Thursday, January 14, 2010

Release Date 12/26/2009

I have been paddling more and more, but not releasing a bottle most times because of laziness, and the lack of a good supply of garbage bottles.

Kate and I did get out on Boxing Day. We saw a large ship in the harbor that was picking-up a bunch of logs. They just seemed to toss the logs on the ship and tie them all together. These must have been beautiful trees all tropical hardwood.

We did a lot of work fixing-up Kate’s office over the holidays, and some of it was carpentry. It is funny when you go to the lumber yard and buy a 2x4 or a plank. All they have is beautiful hardwood, it isn’t all that expensive, and there is no other option. It makes me sad to think of all the trees that are cut down, and at the same time I am thinking about filling my luggage with boards the next time I go back to NYC for work.

The extremely hard wood, coupled with very crappy and cheap nails makes pounding a nail into a board a very difficult job. I resorted to pre-drilling for a lot of it, or went through 4 or 5 nails for every one that got pounded in.

On 12/26 we went out to Edmago island. We wanted to do some snorkeling, but it was too late by the time we got out there. We found a bunch of dead fire coral on the beach, so if we do go snorkeling here, we are going to have to be very careful. We now have a pile of beautiful blue dried coral. Unfortunately it fades when dry, but when it is wet it looks really nice.

My attempts at fishing have been met with continued failure. We come across these schools of voracious tuna feeding. When we are in the motor boat we have done pretty well catching them, but I can’t seem t o get them in my kayak. Part of the problem is that they move so fast.

When I see them jump I guess they are moving at 20 miles an hour. While they are feeding they stay in one place. I have had to paddle as fast as I can for 10 or 15 minutes to get to them, then I usually get one or two passes through them before they stop feeding and take off.

I tried spearfishing one day, but that didn’t go so well either. The day I went the current was very strong like 2 or 3 knots. It was too dangerous to try and drift since the boat moved so fast in the current and the wind. I would go down for a minute, then have to chase it for a long time to catch-up to it. Instead I dove down and tied my kayak to a large rock with my toe rope. Then I would swim for 10 or 15 minutes as hard as I could to just 20 or 30 yards upcurrent to make a dive.

At one point I did see a fairly large fish, and I dove down to check him out, but as soon as he saw me the fish headed up toward me (this is not normal behavior, and can be a bit disconcerting – the hunter becomes the hunted and all that) When he got closer I realized why, it was a remora!

Remora have a large suction cup on the top of their head, and they attach themselves to other large animals, usually sharks, and get a free ride. This annoying fish bothered me for the whole rest of the time. He kept getting closer and closer, and looking at my soft white underbelly. Fortunately he didn’t attach himself to me, or I would have gotten and industrial sized hicky…

One other day I did go scuba diving with an outfitter, Scuba Ventures. This was really nice. They took us to a great place that had tons of fish. I saw lots of large mackerel and barracuda. I even saw a huge grouper on the reef. The local chief who controls this area forbids fishing there, and it is too far away, so I won’t be going back with my speargun, but it was nice to see what might be possible.

I included some pictures of them trying to move Kate’s storage container. The little forklift wasn’t quite strongpella enough so we had to empty the container first, and even then it could only lift it about 6 inches up in the air. See if you can see the tires in the pictures, when the guy lifts it, the tires go almost all the way flat because of the weight.

One day I saw a beautiful rainbow at the end of the day as I was coming in. You will have to squint to see it in the picture.

The sky here is often just incredible in the late afternoons. The air is very clear, and there are these great colors that often peak through the clouds. It is most spectacular when it is a bit overcast. In the same view of the horizon you can see clear blue sky, 45 degrees in one direction it will be almost black because of a storm, in the middle all the other possible shades. I have taken pictures, which actually look pretty good, but nothing compared to seeing it live. I have seen this type of sky at some time on almost every day I go out. There are a lot of late afternoon storms, and when you can see the entire horizon there is almost one somewhere off in the distance.

On 1/10/2010 I went for a 4 hour paddle by myself. I am slowly trying to get back in shape, I think I’m getting used to the heat. I went out past the Lissieng resort almost to Manne Island. I want to do a trip out through Albatross passage to the other side of New Ireland. In 2 hours I got most of the way there, so I could easily do a day trip if I left in the morning.

On the way back I found a whole bunch of grapefruit someone had dumped in the water. This was similar to the huge orange slick we found one day off of Sandy Hook in NYC. They were edible, but really tough and not very juicy.

On this same trip I also came across a small sea bird standing on a floating coconut. It was like he was just taking a rest bobbing up and down on the waves. He seemed perfectly content, and didn’t pay any attention to me.

I would have to stay overnight, but someday I would like to get all the way to the Mite Island where Kate got our dog Mitey. I need to go past Manne Island, and through the Albatross Passage. I’m wondering if there might be heavy currents in this pass since it is pretty narrow between two large islands.

The chart doesn’t show anything, but my charts are from the US Defense department, and I think were originally created for the war. They have things on them about not anchoring or “bottoming a submarine” in the harbor because only the surface has been swept for mines.

I have been spending a bit, but not enough, time going through the Tok Pisin book trying to learn t he language. The most fun thing to do is just leaf through the dictionary, the variety of racist, and funny terms is hilarious. One I saw recently is “longpella pik” longpella means tall or long, almost always used for a person. Pik is pig or pork, but when you put the two together it is what cannibals call human fesh, basically long pork, since a person is taller and thinner than a pig. It is a little funny that a fairly new modern language, it can’t be more than 150 years old has a word for human flesh. It really wasn’t that long ago that they were eating each other, yikes!!!

12/26/2009 Truth breeze and shade are good.

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