In ones and twos, passengers gathered on the bridge and took in the sunrise. Breakfast was served while we picked up officials at Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, and continued past Lunga Point.
Donning our lifebelts, we embarked in Clipper Odyssey’s ten Zodiac boats for a landing at Red Beach. Our drivers formed a line abreast and we closed the beach, where we saw several figures waiting for us. We grounded and prepared to disembark but were immediately “attacked” by “warriors” racing down the dark-colored beach led by a grinning youngster. Soon we mingled with them by a simple monument, everyone speaking English together. We learned the warriors were villagers who lived a few hundred yards down the beach. They said ours was the first amphibious landing there since the Marines did it 7 August 1942; they hoped there will be many more.
Returning to the ship the way we came—very glad for the air conditioning—we sailed across Ironbottom Sound. Anchoring off Purvis Bay, we took another Zodiac ride to visit wrecks in an adjacent bay. With us back aboard, the ship stood into the entrance to Purvis Bay and into Tulagi Harbor. The setting sun silhouetted Cape Esperance and Savo Island as we returned to Honiara across peaceful Ironbottom Sound. In a simple ceremony aft led by the captain, five of our Solomon Islands veterans tossed wreaths overboard as we set course up the “Slot.” (continued)