Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vanuatu to Solomons

Our journey started when we left Port Vila...finally after waiting for out engine for 3 weeks. They installed the engine and we did a few test runs and the alarm would go off after about 10 minutes saying the engine was still overheating. But they were checking the temps and everything seemed fine except for that dang alarm. They did not really know what to do after that and we didn't want to stick around waiting for them to figure it out so we just said thanks and left Vila. We bought a temp gun to check on it while we were sailing to Solomons and it was perfect! No problems except for that little annoying alarm so we just turned it off and hoped for the best :) 

We delivered some more goods to the Meskalyne Islands so that was our first stop. We dropped off chain and shackles for this little village to put in a couple moorings for cruisers which is awesome! The anchorage was rocky and did not hold so we are all about helping put in some moorings. Chief Kaisa was so appreciative and offered us veggies, squash and most importantly  MUD CRAB!! We ate like kings that night with great Vanuatu steak and crab for dinner. We ended up anchoring in Gaspards bay again on Malekula and saw a family of dugongs (manatees) and 3 of the biggest turtles we've ever seen! Unfortunately we did't take the GoPro with us that time....Still one of the prettiest anchorages we have ever been in and completely protected. 

We checked out in Santo and headed to the Banks Islands which are some of the northern most islands of Vanuatu. The first anchorage was great until the swell shifted and it was a bit rolly but we met someone from the village who took us and another boat on a hike through the jungle to this beautiful waterfall. After the hike he organized for us to have lunch at the village with the chief! The food was sooooo fresh and some of the best watermelon I've ever had. We also got to see the women of the village perform their water dance which consists of them making music by slapping the water. It was quite amazing...I've never heard anything like it! The guys went crayfish hunting at night and brought us like 7 of them in the morning so we were in heaven again lol.....never eaten so good!

We sailed over to another anchorage that had twin waterfalls where the chief actually had set up a small yacht club. We were able to use the fresh water from the waterfall to do loads of laundry, we toured the village and they fed us lunch and then we all went for a surf at the small break they have just in front of the waterfalls. I got bored on the boat one day and decided to go for a solo snorkel....great idea! I saw a leopard shark!!! It scared the crap outta me but it was so pretty! I watched it as it swam toward the reef to find lunch and I couldn't swim fast enough back to the boat where I yelled for Ty lol....I was shaking a little when I got back but I knew I was never in any real danger and I was pretty lucky to get to see that. It always happens to me that way....get in the water Jess....theres nothing in there soon as I go off alone I see something cool nobody else gets a chance to! haha

We had a good sail over to Honiara where we checked in with customs for took us about 5 days I think....We had all kinds of wind and weather along the way. The squalls are obvious so we have plenty of time to reef or take sails down. We were going to arrive just after dark so we decided to pull over to this little deserted island and anchor for the night and leave early the next day. The fishermen that came to the island for the day were friendly which is not always the case...we have heard that some of the men from the same village are not as welcoming and ask you to leave. This guy was really nice and he gave us coconuts and a coconut crab in exchange for a fishing lure and a couple of t-shirts...oh and some lollies for the kids...these kids love the lolipops! We did a dive on the reef there just to kind of freshen up and get ready for the boss to visit. It had been a while so I wanted to brush up and make sure I remembered everything. 

Honiara is a pit. I've never seen so much garbage in the water. The city was bigger that I expected and the people don't really look you in the eye. They all chew on this betle nut to get a little high. It turns your teeth red when you chew it so you can really tell who loves their betle nut! You chew the nut and then dip the leaf stem in a white powder which is supposed to be ground up coral and chew that too. It gets warm and turns your teeth red and you spit it out. It supposed to give you a little euphoric experience but I didn't like it at all....This was the first country that customs did not come to the boat. We actually had to go onshore and look for all the offices! Quarantine just asked a few questions about what we had or didn't have on board and then asked us to bring in our rubbish....yeah we carried a bag of rubbish through town and handed it over inside their office just over the counter....weird. They had a really cool museum and tons of carving and paintings everywhere which locals sold on the side of the road. 

Once the boss arrived we showed him around Honiara for a few days and then we took off for some cleaner waters. We sailed overnight to Morovo Lagoon and anchored at this little lodge called Matikuri. Benjamin ran the place and took us for a couple of dives and arranged to take us to the other side of the lagoon on a banana boat so we could fill our scuba tanks. On the way back we stopped at his village where they put on a great show for us! When we pulled up in the banana boat all the boys and some of the men jumped out of the bushes covered in mud and leaves and tried to fight us off like we were invading their land or something! It was so cool they had little shields and spears and were screaming and hollerin....Then the women displayed basket weaving, making fire before they discovered matches, building the roof and walls of houses from palms, traditional stone grill over a fire and finished off the show with music from their pan drums. The music was the best part I couldn't believe how great they sounded with just some tubes and rubber it was crazy! We thanked Benjamin and had him for dinner and beers and we left the next day for VanaVana lagoon. 

All these places, these lagoons, do not have up to date charts so when the water gets lighter in color I have to run up to the bow and tell Ty to either go left or right around bommies or coral heads if I see any. Its pretty intense when charts have all been so accurate and now we are just going blind through these uncharted waters...We caught our first squid on the squid lure at the first anchorage! He was pretty tasty even if he was a little overcooked :) We caught several fish along the way too...mostly barracuda and one trevally but they were all good eats. 

Zipolo resort is on Lola Island in the lagoon and they were so awesome they sent over a guide to come get us and show us the way to the resort! I can't tell you how relieved I was since he knew his way around the shallow spots. The lowest it got was about 4 meters though and it was all sand and grass so no real threat after all. This little bar was so great though and turns out the owner was from Seattle of all places. He married a woman from the Solomons and they have 3 girls with all work at different resorts....I use the term resort loosely by the way....:) I love these little places! We went around the island with the dinghy and went to Skull Island where there is a shrine of sorts with skulls of all the chiefs that were beheaded and shells they used to use for money. You can only find this shell in the Western Province of the Solomons. It was used to buy women from other tribes and land  and other large purchases. The skulls are surprisingly small and had no teeth on most of them. They used to take these long war canoes to other islands and the headhunters collected heads of other chiefs and tribesmen to bring back home. Headhunters....literally...headhunters....crazy times!

The boss had to fly out of Munda so we anchored in front of the Agnes Lodge there in the town. Great place...terrible food...haha....everything comes in frozen and they don't have an oven...or a our meals were microwaved every night...blah! Microwaved crayfish....yuck....But the people were nice and the bar had really cold beer and our laundry has never smelled so clean! It's been months since we had access to a dryer! It's the little things :) All in all the boss had a great trip we will see him again in Papa New Guinea in November. 

We are now on the prowl for batteries. Bossman saw how bad they are and wants us to get all new batteries in Gizo which is why we are here. Also for the gasket for the starboard engine which is not well right now. We are hoping the gasket is all that needs to be replaced and it's not going to be another overhaul. Fingers crossed!!!
Snorkel selfie!!

Skull Island is small and you can get to it by dingy. It's a very short walk through the bush to get to the mound of skulls and shell money

Skull Island in the background

Going up the river by banana boat to see some saltwater crocs!

Happy hour at the Havannah resort in Vanuatu

Tour of the village with Chief Kaisa after delivering the mooring supplies

Making us some gato (it's like a doughnut..not a cat)

These were great with a little sugar and coffee

mmmmm I could eat mud crab every day!


The kids always amaze me! they smallest ones are already rowing in canoes and climbing trees and using machetes!

Fresh homemade flour tortillas with freshly caught mahi beer battered and served with cabbage and pico....omg yum

The first waterfall  we hiked to in the Banks Islands

Our guide that set everything up for us...the waterfall hike, lunch with the chief and the water dance

lots of pigs everywhere...they act like dogs sometimes lol

Look at all this crayfish!!! All we added was some drawn butter with lemon and salt

Our laundry hanging to dry in the twin waterfalls bay

Irish James and I at twin waterfalls

Chief James took us on a tour of his village and fed us a wonderful lunch

You get shopping malls...I get this. lol

Lunch with Chief James

We traded nails and tshirts for this big coconut crab!!! He was delicious.

That's a coconut on top of my cup. I'm getting the water from it.

Spinnaker sailing is always so smooth

walking through the bush

This guy is making the kava that they will be drinking later that night

He can't be more than 6....his bush knife is almost bigger than he is!!! That is a nut he is trying to crack open and it kinda taste like walnut  but milkier

Cutest pig EVER!!!

Twin Waterfalls...great for showering!

It's is not unusual to find men holding hands around these parts...

One of the houses in the village

Hog tied!!! He was a bad piggie that day so he is in time out...and yes he is alive

We have been baking bread lately...and its great with a little butter

We even made pasta one night...this was like a ravioli and was stuffed with roasted pumpkin

Look at that sky!! wow

Benjamin and I became great friends. I am highly recommending him to other cruisers to go to his resort.

Benjamin's village where they put on the show for us

He was one of the front men yelling and poking his spear at us...check out his beard!

pan drums

The men played while the women sang and danced. It was amazing!

Fuel station...we got some petrol for the dingy out of one of these spouts..

This is actually an international airport!

Official airport where the airstrip is also the soccer field lol

sailing to VonaVona Lagoon

Our guide to take us to Lola Island

I loved this bar and they had great food

Salt water croc skull

Where else can you swing over black tip reef sharks?!?!?

Skulls on Skull Island

Little creepy

Our newest crew member!

I think these guys look drunk and happy hahahaha

Most hotels have these huge craving at the entrances 

We took a tour on a banana boat and this island was built by the villagers who just one day decided they didn't want to live with the other villagers so they built this island rock by rock....brought over soil and planted trees and built their own houses

In these villages in Solomons most of the houses are built on stilts and built up 2 stories sometimes

This is one of the headhunter war canoes. It could fit 24 headhunters

We would come up to these sleeping crocs and they would jump up and run to the water to find some deep part of the river to hide in...they scared me...

this one was really big and made a huge scene jumping to the water just in front of our banana boat....

This little guy never woke up 

The hike to this waterfall was a real bush walk with no real trail, tones of spiders and fire ants and glowing mushrooms! Seriously people will put these on the head and use them like a head lamp at night

the waterfall close to munda that our guide took us to

the 1st Texans to ever come here!!!

So now we are anchored in front of Fatboys bar and restaurant/resort and we cleaned the bottom of the boat....and the top of the boat...We were under serious attack in Munda by these crazy island birds!!! They started to build a nest in the folds of our main sail so we took out the twigs and cleaned all the poop off the deck....then we went to shore for a beer with the boss and a few hours later we came back to the worst attack ever made on mankind from this bird! They got so upset they called all their friends and bombed our boat! There was not one spot on the deck that wasn't covered in crap!!! They kept coming back too and we would spray the boat down to keep it from staining but our efforts were useless against their attacks. So we left as soon as the boss flew out and I got out the rubber gloves and bleach and hand scrubbed every single stain off the only took me 3.5 hours. Damn birds. This place is great for snorkeling and stuff but the prices at the bar are higher than anywhere else in Solomons so far so we won't be staying too long. Tomorrow is Monday and we have to get to Gizo to get our parts and batteries and find an electrician and a mechanic but it's only about an hour away. 

Small world. We were at the bar here at Fatboys after cleaning the bottom of the boat and this couple came up to us to ask if we were on the South Arican yacht out there. We get that alot. We explained our situation and told them about the sailing school in Langebaan that we went to and he knows the owner!!! He sailed with Jaco, the owner of the school at the time we were there, from France to South Africa! What are the chances of meeting someone like that here in a place as remote and small as this?!?!?!

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