PRIOR to the abundance of Outboard Motors (OBM), shipping across the Iron Bottom Sound strait was profitable and rewarding.
Back then, ships were able to make ends meet because the option was limited and only ships could be seen ferrying between the islands.
Whilst distance is a hindrance to enjoying the same transportation mode by other provinces, the proximity of the Islands in the Central Province has made it convenient for regular Outboard Motor connections between the National Capital of Honiara and Ngella.
Ngella in the Central Islands Province has gone through a huge transition thanks to the introduction of OBMs.
Reagan from Tikopia who operates an OBM transportation business between Ngella and Honiara said that OBMs have taken over from ships.
He said that travelling by motor powered boats is relatively cheaper and is a quicker way to reach ones destination.
Outboard Motors usually take an hour or less to Tulagi depending on the weather and the horse power behind the boat.
Bigger the horse power, the lesser the time it takes to get to its targeted point of call.
Mr Reagan said that ships are rarely used and if they are utilised at all only to carry bulky cargoes such as cements, rice and other wholesale and retail goods.
Asked how much it cost to travel between Tulagi and Honiara, the tall Tikopian said that it costs only $200 return fare.
“I normally transport people with their market produces to the Central Market in Honiara and public servants who wish to access services Tulagi is lacking especially shopping,” Mr Reagan said.
He further added that the few retail shops at the Township have resulted in the hike in prices of certain basic items, making them beyond affordability for average families.
Some families opted to sending whatever little money they have with boat skippers so as to buy from the shops in Honiara and only incur the cost of freighting on the return journey.
“It takes only 5 gallons of fuel to travel to Honiara from Tulagi and on good days, one could make enough profit after expenses are deducted,” he said amidst wiping of sea water that landed on his face in the course of the trip.
Asked if he could give an exact figure he replied that it is just enough to keep his business going.
He continued to say that a lot of them are now in the business ferrying people and cargo between Honiara and Ngella and as such, the environment is becoming more competitive by the day.
People love to travel with renowned skippers who know the art of boat navigation no matter the weather.
“If you are lucky enough to possess such skill with an approachable character, you are likely to attract more passengers onto your boat,” he said with a wide smile that exposed his betel nut stained teeth in full view.
A passenger the Star National interviewed also echoed the same sentiments.
He said that he normally travels to Honiara twice a week and can only use other boats if Reagan has no space for him or is not travelling to Honiara at all.
He further stated that Reagan is conscious about how much load his boat is carrying. Important still is his good reputation and prowess in navigating the waters even in acute weather conditions.
Reagan provides regular trips to and from Honiara daily with the exception of Sundays.
He normally leaves Tulagi at around 7:00 am and returns from Honiara at around 2:00 pm.
By SAMSON SADE