Left Ocean Island last night, minus Mac and Earl.
Arrived on Monday around noon and found a freighter – SS Komata – loading phosphate from lighters towed about by little tugs which look and sound like toy sterno boats.There are three iron jetties and the phosphate is dropped from the end down a chute into huge baskets on the lighters. The official told us that we are not allowed to take pictures on shore. We had to show our passports for the first time in a long while.
The “ship a day” idea we heard of in Tarawa is quite true, for besides the Komata, the Hoa Moa came in the day we did, the Kenilworth two days later and also the Triana. It reminded me of NY Harbor with all the noise and loadings going on. Watching the business was most interesting.
We met lots of people on shore, notably the Joe Whites and Jim Goodfellow. They were all swell to us, having a party everyday and giving us meals and showers. We could buy all the beer we wanted but the Commission people are allowed one quart per day. It really seemed damn good to get a little civilization again,
Ocean Island ships, on average, 35,000 tons of phosphate. Naura a little more.
I heard about the BP Co’s boat, Triona, coming in on Thursday, and in my lousy frame of mind and a few beers downed, went to Mr·Bridges, the Commissioner, with Mac and reserved a stateroom for Auckland. But then Oakes showed me how wrong I was to leave the Yankee here and I changed my mind. Mac cancelled my reservation the next morning, but kept his.
The Skipper got wind of this affair, blamed Mac for a lot of the grousing on board and told him that he had better leave. It was really a “dishonorable discharge.” Maybe Mac deserved it in the Skipper’s mind, but I don’t think so. He groused a hell of a lot, but he always laughed when he did it. He was in poor condition with his skin and in general was disgusted with the whole affair. I like Mac a lot and am sorry to see him go, but it’s best for him as he wasn’t having any fun and his skin condition was getting no better. He pulled a fast one by signing on the Komata as purser to Auckland and pays ten pounds and gets paid 1 shilling.
When Earl heard Mac was leaving and before Mac got on the Komata he wired home for permission to leave also. He got it and got our cabin on the Triana to Melbourne. They plan to meet on a Matson boat, but I doubt whether connections can be made. I shipped a whole crate of stuff aboard the Triana as Earl’s personal luggage. I was too late for regular shipment.
Went aboard the Kenilworth, a twenty-two year·old tub, and looked her over. She is one of the last boats whose coal is hand-stoked. Her Skipper, Captain Storm, had a lot of interesting tales about her. He has been on her nine years and over in a typhoon he couldn’t bring her into the wind by ninety degrees and couldn’t put her off. She was blown sideways 146 miles in twenty-four hours. Another time she ran aground in the Philippines and you could almost walk around her on the reef. It cost 8ooo pounds to get her off in eight minutes and she didn’t even leak.
Mr Lorraine was a chief engineer on a Bank Line boat which towed one of its sister-ships 5000 miles to Chile. They almost ran out of coal so they dropped their tow fifty miles off Tahiti and went to Papeete for a weekend, then continued to Chile.
Got a telegram from Mother tonight stating “Circumstances prevent my meeting you. Suggest you come home without undue delay. Matson ship leaves Sydney July 24th. See my air letter today. All well. Love, Mother”
This was a definite surprise to me. It presents many difficulties which will have to be ironed out before the Yankee leaves Vanikoro. First of all, we are ten days late on our schedule. I doubt whether the Yankee could make up much time in the Solomons and that means our getting to Port Moresby around the 22nd, too late for me to get the Matson boat. We will also be late at Tulagi, my last chance, as far as I know, to grab a steamer in time for Sydney.
Vanikoro connections are probably poor, but there is evidently quite a lumber camp there and there might be a few boats out. Tulagi might be cutting things fine, but maybe that is my best bet. I shall have to get definite information at Vanikoro. Too bad the message did not come through before Ocean Island. Everything would be settled. Nobody there could give me any information about PM – I now think that that port is out of the questions.It remains between Vanikoro and Tulagi, with the latter having the edge until I know differently.