Posted by: nativeiowan | February 9, 2018

2018 v2.gizotimecomplete

My time here in Gizo is done.

It has been better than great. Golly! These islands are fantastic.

I carry away a bone-tired happiness. A muscle-sore memory of seas n adventure and fun.

I am, as Otis sings, sitting on a dock on the bay…

I am sure many of you reading this have memories of Nusatupe International airstrip? Can’t call it an airport. It’s only a strip…

I ponder the multitude of passings I have experienced here. Coming and going over the past 38 years. Leaving and being left.

And I feel better than great.

Life is good.

More later

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Posted by: nativeiowan | February 9, 2018

A Native Iowan in the Islands

the original Arnavons tale…

The Native Iowan

78 nautical miles north east of Gizo is a little known group of islands named the Arnavons. They are made up of three main islands and a number of smaller sandy rocks sticking out of the sea. The place is known for is unspoiled raw beauty and the fact that it is a favored nesting spot for a number of big sea turtles. I don’t mean a number of sea turtles chose this islands for nesting (though they do) I mean that a number of different kinds of turtles use the island for nesting. A big difference!

For a number of years these islands have been a controlled nature conservation sight. And, once there, you can see why.

But I’m ahead of myself…

A couple weeks ago my ol’ buddy “wash yer hands in urine” (that’s a story Teddy needs to tell) Pat Purcell decided we should go up to…

View original post 7,637 more words

Posted by: nativeiowan | February 9, 2018

2018 v2.03neartodeadtired

There is a certain type of tired that comes after a couple of days of adventure, No matter sea or flatland or mountains or rolling plains, if you go out a’venturing for any appreciable time you come home exhausted.

But, once again, the Arnavons do impress…

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Lets see… Its right on noon, Thursday the 8th. We took off from Gizo 6pm Monday the 5th. I may not make it far with this edition of “fools in paradise”. Am floaty like you get after a prolonged period at sea. My equilibrium is still swaying to the rhythm of the briny-blue. My muscles are sore to wore-out from the unaccustomed use n abuse. My skin is shiny n soft from the days drenched in seasalt. As I write I am feeling my eyes droop and my head nod. My fingers are not very cooperative.

I am dead tired. I doubt I’ll get this posted today. Once I go down I shall probably not wake for a number of hours. And I do look forward to it. But there is a problem…

My bunk, all the bunks n benches onboard, have been tore up. We covered everything with salt n grime during the journey so I insisted on cleaning before anything else. Abraham wasn’t too happy at first but now, after it’s all done, he gets the picture. I shall lay a sheet on the cushions and crash out very soon. I helped him make his bunk so he can crash when he is ready.

I have been back in Gizo since 6am. We had ICE safely tied up and hooked to shore power, with aircons running by 630am. By 7am we were at San Bis for eggsnbacon. By 8 Abraham and I were back hosing the boat down and cleaning the interior. It is amazing how dirty your gear gets when used and abused for a couple of days running.

I tore all the sheets and seat covers off, got my few days of dirty clothes (plus Aba’s) all bundled n ready to run up the hill to the house. I wiped all the interior decks n tables n handholds down. Abraham swabbed the exterior decks and rails and windows. By 11 we were running up the hill where we dropped the clothes off to be washed and had long nice hot showers that felt grand. I played with gorgeousgrannygirls Dawn and Vera a bit then came home before I nodded off.

All in all it does not really sound like much, this lil voyage we just did. It does not sound like much does it? Only 60 hours or 2.5 days…

Monday eve we headed north-northwest, along the west side of Kolombangara. Onboard we had Hans, Proprietor of San Bis resort, long time brother and adventuring buddy. His mate, Goran, an Aussie immigrant from the Bosnian wars. My 18yr old grandson, Abraham, and myself.

 

 

As one does, whilst packing the Winnebago, we loaded way too much. One would have thought we were off for weeks, not days. On board we had… 4doz eggs, 3 packs pasta, frozen home-made pasta sauce. 4 packs savoury crackers, a ctn of coke, sprite, fanta, 3 crates of solbrew, 4 packs UHT milk, instant and good coffee, 4 loaves bread, plus assorted condiments and munchie stuff.

We return home with the eggs, we gave most of the bread and some of the beer to the game wardens on the Island. Half the soft drinks came back, but not much beer.

Also we loaded fishing gear and 4 full sets of dive equipment. We ended up using neither.

Of course the departure night is always a party. We drank and laughed and took selfies and generally had a good time anticipating the fun and games to be had.

It was a beautiful eve to be heading-out.

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I forgot to mention that we strapped a 21footlong alloy runabout with a 40hp engine to the davits on the stern of ICE. ICE is only 15footwide so the little boat stuck out some 6foot from the port side of ICE.

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Between 6pm and maybe 1am all was rosy. Then we hit a strange swell, running NW to SE, but winds were blowing from SSE. It made for a sloppy sea which forced us to attempt adjustments on our davit system. Numerous times.

All was not rosy as we turned the deck lights on, manned the winches, and hassled with the dern alloy boat as it banged and slid n got slapped by waves. We eventually got it up out of the seas. Retied it with terrible knots we knew we’d have to cut to get undone. It was a chore. But then we don’t go to sea to be safe n sound n warm and dry.

Stay in bed if you want safe n sound n warm n dry. Not I, says the intrepid mariner. Not I!

It’s about here that my well-known propensity for seasickness got me good. I managed to help sort the boat out but as soon as we were in control I was down on the deck, flat on my back. I have learned that if I lie flat and press my back to any hard surface I can oft-times control my illness. I have heard that NASA dudes learned this in space, instead of taking dopy-drugs to ease the illness, you wedge your back into a tight, hard space, which supposedly settles your inner ear disturbance.

It worked a lil bit, but not 100%. I was a bit too far gone. But I delayed the inevitable RRRaulphing over the side by a few hours.

A funny thought… no matter what language you speak, no matter what accent you have, we all sound the same when we rrraulph.

So where are we? 1 – 2am. All drenched to the skin. Me lying flat behind the wheel house. Abraham down for a snooze. Hans and Goran standing watch.

I woke (came-to) about 4am. Goran was down snoozing and Hans was in command, noticeably fatigued. Things were a bit rocky but I got up and had a bottle of water n tried to maintain my weary innards. I think I even chugged a coke to put some calories in me.

Eventually Hans went down for a snooze. I sat at the helm and watched the GPS screen mark our slow progress. The sky was brightening and I had a horizon to try to fix my gaze upon. The seas were sloppy.

Somewhere along the line Goran came up. I gave him the chair and laid down on a bench in the wheelhouse. We chatted a bit. He dozed. The auto-pilot was working well so I watched the screen as the dark seas shook n bounced us about.

This is when I lost the plot… moving as quickly as the rolling deck allowed, I got to the side door only to find Goran had reclined the chair, I had to slip in past him, out the door and to the rail in order to feed the fishies. Goran woke as I jostled his chair while gagging back a big chunder. I made it to the rail and spent then next hour or so hanging over, initially spewing a nice bubbly-headed stream of easy on the throat vomit, which of course quickly became those terribly, gut wrenching dry heaves we all know and do not love.

When I got back in Goran gave me the chair ( I doubt he trusted me not to puke over his shoulder) so I alternated watching the helm and dry-heaving over the side. I moved the chair so my exit was easily negotiated.

Dawn was dawning as we pulled towards the western passage of the Manning Strait. We had to navigate through easy but shallowish waters so I gave Hans a hoy.

9am saw us arriving at the anchorage. By 930 we were anchor-down and engine-off, genset on and aircon blowing. We dropped the boat and the conservation officers from shore came out and had  a chat with us. We tidied up then hit the bunks.

I woke about 1. Goran was up. We hopped in the boat and went ashore.

I had forgotten how magnificent these islands are. The beach is the softest white-powder-sugar sand you’ll ever see. I wrote about the Arvavons many years ago… I’ll chase that tale down and tag it here when I find it.

I still stand by my original impressions and descriptions. It is a special place.

So we hung out, the boys went fishing but caught nothing,  then out to see the turtles hatch. I did little but swim in the clean, clean waters, marvel at my surroundings and enjoyed the beauty and serenity of this very special place.

After looking at weather reports and thinking clearly we decided to pull anchor a day early. So on Wednesday about noon we reslung the little boat. Much more securely than 1st time. And headed home.

It may sound foolish to do a run for so short a visit. And it probably is. But the main aim of this trip was to use ICE. I wanted to make sure the systems were up and running without fault. Wanted to proof the vessel, make sure all was A-OK.

And ICE performed like a champ. Never a hiccough or a cough. All was grand.

I slept most of that day, Wednesday. Came on watch about 10pm.

Entering a harbour at night is never easy. Entering a harbour lined with coral is dangerous. So we did it slow and easy. Lots of yelling an noise n miscommunication but thats par for the course.

And here I sit. The day after. I didn’t sleep a lot yesterday. Spent the eve with the babes on the hill, had a nice meal and read before sleep. Woke slow and sluggish this morn. My body aches, but in a good way. A boat makes you younger, stronger, better. The sea heals things. Clears the head. Invigorates the body.

Time to go get the laundry and put the boat back together before I fly off in the morn.

And life is grand,

Posted by: nativeiowan | February 5, 2018

2018 v2.02GizoTowN

Once again, hanging at the Gizo Hotel, waiting for a feed of fishnchips. Watching the colourful scene below.

The town is bustling. Monday market. Dozens of canoes are rafted up along the shore.

One thing I find striking is the number of quite young girls with very small babies. I think the population boom is booming with quick stats telling us 35% of the totalpop coming in under 20 yrs of age.

But everyone looks well fed n cared for. Everyone is pretty well dressed and ALL have phones.

And the beat goes on. My fish is here so pardon me while I make happy noises…

Posted by: nativeiowan | February 3, 2018

2018 v2.01GIZO

Hanging in the land of sea and air and dark-skinned smiles… It is very good.

Sunday morn here. Kinda slow n quiet. I spent the night at San Bis. Slept in a mossy net, under a leaf roof in the rain. With the sea gurgling under my house. It was very, very nice.

Got up and buzz’d over here to do some cleaning on ICE. All done, got coffee n music going. My new fan does not make more noise than the stereo. Kinda nice.

Spent the last few days chasing a phantom electrical fault. The answer ended up pretty simple… we went and got the guy that jury rigged it in the first instance. All is well now. I am very pleased.

We plan to take her out this afternoon and sea-trial a bit. If all well we will pull ropes n steam north to the Arnavons tomorrow.

The sky is slate-blue. It is hot n humid out. I run an aircon onboard ICE so below decks is always very pleasant. Not else in being uncomfortable if you have the means to chill thing out.

Some picts of the week…

Dawnie n I having lunch at the Gizo Hotel…

Watching the Blues Brothers at San Bis…

And life is good…

Except for the funkadelic fuel system onboard ICE…

Posted by: nativeiowan | January 30, 2018

2018 v1.1bigmoon

They tell me a big- arsed moon rises tomorrow.

Tonight’s moon. Shines bright behind the clouds. I sit here on the deck of beautiful bungalow 4.

Tomorrow will be the big arsed moon…

The sea whispers as the breeze chills.

The weather has been rough n destructive.

Tonight is calm.

Great to be back on the water.

Posted by: nativeiowan | January 30, 2018

2018 v1.030th

I sit out side of Henderson Field domestic terminal. I just checked in for my flight to Gizo. Got an hour plus before we fly.

My gandgorgeous G.G. Came to drop me off. Insisted she get dressed up (including lipstick) thinking that if she was ready she might get to travel with me.

I got lucky. She stayed. Part Munda n Isabel n Laura n Vela n Greek n German-English-Irish. She is dangerously smart, manipulative n demanding. And used to getting way. It is a flash of will when she n I are alone.

I sit out at the ” what used to be” leaf Haus. A couple Guale’ guys sit idle. They chatter in language. I unobtrusively glide In and sit.

It’s obvious the 3 snotty nosed kids climbing moving and playing belong to the big guy with the beard. The clean shaven guy with a betel red mouth alternately pays attention and dozes off. He had work boots on so I guess he works here.

A squall just came in with force.

I leave my bench And move over to the Guale’ side of the Haus.

“Runaway firstaem” I say. Everyone laughs.

I hide behind the carved post…

I have top quality rain jacket with me but this is too much fun.

It’s amazing how the rain changes the landscape. I moment ago I was going to write about the heat n humidity n fetid smells fermenting all about.

After all my years n all my scars n joy n hassles n pain, the Solos is still a magnificent place. I hit the tarmac here 37 years and 29 days ago. My 38th year associated with this sublime yet accosting land.

I just invited myself into a family gathering in a public place. The kids are dirty and each sport a spectacular “numba leven”. Remember numba leven?

But they are healthy n happy. I do hear that deep bronchial rasp that comes from living in a cook house. In fact I can smell the cook house on them.

A combination of woodsmoke boiled fish n tobacco.

The kids are fascinated yet fearful of me. I am dressed for the tropics and half my body-art is visible. I enjoy how people sneak peeks at you when you are ink’d. When in reality I am more than happy to show off n discuss my ink. I never fail to comment others’ body-art.

Rain has slacked so I wander inside. As I take my leave from the Guale’ family I say “by mi go firstaem, tangiotumas”.

I slide in, take a pew in the back.

I have a Choiseul gathering behind me. I catch a bit of the conversation. They are not talking about me, I can tell that much.

A new family moves in and sits in front of me. A beautiful blond haired lagoon baby stares seriously at me. I smile back. Her expression does not change.

Just found this…

Posted by: nativeiowan | January 26, 2018

2018 v1.intheislands

The rain is dancing upon the earth. The horizon is very close. The sky is cloudy, opaque. Miles Davis plays as I write. Insects are biting.

I remember in my PSS days, when returning to school at the begin of every year. Thats when the weather kicked up and it rained, and rained.

I recall being in places like Gizo or Honiara or Buala when it rained and rained… and rained… and rained…

Gizo harbour blood-red with the clay-soil run off. Once in Honiara, the water running through the entry/ reception of the old Mendana hotel.

Here we see road-side gutters lined with plastics flushed from the hills. This marks how flooded the road was earlier, like high tide flotsam n jetsam…. 

I am happy to report that the LDC status of Solomon Islands is in good hands.

The roads are a mess. It takes well over an hour to travel from the airport to Honiara CBD. The stretch from SDA church, Kukum, to Central Hospital is an easy 20 minutes. Rove to CBSI is 20 minutes in the morn, and 30 minutes at 5pm.

Part of the “problem” is new road works…

The bridge over the Mataniko now offers dual, two-way, traffic…

But the roads leading either direction are so pot-holed, congested, slow and snarled that you can easily shift gears in this lil-stretch. Then gat back in line…

I kinda assume that the new bridge and the new big roundabout will eventually help. The single coastal road syndrome we are in can never be solved. Add to this the fact that a shit-load (it’s a technical term/ I can’t find the actual number) of cars, new and used, are imported to the country annually.

The roads are simply overwhelmed… 

In many ways I am perplexed by the overall volume of vehicles. There are hundreds of taxis and buses. I assume they do a booming trade, especially in the rain.

This shows the bus stop outside the Central Market place, Point Cruz. The crowd is thick. A few hundred people in all waiting for “the next bus”.

I was moving very slowly.

So why all the vehicles?

On the roads there are stacks of old carcasses that have been stripped and recycled.

As my ol buddy Willis used to say, “…there are no wrecking yards in the Solos, only a taxi fleet”.

People spend a lot of money on vehicles, road transport in general. The traffic jams attest to the overload.

One funny thing… not many scooters here. Not like Asia. In Asia, rain or shine the scooters are out. Mom, Dad, the 3 kids n the dog all out for a ride on two wheels.

I think this transport conundrum is akin to the “cell phone dilemma”…

1) We are in a Nation that is categorised as an LDC.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Least_Developed_Countries.

Average income in Solos is higher than I thought… something like $1500.00USD per annum. A bit over $100.00USD per month.

2) Incomes gained are spent. There are few with savings, or investments. All income is disposable as far as I can see.

3) And much is spent on nonessential items such as phones and transport.

I am told that taxis in town charge $10.00SBD per K.

A single taxi ride can be an appreciable amount of one’s monthly income.

What do I know?

I know the domestic staff here in our gig get around $800.00SBD a fortnight.

I know the legal minimum wage is $4.00SBD (55cUS) per hour. 40 hour week = $160.00SBD gross.

I know that this is still a very cool place and I do enjoy returning.

I know that most folks I see, wave at, make eye contact with all appear happy and healthy.

I know that cities, almost all (but not all) cities suck the wazzzulie. And Honiara is not a good barometer for the country as a whole.

I know I shall be in Gizo and out sailing soon so my sense of humour will liven up.

I know that my grand-babies girls are gorgeous…
More later

Posted by: nativeiowan | January 14, 2018

2018 v1.4sundaycomingdown

Two weeks of this new year are behind us. Summer in Queensland is upon us. The start of the 2018 school year approaches. My feet are itching for some travels.

My last overseas trip was to the US in August. I have been earthbound for too long.

But Qland is a good place to be. 2018-01-12 19.03.08

Its 11am on a blistering hot Sunday. 36c / 96f with a searing sun. I am watching the National Football League playoffs between the Titans and the Patriots. Grace and Mendoza took off churchifying, Angelo is dismantling a cheap out-door shade/ gazebo affair, Kuma is panting on the verandah.

So its “back to work time”… boys back to school, me back to  travels.

What does 2018 hold… First off i need to shoot to the Solomons for a few weeks. Once I get the boys in school I will shoot to the solos, spend a week in Honiara doing bizzyness, then run to Gizo to play on ICE… ice off klbga

My ol-mate Willis recently went and did a clean up on ICE. The bottom is now clean, the systems are all checked out. I plan to go spend some time actually sailing.

ICE is a peculiar vessel. A one-off build as a luxury expedition boat for a crazed mariner/ adventurer and the love of his life. It is super well-built. When it was developed ICE was meant to sail to Antarctica and “winter”, or freeze-in. That never happened. A combination of confusions and misunderstanding led to the crazed individual falling for another, much younger gal. The fantasy of Antartica and the big-freeze fell through. And I bought ICE.

I have had it for almost 2 years and have not done much with it but keep it running. And move it from Fiji to New Cal to Gizo…

Maybe this year will be my time for some adventures onboard ICE.

The hot weather, the rain and humidity, all is goo for my garden…2018-01-12 15.20.24I never cease to marvel at the colours of mother-nature’s pallet…2018-01-12 15.20.372018-01-12 15.20.44 HDR2018-01-12 15.20.562018-01-12 15.21.00Of course, the roses are my favourites…2018-01-12 15.21.192018-01-12 15.21.272018-01-12 15.21.362018-01-12 15.21.482018-01-12 15.21.542018-01-12 15.22.012018-01-12 15.22.082018-01-12 15.22.152018-01-12 15.22.22

 

Posted by: nativeiowan | January 8, 2018

2018 v1.03moonlessnight

I sit on the verge of pool n yard and play land. Almost 8pm. It is pitch black out. The night is not noise-less, but it is quiet.

Have not looked at my various quick-picts for a while. Lets see…

It do look like fun…

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2017-12-26 17.40.46-12017-12-29 18.04.462017-12-31 19.32.572017-12-29 22.04.182017-12-31 19.33.54

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