handmade sailing rig. It appeared that these men were true salty dogs and very skilled at sailing and navigating. Impressive to think about every single thing on their boat was made with their own hands – well, except the sail which was made from a tarp. Having some sail remnants donated by a sail loft in Hawaii, we were able to contribute it to their future sail repairs.

Ahhhh, almost nothing feels better than to be safely anchored after a passage or as in this case, a partial passage. Since it was Saturday, it was time to begin cooking the Nie traditional chocolate chip pancakes. Luckily, our care package had arrived and there were chocolate chips on board – whew! Too bad, our small package of ‘real’ coffee is long gone…

Now, our time is spent resting and waiting for a weather window to make our way to the final destination of Thursday Island in the Torres Strait.

 
Onward

Leaving the Solomon Islands behind has a bittersweet feel to it. The time went fast, almost 3 months. Who would have thought our stay would have been that long? But then how can delaying issues be accounted for, except to deal with them along with the ever pending time line. God only knows.

Now we are underway. Back home the kids had their first day of school. It is about the journey, isn’t it? Back up two days, there we were tucked behind a small island and large reef west of Gizo, waiting out some stronger trade winds, foretasted of course. Catching up on some rest is always good prior to these multiple day passages. Some additional stowing, outboard engine repair, and much needed beach bonfire time with the kids were completed. The higher trade winds make “going” uncomfortable. It is always best to wait it out if possible.

While preparing to head to the sandy quay, we notice this man paddling around in the dugout canoe, fishing over the reef. He came by, we waved and he returned with a BIG smile. Amazing how they are contagious. In the past month Colton and Jim tried their hand at getting in one of the handmade canoes. Wow, it takes a lot of balance….even without waves. The man came along side, smiling. “Afternoon afternoon!” It’s common to say things twice.

George had a half dozen good looking fish in his canoe with several inches of water. Bailing by swooshing his hand, we discussed his success and he wanted to know if we were coming to the island. “Yes yes. We will come soon.” After all, Bella the dog needed to run around.

Upon arriving George waded out into the shallows and helped us navigate the coral heads, especially the prickly ones, into the sandy patch. After disembarkation it was quickly noticed a small fire was going and George was ushering us over to that area. Gina and Niki went up the beach with Bella. She was very excited. Colton and Jim stayed and talked story with George while he worked the fire making it hot. It was then we realized he planned to cook some fish and share a meal with us.

Wow! We had known this man for 20 minutes. We were amazed he was even out there in this wind. We were further humbled by his clear intention to serve us a meal. And it was very good fish, perfectly cooked by lying the fish right in the fire made of various branches and some dried coconut shells from previous visitors.

After some more story talk it was clear the sun was getting lower in the sky and he needed to go. One interesting cultural aspect is the waiting for one party or the other to say, “Oh, sun em go daun, you must go nau.” It was our turn to help him off the beach. Clearly he needed no assistance.

As George was heading up wind out over the reef it was amazing to watch as he canoe disappeared then came up the next wind wave. As they churned over it happened. A breaking wave rolled the canoe a bit too far. Later we learned George reach to prevent the days catch from getting flushed out and one of the spinney fins sliced his hand. With that he bailed himself out onto the reef as to not capsize the canoe. Colton saw it all. George was about 100 meters away and made his way back to us, in the lee of the island. Clearly he needed some first aid. He had miles to go to get back to his village on the next island over, crossing over numerous reefs to get there. Fortunately these reefs keep the wave size down to something considered “manageable.”

Kindness begot kindness! Thank goodness for the first aid training. We have butterfly bandages that are waterproof, along with all the other necessary wound care essentials. We made a kit in a ZIP LOCK bag for several days care and confirmed he knew what to do and would change out the dressing. He agreed that having a latex disposable glove to keep the wound dry would be good! Patched up he was ready to go as the sun continued to move lower toward the horizon.

Blessings were said followed by tank yu tu mas. Yes, it’s about the journey day by day. Renewed each day we go forward into the unknown.

Check out 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 
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