Why not make islands when you run out of islands to claim territory - China and the South China Sea.
The captain turns the boat back to our old course – south, into the rain. We plough on. The waves are getting bigger. After four hours the rain begins to recede. Ahead I can see another island.
This one I am expecting. This place is called Johnson South Reef. On my GPS it again shows no land, just a submerged reef.
But I’ve seen aerial photographs of this place taken by the Philippine navy. They show the massive land reclamation work China has been doing here since January.
Millions of tonnes of rock and sand have been dredged up from the sea floor and pumped into the reef to form new land.
Along the new coastline I can see construction crews building a sea wall. There are cement-pumping trucks, cranes, large steel pipes, and the flash of welding torches.
On top of a white concrete blockhouse a soldier is standing looking back at us through binoculars.
I urge the skipper to get even closer, but a volley of flares erupts in the sky – it is a Chinese warning.
a tip of the hat to Howard