After 12 days at sea we are now anchored in the Solomon Islands!!Ye ha -
Feels so goood!! It was 8am yesterday morning that we made landfall. We anchored just across the bay from Lata (where you can informally check into the Solomon Islands). It took about 10 minutes in the dingy to get from our anchorage into Lata. We were a bit intimidated to go ashore at first – there were about 100 people around the wharf as well as the fact this was a new country of many unknowns. However our doubts were definitely unfounded. As soon as we got ashore people were helping us with the dingy and introducing themselves if they could speak English. We met Andrew who is from the Reef islands and already knew of the Oceanswatch team. We walked through town and were quickly befriended by a guy called Paul who showed us to the police station and quarantine officer. A very affable guy and extremely nice of him to spend his afternoon showing us around town – although he has just paddled out to visit us this morning to trade vegies for tshirts and sell some carvings so there may have been a few ulterior motives there
We met Luke the quarantine officer and he told us he needed to come aboard Confederate so we all jumped in the dingy and made our way back over to the other side of the bay where Confederate is perched with a backdrop of lush forest and a small village. We had some tea and biscuits, filled out a few forms and then got our first lesson in pidgen English. Pidgen is spoken in Vanuatu, Solomons and PNG, although different versions in each place, it is our first encounter with the strange language. We learned how to say what country are you from = wen em place b’long u? There’s no sun = em sun no good, when talking about someone else = that fella man or that fella girl and how are you = you how? Disclaimer – Ok so some of these may not be 100% accurate in terms of spelling and wording but you get the gist. Luke let out a deep bellied laugh as Robin and I practiced.
We dropped Luke back into town, grabbed some of the local beer ‘Solbrew’ and some things from the market (including fish and chips!) and then came back to the boat exhausted but thrilled at the same time. We settled into an abnormally still Confederate, after 12 days of ocean swell, and lapped up our fish n chips, solbrew and movie. It’s amazing how such simple things can become the most delightful treat after being on passage, or in any sort of hardship for that matter. Luxury is definitely relative.
We slept for a glorious 12 hours and woke to a visit from Paul who brought eggplants, sweet potato, some weird shaped oversized beans, and coconuts. Then Charles appeared – he wanted a CD in return for coconuts, limes, and grapefruit. We get the impression that the market will come to us here in the solomons. When we offered money for the vegies a look of disappointment came over Charles’ face, he wasn’t interested in money but only the things that he couldn’t buy here in Lata. Both visitors paddled across the bay from Lata (a distance of 1.7nm) in their dugout canoes, in the pouring rain, to trade. There are many people out in the harbour fishing in the unsteady looking canoes, some with small sails – an impressive site
Photos will follow when we get some internet in the next couple of days. For now this post comes direct to you via satellite phone from the graciosa bay, solomons.
Love from Confederate