Saturday, September 03, 2011

Arrival at the Solomon Islands

We arrived at the Santa Cruz islands in the Solomons yesterday after three and a bit days at sea from Efate in Vanuatu. It was a relatively good passage with wind mostly around 15 knots, occasionally more and the odd squall, and occasionally dying away to not much, but luckily only ever for an hour or two. The temperature has jumped up a notch as we are now at about 10 degrees south. We are now anchored at Shaw Point, a small, very sheltered nook in the large Graciosa Bay. As we arrived late yesterday afternoon, it was too late to attempt going into town so today we took the dinghy across to the main town to report in. There is a wharf at Lata but it wouldn't be easy to get a yacht alongside (and to deep to anchor off) made more difficult by a half sunk fishing or trading boat at the wharf. Lata is a port of entry but there are no permanent customs or immigration officials here so we reported to the police station (who may or may not send our details on) and to quarantine. The quarantine officer was found in a small room in a prefab building that looked like it was under attack from some insects that had escaped quarantine. He had an old wooden desk and various other bits of useful equipment including an old tyre, bag of cement, panes of glass and a gas bottle. Jim reckons he saw a laptop but the most modern tool I saw was a stapler. To fill in our forms, out came the carbon paper (which is an improvement on customs in Vila, where Jim filled out one form which was then painstakingly copied twice). The quarantine officer said he may get out to see the boat but we have not seen him so far. We had a quick walk around Lata, visiting 2 markets and buying some fruit and veges. Jim was impressed by the extremely large spiders with webs strung between the power(?) lines. Luckily we had managed to get some Solomon Island dollars in Vila as the ATM wasn't working (we had been warned about this so I guess it is a recurring problem). Earlier as we had departed in the dinghy, we saw a NZ registered trimaran coming into the anchorage and we caught up with the single-hander on board later in the evening. There are also lots of local boats around including some outboard driven boats but mostly single-hulled canoes, some of which are rigged with sails. The sails range from traditional looking ones to blue tarpaulins and one that looked like an oversize multi-coloured umbrella.


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