National Geographic : 1968 Oct
tritons, spider conchs, and pearl shells-souvenirs that en hanced my growing collection. Initially, to prepare the shells properly, I buried them in a bucket of sand on Dove's stern. After a couple of days, when the breeze blew over the tran som, the smell nearly drove me overboard. Assuming that such beautiful creatures would provide delectable meals, I tried boiling spider conchs. Tough and chewy, the meat resembles a gum Mr. Wrigley would be proud to produce. If you're hungry and you really boil them well, though, they become almost edible. In Suva's market I discovered that perfect spider-conch shells fetched two Fijian pounds. But when I tried selling them to Fijian traders, I found they wouldn't buy some thing they, too, can find for free. Even pens and clothing failed me while trying to barter for flour, rice, soap, and razor blades. However, I did swap a shirt for a squawking hen, which some villagers and I chased for half an hour before catching her. I caged her aboard Dove to await an appropriate feast. Foolishly, I became so attached to Henrietta that I repeatedly postponed her execution. For local transportation, I stepped a pole as a mast in my dinghy, then set a sail made of a bedsheet. It worked well downwind, but not into the wind, so I sometimes had to swim ahead of the dinghy, clutching the painter in my teeth. Invariably this attracted a number of handsome, pearly 470 "To watch me be eaten," Robin explains this farewell delegation that assembled to see him swim out to his boat at Savo Island in the Solomons. "I later found that the people of Savo cast the bodies of their dead into the sea and sharks make off with them. It's very dangerous to swim around there." Light hair of the youngsters comes from lye daubed on to bleach it. Debris of war provokes won der and curiosity in a lad born after it was all over. Robin in spects the wreckage of a Japa nese destroyer (above, left) beached on Florida Island in the Solomons. With flippers and mask, Robin brings up giant clams from the sea floor off Florida Island. Robin first reached inside the creature's open shell to sever the muscle that snaps it shut.