We left Honiara and had an over-nighter to the Morovo Lagoon. Nothing exciting, just lots of motoring, since the wind doesn’t blow here, ever. The entrance to the lagoon was through a fairly narrow pass but it was easy, Zach was on the bow piloting around the reefs as the charts did not show so much detail. We tried to get diesel where the cruise book said, but not luck. We motored around for some time before stopping at the wood carver village of Telina.

Telina was a nice looking little village, but we never got the chance to visit. This is the first place where I think I have worried about security since Jamaica or so. I rigged a bell to the lifelines and slept outside with a couple of loaded spear guns and the flare gun. I probably would not have been so worried but a Swiss man told me there had been some yacht boardings in the past. Later I looked this up and the only thing I could find was that a dinghy was stolen about 15 years ago. The paranoia was completely unjustified and in the morning many of the carvers came out to the boat.

What was really great was that instead of just wanting to sell their carvings, these guys where really into trading. It worked out well for us as we have had some extra stuff we have been packing around. For example, one guy wanted a bag for his family to travel with, well, wouldn’t you know it, we just happen to have this old suitcase that Zach used to bring a bunch of boat parts and we have been trying to figure out how to get rid of it. Perfect, we made the trade, he loved it. All sorts of things got traded, this man needs tools, I had a rusty hammer, a tape measure in inches and old chisel, that lady wanted some towels, yep got some of those that have been trashed on the trip, she wanted them. Old fishing lures, yacht bags, old t-

shirts, they wanted all of it and happily traded their carvings and just a little money. These carvings are nice too, the best I have seen since the Marquesas. The ones pictured here are canoe figure heads (I might mount one on Slick) the one with the bird means they are visiting in peace and the one with the skull means they come for war. Cute.

We finished trading with the locals and continued our quest for diesel. After stopping at several islands we found the right one, it was well hidden but had the right stuff, at about US$10/gallon. Ugh, I reluctantly bought ten gallons and we went to leave the sound. Too bad my charts were way off and we ended up on the wrong side of a reef, so after some skillful navigating and sigting by both Zach and I we worked out how to cross the shallow reef (we found a deep channel, after nearly running aground) and we cleared out of Morovo Lagoon. The lagoon was nice, but the water was no tclear. It reminded me a lot of the Society Islands with less people, dirtier water and more canoes.

The way to Gizo was another over-nighter. It went OK with the exception of ramming a giant log at about two in the morning. The log was probably as long as Slick, but not so wide. We cleaned the bottom and inspected it right away in Gizo and there was no damage. There were even a few other yachts in Gizo when we got there and it was nice to talk to some new people. A Danish boat was there, Mie, that we have been seeing since Fiji and we finally got to meet them. Also, another boat we saw in Fiji, Top Secret, welcomed us. They brought some sad news though, as one of the boats we met in Port Villa, Shark Face, was dismasted in a developing cyclone in the same waters we had been in a week earlier. I am still not sure of the fate of this boat, and the last news was a plane was sent from Honiara to look for them, so if anyone happens to know the fate of Shark Face, please let me know.

Gizo is not such a nice town though but the bar PT-109, which is also the yacht club is very welcoming. The town was destroyed in a tsunami in 2007 I think and so everything has been slow to rebuild. It is sort of like an Amish town trying to be modern. It certainly didn’t meet my expectations and I could not imagine spending a full cyclone season here. Hot, too hot really, humid, boring, all that and more. We get canoed about 8 times a day by different carvers from around the islands wanting to sell us whatever. Since we stopped by Talina though, we don’t need or want anything more and this usually makes the carvers unhappy. There is good ice cream here though. We also ran out of propane in Gizo, and we tried to get more but the regulators were different than the one we had from Panama. But that’s OK, Mie was able to sell us an extra cylinder they had, complete with regulator. The only problem now was what to do with the old aluminum cylinder (which I really like but didn’t really want as a souvenir). We left after a few days for Noro.

The trip to Noro was kind of nice, you go out through the lagoon around Gizo, and exit by the island which JFK swam to after his PT-109 was sunk, then you sail through the same waters where it was sunk, through the very nice Blackett Strait and then you turn south an head for Noro. First you see the fish processing plant, then you smell it. Then you are in a very commercial port where the yachts (I say yachts as though there are many, or at least two, but the only one we saw was leaving before we were even close) are in this lagoon surrounded by reef. The only way in is through a 4 meter deep hole blasted through the reef, it is maybe 20 feet wide and marked with the typical third world day-marker, a big stick in the mud. No problem, but the anchorage inside is full of coral, so holding is good, just get your chain stuck around a bombie and you won’t go anywhere. We went there to get fuel and check out, but lucky us, a Maersk Container Ship was dock-blocking us. Port authority assured me they would leave in the morning. OK, we can wait. But that night we met the navigator, he rowed over to Slick. At first we could not figure out why the local was wearing an orange life jacket, but when he spoke English so well we realized it was crew from the ship. We had a nice chat but he also said the ship was not leaving till 1600. Great. The next morning port control confirmed we could not get fuel and so we headed to Lola Island in the Vonovono lagoon.

Lola was great and I wish we had spent more time there instead of Gizo. There is a little resort there run by a nice American guy and good internet and it is beautiful there. It took a ton of navigating nerve though and sighting from the bow by Zach. There are no charts to get in there and it is a maze of reefs, but we made it. We met the yacht “Doin’ It” and had a nice evening. We have been seeing that boat all over but finally got to meet them. The next morning we came back to Noro.

The container ship was gone, but we were dock-blocked again by two fishing boats. But this time they were getting fuel too so we only had to wait our turn. But it took 5 hours or so before we got a chance to fuel. Great. And the guy pumping the fuel was probably drinking too much of the diesel on the side as he was not able to fill a jerry can to save his life. One he way overfilled and it geysered out diesel when he removed the nozzle, and the other three were only half full. Thanks buddy. The other thing was this was supposed to be duty free but I had to pay goods tax, which made it the same price as in Honiara. Ahh, I should have just topped up there, if I had just known all the trouble. As soon as we were topped off through, I went to Customs and Immigration and checked out. We just wanted to get the hell out of there. As we cast off lines, we left the old propane cylinder on the pier and gave the port the bird and left to return to Gizo.

Anyway, we will be leaving soon for Palau. On the picture to the left, Palau is the tiny island in the upper left. And that ugly thing is a cyclone that formed almost at the equator, which is very unusual. In any case, it is in our way, and will be all next week so instead of heading north then west as planned we will head west first, along the coast of PNG maybe to Duke of York Island, and then when the cyclone is cleared turn north and cross the ITCZ and hopefully be home free. It is about 1700 miles and very little wind, so on the diesel fill up, Shirley and Shielah came out of the lazerette to live in the pit once more.

The time in the Solomons has been interesting but not as fulfilling as Vanuatu. On one hand the place is very isolated and you can go days without seeing another yacht as there are only about 10 boats in the entire country at the moment. This allows one to really feel the place without all the tourist and yachtie catering. On the other hand, it is quite lonely. With Joep gone the boat is not quite as boisterous. Plus we are only meeting boats new again, so no old friends. No Obelisk or Baten Anna, and certainly no Evergreens or Aqhuabi. But I guess that is the charm of the Solomons, lots of nothing. A very expensive nothing, but still nothing. Just real natives, wildlife, the sea, thunderstorms and no wind.