Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Honiara Hell

Honiara, while not as bad as some people had reported, was not a relaxing place. When we arrived in Point Cruz, we had to med-moor (for the first time) to the wall in very tight quarters. Fortunately, our friends on Rehua had arrived earlier that day and Seathan was a big help in getting us situated. Though the population of Honiara is only around 64,000, the city itself was overwhelming in contrast to the small villages we had been frequenting for the last six weeks. There were hordes of people, cars everywhere, and smells of copra and other industry.
We tried to get as much provisioning done as possible before everything closed for the holidays. We were already too late for the chandlery, hardware and some other shops.  We also had to finish the check in process with customs, biosecurity and immigration, finishing what was started back in Lata. We hustled through the check list of things we needed to accomplish, both because we wanted to get it done, but also because we were a bit concerned being away from the boat.  Although some people said that it was safe to leave your boat unattended, others warned that there had been thefts (one local guy said you would get robbed, no question, if the boat was left alone). In reality, Honiara probably carries risks similar to any 'big' city but we were more wary nevertheless.

Near 5 p.m. on the second day, we came back on board after a morning of errands and lunch at the local burger joint. The wind started to pick up and one of the workers from the boat next door motored over to let us know that the 130 foot steel fishing boat on the other side of Rehua had been known to drag anchor in the past. As the squall started to hit and the wind blew harder, all the tightly packed boats around us started to sway. A stern line on one of the boats to the other side of Rehua snapped and its crew struggled to put out another line. The fishing boat that we had been warned about started moving closer to Rehua. Rehua started up its engines to get ready to flee, as did we. When the big boat was within three meters of Rehua, they dropped their stern line and picked up anchor as quickly as possible. We did the same.

We went around the corner, about a mile away. The anchorage was safe, but not very protected. There was a bit of current that kept the boat broadside to the swell that the squall had kicked up. It was very wavy, with unsecured items falling down inside the boat and the waves were hitting us on the side and all over. I actually took seasickness medication for the first time in years. Audrie from Rehua, was still on shore and had to wait at the yacht club several hours until things were calm enough for her to be picked up. Field Trip, which was on a mooring, came over later that evening because the mooring ball was bashing against their boat. They picked up Audrie and dropped her off on Rehua. Everyone had a bumpy night until the seas finally calmed down in the early morning.
Rehua got their dock line the following day and picked up ours as well (the fender they had tied to their line was no longer there). We decided to stay at anchor and dinghy the mile into town. It was challenging to get things accomplished both with continuing squalls as well as a mid-week bank holiday. One day, I dropped Matt and Conrad off at the fishing wharf to do errands. A squall came through that set up a good size swell and made a pick-up untenable, even hours after the squall had passed. Matt found a cooler to temporarily store the frozen meat he was carrying and I dinghied over to Point Cruz to bring our immigration documents, so we could finish that up before we left Honiara.

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