Monday, October 10, 2011


When we got to Honiara, there were quite a few boats already anchored there, as well as some local boats on moorings. We managed to squeeze ourselves in to a spot reasonably close in. We had heard that in the past yachts tied stern-to against a wall but while we were there this was filled with decrepit local ferries and traders. The anchorage was all calm when we arrived but we were told, and then discovered for ourselves, that it can get quite choppy in the afternoons. Ashore, there is a landing spot for the local coming in from the off lying islands, colourful, small fibreglass boats. This meant that these boats came roaring through the anchorage all day and into the night (5 knots, what 5 knot rule?) although the tender to a large motorboat that anchored outside was no better!). Next to this was the Point Cruz Yacht Club, a hang out for wealthier locals and disgruntled Aussie expats. It was also very cool (at least compared to the yacht), served cold beer at reasonable prices and (best of all, at least for Jim) had a resident cat. We could have done with a cat on board to keep away the flocks of small birds that liked to perch on the stays of the anchored boats and make a mess on deck. Our first task in Honiara was to complete customs and immigration clearance. This was quite pricey but not as bad as Vanuatu, and at least here we have seen a few more working lights and beacons etc than in Vanuatu so feel we are getting something for our money (the port dues, which were charged in US dollars then converted to local currency, accounted for most of the fees). We also did a bit of stocking up in dusty, rubbish-filled, downtown Honiara. There was rubbish everywhere, including being burned in large piles with the not so fragrant smoke drifting over the anchorage. The beach where we landed the dinghy was strewn with rubbish including broken glass and rusty tin cans, enhanced by what appeared to be virtually an open sewer running nearby. One of the other charming aspects of Honiara were the betel-nut chewers who spit red juice all over the pavement. Betel-nut, which is chewed as a combination of a nut, leaf (or bud) and lime (as in the mineral not the citrus), and individual cigarettes were for sale every few metres along the main road. So why did we stay here for well over a week...

...the diving! We were lucky enough to make contact with a friend's brother and his wife who are currently living in Honiara. Paul is a keen diver and took us to three dive sites near Honiara. All three were wrecks of Japanese naval cargo ships which had been sunk trying to land supplies ashore in WWII. Two of the wrecks were accessed straight from the beach and one involved about a 200m swim out from the beach. All three were excellent dives (we did 5 dives in total). The life, fish, coral, fans etc, was beautiful and we did some lovely swim throughs with great light filtering in through cargo hatches and shell holes. On one dive we swam up through a shell hole. Jim enjoyed spotting various bits of ship construction. All in all some great diving -thank you Paul!

I also managed to get off the boat for a night (leaving Jim to look after the boat -there is no truth in the rumour that he spent the entire weekend ashore drinking beer and sharing fish and chips with the cat!) to go for a walk up into the hills with Paul and Nicki. We camped at the site of a Japanese campsite during WWII. There were a lot of relics remaining, including guns, shells and bullets. Thankfully, the Japanese embassy had recently repatriated most of the bones. We spotted an eagle overhead and the nights sleep was interrupted by cicadas that sounded like car alarms, but we were not disturbed by the ghosts that are reputed to haunt the spot.

We finally left Honiara for one night in the Florida group before heading across to the Russell Islands. We found out that on our last night in Honiara, a couple of boats in the outskirts of the anchorage had had stuff stolen.

...but did we mention the diving was excellent!


Blogger wanderingstar said...

Cheers from the Howie clan

6:54 am  

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