Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lots of villages. No internet.

Port Mary, Santa Ana Island. Our boat became the playground
for the local kids, who were on holiday.
Since we left Luganville almost two months ago, we have been in some of the most remote places that we have cruised to date: The Banks and Torres Islands (Vanuatu) and The Reef Islands (Solomons).  The internet has been even scarcer than usual and, more often than not, nonexistent.  Hence, our failure to update the blog for over two months.
Chief Godfrey at a rock spinning ceremony.
Veutumboso Bay (Vanua Lava, Vanuatu) 

Retrieving a wayward coconut crab.
Hayter Bay (Torres Islands, Vanuatu)

We traded for coconut crab, which we hadn't tried before.

Mark and Sarah with one of our cooked crabs.
Since arriving in the Solomon's,  we have been in the company of not just one, but two other kid boats (Field Trip and Rehua). After checking in at the tiny hamlet of Lata, we decided to head off to the relatively unvisited Reef Islands.  Only one other boat has visited this year and the villagers viewed us as a bit of an oddity, as if the circus had just arrived in town (and with 6 rambunctious kids, it sort of had).  There were no stores here and we were running low on fresh produce when luckily, Matt (along with the guys on the other boats) helped some of the villagers with repairs to their outboards and other engines, which garnered us some gifts in the form of  much-needed produce.

Mohawk Bay, Reef Islands (Solomon Islands)

Fenualoa, Reef Islands (Solomon Islands)
Fixing an engine for some produce was a deal that worked out for both sides, but there was no time for Matt, Mark and Seathan to rest on laurels because word got around that the cruisers were working miracles with engines and sewing machines. Engines and machines started coming out of the woodwork and pretty soon all the cruiser men's time was spent fixing. When we got to the next anchorage, 13 miles away, word had already traveled and the men were working on generators almost as soon as we arrived. 

Halloween. Rowa Islands (The Banks, Vanuatu).
The sailing has been challenging because of the unsettled weather. Wind has been more often than not accompanied by squalls. Our headsail ripped during one trip when the webbing chafed through (Rehua ripped their genoa on the same trip). We were fortunate that Field Trip has a heavy-duty sewing machine and was willing to help us fix it. We owe them a bunch of new needles that snapped under the strain of all the material being sewn together.

We hung around this curious cuttlefish (bigger than a football)
for about 1/2 an hour, until we got cold.
We also experienced our first major earthquake. We awoke at 4:30 a.m. one morning to a heavy rumbling noise while the boat was getting pushed and jerked about. We were sure that the anchor had failed and the boat had gone up on the reef. When we figured out that the boat hadn't changed position, we slowly made out that there had been an earthquake. We found out later that it was a 7.8 magnitude quake that happened about 40 miles away. Fortunately, it was deep enough and had an island between us and the quake that there was no tsunami. A coconut tree or two fell down at the village near us and a couple of buildings in Kirakira collapsed, but no one was injured.

It is miserably hot and humid, especially when it rains and we need to shut the hatches and choke off the little air movement there is. We kind of minimized the warnings we got about the heat and humidity here, but it is the worst we have experienced in our four years on the boat. I'm sure that about half an hour in Chicago's subzero temperatures would make me appreciate the warmth, but right now I am just hot and cranky.  Unfortunately we still need to get even closer to the equator before we get to the Solomon's "main" cruising grounds...

We're greeted by a lot of teeth
reddened by betelnuts.

Conrad helping to grate cassava.

Cubs win!


  1. Thank you for updating the blog despite humidity. Have been an avid reader all along.

    Burl Willes, friend of Francine and Vincent
    Berkeley CA

    1. Fran mentioned you when we last spoke with her. Thanks for reading!

  2. Really enjoyed reading this blog.
    Windchill is about -15 degrees right now but at least no mosquitoes.

    1. The mosquitoes didn't last and sometimes we get a cool night. Hope it's not too cold a winter for you...


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