For all of you that are not up to speed with the adventures on board Nandji, I recommend a little viewing of this episode a few months back where in the Santa Cruz islands of the Solomons we ran into a little mischief. To cut a long story short and give you a quick run down on these events, we had to hustle with the police.
We were enroute from Vanuatu to Honiara on a tight schedule as Marley was arriving in 3 weeks time. Usually you would think this being ample amounts of time to sail the 1000nm to greet the little guy at the airport, but of course things do not always go to plan...
We left Santo island of Vanuatu with a good breeze and we had our ups and downs along the way, but arrived to the Santa Cruz islands, the most eastern group of islands in the Solomons, in expected time and happy to check into a new country. These islands are very remote and how I have previously explained about the cities of the Solomons taking a step back in time compared to the western world, well the Santa Cruz islands were just getting up to speed with 2G phone service and money as a commodity. After anchoring Nandji and going through all the formalities of entering a new country, we went to leave with a forecast of zero wind for days, only to discover that along the journey from Vanuatu we had a diesel leak from the freshly installed fuel injection pump that was fixed in Port Vila. The mechanic had threaded a connection and we had a leak that was not gushing, but enough to lose our precious diesel into the bilge. Of course I fixed the bilge pumps in Port Vila so the float switch was operating exactly how it should and pumping all this diesel out of the bilge without us even knowing until we wanted to leave the Santa Cruz islands... Down to our last 50 litres of diesel with a forecast of 0 knots of wind for days and 500nm left to sail in under two weeks, the odds were stacked against us. That was until we thought about our situation and what have we got that someone here might want. Of course we instantly thought of booze.
This light bulb went off as when we had the customs and police and friends and another person who had never been on a yacht before, come inspect Nandji for our clearance into the Solomons, we could see the eyes light up and glisten upon spying our duty free booze from Vanuatu. So when we were stuck with no diesel, we quickly came to the conclusion of booze for diesel.
Heading back to the cop shop where I went and spoke to the helpful and nice head of police on the island that we had no diesel and some booze to sell to get diesel. He got on the phone and within ten minutes we had a crowd of prison wardens and police officers gathered around whilst I auctioned off two bottles of spirits. Quickly learning that it was not me that needed diesel as much as these guys wanted some Captain Morgans, we ended up with a good solid trade of two bottles of booze for another 55 odd litres of diesel. Combine that together with the 50 litres still in Nandji, we should have enough diesel to motor 200nm if needed. So in the back of the paddy wagon we went as the two police officers happily sang "we are police officers" as they escorted us down to our tender with the diesel and waited upon their delivery of Captain Morgan.
So that was in the Santa Cruz islands, now we are in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands, a good 600 or 700nm west of the Santa Cruz islands in the town of Gizo. This place used to be a port of entry and the city is the main tourist hub for the Solomons, if you could say a tourist hub as we are basically the only white people walking around town. But we went waltzing around town looking for the customs office and the immigration office. We had heard months ago that the immigration officer in Gizo had passed away and to check in or out of the country in Gizo you had to pay $600 Solomon Dollars (approx. 100 AUD) for the immigration officer to travel from Noro, 30nm away. However it had been months and we understand how island time works but we were hoping that maybe after three months it was possible a new immigration officer had been posted in Noro.
Walking around town we discovered the customs building up stairs of a dodgy building where you would never expect to find a government official building, but that is the Solomon way. Not getting any hints or guidance to where the immigration office is located, we walked into the friendly police station to ask where abouts and if there was a new immigration officer in town. After some talks in Pidgeon English, which I am understanding quite well but unfortunately not talking, they officers debated weather there was or not a immigration guy in town. Deciding it best that they take us to the old building as there was talk there could be a new guy around. So in the back of the paddy wagon we go once again, we drive the mammoth 70 metres down the road and around the corner to the old run down building that resembles a kids cubby house more than an official government building. But once again, we are in the Solomons. Expect the unexpected or do not expect anything at all is the best way to go about things. Smile and enjoy the ride!
Climbing out of the paddy wagon, we are shown the office and sure enough we discover a young man who renewed our visa a couple of months back in Noro taking up residence. He explained that he had just arrived and was organising the office and he would be here for the next few days whilst he "set up the office"
Happy days for us as we have finally been given approval from the PNG authorities that our visa is almost approved, kind of. But that is another story in itself. Thanks Mister Police man, you guys have been a real help for our time in the Solomons
We have a stow away!
Lets get down to it, I haven't written a blog for a while... Well, about a year actually... Of course I could go on about how it's not my fault and I have been to busy, but that would be a load of crap. I just actually haven't got around to it. However, now since we have been sitting dormant at anchor for the past two weeks and the monotony of waiting upon visas and communicating with officials from foreign countries is basically doing my head in, I thought it the perfect opportunity to tell a little tale.
To describe where we are anchored, it is in a long skinny bay around 1km wide between the city and the island of Gizo on one side. The side we are anchored on is next to a island called Logha island where there is only a small church. The rest of the island is forrest. Nandji sits about 70m off this island.
Yesterday afternoon, we had been preparing a roast vegetable feast for dinner and spent the afternoon cutting, chopping and generally preparing for this event. All food scraps are ditched over the side to prevent green waste from being on the boat and the general infestation of bugs from the neighbouring island mangroves that enjoy this waste the following day. Therefore, it all goes over the side like we are at sea. With the veges in the oven roasting away, a quick game of uno as the sun went down, then we retired to the aft cabin for an episode of Breaking Bad. A tv series we have watched about 10 times now as we have broken our hard drives and have nothing else to watch. Whilst lying there watching our series, we consume a lot of cold water as around this time when the sun has disappeared, 80% of the time the weather gets that sticky and uncomfortable Bonita and I crowd under our one fan, trying to appreciate its small breeze. The copious amounts of cold water is to help stay hydrated as we sweat as much water out as we are trying to put back in. Bonita had reached her maximum capacity though and needed to go visit the head. Upon opening the door in the dark, she flicked the light on to be greeted with a stow away!
Me, lying in bed enjoying the maximum output of the fan, heard a horrific girl scream. The type of high pitched scream that would resemble a teenage girl on a roller coaster. I rolled from my position and asked what the problem was... A mouse! Yep, a little rodent had somehow made its way onto Nandji. Since we are at anchor and not attached to land, we pondered for ages on how this little bastard got on board and started to brainstorm how we would get it out! Since it was a Saturday evening, the idea of purchasing a mouse trap was out of the question. You see, the Solomons are beautiful and we are loving our time spent here, however when it comes to purchasing items that are readily at your disposal in the western world eg. mouse trap, this is not the case here. The chance of having a store open on Sunday is slim, but then to find such an item. Well, lets say we have more hope of Nandji sailing at 15 knots... Therefore, the conundrum of how long are we going to have this stow away and how are we going to get rid of it!
I created a trap out of a plastic bottle, where I cut of the top of the bottle, turned it upside down and taped it back in. Then placing peanut butter on the rim to entice the rodent in. The mouse then jumps into the upside down bottle top, slips on the sides, falls in the hole and ends up in the plastic bottle... Genius. I placed this trap in the head area and went back to our series of Breaking bad and patiently waited. Listening to the rustle of the mouse in the neighbouring area, our patience was getting thin as Bonita continually explained how the mouse was going to eat the wiring and chew through the walls.
An episode finished and returning to inspect the trap, i realised that I was dreaming if I thought the mouse was going to fall into the bottle. Maybe if the trap was a larger scale it would work. Thinking for a bit, another light bulb went off inside my head. I fetched the 20 litre bucket from up stairs. Filled the bucket a quarter full with salt water, then made a lid out of paper. I taped the paper to the rim of the bucket, creating the illusion of a lovely solid white surface built for a mouse to wander over and eat the big scoop of peanut butter in the middle that the lovely folks of this house provided... Little did ole mousey know that Captain Yosh had cut this paper in a big cross and the peanut butter was the glue to hold the flaps from falling down. Convinced I was a mouse catching machine I returned to bed for another episode.
We lie there in bed listening to this little bastard scurrying around and trying to find an exit from the head. Lucky we can close this area and bilge off to the rest of Nandji, confining the mouse to the head only. We finished another episode and checked the trap, only to be greeted with two big eyes looking back, unafraid and knowing he is to quick for me to grab. I shut the door once more and thought, Marley, it is your time to shine. You are a trained killer and bred to hunt. You will get the rodent.
After ten minutes of dragging Marley out of his bed, we pushed him into the head compartment right in front of the mouse. The mouse hid behind my spearguns (yes, my spearguns live in the shower) and Marley paid no attention, turned around and looked at us like, what am I doing in here at this hour of the night... Thanks for the help Marley as he waltzed back to bed.
It was up to us and this trap. We closed the door once more and returned to bed. I nodded off only to be awaken constantly by the sharp ears of Bonita listening to the mouse move. Getting frustrated at the mouse and the continuous noise this little bastard was making, I tried to relax and convince Bonita the same and try to get some sleep. The trap will work.
Roughly an hour later, Bonita was still wide awake studying the noises of this rodent moving around. Then she announced "It sounds wet!" We jumped out of bed with excitement and went to investigate, inside the bucket, swimming in circles was the mouse! YEW!
We do not know how he got on board, but the cunning little guy found a way. We are very happy to find him quickly and release him back on land the following day before he was able to invite his friends and find a girlfriend to move in. In the rodents short time on board Nandji, he managed to chew the wood on the bottom of the door in his attempts to escape the head. We then spent the next two hours ensuring the boat was sparkling clean and not a crumb lying around as a mouse is not a visitor we want to have.
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