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June 16, 2000

Tarawa to Solomon Islands voyage, Update #17

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Fri, 16 Jun 2000 23:58:54 -0700
Day 18
Wind ESE-SE 5-10 knots
Heading 180-200 Magnetic
Latitude: 07 degs 52.55' South
Longitude: 161 degs 36.97' East

The bullish southerly gracefully backed around to an ESEasterly by the call of business yesterday, allowing us to recompose and dig a few miles south. The real test of whether we make it around the northern tip of Malaita into the safe-haven of Auki or get swept north west by the current and wind that is slowly veering again to SE as I write will be decided in the next 24 hrs. From our most recent GPS fix we have to achieve 22 miles south and 58 west to avoid the latter scenario which would severely weaken April's and my chances of making it into Cairns, Australia in August: that's a ratio of 3 to 1. At the moment we seem to be on target, hard on the legs though it is proving to be, and dependent to some degree on the wind not veering to the south much more. If we get another southerly I think we're in trouble. The only other recourse for action available to us to tip the balance in our favour are the oars. With one pedaling and one rowing, we'd make quite a sight hoving into view of Auki. The locals wouldn't know what to make of us I'm sure, assume we're some kind of covert war canoe sent by their enemies and send out their best men to make light work of us. David Stanley writing in the Lonely Planet guide book for the Solomon's describes the Malaitans as 'cantankerous', 'wary of outsiders' and having until the beginning of this century 'regularly cooked and eaten shipwrecked sailors'. Sounds a charming place. He also adds (tongue in cheek) that it's the 'world's best location to study malaria' (And yes - to both our mothers - we have remembered to start our Malaria courses you'll be pleased to hear.)

1800hrs(local) 0600GMT: land sighted. Thought for a minute 'twas another low-lying off-white cloud hugging the horizon, but there's something about 'feeling' land. You just know from your gut when you see the real thing. However, to avoid looking like a complete berk to the rest of the crew I invested a couple of minutes squinting at it from a few different angles before letting rip with the obligatory "Land Ahoy!!" to share the good news.

A nip of the Glenlivet might be in order tonight to fortify the legs for the final push.

Heard a strange scratching sound from the back of the compartment this afternoon. Thinking it might be the 'Ship's rat' snaffling the M+M's, we opened the watertight bulkhead to investigate... and guess what we found?

Click here to find out: (MPG-120K video clip)

Jason & Chris,
The Moksha motors

Posted on June 16, 2000 3:16 AM