Eyeglass Assist

Solomon Islands Project


Title: The Honest Sailor

Location : Kamatal Lagoon, the Louisiade archipelago, Papua New Guinea

Year : 2010

During our 2010 voyage to Papua and New Guinea there was only one thing that we had stolen - a PNG cap that I had purchased at a shop in Misima and of which I had quickly become rather fond. And would you believe that it was stolen while we were conducting our Eyeglass Assist Program at the Catholic Mission on the island to the east of Taluga Island.

A coupe of weeks later we were anchored in Kamatal lagoon on the northern side of the surrounding reef at the Louisiades. On this particular afternoon we were sitting in the cockpit of Monkey Fist entertaining a few local visitors, drinking tea and coffee, eating biscuits and telling stories (a favourite PNG past time). It turned out that there was a sailing canoe heading over to Misima the following day and was only staying there overnight and then coming back to Kamatal lagoon. One of the young guys sitting in the cockpit was to be one of the crew. A brilliant thought struck me - that someone could buy me one of the caps at the shop in Misima and as we were staying in Kamatal for a couple more days I have have it brought back to me there. No problems the young sailor said, so I described to him exactly what the cap looked like and from which shop I had brought it. I remembered that it was around $7 and I had a $10 note so I told the young sailor that he could keep the change. OK he said.

 Sure enough later that day the big sailing outrigger canoe left with several people on board and we waved them goodbye, I figured that if something came up and they didn't make it back in time then it wasn't a big issue.

Anyway, very early the following morning before sunrise I awoke and saw the silhouette of a big sailing canoe slip quietly past us further into the lagoon. Sure enough, in the morning I awoke to see the big sailing catamaran pulled up to the beach on the atoll, I was surprised to see it back so soon. The morning passed and just before lunch the young sailor paddled out to Monkey Fist carrying with him the cap I had asked him to buy, well done. I thanked him and then I asked him why they had returned so soon ? He said none of them had any money so they were just sitting around so they decided in the middle of the night to sail back to Kamatal. I then said to him what about the change from the cap that I had told him he could keep, whereupon he promptly put his hand in his pocket and handed me the $3 change. I'm sure he had understood me when I said that he could keep thee change but obviously it was more important to him to show me how honest a person he was.

 It was only $3 but it was enough at least for he and his friends to buy a packet of cigarettes at least or some small treat at the market. I was very impressed by his honestly and values.

 Not wanting to be outdone by his lesson in ethics, nor did I not want him to think that I wasn't grateful - we gave him quite a few items of clothing as well as some fishing tackle and some sugar and flour, which he very much appreciated.

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