Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reef Islands and other stuff

We are now anchored in our fourth Solomon's' anchorage. From Shaw Point we sailed out of the bay accompanied by dolphins and along the coast for an overnight stop at Byron Bay before heading out to the Reef Islands (the Solomons' version as compared to the Vanuatu Reef Islands). This is a series of low islands and underwater reef systems to the north of Ndendo. These islands are not mentioned in the main cruising guides for the Solomons so not many yachts go there but we thought we'd give it try and if we couldn't find an anchorage we would just keep going to Makira (Santa Cristobel). The weather gods did their best to keep us away, as the day was overcast with several rain squalls going through while we were on passage. As we approached the islands the rain had abated but the overcast skies made spotting the reefs more difficult. In full sunshine, the depth of water is easy to discern due to the colours of the clear water but this isn't as easy in poor light. The chart we have doesn't go into any detail so that was no help either. As it turned out it was not too difficult to negotiate our way along the reef and find a really nice anchorage. When the sun came out the next day, we discovered that we couldn't have done any better. Apparently some yachts go right into the lagoon but we were happy where we were, in what we think is Mohawk Bay (but this is not named on our chart).

The islands are quite heavily populated and we were soon visited by canoes and motor boats wanted to sell carvings and trade etc. Jim had a great time playing in our kayaks (white water play boats) and swopping boats with the local kids. They seemed to find him very amusing! The people were in general very friendly but we experienced our first thefts, which the Solomons are notorious for. We had some stuff taken from the dinghy while we were diving, our fault for leaving it in there but we are used to having a 'safety box' in the dinghy. We did manage to get this back as we had a fair idea of who had taken it (as did some of the other islanders we talked to). We also had some fruit taken from the back of the boat. So unfortunately things are a bit fort knox around here which we don't really like. On the other hand we had some nice snorkeling and some stunning diving. A wall covered as far as the eye could see in all directions with fans and soft corals. We also had lunch with Ben whose English parents had sailed to the islands in the 1950/60s and settled there. He and his siblings had grown up there in a house built and designed by his mother (not sure about the turquoise paint scheme!). We were the first yacht he had seen there this year.

From there we had a 2 day sail to Olu Malau (Three Sisters) where we are now. The passage was quick but we are really feeling the heat especially if we have to have the hatches closed if there is spray on deck. This is another beautiful spot and the locals seem well off by island standards so are not particularly interested in us. In the Reef Islands we were told there are sometimes food shortages in winter. We have been enjoying walking around the island after ascertaining that this is okay. The island is the site of an old copra plantation and some of the buildings etc are still in use. There is quite a bit of bird life and the usual skinks and large spiders. We have been told that there are no crocodiles -only at the 'other end' but we are still a little nervous when snorkeling or even swimming from the yacht!


Blogger Sharon said...

Sounds like you guys are having a fantastic time. Glad to see that all is well with you both. Love Sharon

1:45 am  
Blogger wanderingstar said...

Fantastic. Andy Helen and crew

5:59 pm  

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