One of the boats that had had such an uncomfortable time of it, a week or so previously, was a German yacht. His bow roller fitting was almost tied in knots and he was having problems leading his anchor gear clear of the boat. Trevor spent a day ashore making a new fitting. By using our own supplies of stainless steel and fastenings, Trevor made a strong if slightly inelegant temporary repair which Toby used all the way to New Zealand. He was delighted with the work, but not sufficiently so as to buy Trevor a beer when we crossed tacks again in Apia!
We stayed for five wonderful days in Suvarov. If the yachts could provide the petrol, John liked nothing better than to take us for fishing trips, or to one of the nearby islands where we could see frigate birds and terns nesting. He loved his atoll and its birds and refused to harm either them or their eggs. He was very proud at the increase in numbers of (lesser) frigate birds, commenting sadly to me that he believes his predecessors used to eat the eggs. He’s working very hard to eradicate rats on the islands (in Tom Neale’s time, there were no rats, cockroaches, mosquitoes or flies!) and one side benefit is that the number of coconut crabs has increased enormously. He warns all visitors that there is rat poison down and that the crabs may very well feed on the dead rats: this effectively discourages visitors from taking the crabs. He showed us some of these beasts and his older son, Jonathon, put one on a palm tree for us: it scrambled up with no difficultly. When we went ashore, John would shin up a palm tree, throwing down nuts to Veronica, who deftly lopped the top off with her machete. Any fish caught on the outing would be shared between all the party, John’s face alight with the pleasure of sharing good things.