Sun, Sand, and Sea. And Sun.

I didn’t write anything yesterday because I was too fried from the sun. Mike’s family and I left out of Liapari Island yesterday morning, with Kolombangara standing proud in the distance.

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A boat full of lovely ladies of all sizes … what’s not to like?

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Well, plus Don, Abraham and myself. Here’s yours truly at the helm, in my bula shirt. Pepe (above) insisted on using my camera to take my picture, and surprisingly, taking my photo appears to not have damaged the camera at all …

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Approaching Gizo we start to see reefs in the distance, turquoise and lovely … but we have to thread our way between them or they’ll rip out the bottom. I used the marine navigation program on my cell phone to keep us off the hard places and in the watery places. I was on a boat this size that went on the reef once in the Phillippines, it was not a pretty picture … but that’s a story for another time

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When we arrived in Gizo, we tied up the ICE and we all jumped into an aluminum skiff. It was an old one, built in Liapari when I ran the island, they last forever. We headed out to see another mad mate of ours, Hans Mergozzi. He runs a lovely resort on an island not far from Gizo. Here’s Abraham standing in the stern holding the handle of the outboard and running us out through the reefs.

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Abraham is the grandson of Mike, the boat owner … so on this trip we had Mike’s son, daughter, daughter-in-law, baby grand-daughter, the baby’s nanny, a friend of his daughter, and myself. Good fun. Abraham is the full-time caretaker/security on the ICE, so we’re shipmates living together on the boat. He’s been a boon companion, solid and trustworthy.

Hans came to the Solomons a while back and never left. He leased an island and built a gorgeous resort on it. He’s an interesting guy, Swiss, an ex race car driver and a very good sailor. Crusty as hell, but that comes with the territory. Here’s the offshore bar out at the end of the dock, a lovely building in a beautiful setting.

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And a couple of the beach cottages at the land end of the bar dock.

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In the distance is Kennedy Island, where President Kennedy swam to with his men after his boat, PT-109, was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer. There’s great diving there, a coral wall where I dived with my gorgeous ex-fiancee and a school of spotted eagle rays years ago … my best love to her.

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On the bar itself, there is the skull of one of the local residents … the adult males are typically about 16 feet (5 metres) long. See the two holes in the lower jaw at the right of the picture? Those are sockets where the upper teeth fit in to prevent the prey escaping … YIKES!

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There’s a great South Pacific story involving a crocodile, the sister of a friend of mine, and “two-fella Panadol” … another time. Dang, it’s hard to talk about the South Pacific without getting side-tractored into some other tale of derring-don’t …

Because the weather was rough, we went over to the calm side of the island to get back on the boat. On that side of the island, maybe a quarter mile (400 metres) across from his resort, is what Hans calls his “shack” where he lives. It’s a stunning leaf building with only two walls, plus a half-wall to screen off his bed … gotta love the tropics.

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That’s all there is to it, one curved wall and one straight wall. It comes complete with awesome tropical trees bending down to touch the ocean …

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And a very nice dock. Here’s Don carrying his daughter out to the boat back to Gizo.

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So if through some series of misunderstandings and coincidences you happen to find yourself in Gizo, take the time to go see Hans at the Sanbis Resort. (Sanbis is Pijin for “sand beach”). Sorry, no kids allowed, I told you he was crusty, but he’s a good man, a bad enemy, and a good shipmate.

By the time I got back, I was fried, both figuratively and literally. My face looked like Rocky Raccoon in a photographic negative (for those who remember “negatives”, white around the eyes instead of black. Not sunburn exactly, just lots of sun. When we got back to the ICE, Abraham and I collapsed into deep slumber. No dinner. No small talk. Sleep.

So that was the trip back from Liapari. Now, I’m back to work on the boat, fixing, inventorying, and surveying. Still plenty to do and plenty to see. Night here, a warm night with occasional raindrops … ah, what a world we have the great fortune to live in.

And so, at the end of another day, for all of you I wish the joy of your lovers and family and friends, the promise of the dawn sky, and sunlight far-reaching on the sea … the long night is coming, seize the day!

w.

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8 thoughts on “Sun, Sand, and Sea. And Sun.

  1. Willis, beautiful pics! We live on the US Gulf Coast and have a house on a bay. What is the construction of the pier/dock in the last picture? Is the decking wood two by sixes? Are the planters pilings that support the pier/dock? Are there runners that connect to the planters, running both underneath the length of and across the pier/dock? How far above the water is the decking? How does it handle wave action? What kind of wave action does it get?

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    • Thanks JR. I didn’t look closely at the dock, I was feasting my eyes on the ocean and the trees and the like. From memory, the piers are concrete inside plastic pipes. The decking is stout, 2×6 is not a bad call. It’s maybe a metre and a half above the water. That side of the island is pretty protected, as is the whole area. Waves of a more than a metre or so are uncommon here. Not sure what the underpinnings of the dock are. The planters are built on the sides, likely where the piers are.

      w.

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    • Thanks, John. While I used to run out through those reefs at night with just a flashlight … I wouldn’t call myself accomplished. I’ve activated a couple of keel-based reef detectors in my time …

      They say good judgment comes from experience … and experience comes from bad judgment. So I would call myself an “experienced” reef pilot.

      Regards,

      w.

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