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    Re: The mystery of the Queensland version of the Marie Celeste.
    From: Gary LaPook
    Date: 2007 May 05, 15:10 -0700

    Gary wrote:
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your wonderfully detailed
    discription of Lord Howe island. I'm more fired up than ever for going
    As for Bora Bora, I sailed there 4 times between 1990 and 2005.  It is
    a beautiful island and we really liked it in 1990 but the charm has
    gone away. Probably the same everywhere. More and more hotels, and
    then cruise ships started going there. Now the locals won't open their
    resturants and shops unless a cruise ship is at anchor. Too much
    tourism and easy money has distroyed the place. Huahine, about 40 NM
    east of Bora Bora, is still laid back but who knows for how long. We
    have decided to look for greener pastures.
    On May 5, 2:18 pm, "PF ."  wrote:
    >  Gary wrote:
    > > ...
    > > Tell me about Lord Howe island. I recently became interested in it after rereading
    > > Chichester's book "Seaplane Solo." I found some photos of Lord Howe on line and it
    > > looks like a very nice place to visit. I am planning to visit New Zealand 
    sometime and was > thinking of a side trip to Lord Howe. Is it really this 
    > Its even more beautiful. The bay in the foreground of your pic is
    > known as Neds Beach.
    > Its famous for the fish feeding that goes on every afternoon. As a
    > result it is a "fish infested sea" (from Homer, who was referring to
    > the Mediterranean of more than 3000 years ago). Usually as one glides
    > into an underwater coral garden, almost anywhere, the fish of many
    > colours, shapes, and sizes discreetly move away, hide, remember urgent
    > appointments elsewhere. We must look a strange sight to them. But at
    > Neds they move towards you. As you turn to scan the underwater
    > horizon, keeping an eye out for unmentionables, you see that there's a
    > whole crowd of so many very different reef fish following hopefully.
    > As I walked up the hill from Neds and away (had a yacht to catch)
    > people were coming in from all directions for the daily spectacle
    > taking place a little later on. Its great family fun, the kiddies lie
    > in the water and watch the feeding through their goggles. Occasionally
    > their parents are disconcerted to notice that among the fish lining up
    > are sharks as big or bigger than their children, and just a short
    > lunge (lunch?) away.
    > In the lagoon where we were moored the water was clear and the bottom
    > mostly sand, so that even at night we could easily watch sharks
    > circling about our boat. In the morning another one turned up; only a
    > small chap, probably a reef shark, with three much smaller fish flying
    > in formation above his starboard fin.
    > The permanent population of Lord Howe is about 280. There is scarcely
    > even a small town as the buildings are mostly hidden by foliage from
    > the few roads and there is almost no 'down-town' - just three small
    > shops widely spaced. The main industry these days is tourism and the
    > locals drive the few vehicles, mostly mini-buses for shuttling the
    > tourists to and from the airport which was across the lagoon from us.
    > The planes came in low, seemingly just above our mast. The tourists
    > themselves wobble about on bicycles with little number plates bearing
    > the names of their accommodation, eg; "Leanda Lai 17". They even have
    > tricycles for adults unfamiliar with the skills of two wheels. The
    > bicycles have a basket on the handlebars filled, typically, with
    > flippers and snorkel. Although this must have been their peak period
    > and the island small, the place was not crowded - us tourists were
    > constantly on the verge of greeting each other along the bushy roads,
    > as one does when crossing tracks out in a national park, for example.
    > I was impressed that the locals always seemed to have a cheery wave
    > for what must seem like an endless succession of total strangers as
    > they slowly (speed limit 25 km/hr) made their way around. They all
    > seemed to be called Snick or Wilson and frequently, one would imagine,
    > both. It is a low key yet expensive place to visit by plane, lodge,
    > and restaurant. Bali would almost certainly be cheaper. For us it was
    > not expensive as we carried our own food, beds and transport; we just
    > had the mooring fees and local tax to pay.
    > Our skipper first visited Lord Howe as a youngster, by ex-WWII
    > flying-boat taking off from Rose Bay in Sydney and landing in the
    > lagoon. He says those holidays were like an excerpt from "Lord of the
    > Flies", running wild with the local boys in the bush at either end of
    > the island, hunting down and killing wild pigs with rocks. However,
    > visiting by sailing boat was an ambition that had to be deferred for
    > about 35 years. Back then his father had an ocean racing yacht. His
    > brother must have been a few years older, as Robert was only 13. The
    > two of them, in the school holidays, would wait for a southerly, which
    > often means a storm, and set out for Lord Howe. Inevitably they'd
    > break something; once it was the mast, and end up at Port Stephens.
    > Probably just as well; I imagine the provisioning, let alone their
    > navigational capacities, left much room for improvement.
    > On the morning we approached the island the day came grey and heavily
    > overcast. We knew that Lord Howe's mountain tops could be seen from at
    > least 50 nautical miles (nm). We were all on the lookout, but there
    > was nothing to see but low cloud. 50, 40, 30 nm and still nothing.
    > Remko tried calling the island on our radio. No response. 20, 10 nm;
    > it was a worry. Rechecked the waypoint entered into the GPS. It had to
    > be just in front of us, but it wasn't.
    > Then through the mist one side of Mount Gower coyly revealed itself,
    > like a leg provocatively exposed around a curtain. Closer and the
    > whole island opened up on either side of us. We caught a fish,
    > coloured a brilliant and improbable yellow that faded with death to a
    > dull and mottled blue. Robert said it was a Dolphin Fish, or, in
    > Hawaii, a Mahi Mahi. The island answered the radio and Clive Wilson,
    > who wears many hats apart from Harbour Master, guided us in through
    > the North Passage by radio. Once into the lagoon he told us to
    > "proceed on 120 Magnetic" then a little later "at your best speed"
    > (ie; get a move on) and so we did, nervously watching the depth,
    > consistently 2.6 metres, the bottom clear sand, the water beautifully
    > clear. On one side the surf was breaking on the edge of the reef, on
    > the other, beyond the beach, the green island led to the ex-volcanic
    > twin peaks with their heads in the clouds. It reminded me of photos
    > I've seen of places in Polynesia like Bora Bora. We were asked to pick
    > up the mooring and attach two of our "best lines" to the chain, so
    > that we were being held by three solid ropes. The lagoon is fairly
    > exposed, especially to the west and we were rolling about for much of
    > the time there. We'd done the 315 nm from the mainland in 48 hours at
    > an average speed of over 6.5 knots, a particularly fast passage.
    > You can see part of the lagoon on the right-hand side of your pic,
    > with just a glimpse of surf breaking on the reef, seemingly just below
    > Mount Gower.
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