Category Archives: Solomon Islands

Sailing the Solomon Islands

We left Gizo and headed to the nearby Vonavona lagoon, a lagoon made by the low lying islands and huge reefs running from them. I soon found out that the charts we had were very poor for this area as they rarely showed any of the reefs which can be huge and very shallow. Fortunately Jimmy had purchased a sailing guide which was slightly better but you still needed somebody standing on the bow looking out for any shallow areas. We stopped near a resort called Sanbis, always handy when you can moor somewhere and still have restaurant and bar facilities nearby !!

Sandis resort solomons

Sandis resort solomons

We snorkelled right outside the bar which overlooked the reef – We went for a walk from Sandis until we got to another resort called Fatboys. This also overlooked a fabulous reef with crystal clear water as far as the eye could see.

Local church on the island –

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View from Fatboys bar –

Fatboys resort solomons

Plenty of snorkelling to be done !!

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This particular island may not look like much to the likes of me or you but to the crew of torpedo patrol boat PT-109 it was a life saver.

Kennedy island solomons

Their boat was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri when spotted, two of the American crew were killed by the impact but the rest were instructed to swim ashore by the boats captain a certain Lieutenant Kennedy. They found no water on the island so they set off again to a neighbouring island 4 kms away. It was from their they managed to send a message with the help of two locals, they told him how to inscribe some words onto a coconut shell and then they delivered it to his superiors. The remaining men were all rescued and Kennedy remembered the local men so much he invited them to his inauguration when he became president. Sadly when the men flew to America they spoke no English so the confused immigration officers sent them back from whence they came !! Should have taken some coconuts I guess……….

The island known locally as Kasolo island or Plum Pudding island, will forever more be known as Kennedy Island.

Kennedy island solomons

We returned back to Gizo to provision the boat and prepare for our trip to Papua New Guinea. Before we left the Solomons we called back into Liapari as Jimmy had already visited there and was keen to see how some new building works were progressing.

The narrow entrance through the reef, between the sticks please !!

Liapari solomon islands

The owner Noel had plans to build a new restaurant/bar building to encourage more yachties there, the anchorage outside in the lagoon was certainly a great place for shelter and very picturesque too. The three storey building couldn’t be built from the ground up as his cranes weren’t tall enough to put the top floor on. Not to be deterred he started building from the top down, the top floor having just been pulled up into place a couple of days before we arrived back.

Liapari boat yard solomons

Jimmy had already visited Noels boat yard and upon hearing that some of his workers and local villagers needed glasses started testing them and handed them out. Some were so thrilled that they kept them at home so they weren’t going to get damaged. The idea was to wear them at work so they wouldn’t overfill the engine oil !! We had 2/3 days at Liapari enjoying Noels and his wifes company before needing to move onto PNG. I hope to go back there one day and see the finished facilities as it sure has the right location for a cruisers yacht club !!

Liapari boat yard solomons

Off to the Solomons !!

A new adventure was about to begin as i had a new crew position to take up in the Solomon Islands. I was about to join another catamaran which was currently touring the Solomons and about to travel to Papua New Guinea.

I arrived in Honiara, Solomon islands after a great 3 hour flight from Brisbane with Solomon Airlines. As soon as you boarded the plane you knew it was going to be a pleasant experience, mellow island music played over the stereo and the happy go lucky staff welcomed you with a smile. No waif like stewardesses here, larger women with big perms, bigger personalities and flowers in their hair showed you to your seat and carried out the safety instructions.

Arrival at Honira airport –

Honiara solomon islands

The Honiara ‘International’ airport –

Honira international airport

The heat and humidity had increased a lot since Brisbane, another dry dusty town had been found. Hoards of beaten up mini buses blocked the roads and tried to grab the attention of all the local people standing by the roads side. Sadly Honiara town itself didn’t seem to have to much to offer for the tourist, nothing within easy walking distance anyway. There were some beaches a few kilometers away, some war memorials, waterfalls and light trekking but with only a day and a half to kill before my flight to Gizo I just hung around town and did some shopping for parts of the next boat I was to join.

I visited the Point Cruz Yacht Club for a couple of beers, based next to the waters edge I could see a couple of sailing boats moored but clearing not an active area for yachties.

Point cruz yacht club

Point cruz yacht club

I stayed at the King Solomon hotel which had an interesting little cable car which took you up to the three different levels of rooms built in the hillside. Run by an expat it mostly catered for business folk travelling in and out of Honiara, the room was basic but had a/c which nearly kept the room cool.

Time had come to leave Honiara and travel to Gizo in the western province. My next sailing trip would take me from the Solomons to Papua New Guinea including New Britain and New Ireland. The boat was waiting for me in Gizo so I had to get an internal flight, another flight with Solomon Airlines which I was looking forward too !!

The domestic terminal had clearly seen better days, pot holed roads lead up to the entrance and the local cats enjoyed the dustbin waste.

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The toilets were locked, a problem when your drinking copious amounts of fluid due to the heat, but I sat down to enjoy the restaurant facilities nevertheless. Pie and coke it was, much to my delight the pie was warm and the coke was cold, what more do you really need ? I’m glad I got their early as the meat pies were clearly a favourite and sold like hot cakes.

Leaving Honiara –

Honiara solomn islands

The good thing about flying around the Solomons is that they fly at only about 6000ft giving you excellent views of the islands. Most of the Solomon Islands are very low level and are surrounded by reefs, this can clearly be seen from the air.

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My flight made a quick stop at Munda, dropped some people off, picked up some more and then we were on our way again to Gizo. ┬áDespite the flight being less than 45 minutes in duration the girls still managed to serve refreshments, water and biscuits it was –

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The landing strip (airport) at Gizo was in fact two islands that had been filled in and squashed together, Nusatupe was actually not at Gizo but a small ferry ride away by small boat.

Twin prop plane at Nusatupe –

Nusatupe airport

Whilst waiting for the boat I bumped into a Scottish man who had been working in the Solomons for many years, when the ferry got to Gizo I met Jimmy my new skipper who was Irish, there should have been a joke in there somewhere – there was an Englishman, Irishman and a Scotsman………

I met Jimmy and was taken back to his boat which was anchored just outside Gizo harbour, no marina here !! Jimmy had an Admiral 38 catamaran which he purchased new in South Africa and then set sail heading west over 7 1/2 years ago.

Details of the Solomons to follow……….