Tuesday, December 22, 2009

South Pacific Survey 27th June 1951

Spent the day at Satapuala in testing the aircraft to ensure servicability and getting on with the blasting of coral heads. So far there are still not many volunteers for this job of cracking coral.

Even after blasting there are not many fish about the surface, but the natives come out in their canoes and spend a lot of time diving in the vicinity and generally getting in everyone's way.

Had a rather bad gelignite headache today and it was a pleasure to stop work and go home.

Pritchard and self kept the dinner appointment and it proved to be a relatively interesting evening. Some of the sisters from the hospital were also invited and they were very keen to see us and to talk. It is not a lot of pleasure for the nurses up here where there is an almost minus population of eligible batchelors.

Monday, December 21, 2009

South Pacific Survey 26th June 1951

Another morning wasted and a visit was made to the Deputy High Commissioner's Office to find out a few facts about the island. Acquired the Island Territory Annual Report. Saw Mr Wriggle and asked him to prepare for me a list of goods that will stand air freight, so that in event of light loadings, the aircraft can be laden.

Serious consideration should be given to a suitable power plant or system to make one of the holds a refrigerated one in an endeavour to carry perishable goods to this end of the world.

Had a yarn to the NAC captain, who is very worried about the impact of TEAL on this route His opinion is that it is unnecessary to establish a flying boat route at all. To bed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

South Pacific Survey 25th June 1951

The morning was spent in moving the marker lines and this entailed quite an amount of swimming by self and finally the lines became so tangled that they had to be brought ashore, too many experts. During the afternoon the Catalina was slipped from moorings and a taxi test done to check engines, which are still quite good.

On the way home to Apia we deviated and climbed up the south coast road, and even the slight rise in altitude brought the cooling change in temperature. The change also showed up on the coconut palm which will not live above a certain altitude, ie 400 ft. There were plenty of banana and cocoa plantations. The banana being grown to provide the necessary shelter for the cocoa treee in it's early stages. After the banana has fully produced and is cut down, the cocoa tree stands on it's own.

During the evening the party was invited to hear the broadcast made by Broodie, Prichard and Silcock. I felt it was rather corny and said so, and that there were too many controversial issues to be raised satisfactorily and that it was too technical for the average person.

They decided to re-organise the program and asked if I would join in, as if I did not, it would be a trifle disjointed. This was agreed to and though it was still an unprepared effort, it was an infinitely better programme than the previous one.

editors note: I can only assume this is a tape recorded message from the expedition, to be relayed to NZ, to play on the NZ radio.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

South Pacific Survey 25th June 1951

Once more out to Satapuala to get on with the job, not a pleasant day but makes little difference with the rain, bathing togs being the order of the day. Our problem is to keep our fuses dry for the gelignite. Jacko came with us for a while and when it came to the swimming parts, he folded up badly, not too fit.

It rained most of the morning and we got rid of two cases of explosives in spite of the rain. Got some nice fish also rather pretty ones, magnificent colouring of some of them and the oddest shapes too. The afternoon was reasonably fine and we blasted some more coral.

On returning home tonight Dr Milne rang to invite me to dinner on Thursday and gave me the latest information regarding the New Zealand case. Official advice from Wellington forbidding the use of our Catalina to go down and have a look, but intimating that the Lauthala Bay RNZAF Commanding Officer may use his discretion and do what we proposed to do.

The harbour master has asked for his pilot boat back again so that he can go to New Zealand and take with him a doctor from here. They are now asking a cockle shell of a launch to do 300 miles there and 300 miles back, it is beyond my comprehension.

The case is one for the man on the spot who is capable of doing the job using his brains and facilities to the best advantage. Very poor effort indeed and I'd question the rightness of the decision to send the pilot boat.

Monday, December 14, 2009

South Pacific Survey 24 June 1951

A well deserved day off and feel the need of it too, so the morning is spent in letter writing and of course, idle discussion and line shooting. Dr Milne called also to let me know the latest developments of the New Zealand case, which is not good and there has been no reply to the signal sent requesting the use of my own discretion and to be allowed to fly down there and at least have a look. He naturally is most upset about the whole affair, feeling absolutely tied and letting the poor woman down. However, there is little that can be done by myself if I don't get official approval, the stinkers.

I have often meant to mention the number of lizards which come out at night and prey on the moths, I think I will get some tame ones for Doris and assist her in her campaign.

These little beggars are almost transparent in the light and are very quick, even walking across the ceiling to steal up on and ususpecting moth and gobble it. Slept without mosquito nets for a little while, but there are too many different kinds of insects up here to sleep without one, including these rather silly hornets all through the house.

It is assumed we will be here another 8 to 10 days cleaning up, so did not go anywhere, nor asked to go anywhere by the locals, who to my way of thinking are rather a poor lot. To bed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

South Pacific Survey, 23 June 1951

We decided to work today as well to get the job going and of course still on explosives. Mr Bignall and self being the only two to get on with the job. Very hot and of course at sea on a small launch, the decks too hot to put ones feet on and the gelignite headache again, old Bignall has such a thumper of a head we had to go ashore in the afternoon about 3pm. This 6am to 6pm existence is helping everyone occupied and though the work is slow we are getting on with it.

Caught or blasted a few more fish today and this pleases the native types. One boat boy got into the water just after we had dropped some explosive which at that stage had not gone off, so we had to go back, stand into danger and fish the fool out.

Very weary and returned to this clapped out, broken down boarding house. Dr Milne again phoned to say they had included me in a signal saying the Catalinas from Lauthala Bay and Samoa were not available and to send a ship. There are no ships available here, and he asked me what did I think. I said to get authority for us to go and have a look, and if suitable, we would land. He, together with the Deputy High Commissioner have done this and so far no reply has been recieved. To Bed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

South Pacific Survey, 22 June 1951

Using explosives again all day and this gelignite gives one quite a solid headache combined with the effect of the sun's heat on a small launch.

However much of our time is spent investigating and marking and I am the diver equipped with water visor, ear plugs and flippers on the feet, which make it a relatively easy and pleasant task if it were not for the thought of the odd shark. There are also small "mite" fish here that swim in schools which can make a nice job of one too.

Then there is the fish which are tossed out which have a large spike hidden alongside the tail which would give a very nasty slash. So the natural and the man-made hazards of gelignite make for quite an interesting set-up. Sometimes when a big head is encountered, I have a large length of fuse fitted to the packet of gelignite and then swim down, place the packet on the head and then swim for the boat, it burns slowly and gives ample time to get clear.

Not so many fish, but these natives are very keen to get the gelignite to go fishing on their own account.

Mr Milne in touch again about the Catalina in general this set-up[ is decidedly poor in view of what Island Territories have promised these people. We have promised support provided it is made official, and it has to come from the types in Wellington who have no perspective.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

South Pacific Survey, 21 June 1951

Most of the morning was spent in idle chatter not getting very much done, just preparing for some work in the afternoon. Had lunch with the Silcocks, some fish the boys had caught the day previously and very nice too.

Mr Bignall and I have formed the explosives party, most of the others keeping clear of the job. We went down to the area to be blasted, dropped some markers(coconut with the husk still on it and they float quite well) on top of the coral heads, then prepared some boxes of gelignite, then over the side.

The natives here believe in the effect of gelly on the fish and were over the side in a flash to retrieve what they can. One fish I saw on the bottom was covered with spines like a porcupine and I got a native to bring him up. On getting it aboard the launch it blew itself up until it was completely like a ball covered with these spikes and two large eyes just about the size of a human's.

Then there was another fish like a box and just as hard. Oblong, quite hard, with the head and tail flared into the box-brown in colour. There were many other delightfully coloured fish that looked better in the water, rather than out. We went along to the RSA Club and had a game of billiards and then off to bed.