Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gizo Town

Hello All,
We made it to Gizo yesterday morning at 0900. My position is 08 05.99S 156 50.37E. We spent Monday morning traveling out of Marovo Lagoon and then made a 3 hour crossing to Tetepare Island. It is the worlds largest uninhabited Island. It does not offer any good anchorages so we just found 2 places with moderate anchor holding and some what protected from the wind so we could kill some time before doing an over night passage to here. The Island is a wildlife preserve with heaps of sea life and birds. We didn't get to explore much because of our short time there but at least we can say we have been there.
We had an excellent crossing to Gizo, it was a beautiful evening and we were able to sail part of the way even though the weather man said very light winds.
We came into Gizo through the Eastern passage. The Island of Gizo is protected by a reef that incompasses the whole southeastern side. We passed by a very small island as we entered called Kennedy Island. It is named for President Kennedy after his PT boat was ran over by a japanese destoyer and sank near by. Him and his men used the island as a refuge before being resued.
Gizo has 3500 people that live in this seaside town. It does not offer much to a cruising boat but is a very safe anchorage. It does have a Yacht club called PT109, the name of Kennedy's boat, heaps of Chinese shops, a few cafes and a hospital. The town has a broken down drinking water system so most folks catch rain off of the roofs of homes. For the first time on this trip I am also catching rain water to drink.

Rafal and Paula leave from here and go to New Zealand next week so for the time being we are going to explore some outer Islands and do some swimming. There are a few nice resorts close by so we will go check them out also. There is WIFI here so when we return this weekend I will Skype my family.

I will talk to you soon.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Western Marovo Lagoon

Hello All,
We left Marovo Island yesterday between rain and overcast sky's and anchored for the night by the small village of Seghe. This is the biggest village of Marovo Lagoon and home to an old American airstrip that is used by Solomon airways now. There is a P38 WWII fighter plane just off the end of the runway in 15 feet of water that we went to look at this morning. It is in almost perfect condition considering it has been in the water since the war. We took a quick look around the village this morning also before leaving to the anchorage we are at now. Seghe is famous for the "Australian Coast Watchers" of WWII. There is a mountain behind the village where the Austrians had a lookout, to give a heads up to guadalcanal, if they saw any enemy ships coming there way. I remember seeing this in a documentary one time and now I can say I have been there. Seghe is on the most Eastern point of New Georgia Island.
Besides seeing the plane wreck there wasen't much to do there so we moved on to a beautiful Island group just south west of the village. It is not charted at all so I was using an old Solomon Islands guide book to get me here and it worked out great. The Island is Mbareho and is very small with an even smaller one to the south. We anchored west of the latter one, I forget the name, it's not on a chart. My position is 08 34.64s 157 48.88E. It was a beautiful day so we had good light to see all of the hazards and got here right at 1200. We went to visit the village and took a look around. There are a few carvers here so Rafal and Paula are hoping to get one more before we leave the lagoon in the morning.
Marove Lagoon has been an experience for sure and it has been a great place to visit. I would recommend this place to any cruiser wanting to see the best of the Solomon's.
We have a few options for the next anchorage and haven't decided but we hope to be in Gizo by Tuesday this week.
Talk to you soon.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Hello All,
I thought I would write today and tell everyone at home that I hope they had a good turkey day. They don't celibrate that here so it was basically just another day. We ended up staying one more day here because the weather was rain and overcast. Here in the lagoon it is full of hazards and not all are marked so you need good sun light to navigate. You can see the shallow areas with the sun overhead or behind because of the water color. Light green water is shallow and just green is ok, blue is best and deep. We will try to leave again tomorrow.
Yesterday Paula and Rafal got back just before dark from their adventure to the resort across from us. They said the snorkeling was the best they have seen, seeing octopus, swimming with dolphins and many more creators. They found the resort staff to be very friendly and showed them where the best spots were. At the time they were there the management told them that the whole place was rented by some American doctors on a diving holiday. When they are not diving and having fun they were donating there time to a dozen hospitals in the area helping local staff with all of the aliments of the villagers. We thought that was very kind of them to do that, so Paula and Rafal returned very sore after going 10 miles round trip but they had a great time.
After we figured out we were not going anywhere today we went to the village where 2 of the young men that have been out to the boat a few times showed us around. They explained their culture to us in great detail and showed us a sacred area where the ancestors used to cut up there dead enemies. We even got to see some old skulls and other old body parts. It doesn't sound very good writing that but with the explanation made it much easier to handle.
We will try to leave again in the morning after we go in and say goodbye to the village. They have invited us in for breakfast. They are Seventh Day Adventists here, so tomorrow, Saturday, is there day to worship.
I will let you know what happens.

P.S. Rick sent this yesterday (11-24-2011)


Thursday, November 24, 2011

One more week for the crew

Hello All,
We are still at Marovo Island Anchorage. Yesterday we spent all day at the village visiting and having a few wood carvers show off there stuff. There is some amazing work done here, I bought a few small items but the rest we just took pictures of. Everyone here has been great and the weather has been beautiful but hot. I will not rant to much about the heat because I know what time of year it is in the North Land.
This morning Paula and Rafal set off to make a trip north across the lagoon to a resort where there is suppose to be awesome sea life. The resort is situated on the outer reef of the lagoon. They talked a local out of his canoe last night and he delivered it this morning. They were pretty excited and the wind was flat so it should have been an easy 5 mile run. They are not back as of yet but I will let you know how it turned out.
Myself, I am enjoying a nice quiet day on the boat just doing a few things. I cleaned the outside of the hull because it was getting pretty dirty looking and did some chores inside. I had a few locals stop by just to say hello. It was nice to take a break from the cleaning job. I also took the dingy up a little muddy river at the head of the bay. There were mangroves all around so it really felt like the jungle. The locals take there dug out canoes up the river to get to there gardens.
We will head out in the morning to a large village about 8 miles from here. We are almost done with Marovo Lagoon, we have been enjoying the lake like conditions at anchor. We will be in Gizo by the 29th or so, so my crew can catch a plane to New Zealand. Oh by the way, anyone want to go sailing with me in all of this heat and coconut trees? It's a real offer, I will be looking for replacements in the next month.
That's all for now.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anchorage hopping at Marovo Lagoon

Hello All,
Yesterday we moved up to an outer reef anchorage. We were able to sail most of the way with a nice and light easterly breeze. As soon as we were anchored Rafal and Paula went snorkeling to explore the deep boat pass close by and I followed them in the dingy. They swam about 2 miles in total all the way out to the Pacific Ocean and saw reef Sharks, Turtles, Barracuda, Red snapper, Manta ray, and many other things. They had a great time and I am still letting a cut heal so they told me all about it, I did have my own fun in the dingy. On my way back to the boat I had at least 50 dolphins playing with my dingy. That was pretty cool, I have had them play with my sail boat but never the dingy. You could almost touch them.
This morning we decided to go west along the northern coast of Vangunu Island and found a nice anchorage by a small village on Marovo Island. My position, 08 30.94S 157 58.49E. This Island is famous for its wood carvings. We had a little fun getting into the anchorage. It was partly cloudy and the water murky so on approach we got a really good look at the reef partly blocking the entrance right under my boat. I got the boat stoped and assessed where we needed to go to get in. We found a small pass right in front of the village. Later today I took Paula and Rafal out to the reef to snorkel and I scouted out a better pass to leave the Logoon.
No sooner did we get the boat anchored here when a dozen dug out canoes came out to say hello. They had wood carvings for sale and a few had veggies to trade for rice and things. I think we are totally stocked now with veggies and carvings.
We will spend 2 days here at least, exploring the Island and going in to visit the village.
I will keep you posted.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beautiful Marovo Lagoon

Hello All,
We made our move up north yesterday to the small village of Mbatuna. The main religion here in the lagoon is Seventh Day Adventists and Mbatuna houses the main headquarters for the church. They also fund a vocational school here. At the time of our visit to the village a few kids were graduating after 3 years of study. They teach carpentry and mechanics. We only stayed the night there and moved across to the east side of the lagoon to look at some corals. We are anchored between 2 very tiny Islands, the scenery is awesome.
Tomorrow we will move about 5 miles north where there is suppose to be another nice anchorage. Oh, I will give you my position, 08 32.73S 158 08.93E. Go find it on Google Earth you will see what I am talking about.
That's all for now.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wood Carvers a plenty

Hello All,
We are having a great time here in Mbili Passage. The last 2 days we have been visited by a dozen dug out canoes with the most beautiful wood carvings we have seen so far in the Solomon's. The wood of choice they use is Kerosen wood, which is a dark hard wood. The other is ebony and Rosewood. All of us now have a few carvings by trading stuffs or paying what little cash we brought along. I f we had to do it all over again we would have brought more tools and other things they need for trade, oh well, next time. Today we went to the small 4 family village and went to visit with one of the carvers named Alex. He came out and greeted us when we first arrived the other day. He is a really nice guy and showed us his tools and some of his work still uncompleted. Alex also has a yacht book that we signed and I gave him a picture of the boat. After visiting we took the dingy out to the reef not far from where we are anchored and Rafal and Paula went snorkeling. I stayed out of the water nursing a cut I am trying to get healed. They said the coral was amazing with lots of fish and they even got to swim with a few Manta Rays.
This is an amazing place and the people are wonderful. We will move north tomorrow 7 miles and anchor off a village on the mainland Vangunu Island.
That's all for now.


Marovo Lagoon

Hello All,
We made it to the first anchorage in Marovo Lagoon at 1345 this afternoon. My position is 08 39.82S 158 11.26E It only took us 2 hours to get up here from Nggatokae Island anchorage. This Lagoon is one of the largest in the world. That point has been argued because of Vangunu Island in the middle but none the less very big. We will be in the protection of the lagoon for a week or so visiting villages and snaking our way through all of the little Islands along the way. When we got here we were visited by 2 dug out canoes with carvings. We were so impressed by the work we made a deal on a few items.
Yesterday we went out to one of the Islands close by with the dingy and found some of the nicest coral I have seen. I keep making that statement but as I go the record keeps getting broken for the nicest place.
We will spend a few days here at Mbili Passage anchorage and check out all of the reefs around here. There are a few villages close by so we will pay them a visit also.

P.S. I keep forgetting to tell everyone that I have added some new pictures and I updated my route on my site while I was in Honiara. Take a look.


P.S.S. Mom posted this for Rick 2 days late because of power outages in Nikiski

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nggatokae Island

Hello All,
We arrived at the Island at 0930 this morning. Our position is 08 47.17 S 158 13.85 E. We got to sail a whole 10 miles of the 60 mile crossing from the Russell Islands. The wind came down and the sea was the flattest I have seen in a years time. We were not in a big hurry to get here so I only had the engine running at half speed. When we arrived here at the anchorage there were buoys to mark the entrance in. It is only a small area protected by reef so there is only room for a few boats in here and we are the only ones for now anyway. There is a small village here and a resort, which I may add is not friendly to Yachties. There is also a dive shop that is owned by Lisa. She is an American woman that lived in Hawaii for the last 30 years doing dives for tourists there. She is a character and has been here for the last 5 years. She has dove on the area since 1990 on holidays. Rafal and Paula have diving certificates and they are thinking about hiring her for a dive around one of the Islands close by.
The village here is very neat and tidy and is full of wood carvers. We got to see some work walking around and it is very nice but also very expensive. As per Solomon style every one is as nice as they can be but I won't leave anything out. I will stay optimistic and not let a few bad apples ruin this country for me. It is not visited by very many yachts so it makes it very unique. I think we will spend a few days here. We have a good feeling for this place.
That's all for now so I will talk to you soon.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Leaving Russell Island Group

Hello All,
We just left the Russell Islands this evening. We were going to leave yesterday but when we got up Saturday morning we realized our cockpit cushions were missing. We had them under the dodger but I guess it was to close to sticky fingers. We went to see the chief of the village and let him know what happened. He said he would ask around and see if he could find out who did it so we wanted to wait one more day to see if he could find them. It is not that big of a deal but it makes sitting outside a little hard on the butt.
We found a good spot to go snorkeling this morning but after Rafal saw some gray sharks that were acting weird I just stayed in the dingy and they moved over closer to the reef. Yes I am a chicken. hehe. The coral was beautiful from what they said. I took their word for it. We went back to the boat after a few hours of swimming and went to see what the chief found out. He didn't know anything as of yet but we exchanged info in hopes he can find them, give them to the police and they will send them to Gizo where we will be in a few weeks.
I get a real bitter sweet taste here, the Islands are beautiful the people have been very nice, the anchorages are fabulous but the thieving is driving me crazy.
We plan to arrive at Nggatokae Island by mid morning some time. The wind is very light but we are making 3.5 knots with a full main and the yankee jib.
Okay I must get out and keep watch tonight so I will talk to you soon.


Friday, November 11, 2011

On Passage to Russell Islands


Hello All,
We left Honiara at 1030 PM last night to do an over night passage to the Russell Islands 54 miles away. The wind is very light so have been motoring must of the way. We had a great time in Honiara. We went and snorkeled on a B-17 bomber out the road and after I went and looked at the U.S. war memorial on a hill just above town.
It is early morning here so I will be brief. I will tell you more about it tonight after some sleep.


Hello All,
We made it to the Russell Island group at noon yesterday and anchored in Lingatu Cove. My position 09 07.33 S 159 09.84 E This is a beautiful protected anchorage with a few very small villages around it. It is a little bit of a trick to get in here with the reefs but with good light it was easy. We motor sailed most of the way over here because the wind was so light. It was a beautiful sunny day when we got here and we are getting closer to the equator so I will tell you it was hot. The water temp is 93 degrees and the air temp was 95. You can almost break a sweat swimming.
We will leave here late this after noon and head for Marovo Lagoon in the Western Province. It will be another over night passage to get there.
Today we will go into one of the villages and look around. A few of the locals have come out in there dug out canoes but only to say hello.
That's all for now. Talk to you soon.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

God bless America

Hello All,
We have been having a great time in Honiara. Everyone we meet has been so nice and very helpful when we need something or ask for directions. The Point Cruz Yacht Club seems to attract locals and visitors alike and has been an experience every time we go there. We left the mooring Monday morning and decided to tie stern to, to the sea wall. It has worked out great because it offers a little more protection from the sea. Like I said before this is not a good anchorage because of the limited space between the reef that surrounds the bay and Honiara being on the North side of the Island. Before WW2 the capital was 20 miles North of here across Iron Bottom Sound on Tulagi Island part of the Florida Island group. In all of the battles driving out the Japanese it was completely destroyed by the bombings . So after the war the Solomon Islanders made Honiara the new capital. The U.S and Japanese had built up infrastructure here so they just moved into the old buildings and made a new town. Tulagi is a much more of a protected anchorage but as they say the rest is history.

I dont think I have to tell to many WW2 buffs that this place is very famous. It was a turning point in WW2 and one of the most famous and bloody battles in world history. Only because I know a little history of this place that as we entered I looked around and took pause and thought about the brave men that died here. To this day the Solomon Islanders hold a high regard for Americans and there International Airport is named "Henderson Field " named after one of the American Captains that served here. I was told by someone that the Japanese helped fund a remodel to the terminal not long ago and asked if they would change the name. The Prime Minister stepped up and said "so long as there is a Solomon Island government the name will never change". It Made me very proud to hear that.

Tomorrow we will hitch a ride westward and snorkel on a few WW2 planes and ship wrecks. Iron Bottom Sound is full of them but we dont have the time for that so we will just make do with the time we have.

Solomons has been a special place so far and we are having a great time. As you read this please take time to pause like I did and remember all of the brave men that died to make our country so great.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Honiara, the capital city of Solomons

Hello All,
We made it into Honiara at 1100 this morning. Our position is 09 25.66 S 159 57.26 E We grabed the Yacht club mooring for the night till we talk to the club and figure out where we will anchor. This anchorage is a little exposed so it is a bit rolly and there is not much space so we may have to tie stern to, to the seawall close by, we will see.
We had a great sail from Marau Sound last night. We had the wind on the stern all night so only had the main up. The wind got light coming in to the bay so we finished the trip with the engine. It is Sunday here so not much is open but we did take a look around. It is not much of a place but they do have good stores for food and I finally got some Internet. We will spend a few days here to get groceries, check into the country and I will post some pictures also. It is nice to be in civilization again.
I will keep in touch.


Friday, November 4, 2011

The Tensions at Marau Bay

Hello All,
Yesterday morning we were visited by a dug out canoe. It was Joe, chief Justin's other son. He is a wood carver and he also keeps track of yachts passing through with a log book. We signed the book and he also brought out some very nice shell sculptures and some wood carvings. He wanted to trade or get cash, either or. His prices were pretty steep. He sells his work to the resort next door to the village so he is used to getting paid well for his work so we said we would think about it. After he left we went into the village to visit with chief Justin. He showed us his home, which is a very traditional Island home made of grass and local wood. We had a nice chat with him and thought we would go to the resort to look around. We were met right away by the manager who told us there was still private guests on the Island and we would have to return in the afternoon. Judging by his attitude and this being the second time we tried to visit the resort we took this as a, go away we don't want you here. This left a really bad taste in my mouth. After being offered high priced carvings and an jerk for a resort manager I was ready to move on to Honiara. My crew told me to cool off and we will go to another Island close by and do some snorkeling and visit another village.

We took the dingy a half mile to the island just west of us and were met on the beach by a really nice guy, Jacob. He greeted us and invited us into his village to look around. After visiting with Jacob for an hour we learned he is an Attorney that works in Honiara and he was only home for a holiday visiting family. He was educated in Port Vila, Vanuatu and is very involved in politics. He told us of the "Tensions" that took place in this area from 1999 to 2003. The conflict was between the inhabitants of Marau Sound and the Islanders of the main island of Guadalcanal. It led to many deaths and gave the Solomon's a black eye for visitors to this day. Talking to Jacob and the snorkeling we did after really helped my attitude and we had a great afternoon. We returned to the boat and watched a few more M*A*S*H episodes.

Today we plan to visit another Island by dingy where there are a few more villages and find a few more places to swim. We may leave tonight for Honiara, we haven't decided yet.

I will talk to you soon.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Marau Sound, Guadalcanal

Hello All,
We made the 120 mile crossing without a hitch. The wind was very light so we had to run the engine most of the way. When we left the anchorage at Santa Ana and I gave Rafal and Paula a treat. They really love to sail and only sail. We had just enough wind to get us out of the anchorage so we put up the main and then I had Rafal get the anchor up. We got to sail off of the anchor and out into the bay without starting the engine, they thought that was pretty cool and I still get a kick out of it myself. It was not long after getting out into open water that the wind died. We did get to sail only a few times in the 24 hour crossing but it didn't amount to much. I motor sailed most of the way, meaning there was enough wind to keep the sails up but used the engine for a little speed. We had a beautiful evening last night without a cloud in the sky and the stars out bright. Rafal has been studying the stars and has heaps of constellations picked out now.

We arrived here at Marau Sound at 1100 this morning, position 09 49.39 S 160 41. 28 E. We dropped the anchor in sand and coral on the north end of a beautiful little Island. This place is located on the very east end of Guadalcanal. The sound is full of reefs, small Islands with white sandy beach's and clear water. It is like a mini Bay of Islands like in New Zealand. There is a village close by us and a small resort on the small island we anchored in front of. We got in the dingy and went to the resort Island first. The manager met us on the beach and told us there was a private wedding taking place and asked us if we could come back tomorrow. He told us he would be happy to show us around just not today. We told him no sweat we will go check out the village. We got back in the dingy and crossed the 100 yard lagoon between the 2 islands and met the Chiefs youngest son Charles. He was more than happy to show us around and we took a nice walk around the small village. Shortly after the tour Charles' dad showed up, Chief Justin. He is a really interesting guy and we plan to go back in tomorrow and visit more.

We have a really good feeling about this place and we will explore as much as we can before we leave on Sunday.

I will keep you updated.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rained Out

Hello All,
I woke up at 0600 to listen to Jim, Air of the Air, I wrote about him last year. He is an American guy that lives in Fiji and has a radio show on the single side band radio that keeps track of yachts on passage and gives weather reports. Anyway it looked to be a decent day till about 1100 when a squall came through with thunder and lightning. Well it never stoped raining untill about 5 pm tonight. Needless to say we didn't do much today. All of us were reading books and just hanging out. Unfortunatly we have to get going in the morning to make it to the east end of Guadalcanal by Thursday morning. There is some small Islands there that are protected by a reef and I have read there is good exploring and snorkeling. We plan to be in Honiara by Monday.
I will keep you posted on passage. It should take us 24 hours to get there and the wind looks pretty light but we will see.

I will talk to you soon.