Days 1,150–1,153: Piercing The Gloom

Fri 24.02.12 – Mon 27.02.12:

So I went from the Papuan Chief to the Pacific Pearl to the Southern Pearl to the Southern Lily 2 to the Sea Princess to the Scarlett Lucy: there are indeed a lot of ‘S’ n ‘P’s in the South Pacific.

I’ll be on the Scarlett Lucy now for the next month. At the start of The Odyssey Expedition it would be an inconceivable amount of time to spend just visiting one country (I managed to visit 50 countries in one month back in April/May 2009!). I guess it’s a bit like the way that time goes slower as you near the event horizon of a black hole. But look at it is this way: Nauru will be the last of the South Pacific nations I need to visit. Palau and Micronesia are in the Northern Hemisphere.

We left Brisbane just before midday on Friday 24 February. Thick blobs of rain where lashing down and the whole of Queensland seemed enshrouded in a layer of thick fog – the land of the dead, perhaps. Sailing through foggy waters is nothing something I’ve experienced too much of in my travels, but there is something rather glorious about the piercing the gloom – the sense of mystery, perhaps, mixed with a sense of foreboding engrained by watching too many horror films.

For the first few nights the sea was rough. The bed in my cabin swings slightly from side to side to compensate, but it doesn’t swing quite enough and so every sway of the ship is accompanied by a CLANG! as metal hits metal. It’s a little like sleeping on top of a bell. Good job I can sleep anywhere, eh?

Happily enough, the further we travelled from Australia, the better the weather and the calmer the sea. At the moment it’s blue skies in every direction and our little patch of the Pacific Ocean is as calm as a duckpond. We’re heading up to Noro on the island of New Georgia in the Western Province of The Solomon Islands. We’ll only be there for a few short hours while the Lucy drops off some empty containers for the local cannery to stuff full of tuna in time for our return to Noro sometime after Honiara, Tawara (Kiribati) and Nauru. Quite a canny system, if you think about it. Canny? Geddit? Heh.

The crew are a most excellent bunch (they always are!). The majority (including the captain) are from Fiji, there’s a couple from The Solomons and one or two are from Indonesia. Most of them have worked on the Southern Pearl before (The Pearl is also a Neptune ship), so they all know the guys I was with on my last trip to Kiribati.

Tomorrow is my birthday and will be spent completely at sea. We’re planning to have a couple of beers and (if I’m lucky) cooky will make me a cake. One way or another this will be the last of my birthday’s spent on The Odyssey Expedition. When I started this insane mission, I was 29. When I finish it I’ll be 33. Ygads!

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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