Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rats and washing machines

Its hard to find a rat in the world best washing machine, and we are trying dam hard I can tell you !

Hundreds of years ago sailors on tall ships used to do their washing in urine (terrible thought, but true) because the uric acid would clean and whiten the cloths. But since then sailors also have learnt that good old sea water, especially if mixed about will also clean and whiten well.

Since leaving the protection of the coral lagoon of Gambier Islands two days ago we have been living in the worlds best washing machine, a good old South Pacific blow, 25 to 35 knots right on the nose, with a mixed sea state that jars ever bone in your body, no real rhythm or cycle to lull you off to sleep, its more like being thrown out of your bunk, if you left any clothes on deck they would be spick and span in minutes with the tons of water rolling off the decks.

Now ships and rats have also shared the same space on board vessels for hundreds of years, and its probably because of those dam rats that we are bouncing away here at the moment, we have carried since Gambier Island a rat specialist from NZ, who considering the conditions has been a bit sheepish
to say the least (yes I had to say sheepish for this nice Kiwi chap)

Our mission (we have already accepted it) is to rendezvous and pick up another bunch of rat specialists from Pitcairn Island, along with 500 Kg's of rat bait and all the shore camping equipment for them to be able to survive on a remote coral island called Henderson for a week, Henderson Island is about 110 nautical miles ENE from Pitcairn Island.

Why the hell for ? you ask, well the world Royal Society for the protection of birds (RSPB), sponsored a huge rat eradication project last year and spent a squillion dollars on wiping out the rat population of Henderson Island, months of work, helicopters on ships, staff and tons and tons or
yummy rat bait. Their reason for this is to help protect the remaining endemic and rare bird species that live on the island.

Well it turns out after we met a recent team from National Geographic who visited Henderson about a month ago that one of their people who was on the island spotted a rat and took a photo of it ! dam, the shivers would have gone up and down the spines of everyone there at RSPB.

So being that Henderson is a very remote location, and that there are no ships in the area, good old Xplore has been put into service for the "Rat Race" to find out if there are any rats remaining on the island, find out how many, and if possible to wipe them out, sounds like a good theme for a movie, James Bond or the Mission Impossible team.

More Rat news to come, Stephen

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