When the winds die and the sea becomes idle, the Uto Ni Yalo has to be powered by humour to keep it going homeward. A happy crew is a hard-working crew. Apart from the food, these are some of the foul-ups and jokes that keep them going homeward after the three-year mission across some of the world's oceans.
* AS the Uto Ni Yalo, dry on fresh food, struggled towards land on Tuesday, the starboard side fishing line went taut. Skipper jumps to his feet and starts hauling. Up comes a yellowfin, its gills sprouting out, indicating death in its struggle against the pull of the hungry. To his assistant rushes skipper's boy from Moce. "Unhook it, unhook it! Throw the line back in the water, there's a lot of fish here," yells Skipper. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, young man pulls the fish up, unhooks it and as the speechless bewildered watch, throws the fish back into the sea, his other hand offering the lure to Skipper. A voice from the deck house breaks the astonishment. "Bring the lure then, let's curry it."
* CREW, while cooking in the deck house, calls out to a colleague to bring the peeler for potatoes she was preparing. Young man dashes off and comes back with a pillow. "I asked for a peeler," she says. "I brought one," says the Lauan crew with a smile. The pillow, in Lauan, is pila.
* WHILE unshackling the anchor during maintenance work, our rusty-haired sailor struggled to work with the rusted piece. He turns to his colleague and says, "bring me the RPG". "What?" "The RPG7," replies my tau. "You want to blow us out of the water? That's a rocket-propelled grenade you're asking for." Quiet, thinking, then a big smile across his face, he says, "the CRC7 (anti-rust chemical). Oi, me tou ciba."
* MATUA, while giving advice to the young sailors during a meeting on board, tries to explain life beyond the horizon. "You are very important on this voyage, you are our future generator â€¦," he says. Big smiles and chuckles. "Oi, na ijini qori (that's an engine)."
* SHARED during the three-hourly watches. After a hurricane hits the Solomon Islands, ravaging farms and causing a food shortage, an Australian tourist visits and asks a local how they survived. Replies the local, "oh, we just eat the vegetables." Bewildered, the tourist asks, "what vegetables?" With a smile, the islander says "just some coconut crabs, crabs and prawns".
* A CARVER trying to woo a tourist to look at his carving yells out to him as he passes by his stall, "hello, you look like my carving". "What?" "I say you look like my carving," said the carver pointing at the pride of his work. "No," replies the tourist, "you look like your carving."
* A SOLOMON islander trying to read a sign that reads "BE WARY! CROCODILE IS HERE". Aloud he reads, in Fijian pronounciation: "Be ware, krokodile is here."