SEA OF PUMICE.
— . — ' - o" ■ - ; SUVA, October 27. The 10- ton motor, boat Kao ir Auckland)' arrived -"..in "Suva on- Octobei 18/ .alter; -a vjoyage ,bf over 40O.'!.i^ile_ ■from-j Tonga-,- under the charge of^Cfapt, jl. C. Hougnton, w-ho.was for some years an officer "of the Uiiioi. ■_$.'__.. Co: When about 60< miles" south-west oi Turtle Island at mid-day on JSaturda.. the Kao struck iti sea ot pumice. Ai lirst, as- the launch struck the eelge oi the pumice it. was not floating densely, out gradually became so thiCK. that tlw launcn had difficulty iii forging her wa> through. Pumice, choked -the pipes oj one oi the engines, but fortunately. Capt, Houghton was anie to get it clear, although he had to take the pipe v pieces. _Jo thick did the pumice become that the blades of the propellers could be heard smashing, against • it a-t- everj revolution. - The- obstruetidh. was abou< live miles wiele from east to west, aneJ north' and §oUt*h it" extended as tar as the eye cdiild reach. Oii the edges it was more m the" nature of floating- elust, but m the .'centre there were luiripa 'a^ much' us-- four feet m cliaiiieter, which tho helmsman had to dodge to the befit ox" 'his -jability.* So slow was the progress of they boat "tliat! it scarcely seemed to be - moving. - In parts pumice was so closely: packed that the surface was quite dry, v.nd *a; native was able to stand on a, small plank that was thrown ot* -ony ;tht top ,oi it. It* took' the little vessel nearly two hours to? get through from one .side to the other. SYDNEY, Nov. 19. Whilst the' steamer 'Ventura was abreast' of Tii.rtlelslahd, yin the Fiji Gi'oiip; and about; 120 miles from ' the Tonga Islands," she ran int6" three hundi*ecl miles or more of deepest blue' sea checkered 'by a greyish-brown smudge." To early pa.ssengerji the officers jokingly described the flotsam ia_--"\vhales' food. Buti Cbipt. Dawson Jiad somfe' of it fished up, ana found : it to be volcanic pumice. As there were no dead fish -on the surface the theory of- a submarine earthquake did not appear tenable. The explanation of ths mid-bce!an ■ mystery would prbbably be found m the - Tonga gi'otlp, wheire one* crater is always staging spectacular stunts. Ov maybe the ocean has given birth to anbtiier island somewhere. Suva, when epiestioned bywireless, hael "not 'heard. 'of any eruption.