Beautiful day today, clear skies and a light breeze, perfect for getting some washing done and for snorkeling. Had a great snorkel along the edge of the reef here. It was quite special with sections of vertical coral wall going from 2m down to 12m and other areas of canyons coming up from the deep where you can just float along with the fish up the canyon. Saw a painted crayfish but missed it with my hand spear - need to practice that one.
All the rally boats came in today, it was good to catch up with everyone and hear what they have been doing the last few days. Bruce off "Dancer" provided his smoker and expertise to smoke some of the mackerel I caught yesterday. It tastes great and we will vacuum pack some of it for meals on the return trip home.
We all had a BBQ on the beach this evening which provided an opportunity to socialise as a group on our own without an official function. Unfortunately Patrick decided against coming ashore and stayed on the boat to rest his injuries. He is much improved and we hope will fully mobile again in a few days.
11/10/08 Gigila Is to Wanim Is (Position 11.14.7 S, 153.05.7 E)
Saw Christine again this morning and gave her a wind up torch. It has LEDs and doesn't require batteries so it should last quite a while. She was embarrassed by the gift and insisted that we take some chilies in return. She decided we were very good friends and that when we return to the Louisiades we should bring her various household items. It is a humbling experience meeting this people who lead a very simple subsistence lifestyle but are starting to need money for health and education services.
The villagers knew the boats were leaving today and were out early to see if they could trade before we left. We even had one canoe hanging off the back of the boat while we were trying to get the anchor up. You can't blame them, it isn't often that there would be 5 yachts in their bay and there mightn't be any more for several days.
The trip down to Wanim Is was another motoring one with flukey winds around the islands. It was only 14Nm and we managed to catch a couple of nice fish - a spanish mackerel and a trevally. We kept 3 quarters of the mackerel and gave the rest & the trevally to a local guy fishing from his canoe. He was very pleased with his catch. We have marinated some of the mackerel and will smoke it tomorrow.
Wanim Is is the location where the rally boats are meeting up again tomorrow. A beach BBQ is planned.
Patrick's wounds are slowly healing but with his immune system down his gout has flared up, so he really is forced to rest up. Not the holiday he had planned.
10/10/08 Gigila Is at anchor.
Today has been the busiest since arriving in the Louisiades for canoe visits to our boat. Mostly people from the local villages wanting to trade fruit & vegs for clothing, pegs, soap, kerosene or fishing gear. There are 3 villages around this bay and the people kept coming all day. It wasn't long before we had all the fresh produce we needed and then it is hard to say no but you can't keep trading for things you don't need. Usually they will have young children with them so even if we didn't trade the kids got a lollie and a balloon. The other type of canoe visit is the young kids coming for lollies. They paddle around all the boats at anchor and do well but they keep coming back all day.
The water here is not as clear as Boboeina for snorkeling but there is some great coral formations. Not as clear means 10m visibility rather than 15m, so it is still pretty good and there are plenty of tropical fish to swim with.
Later in the afternoon Ann & I went ashore to one of the villages to give a couple of the women there some kerosene. They both had been to the boat in the morning trading fresh produce and asked for kerosene but we didn't have small bottles ready to provide it in so we said we would bring it later. One of the women, Christine, invited us into her home where we met her husband Joseph and most of her family. It was a typical village hut, quite large, raised about 1.5m above the ground with one small internal room and a large common area. What surprised me was the internal fireplace. Everything was timber or woven fronds so the fire would have to be small and closely managed. Christine explained that she uses the kerosene in her lantern to weave mats at night for visiting yachts. She takes an order from a yacht during the day and makes the mat to size that night and delivers it the next day.
Frank, Kevin and Eelke from "Kooltrandra" came over for sundowners and for Frank to check & change the dressings on Patrick's legs. His wounds are starting to heal but he has to keep the leg rested.
9/10/08 Boboeina Is to Gigila Is (Position 11.10.1 S, 152.56.0 E)
The start of another beautiful day in paradise, but with a maintenance job to be done - sort out what caused the GenSet to shut down yesterday with an overheating fault. This time we start at the salt water pump and sure enough there is the problem - the impellor had 2 blades broken off. Unfortunately we could only locate 1 of the blades, the other has gone into the heat exchanger and hopefully through to the exhaust outlet. This impellor only lasted 16 hours. Not sure if it was caused through the heating problems or the age of the impellor or both. Here in the tropics we have had constant overheating problems with the genset and the battery charger because of the air & water temperatures and humidity. We have found that if we run the battery charger on its own it draws too much DC current (100 - 130 amp) and over heats within 20 minutes. If we run something else on the 240 V circuit that reduces the amount of current available to the battery charger and keeps the charger current below 80 amp DC then it doesn't over heat. The only 2 units we can run on the 240 V system to do this are the watermaker and the air conditioning, so we have a cool boat once the water tank is full. Because it is a slower charging process we are running the genset morning & evening to keep the batteries charged. A job to sort out once back in Australia - cooling the operation of the genset. The air temperature of the cupboard that the genset is located in gets above 50 degrees when the genset is going and the cupboard doors are open.
After Patrick & I had fixed the genset it was in for a quick swim with goggles to check how our anchor & chain were lying amongst the coral before departing to Gigila Is. Unfortunately Patrick's leg infection had got much worse so he decided to stay out of the water. With the water temperature around 29 degrees it is very easy for minor cuts and wounds to infect and become tropical ulcers. By mid morning his wound on his leg was very inflamed so it was out with the travel medical book which recommended a toothbrush and saline solution to clean the gunk out. Not a pretty sight and a job the Patrick had to do himself. Once we got to Gigila Is we took Patrick across to Frank on "Kooltandra". Frank is a retired doctor, who wasn't impressed with the toothbrush cleaning but dressed the wounds (2) and confirmed the antibiotics Patrick was taking were appropriate.
While we were having a late breakfast in the cockpit at anchor about 100m from the beach at Boboeina a young boy about 3 or 4 yrs old was playing on the beach. He keep watching us, we must appear so foreign to him. The was a light breeze blowing towards the shore so Patrick blew up a balloon and threw it overboard. The boy tried to appear not interested but kept moving along the beach in line with the path of the balloon. You could see his beaming smile 100m away when he picked it up. He waved the balloon at us and ran along the beach to his mother who was collecting coconuts.
The trip to Gigila Is was only 15 Nm but with a strong wind right on the nose so we had to motor all the way. I managed to catch a spanish mackerel within 3 minutes of setting my trolling line while we were still in the bay. Caught another large spanish mackerel about half the way down to Gigila and decided that was enough. The smaller one I filleted and shared with "Kooltandra" & "Hadja", the larger one and the frame of the other one I took to the village we are anchored off.
Anchored just behind us at Gigila is a sailing boat that has been built by the cruising yachties in the area as a community project. It has been made from 2 banana boats, long narrow boats powered by 40 hp outboard motors, where they have joined the front sections of 2 boats together to form a double ender. Written on the side of the boat is the web address www.cruise-aiders.com. I'm sure it will contain plenty of information about the project.
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