Oct - Nov 2018
We checked into the Solomon Islands in The Santa Cruz Island of Nendo.
It was a harrowing passage of squalls, lightning storms and no wind.
The town of Nendo is the closest port to Vanuatu that you can check into and although a fairly rustic and remote location we managed to get all the check in procedures ticked off reasonably quickly.
The people here were lovely and we spent quite a few days working on a piggery project with a local man who helps to run the local agricultural college.
From Nendo we started to work our way west towards Honiara (the capital of the Solomon Islands) and the place where we could reprovision and start organising our visas for PNG. Each country is a challenge in itself, but we always start investigating the next two countries as well in case (like this instance) visas need to be organised.
Our sailing west through Solomons wasn’t very enjoyable, the few anchorages we stopped at we felt uncomfortable with locals hassling us out aggressively to trade more and more and also pay for anchorages (after we had traded and spent most of our cash).
We finally arrived in Honiara – a filthy harbour and a poorly protected anchorage
We instantly set about organising visas (as we feel these will take the longest) and provisioning food and fuel.
The Bulk Stores (of which there are 3 outlets) are the best for the type of provisions that we are after and the local market is decent enough. We are well and truly in the wet season now and it is blisteringly hot and wet. Poor Jamie is covered in heat rashes and we are both regularly dripping in sweat.
PNG visas are easily organised in a few days and after a lot of debate regarding our next anchorage we decide to set off towards Western Solomons, reportedly stunningly beautiful and much friendlier locals!
Our first stop is Morovo Lagoon, and we spend quite a few days at Uepi Island: diving. Unfortunately; the Lagoons in the Solomons have large salt water crocodiles and most villages you go to tell stories about locals being eaten. Also, you rarely see any of the locals swimming, which means to us they are serious. Sadly, this means that we are the hottest we have ever been without the ability to spend time in the water cooling dow (we tend to just jump in and get out). The people and diving here are fantastic, great water quality and beautiful reefs. Finally, a part of the Solomons that we are actually enjoying!
Trading is a way of life in the Solomons and many of the locals are expert carvers. The quality of their work is amazing and we do numerous trades securing ornate bowls and Nuzu Nuzu (war and peace statues).
Check out my It’s Kustomary blog for more details
Adventures 55,56,57 and 58 all cover our time in the Solomon Islands Lagoons of Morovo and Vona Vona!
In Vona Vona we finally catch up with our friends on Waterhorse and hang out with them for a few weeks. During our stay in Vona Vona Lagoon we visit a small local village and a local called Billy takes us on a great tour of Japanese WW2 caves (not for the bug phobic amongst us), Japanese tanks and a WW2 plane wreck that we dive. And along the way we get to see one of the local salt water crocks – “just a small one” says Billy – a good 1.5m long!
The Solomons has been very challenging for us as there are almost no other boats around (other than a few in Gizo). This has meant months of being alone and after the great social interactions and friends we made in Vanuatu we have found this very very hard.
We spend our last few days in the Solomons in a town called Munda (and it’s neighbouring town of Noro) to complete the necessary departure formalities and reprovision both food and fuel. The passage to Kavieng in PNG will be our longest yet at 550nm and with little or no wind we are assuming we will have to “drive” most of the way. This requires us to not only refuel but buy a heap more fuel containers to store back up fuel. Our fuel tanks are quite small at 100lt each side, so we up the stores to 300lt! While in Munda Jamie falls down some stairs and badly dislocates his arm, causing us to delay the passage for a few days.
Our plan is to sail to Kavieng in North East PNG – reportedly one of the safest towns in PNG and wait there for our friends on Waterhorse so that we can do the REALLY big 10 day passage to Biak, Indonesia together.
To read about our lovely passage to PNG check out my blog