October 05, 2012
We left Solomon’s with the forecast for light winds 15 knots but as usual that was not the case so we had 25 knots plus and once again I became friends with the bucket, it was really roly poly and it seemed that every 2nd or 3rd wave stopped us dead in the water. It was just a 48 hour sail so the first night was the pits and it all calmed down and we had a lovely sail, we even managed 8 knots (that’s fast for us) we even managed to get to Swinger passage second in the Rossel Islands out of 9 boats. The reef entrance was a clear as anything we have seen so far and very easy to get through and by 1130 we were all tucked up safe and sound at Tyron Bay. Oh what a difference here the locals will only come along side if you make eye contract and they don’t seem to want anything except to trade and find out just who we are, for a piece of cloth we traded we received 12 large passion fruit, 3 oranges and some drinking coconuts it was a bargain on our side. This is the Island we were told that needed the medical and school supplies but on seeing the school (which is very well stocked and modern ) we have decided to take the medical supplies up to the next Island where there is a hospital and we hope a Dr as there is no medic or Dr down here.
Eight of us left this morning 13/9 headed for Nimoa Island just in the next lagoon took us 8.5 hours on the way we managed to catch and land 2 fish, one we threw back it was a barracuda and the other a wahoo about 1mtr long it took us less then 10 mins to land it, filet it and put it on ice. I baked bread in between spotting and avoiding reefs and coral heads (god what a team we make, I’m not going to talk about the arguments that happen). We are now tucked up for the night after having fresh smoked fish (ours) one of the other boats can smoke fish on their BBQ (we didn’t think about bringing any of the stuff along we weren’t sure if we were even going to catch a fish) and tomorrow we are off to the hospital for a look see and hopefully donate 20 boxes of medical supplies.
Nimoa Island is also where baggi is made it’s shell money made into necklaces, it’s very labour intensive and the locals says it’s the only place it’s made and by selling to yachts is the only way they can get kina/$ we did find it further up the archipelago but Nimoa Is was the only place we saw it made. Men have to have one before they can get married so its part of the bride price also we have been told they buy their dugouts with it and this village has managed to buy a water tank with it.
The Louisiades are very easy to get around discounting the reefs and shallow bits most days we are only doing 4-5 hours sailing to get from island to island. We hopped up a couple of stops to Sabera Island with its very shallow anchorage of 2-3mtrs behind a couple of islets very pretty. This is where we found large sailing sailau’s (large up to 9mtrs outriggers) this is the main form of transport as most islands have poor soil they need to sail to where their gardens are. In 2008 I think this village was cut off for a week because of a cyclone and couldn’t get over to the large island where their gardens and drinking water comes from. So they have now cleared patches for growing paw paw (vey small lots) and have managed by donation from a cruising rally out of Australia to have a water tank installed which includes a tin roof shed. With their rain fall this shed is not big enough to fill the tank some parts of the louisiades haven’t had rain for 4 months so things are pretty dry and what crops they have are small.
We spent a couple of days at Sabera Island and managed to trade for a couple of more baggi which David as worn since they look quite good on him time will tell if he continues to wear them. We met up with the Oz rally at Panapompom for clearing in and out so that means our time here is running out.
We tried to get to blue lagoon but the wind was too strong, these bays are mostly picture perfect but with little protection. We moved on to Bagaman Island which was nice so we spent another couple of days there and managed to trade for a couple of carvings and spread our wealth of rice around. Then on to Panasia which was a bit hair raising coming through the reef, the only problem with that is we have to go back out. Stayed here 4 days due to weather . David and some others went on a mountain climb to see the underground fresh water lake and have a swim and then they went to the skull cave all seemed to enjoy it and I had a very peaceful morning pottering around, it was lovely.
From there we have come as far west as you can go in the Louisiades to Bramble Haven and it’s beautiful even if it’s a bit rolly. White soft sand, warm aqua water just magic. We leave here today for OZ should take us 5 days the winds from the correct direction but I expect the first 2 days to be very unpleasant and for something to keep us awake there is a very busy shipping lane that goes to Oz so that will keep us on our toes, just getting here when we crossed the shipping lane we saw 6 ships.
As it’s after 0500 and we leave in 2 hours I will close here and be in contact again when we get to Oz
Marovo Lagoon to GizoAfter we left Marovo lagoon to head up to Munda (next town) we were hoping to stop at Tetepare Island this is a world heritage site it has never been inhabited and is still in a natural state but at $100nz just to anchor per night we
July 19, 2012
After we left Marovo lagoon to head up to Munda (next town) we were hoping to stop at Tetepare Island this is a world heritage site it has never been inhabited and is still in a natural state but at $100nz just to anchor per night we gave it a miss on the way past it looked pretty Jurassic Park. We managed to find a nice little bay called Hibiscus Bay (not sure why no flowers to be seen) that fitted 3 yachts only again no swimming due to crocs and dirty water. Next day we made it to Rendova Harbour and spent a quiet night there before crossing over to New Georgia Island where Munda is to be found; it took a couple of hours to pick our way through the reefs this is starting to look more like a tropical paradise with lots of little islands and aqua water around them. Munda was disappointing but managed to get some money for fuel so the next day off to the town of Noro again picking our way through reefs and a channel called the Diamond Narrows which it was we were lucky nobody was coming the other way. Noro wasn’t as bad a Munda but nothing to write home about it’s dirty and unclean but the people seem friendly enough even if they did try to take the dingy fuel (the trick is not to have more then a litre in it at any one time). We managed to get fuel at the main wharf after a fishing boat had finished then it was straight back down the narrows to find some place for the night. The next day again picking our way around reefs and coral heads in the Vonavona lagoon it was on to Lola Island and 4 days of rest. A lovely little resort (Joe’s place) is here run by a expat American he must be doing something right as it’s full most of the time. Went on a tour to Skull Island where we were told they buried the chief’s and warriors but some of the skulls were very small so we decided that it is actually a cannibal mire. All the boats caught up here and Joe’s place put on a couple of happy hours for us and on our last night a buffet dinner all very nice, we are getting blaze’ about crayfish you can get them for $5 nz so there are crayfish sandwiches, omelets and crayfish anything (a good steak sounds nice about now).
As we made our way through the rest of the lagoon looking for a place to stop nothing seemed to stand, out the water still an opaque milky emerald green colour so you have no idea what is underneath. So onto the capital of the Western Province Gizo and where we clear out from to head to the Louisiade’s. This area is rich in WWII relics etc to enter we had to go pass Kennedy island (where JFK was stranded after his PT boat was sunk by the Japs). This is finally starting to look like paradise with clear water and coral every where, plenty of fish etc. There are a couple of resorts that allowed us to go ashore and enjoy ourselves. Gizo as a town is better then I expected not very large but friendly enough. I believe Gizo was the headquarters when the area was hit by the Samoa tsunami so a lot of aid was poured into it and the surrounding area. We spent about 10 days in this part of the Solomon’s and found what is reported to be the most beautiful beach in the country (and they are right) Palm trees, white sand (not coral) reefs, fish a beautiful village and friendly locals. After 3 days here the chiefs sister brought out a bill for $500 sol $ (equal to $100nz) per night as a kustom charge that nobody thought to mention before so as you can imagine we upped anchor quickly and left. We didn’t leave a very good impression on them we heard later that the chief wasn’t happy with us.
The heat is getting to everyone we are about 540nm from the equator and there is no escaping it, even the sea water is 29degrees and doesn’t give relief, outside is only about 35 degrees but the humidity is the killer. We are all looking forward to Oz even though it’s hot there it has to be cooler then here, we have been walking puddles now for weeks, we even had one us taken to hospital with heat stroke (lucky it happen in Gizo or he would have really been in trouble).
Every day we are visited by long boats (locals) wanting to trade/sell their carvings we have some but there are only so many one can have and they don’t like being told no, so they come back the next day and give you the same speil of putting their children through school, sick parents, no job, no money blah blah blah blah. It has gotten so bad we are no longer being diplomatic and are having to be quite rude, which is a shame as even if you show any interest or try to be polite they wont go away and I guess this has spoilt this area for us. Well people we have cleared out out next stop is Rossel Island in the Louisiade’s only about 5 weeks to Oz can’t believe the time has gone soooo quickly.
July 18, 2012
We have been advised by all the locals we have met not to go to Neal Island in the Florida Group so we have instead headed to Tulagi and anchored off Ghaome Island just opposite. It is a very pretty Islet with good snorkeling over an old Catalina plane that went down during the war, it also has a bunker in which the Americans killed a group of Japanese and managed to take control of the island in that area. We were met by the usual dugouts most where just curious and wanted to look at the boats. Two young men Mark and Jim traded for some drinking coconuts and warned us about the bad people that come out to boats during the night and offered to stand guard for us overnight on the yachts – this we declined and said that we would stand watch ourselves. We were then visited by official looking men in a long boat (they have motors) asking for anchoring fee of $300 sol dollars per boat this we also refused he tried a bit of huff and bluff by saying he had the official papers but didn’t show us them, he then brought a photo ID that could have been anything. We advised him that we where in the Solomon’s by the invitation of the Solomon Island tourist board who are trying to promote cruising within the Island group and if he wanted his money then he had to apply to Tradco the shipping agents who are handling all out official charges. That seem to stump him and on a parting note he advised that the big boats pay him $4000 and we had to be aware of the bad people who come out at night. We decided to raft up together and stand watch just in case something happen but nothing did just one man at 2330 came out asking for $300 then said he had to come a board as it was too far for him to paddle back, he was just told that if he managed to paddle out then he could paddle back. Next morning we went over to Tulagi just for a look but through the binoculars it looked pretty run down so we decided to head up to Roderick bay where a cultural festival had been put on a couple of weeks before and by all accounts on the radio a very nice place to be. This part of the Solomon’s is very pretty to look at and Roderick Bay is no different, the locals are very friendly and they showed us around their village and the eco lodges they are trying to get up and running to generate an income for them. At the end of the bay is a cruise ship wreck that ran aground in 2000 no lives were lost but it is big eye sore right in front of the eco lodge a pity but a great point of interest for us.
Next stop was Honiara just a few hours of motoring across Iron Bottom sound (it’s named for the wrecks form the war that had been sunk in it) Honiara what a surprise not what I expected at all, clean, tidy with everything you would want better then Luganville and on a par with port Vila in Vanuatu. We had a lovely two whole days there and managed to spend quite a bit of money at the yacht club and catch up with others. The harbor itself is very congested with fishing boats so we left so the others would have some room.
We then traveled up to the Russell island group where we only stayed one night as we wanted to get to Marovo lagoon in the western providence this is a large area that really incorporates 4 lagoons, the locals were hoping to have it listed as a world heritage but due to logging by the Philippines (taking all the native hard wood out) the lagoons are dying with the sediment that is washed down. Very little coral to be found in a good state and the water is opaque but a very pretty emerald colour so you can’t tell if its 4mtrs or 20mtrs this makes navigating around interesting. We managed to navigate our way around and spent about a week there altogether. We spent 3 nights at an eco resort? Where we met a very interesting fellow from oz who has funded/assisted this resort for about 30 years, it was lovely just to stay put for a while and have sundowners on the deck of the resort.
July 17, 2012
We arrived in the Solomon’s a week ago and are still waiting for customs and immigration to arrive and clear us in. We had a lovely time in Vanuatu even if the weather didn’t go our way all of the time and we didn’t get to explore what we wanted.
The Banks and Torres Islands (well what can one say) there are no safe anchorages and the foreshore is all just sharp volcanic rock jutting up meters and meters from the shore. We did find one open bay, Vureas on Vanua lava Island, in the Banks which has a fantastic village about half hour plus climb up a very muddy goat track. We were lucky as the next day they were hosting a religious festival and we got to watch them practicing. Most of them spoke very good English and they were more then happy for us to wander around. Our guide was call John and we took photo’s of him, his wife and two children (one only 2 weeks old) and printed them out for him as a thank you.
We left the Banks, did a quick trip to the Torres islands but found nothing suitable so headed up here. Our first port of call was an Island called Vanikoro where we were inundated with locals wanting trade, we managed to trade with three or four dugouts, but after that we just had to turn them away. It’s very much first in first served as they can’t grab the concept of sharing trade so they madly rush around to every boat trying to get as much as possible so many had to miss out. The weather still isn’t going our way with very little sun and rained most days. After Vanikoro we went to Utupua where it just poured 99% of the time. We managed to we hassled by 4 locals very stoned/drunk on betel nut (which they chew and makes their teeth and mouth look like they’ve been drinking blood, very unpleasant) in a long boat demanding payment for our anchoring. This was all a little bit scary so we left to head up to Ndende Island in the Santa Cruz Islands to clear customs and as I said earlier we are still waiting for that to happen. This must be the wettest place on earth it has rained every day all day for the last week so a you can imagine with the high temp in into the 30’s is not the most comfortable.
The local officials and tourist board put on a festival for the 14 boats in the bay with singing dancing by both males and females many, many speeches (I think they all wanted to practice their English) and a huge banquet put on by the Mothers Union it was a really enjoyable few hours.
That’s it from us hopefully Monday or Tuesday we will head up to Santa Ana in the next group of Island which should take about 36 hours.
July 16, 2012
After a very wet night passage with thunderstorms off in the distance and 30knot plus squalls coming through it was nice to get to Vanikolo Island Manieve Harbour where again we anchored in very deep water. We have been inundated with locals wanting to trade it becomes very hard as there is only so many pawpaw and drinking coconuts we can take, so many were just turned away. It’s sad that they don’t share as a few did really good with trading and they managed to get quite a bit of rice and sugar. Locals advised us not to swim as they have salt water crocs. This also is a very dark place what with the rain, brown water and the high sides around the harbour but it was very nice to be out of the rolly polly sea way we had 2 nights here before moving on.
We moved onto Sabben Bay in Utupua Island it managed to stay fine while we came through the reef pass then it poured and poured we could only see a few meters in front of the boat. As the rain cleared we found ourselves in a very pleasant bay surrounded by what looked like mangroves. The next morning we were woken by 4 locals stoned on betel nut, demanding payment for us to anchor. They had dead, vacant eyes with vert stern expressions on their faces which we found quite intimidating. They did settle down but we it was better to leave and get out in case they changed there minds. This meant our arrival into Lata was going to be at night but with a little bit of help from others with us all was ok.
Now Lata must be the wettest place on earth it rained all day and every day for the week that we where there. It took Immigrated and customs a week to fly in every day we where told that the flight had been cancelled due to the weather (don’t fly Solomon airlines). The weather was so bad that quarantine and health wouldn’t come over from the other side of the bay because of it.
After quarantine and health cleared us the local tourist office and the mothers association put on a fantastic feast with local villages invited to come and give us an example of their custom dancing. The day consisted of speeches, speeches, singing more singing dancing with more dancing this even included a poor rendition of Kare Kare Ana done by us. There had to be a thousand people at the festival and at the end of the day a wonderful feast was put on with more speeches and thankyous being said. This has been the best feast we have attended.
July 04, 2012
Fist stop in the Banks was Kwetevut Bay we didn’t go ashore here because of the persistent drizzle the water also was uninviting for swimming due to its colour (brown) and also we were unsure how safe as we didn’t see any locals in the water. We only stayed one night here then headed up to upper waterfall bay. This was beautiful with a lot of coral and a wonderful waterfall coming right down to the water. We also couldn’t get ashore here as it was too rugged with no safe landing places. This seems to be what the Banks and Torres are like, we had heard that they were very beautiful but something has happen, as there are very little beach to be found with lots of rugged jagged and sharp volcanic rocks every where.
We managed to get into Uriparapara this seems to be an old volcano with part of the side blown out it was very dark with steep mountainous sides (takes locals 3 hours to walk to the top). It has poor holding with a lot of reefs and when we where there it was very windy. We did go ashore here and were made welcome by the village but it had a bad feeling about it very dirty and untidy. The people here have less then nothing they are so out of the way.
Next stop was Hayter Bay again very rugged coast with little to no beach. We anchored in very deep water but managed to get ashore at low tide by winding out way through the rocks to have drinks on the beach (sun downers). Some locals kids saw us arrive so they walked over the island to us which took them a couple of hours. They were very shy/timid and didn’t mix with us at all they build a fire and stayed the night under palm leave to keep out the rain. Maybe they were sent over to make sure we didn’t do any damage?? Who knows. All up we only spent 4 nights in the Banks and Torres Islands. Next stop the Solomon Island.
June 26, 2012
Had a beautiful hot day motoring up to Wali Bay for the land diving, before that we called into Homo Bay and the chief there tried to convince us that he had put on a special day for us which included land diving what he didn’t tell us that the cruise ship Pacific Pearl was also coming in and there would be a few hundred of people attending so we declined his kind offer and continued to Wali Bay.
They where expecting us (about 10 boats) and had organised our own land diving with no other guest. The school kids sang songs of welcome (I think that’s what they were singing about as Pentecost is mainly French speaking).
Only young men land dive the youngest was 7 doing his second jump one very brave little boy. The oldest would have been in his late teens any older and the men’s joints can’t take the jarring.
The frame is constructed on a high slope and made out of trees? and vines in a curved or bow shaped which allows for flexing when they jump. The guys stand on platforms which are cut at the same time as they jump which I guess gives them a bit of leverage. There was much custom singing and dancing up above the tower to give each jumper encouragement.
A meal was put on for us later that day was to be 4pm but with island time it was closer to 6 by the time ever thing was organised. It consisted of a typical island meal with fish, curry chicken, rice, laplap (don’t ask) and island cabbage (again don’t ask). A string band played with some of the locals dancing out side. A very enjoyable day and we were both very pleased to finally see the land diving.
The weather continues not to play ball with the rain and the wind in the wrong direction so we have decided to head to Oyster island and miss out on Malaklua Island in all we spent 13 days at Oyster Island waiting for the weather to improve and for the rest of the rally to catch up. From here we are going to call in at Hog Bay/Champagne Bay then head over to the Banks and Torres Islands.
June 23, 2012
We have spent the last 2 weeks relaxing at Oyster Island.
We saw the land diving at Wali Bay, Pentecost, and it made bungy jumping look real tame.
The weather hasn’t been too great but has been bearable, NO SNOW.
We are due to leave here on Monday and work our way up through the Banks and Torres to The Solomons.
Internet coverage from here on is reported to be very scarce so may not hear fom us till we reach MacKay in early October.
We will be updating Skipr as we move along.
Thanks for your messages and comments,
June 18, 2012
As I sit with just the gentle lapping of the water looking at
the white coral beach surrounded by lush green vegetation I realise
that I have gotten over the passage up from New Zealand and have arrived
at what some will say is paradise.
The fleet left New Zealand with a 2-3 metres swell, a confused sea and the wind
upto 38 knots. After 24 hours of this crap our crew member (the auto pilot)
decided to revolt and throw his toys out of the play pen, so with much discussion
of about 30 seconds we turned around and headed back to Opua. It took about
1 hour to fit a new pump for the autopilot and a week to wait for another
window in the weather. This time was not wasted it allowed me time to come
to terms with the fact that we wouldn’t be sailing with company out in the deep
blue sea but we would be doing it ourselves with only emailing our positions to
the fleet commander. So the nerves where a bit strung out but once we left in
much better conditions and finally settled down into watch/passage mode I
realised that once out of sight of land you don’t see anything anyway so it really
makes no difference if there is anyone else out there with you or not. It took 7
days 4 hours to get to Anatom, Vanuatu but 2 days to clear quarantine as the
localpolice /quarantine went away and nobody was sure just when he would
We managed to clear quarantine on Saturday 26th May and left straight away for
Port Vila as we had customs clearance arranged for Monday with the rest of the
Fleet. So off we went into 3-4 metre swells with 28 knot winds and a sloppy sea
(oh what fun I thought to myself) I don’t enjoy sailing that much. This lasted for
about 12 hours and then the magic started, the wind dropped to about 10 knots ,
the swell vanished and over night we quietly sailed at 4 knots under a clear sky
full of stars, as I said before just magic (now that’s the sailing I enjoy) we just
don’t get very far very fast though. Needless to say things changed the next
morning and we arrived in Port Vila about 1730 just in time to have sundowners
with the rest of the fleet.
We stayed in Port Vila for three nights then off to roly-poly Mele
Beach for a couple of nights rest (yeh not). We moved up to Port Havana timing
our rounding of Devils point for slack tide, it was all a non event and within 4
hours we where at anchor in Matapu Bay. This wasn’t without incident as we
managed to get our anchor caught on a bombie [coral head] so we entertained
the other yachts for about 20 minutes and finally succeeded clearing it (there
wasn’t any screaming and shouting so it must have been serious).
After 3 nights we headed off to Lamen Bay on Epi Island what a sail we averaged
7 knots the whole way.
As we cruised along we decided to drop a fishing line over just to see what
would happen ( from experience we don’t have a lot of luck) and within 10 min
we had a FISH, boat was stopped, gaff was dug out and then the excitement
started as we dragged a 1 metre fish aboard. Neither of us knew what to do with
it we also didn’t know if we could eat it., we managed to work out it couldn’t be
a barracuda (no sharp teeth ) so it had to be a WAHOO our very first one. This
left us with a dilemma as I can’t stand the smell of fish so now we had a very
large fish and blood over most of the cockpit. David caught the fish so he had
to fillet it and deal with the yucky stuff so well done to him, he managed to get
10 pieces off it.
Once we arrived at Lamen Bay there was a quick tidy up and
wash down and beautiful fresh fish for dinner that night, most of the fish we
shared with other boats in the bay the next day. Now this brings me back to my
first sentence as the bit of paradise we are now sitting in is Lamen Bay on
Epi Island with a gentle breeze, crystal clear water, and sea turtles swimming
past the boat I can’t think of a nicer place to spend a few days to reflect on just
how lucky we are to have arrived in paradise.