Friday, December 30, 2011

Parking the Motor Home in someones front yard

Hello All,
New years is upon us and I had a subject that I wanted to get off my chest. I have met so many cruisers that only mingle with other cruisers or at least don't care about meeting locals. Its a shame that they don't get to know the locals, they have so much to offer. I have met so many, to many to count that just want friendship from someone from another place.
The Pacific Ocean is a very unique ocean for this because of the numbers, a very small number live on these Islands and they are wonderful people as a whole. I say that because since I have been in the Solomon's I have had have stuff stolen off the boat. But that being said the people here have been so nice. The Solomon's are special because they are an actual independent country without help from anyone so there is no country helping the economy. The wood carvers here are artists and they do this work for money or trade to benefit themselves or to feed their families.
Getting back to the point of the article. These cruisers anchor in these peoples front yards and want to be left alone, give me a break, what would you do if a 50 foot motor home parked in front of your house for a month, these people have no money so they are going to try to sell you something, like a carving, or veggies, at least they have something worth while to sell. They can be a little pushy but I don't blame them.
All of the cruisers I have met are not from here so we are a guest in this country and if they don't like it, as the saying goes "If you don't like the heat, get out of the galley". I made this trip not to be alone and anchor where I won't be bothered, but to meet other cultures and to get to know them as a people. I would have to say I have done very well at that and so have they. I have a load of carvings to prove it.
I wrote this after talking to other cruisers and their negative experiences here in the Solomon's, I have had nothing but good with the Solomon people here. To bad the cruisers didn't or don't have the same feelings. Maybe they should pull there heads from where the sun doesn't shine and realize they are not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Their loss.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Round House

Hello All,
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and I want to thank everyone that sent me an email wishing me one. The last few days I have been doing some light maintenance and exploring around the Island by dingy. I spent a few hours yesterday with the snorkel cleaning the bottom of the boat. Paula and Rafal were the last ones to do it so it was due. It makes it much easier if you do it every few weeks. I am still anchored here at Liapari and have decided to stay till after the new year. Laurie and Karen the assie couple left to go to a resort yesterday for the new year so now it is myself and a couple from Switzerland. We have been going to the round house every night at 5 to talk to Noel and Rosie and having a great time visiting. It sounds like we will all have a BBQ for new years and Noel has some old flares to shoot for fireworks.
Tomorrow the Swiss couple and myself are taking the water taxi to Gizo to get some groceries and I need to send off a few faxes to my new crew arriving on the 10th. This is a much quieter anchorage than Gizo and new years there could be a little crazy so I figured the boat is safer here and its easier to get projects done. I will probably take the boat back over to Gizo sometime next week.
I will keep in touch and let you know what's happening.


P.S. Trivia moment, The Island next door to us Vella Lavella has an old abandon Air strip that during the war was the home base for the Black Sheep Squadron. There is a trail that leads over there and I will explore it in the next few days.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Solomons

Merry Christmas All,
Myself and the 3 other yachts here at Liapari Island have had a great time visiting and hanging out together. Friday night we all had a BBQ with Noel and Rosie at the round house and had an awesome time visiting and chatting. It was just the warm up to last night which was Noels birthday, the 24th. He set up for a roasted pig for dinner first thing in the morning and 6 of us took turns at the rotisserie over an open fire till the pig was done 4 hours later. Noel employees 28 locals for his boat building business and them and there families showed up with, rice, fish, watermelon, beef, stir fry, potato's, salad and many other things. It was a wonderful evening and one of the best Christmas eve parties.
Today we were invited to Noels home and we watched movies all day on his big screen, he and Rosie fed us a wonderful dinner with mostly left over's from the night before and still tasted great. Everyone here has been the best and I have had a great Christmas despite the fact I can't be home.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and wish you all a great day.
I will keep in touch.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

BBQ tonight at the round house

Hello All,
I took a walking tour of the Island this morning. There is a track that goes all the way around and it was a beautiful walk. Liapari is very close to the main Island of Vella Lavella. In fact there is a broken down old bridge that connects the two. The Japanese built it in the war and know one has kept up with the decay so to cross you now have to walk on coconut logs. There is a beautiful lagoon between the 2 Islands. I got some good pictures and when this northern wind comes down I will take the dingy through to explore. I also took some good pictures of Noels operation here. He is working on an old landing craft putting a new steel bottom in and is refitting an old San Diego ferry boat to be a Mega Yacht. I had a really good chat with him last night, just the 2 of us. He is an old motor head so we hit it off really well. And he is a big Catapillar engine fan.

Today an Australian yacht showed up from Gizo. I met him last week and he is a real character. He had mates help him get the boat here for the passage and now he is touring around on his own. He brought a bunch of chicken and meat with him so we will have a BBQ at the round house tonight, that's what everyone calls the grass hut Noel built for a meeting place. Everyone is bringing a little something and I will bring my last 2 cans of Alaska Red salmon and crackers. There are only 4 boats here so we will be a nice tight little group.

Tomorrow night, Christmas eve, Noel is having his 60th birthday party at the round house. He and his workers have constructed a massive rotisserie to cook a whole pig over a fire. It looks like it is going to be a Christmas eve to remember and I will fill you in on all of the festivities.

Good news on the Freestyle, I have 2 people showing up on the 10th and 11th of Jan to help me get the boat to Japan. There is a guy from New Zealand that will go as far as Guam and the other guy is from Denmark and he will help me get up to Japan. What an awesome Christmas present for me. Seems like all of the planets lined up for me on these passages. This is water not very heavily traveled for cruising boats so I feel blessed.
Well I need to get ready to go so I will talk to you later.


P.S. I never talk about the weather much so I will fill you in. Sunny day, wind 15 to 20 knots out of the North and 95 degrees. Water temp is 94 degrees.

You need to remember Rick is 20 hours ahead of Alaska, so he is already into Christmas Eve.

Liapari Island Anchorage

Hello All,
I finally made it over to Liapari. I came over with the Australian boat yesterday morning. Laurie and Karen on there boat Tropicali. They have been so nice to me, we have been hanging out visiting almost every day since I met them. My position is 07 56. 83S 156 42.31E They beat me over here from Gizo by about 15 minutes so they waited at the reef entrance so they could show me the way in. It is a little tricky because you have to pass over 2 reefs to get here. It is a beautiful anchorage and like I said in a previous blog the Island is owned by a guy originally from New Zealand. We met up with Noel, the owner, last night and his wife. There is one other boat here and every day at 5 pm everyone goes to the beach and has a sundowner. Noel has set up a round grass hut for everyone to meet under. He also works on boats here, he has several slip ways,(slip way is a means to haul a boat out of the water) and a few work shops to do the boat work in. It is an oasis for boat repair in the middle of know where.
The wind is blowing 20 knots out of the North but the sun is shining, looks like another hot day here in paradise.
I will go exploring today. It's not a big Island but I am told there is a track that goes all the way around. I will be spending Christmas here and will be in good company. I will keep in touch and let you know what I am up to.


Rick sent this on the 20th and I posted it on the 22nd.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Liapari Island Solomon's

Hello All,
The last few days I have been preparing to take the boat to an Island 14 miles north west of here. I am told it's a very protected anchorage and is owned by a guy that is originally from New Zealand. I met him and his wife here at the yacht club last week and they are very nice people. She is from the Solomon's and he has been here for many years.

I met a cruising couple from Australia last week also and they have been so nice and they know the owner of the Island. Noel is his name and we plan to go over there together for Christmas, hopefully tomorrow weather permitting. There are a few other yachts over there anchored so I will have lots of company for Christmas. The owner, Noel, has a boat refitting facility there and the Island is suppose to be an amazing place. I am in good company here with the people I have met so I will have a good holiday. I do miss my family and I hope they all have a great holiday also.
This will mark the first time in my life that I have spent time away for the holidays, but as someone said there is always a first time for everything. I have been keeping in touch with my family and I hope they understand. I will be home to see everyone in 8 months so not to long to wait. When I get over to Liapari Island I will let you know what it's like.

Gizo has been a little weird for me, it is a town but it has no good drinking water. I have been catching mine in a tarp, with the rain, the Internet has been hit and miss and expensive, there is no grocery store, only these tiny Chinese shops that sell eggs and if your lucky bread. PT 109, where I am anchored and 2 other places have establishments where you can buy a meal to eat. It is definatly not a tourist destination. All of that being said they have the basics, milk, rice, pasta, meats and bettle nut. That is a nut that the Solomon's treat like chewing tobacco. It is grown locally but you chew the nut like we would candy. You spit and it looks like blood on the ground, red in color and almost everyone I have met here has red teeth. Its kind of gross, I don't know what it tastes like but they must like it.

If you sense a bit of home sickness and feeling a little out of place with no cold and no snow you are correct. They do have there Christmas music playing in the shops and the trees and the tinsel up but without snow it's just out of place for me. This will be a Christmas remembered for me and I am looking forward to hanging out with my new friends for the holidays on Liapari Island.

Also I have 2 crew members showing up the second week of January. One is from New Zealand to help me to Guam and the other is from Denmark to get me to Japan so I'm very happy about that and I have been corresponding with help from Japan to home but we will discuss that when it happens. I will let you know when I get to the other Island just to fill you in on what I have been up to.
Talk to you soon.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Dug Out Canoes

Hello All,
I thought I would write an article about something we take for granted out here but you guys at home probably find it interesting that people still carve out wooden boats and use them everyday for transport of goods, people and just having fun.
Vanuatu was the first place I really saw these wooden canoes used as a daily necessity. The other island groups used them more as an icon to the ancestor's or just for show or a race on a holiday. Like you see in the photo this dug out has an outrigger. This was prominent in Vanuatu as in other Island groups. If you notice the pointy keel, this doesn't allow the canoe to be stable on its own it has to have an outrigger. Buy the way this is a picture of a carving that Rafal did in the coarse of our trip through the Solomons. He did this with a pocket knife and some of my power tools onboard, pretty good huh? They gave this to me right before they left as a gift for sharing my boat with them in my travels. I am very proud to have it onboard. If you also notice the shell with the string attached, that is an anchor, most use a piece of coral. They take these boats out to the reef and go spear fishing with them. Speaking of reefs, these are not outside boats. They use them mostly in protected waters. The modern age has allowed the locals to travel between Islands of great distance by modern ferry boat but it is still nice to see tradition alive and well.

When we arrived in the Solomons I was very surprised to see the canoes without outriggers. There hull design is a hundred years over the other Island groups. There boats are still made of wood but have a more flat bottom which allows more stability, very much like the canoes we use in America. I have given this some thought and my observation is, Solomons have bigger trees to allow for a wider boat, sounds good anyway.
The facts about a dugout canoe are, they last 10 years if pulled out of the water after every use. It takes 3 Island weeks to build one from scratch. I say Island weeks because you have to know how these guys roll, they are a work of art and what's funny is, most islanders that own one bought it from a boat carver, hence not everyone can carve a boat out here. Dug out shipwrites have cornered the market.

Dugouts of the Solomons in the WWII war effort:
That may sound a little funny to someone that has been on a 500 ton destroyer but it's a fact, dug out canoes helped. I had 2 stories told to me while I was here. When we were in Mbili Passage we talked to a local that told us his grandfather was forced to take 2 Japanese soldiers from one Island to another in the cover of darkness in a canoe. The canoes are very stealthy and can come up to you and be there before you know it, I know because they do it to me all the time to say hello, I about have heart failure when they knock on the hull, anyway, his grandfather heard that Japanese don't always know how to swim, he took a chance and after getting off the beach a little ways he wobbled the canoe twice and all 3 ended up in the water. He came back to the village by himself. There is another story more famous and involves our former President. When Kennedy was marooned on Kasolo Island AKA Kennedy Island he sent a message on a green coconut to be transported by dugout for a rescue. The unique thing about sending a message that way is when you mark the coconut the message won't show up on the skin for several days. When it ripens it is plain as day. This protected a lot of the locals from being killed sending messages for the American command. What's funny is Kennedy didn't believe the locals when told this and as they say the rest is history. Kennedy had the Coconut sealed in a round case and used it as a paper weight in the oval office during his presidency.

Even though I see outboard motors fly in and out of here attached to there fiber glass boats, transporting stuffs and peoples to villages, I still see dugouts doing the same. They are here to stay for the near future, as it should be.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Diet of the South Pacific Islands Part One

Hello All,
I thought I would take the time to write about food of the Pacific Islands. I called my grandma Morris a few weeks ago and she has been keeping up with my blog and has really been enjoying my travels. She told me the only thing that I never explain very well is the food that we eat when we are invited into people's homes so I thought I would dedicate a blog to the subject. I will break this down into countries and I will make this part one of a series.
It is actually not very complicated to explain because their diet is so basic but each country has it's own style.

French Polynesia was the most fun because I had never tried a lot of this food before. They eat reef fish daily, more so than any other country I have visited. They are very small so it usually takes 2 to make a meal. They are usually fried but also cooked in fresh lime juice (Poisson Cru). They also have lots of fruit, mangos, bananas, lemons, limes, guava and my favorite, the famous Pamplemousse AKA grapefruit. They don't grow allot of veggies in French Poly. One of the most famous fruits is the Breadfruit. This soft ball sized fruit is what cost Captain Bligh his ship HMS Bounty while he was trying to take breadfruit trees back to the Carribean to feed the slaves. It is green in color and when boiled tastes and has the texture of a potato. I didn't care for it much but the natives love this stuff. Then there is always the trusty coconut.
There meat, besides fish consists of wild pig and chicken. I could lump the Cook Islands into this food diet also because they are so similar. We only visited Penrhyn which is a coral atoll so they were missing some of the fruit items.
That is it in a coconut shell hehe.
Up next will be the food of the Samoan Islands.

Friday, December 9, 2011

New posted pictures and a thank you to the followers

Hello All,
It's just another beautiful hot day in Gizo. My crew search is going well I have a few options which is a good thing so now if one decides to go I will be busy trying to get them into the country. Most places in the world now do not accept a person from a foreign land to come to a country without proof of them being able to leave and the Solomons is no exception. It's not hard just a bunch of paperwork. I will keep you posted on my progress.
I was fooling around with my blog settings and came across how many page reads have been made. 10,000 in the US alone and 2nd up was the UK at 1700. 6 other countries were listed with less numbers. I was amazed and wanted to thank everyone that has been keeping up with me. It makes me feel good that people are interested in the travels of this little double ended boat and its Alaskan skipper.
Thank you one and all.
I am going to be writing some articles on some things I have not explained very well, like food the Islanders eat so, keep your eyes open.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Modern war of the Solomons

Hello All
I thought I would give you a little history lesson of an Island group most in the world have never heard of besides the Island of Guadalcanal. This is the story of what is famously called "The Tensions" I call it an all out civil war but being the bear of a very small brain I can't tell the difference. It all started as far back
as WWII. There is an Island here, one of the biggest and most inhabited of the group called Malaita. It is just north west of Guadalcanal. During the war the Malaitans were called on for help for construction of infrastructure for the war effort because there was so many of them and everyone in the Solomons, like in America, came together as one to fight off the enemy. After the war the malaitans made home basically through out the Solomons and being a British colony they put the country back together and lived there basic lives. With a lot of outside interests the Solomons became a major copra and timber export to supply the world. They two called on the Malatians for the labor force.
In 1978 the Solomon Islands declared independence and put together a government to make the country there own.
In 1999 after struggling for years to make a solid country the Malaitans and Guadalcanal had a disagreement and started "The Tensions". Resorts were burned down, Honiara the capital was on fire, people on both sides were killed, the place was a mess. This went on for 4 years and the Prime Minister out of options and a country in ruins asked Australia for assistance. From the work of the Prime Minister and what was left of the Solomon government, what was created still exists here today.
"Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands" (RAMSI) After his meeting with the Australian government 15 South Pacific countries stepped up to help a neighbor in need. Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Nauru. Civilans, police and military from all of the countries listed all showed up at Henderson International Airport in Honiara in July 2003. Not angry but to to bring law and order back to the country. RAMSI is not a permanent organization but only to help the Solomon Islanders through this time of need. RAMSI is working side by side with the Solomon government to educate and train people so this will never happen again. If I can add my own thoughts to the matter I would say there is still heaps of work to be done.
Malaitans are still not very well liked here in the Western Providence and until everyone gets along I would say RAMSI will be here for the near future. They plan to
leave the country by 2014 but I wouldn't hold my breath for that date. It's a story that sounds so familiar to America during our civil war with events and tensions
In conclusion and besides all of what has happened here in the last century I would say the people here as a whole are a very robust bunch and they will make it work
out and in the end to be equals to there neighboring countries. This will be the next Fiji someday, trust me.
It is such a unigue place on earth and the people as a whole are very kind and welcoming and they love America which is good for me as a visitor. If they could only turn down the heat a little bit. I have been all through the South Pacific and this is one of the hottest places I have been and truth be known it is one of the hottest Island groups on the planet, that's a fact.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sad day on the Freestyle

Hello All,
We made it back to Gizo this morning and got the boat anchored again in front of the Yacht Club.
I took Rafal and Paula to the Airport Island today in the dingy to put them on an airplane bound for Honiara then Fiji.While in Fiji they will try to find a boat bound for New Zealand, if not they will just fly there and travel for a few months then move on to South America then home to Poland in a years time. I had a tough time seeing them go, they have been the best crew and turned into really good friends. They were a big help on my boat and always eager to go new places and were very interested in sailing as a whole. They love swimming and diving so at the last resort we visited this weekend they set my anchor in a sand patch and made sure the chain wouldnt get tangled in coral. Both of the resorts we visited had coral encumbered anchorages so having them around made it so easy to anchor where most people would cringe at the thought. We had a great weekend together, We went out to Kennedy Island and explored around. They snorceled on the pass where we origanally entered the lagoon and I just took the dingy around to take a look. They will be missed and I wish them all of the best in there travels.
I will be hanging out in the Gizo area looking for crew to get me north. I am currently on a Find a Crew website that has worked for me in the past so we will see.
While I have Internet here I will also be posting new pictures so keep your eyes open for them.
I will talk to you soon.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sanbis Resort

Hello All,
We left Gizo yesterday to explore around inside the Gizo Island lagoon. Most of the anchorages are fairly close to town so it is very easy to get away from it all. We found a beautiful day anchorage on the north end of the airport Island. The water was very clear and the corals were very nice. Gizo is a pretty unique place because the airport is located on an Island 1 mile from town. The Island its self has white sandy beach's and has a very nice reef that surrounds it. One of the nicest airports I have ever seen. After spending the afternoon at the airport we brought the boat south and anchored off of Mbambanga Island right in front of the Sanbis Resort. It is owned by an Australian guy and everyone here is very nice. They have this really cool bar that is out over the water on pilings with a small dock to tie the dingy to. They make home made pizza and have a big screen TV that you can watch DVD's on. They also have a pool table and I lost in a bad way to one of the locals last night. It is a very small resort and they have only 2 guests at the moment so it is a very quiet place.

We will spent one more night here then we will move on to I dont know where yet. Paula and Rafal will be leaving on Monday so we will head back to town in a few days.
I will talk to you soon.