Banana Boats

This is a banana boat.
It’s a small fibre glass passenger boat, with about a 60hp outboard motor on it.  They are used to go between islands.  This particular picture is in Buka, where I have been to help with VSAT and ridden on one of these.  I’ve ridden more than a few of these in my time here, it’s as common a mode of travel as a bus in the U.S. might be.
But when you’re on water, there is danger.  Part of my job for the next few weeks is keeper of the water safety equipment.  You’d be really interested in some of these gadgets.  We have GPS’s we have emergency beacons, we have strobe lights, shark bags (these are bags meant to seal in your odors so sharks don’t sense you from afar and come hunting), all kinds of nifty gadgets for safety, packaged in nice bright orange.
I got an email that I’ll paraphrase for the sake of brevity.  My friend Peter and his wife decided to go out to a remote island to encourage local leaders to get involved in Bible translation.  The trip normally requires an overnight on an island, then a 3.5 hour boat ride to the island.  But, on this particular trip, they got lost at sea, and the boat safety equipment came in rather handy.
[quote] After a simple meal of bananas and fish roasted in the coals of a small camp fire we tried to sleep. Fortunately it was a clear night with no rain. Small crabs played with our feet and we dozed off from time to time. At 3:30 am we were alerted by the skipper that it was time to pack up and go. By 4:30 am the five boats were slowly pulling out into Queen Carolla Harbour and the convoy was assembled. We passed Kesa Point by the light of the moon, stars and a few small flashlights. As we met the open ocean I quickly realised it was very important to hold on tightly. One had to pay particular attention to the waves and seeing them in the dark was difficult.
The sea was rough with the wind coming directly from Nissan. The skipper used his skill and experience to dodge and weave a bit for the best ride and highest speed possible given the conditions. Fairly often though he got going a bit too fast and we were airborne at the top of a wave only to come crashing down into the teeth of the next one. One such wave came over the bow washing us good but fortunately nothing was carried overboard. Sometime in the first few hours we lost contact with the convoy and proceeded on as a two boat group.
[Peter pulled out the GPS, found the proper direction, informed the captain, who ran out of fuel, thus using the emergency 25 liters of fuel…]
We arrived on Nissan Island after being on the open ocean for over seven hours instead of the 3.5 hours it should have taken to make the crossing. We came ashore sun burned and sea-sick but overjoyed to be on dry land again. We found out later that the all the boats in our original convoy made it in safely that day – three boats several hours before us and then our two boat group by noon.[/quote]
Adventure always comes unexpectedly.