Days M175-180 Ships That Pass In The Night

Tue 20.03.12-Sun 25.03.12: We’ve got a new captain, Captain Bob, originally from North Liverpool. Old guy, smokes like a chimney. I’m three floors down and I can smell it through the air conditioning. For some reason, Captain Bob supports Man United. Well, to be fair he did leave Liverpool when he was five and back in his day Manchester United were about as successful as a rapper with a lisp, so at least you can’t accuse him of being a glory-hunter. With a flurry of activity that seemed almost impolite for somewhere as laid back as the South Pacific, the loading operation finished a day early, on the evening of the 20th. This means that there is a very good chance that I’ll be getting into Brisbane – you guessed it – just BEFORE the Cap Serrat is due to depart. I’ll probably see it in…

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Days M171-174: An Express Elevator to Hell!

Fri 16.03.12 - Mon 19.03.12 We left Nauru at around 7pm, and I was disappointed that customs didn’t come back on board before we set sail. I would have liked a Nauru stamp in my passport, but hey-ho. There’s a number of countries that I haven’t got entry or exit stamps for, including every country in the EU, so it’s not something that keeps me awake at night. As we drew our course west towards the setting sun I looked back over Nauru. There can be no doubt that this country, like so many others in the world, would have been better off if there were no natural resources for The West to plunder. 100 years of high-grade phosphate mining and nothing, NOTHING to show for it... except a ruined interior, periods of man-made drought and tons of scrap metal littering the countryside. This is the…

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Days M156-161: SolBrew For The Soul

Thu 01.03.12 – Tue 06.03.12: We arrived in Honiara a at 8pm, a little later than expected, and thanks to our proximity to the equator, it was already dark. I headed over to the King Solomon hotel to try and contact my CouchSurf chum Thomas from last time I was here, but my email had no reply and his phone was off or disconnected. There’s a good chance that he’s left The Solomons for green pastures. I had a quick chat with Mandy – she’s trying her best to organise my passage on the Cap Serrat – a Hamburg Sud cargo ship which leaves Brisbane on March 25 bound for Taiwan… arriving just in time for me to (possibly) jump on the Mariana Express Ship that leaves April 8 bound for nations 196 and 197: Micronesia and Palau. This year, if I manage to get to…

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Day M155: I’ve Got Something To Say About Tuna…

Wed 29.02.12: It was around 1600 on the 29th that we arrived in the town of Noro on the island of New Georgia in the Western Province of The Solomon Islands. It was about an hour before were able to disembark, and I set off with Fijian Engineer Peni and Solomon Islander Deck Cadet Kent for a stroll around the town. Noro is famous (if that’s the right word) for being the home of The Solomon Islands’ tuna cannery. Not be confused with a tuna canary, which is (probably) a kind of flying fish. Unfortunately (again, if that’s the right word) the cannery was a bit out of town, a good 35 minute walk, and as the sun was setting we thought better of going for a spot inspection. You don’t need me to tell you that tuna is one of the most overfished fish is…

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Day M26: The Wake-Up Call

23.10.11: Thomas woke me up some time after ten to tell me that he was going out with Patti for a bit. I dragged myself out of bed and marvelled at how wonderful the world is when one goes CouchSurfing, stumbled into the shower and held on for dear life – as far as my sense of equilibrium was concerned, I was still at sea. Downing half a keg of beer last night probably didn’t help. I was still shaking the cobwebs out of my pickled brain when Tom and Patti returned looking irritatingly fresh-faced and wholesome. I was feeling lower than a rat that ratted on his pals and that steady tide of nausea that accompanies an epic hangover was starting to kick in. Fresh air was what I needed, but first, the internet! I hadn’t managed to get online since I accidentally broke Stan’s…

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Day M25: The Solomon Islands

22.10.11: The Papuan Chief ploughed a course through Iron Bottom Sound: the watery graveyard of hundreds – if not thousands - of ships, aircrafts and soldiers killed in the Pacific War between Japan and America. Our target was Guadalcanal – the main island of the Solomons. On the bridge the shipping chart marked off all of the wreck sites... and there were many. There’s a bit in Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line in which the American troops, armed to the teeth, are marching through long grass and a native Solomon Islander glides past them as if they were never there. That image has stuck in my head for years. We arrived in Honiara on Saturday afternoon. By the time the ship had been pulled alongside and the usual formalities had been worked out, it was 4pm. Captain Santos had given me a Papuan Chief ID…

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