Saturday, April 27, 2019

A Few Days in Munda

We enjoyed our stay in Munda, Western Province, Solomon Islands. Munda is a small town--about 3 blocks wide and 3 deep, plus an airport. It's primary claim to fame is the airport, plus a road and water link to Noro. A couple of weeks ago they initiated the first direct flight from Brisbane, Australia to Munda, to try to encourage tourism in the Western Province.

Some of the Curious Kids at the Wharf in Munda

In Munda, the cruiser hangout is Agnes Lodge, a very cruiser-friendly/tolerant place. Steps out Agnes Lodge's front door is the local market, and up the main street are a number of small stores, where we were able to buy supplies, fresh bread, and top up our cell phones. We had a couple of happy hour evenings on the deck at Agnes Lodge, and dinner a couple of times too.

There is some diving in the lagoon (WW2 airplanes), but Dave has been fighting a suppurating tropical infection on his leg, and staying out of the water. So we skipped the diving for now.

We did fit in a fun half-day trip with Dive Munda to hike up to a waterfall.

Our Group Crossing the River

Like similar trips we have done recently, we expected a two hour easy hike and it turned out for us as a four hour difficult hike. We marveled at the young apprentice guides who came with us, skipping across the top of the rocks in the river in their flip-flops. Meanwhile, us old folks stumbled and slipped along in our $100 hiking shoes, unbalanced and fearful of breaking a leg 1000 miles from anywhere. We understand why these 2 hour hikes turn into 4 hour hikes. (They can't believe we are so slow, especially when the bird-watchers pull out their binoculars!).

We crossed this river 9 times going up and 9 times going down

Dave Enjoying the Fall
(Note stylish "Thailand Pants" to thwart mosquitos)

Dave Behind the Fall

A Massive Tree Next to the Swimming Hole


It was a fun hike, and it signaled the end of our 4 boat group that has been traveling together since January...

Berserker, Indigo II, Ocelot, & Soggy Paws Crews, looking at rusty bits in the jungle (again!)

The next day Ocelot headed north to park their boat in Liapari for a couple of months, for a trip back to the USA. Soggy Paws and Indigo headed south towards the Marovo Lagoon, and Berzerker stayed behind for a week to wait for Craig's brother to fly in.

More Missing Updates!

Sad face. I have gotten really lame at doing regular blog updates. It's just so much easier to blast a few words and a picture on Facebook (and friend Pam Wilson has been Facebooking lots of our activities before I even get to them). Plus, I am spending a lot of time editing cruising details into my PNG Compendium and Solomons Compendium (cruising guide supplements for cruisers following in our wake).

So again, in an attempt to get going again, I'm going to list what we've been doing without a lot of explanation, and then try to do a post on what we have been up to in the last week.

My position reports via Winlink are now pretty much up to date, so you can see where we've been and where we are now.

Our Position Reports for the last few months


Follow our position reports in the future on this link:
http://svsoggypaws.com/currentposition.htm

Here are all my missing posts in the last month:

Mar 16-17 PNG, English Cove to Buka
Mar 18-19 PNG, Buka to Shortland Islands, Solomons
Mar 20 Solomons, Checking in to the Shortlands
Mar 20-25 Solomons, Fun in the Shortland Islands
Mar 26-27 Solomons, Sterling Island
Mar 28-30 Solomons, Sterling Island to Liapari
Mar 31-Apr 1 Solomons, Arrival in Gizo
Apr 2-13 Solomons, Exploring Vonavona Lagoon
Solomons, A Few Days in Noro

Monday, April 8, 2019

Rabaul to English Cove

Mar 14-15

We checked out of PNG with the Rabaul Customs officer with next port listed as Gizo, Solomons. While in town, we all hit the stores and the market for one more round of provisioning. We bought some very expensive marine 2-part epoxy in one hardware store that had some marine supplies--so we could pay back the epoxy we had borrowed to make our rudder repairs (done in Kavieng), and have a small supply on hand in case we need it again.

We left Rabaul in the early morning, headed SSE to a pair of coves on the SW end of New Ireland, named Irish Cove and English Cove. As we motored out in the glassy conditions, we motored right past the smoking volcano that we had hiked a couple of days before.

Once the wind came up, we were able to sail most of the way with the NW wind mostly behind us. However, as we approached the coast of New Ireland at Lamassa Island, the wind switched 180 degrees and came strong on our nose (some weird land breeze).

Dave wanted to see a cove that Rod Pearce (famed WWII airplane hunter in PNG) had said we could anchor, and from which we could scramble up on a ridge and find a downed Japanese plane. So we let the other boats go on to the anchorage in Irish/English Cove and we explored around a bit. We found that there was indeed an anchorage where Rod had pointed out, at approx 04 43.56 S / 152 48.08 E, in about 20-30 feet of sand/mud. This is probably only a one-boat anchorage.

There was a big thunderstorm building offshore and we still had at least an hour to go to get to the anchorage, so we didn't explore too much, but maybe we'll get a chance to go back on our way back north.

Being last in a 4 boat fleet into a tiny anchorage meant we got the outside spot. But fortunately our buddy boats had left enough room for us. We were wedged into tiny English Cove two-by-two, with Ocelot behind us hanging in 12 ft and we had to drop in about 40 ft.

It seemed like the cove was exposed to the prevailing westerly winds, but the outside reefs blocked the swell and we were fine in there. We had checked out Irish Cove and found it much deeper--we probably could not have fit all 4 boats in Irish Cove.

By the time we came in and anchored, our friends were surrounded by canoes. These were friendly curious people and it turned out that most of them were from Lambom Island nearby, where we could see a fairly large village on the satellite charts. Lambom does not have a water supply, so the villagers come daily to Irish Cove in their canoes to get water from the fresh water river that empties into the bay.

Only a few families actually live in this bay. Eventually the Lambom canoes departed as the sun started to set, and we met Passie (pronounced Posse, like the American west group that forms to hunt down the bad guys) and Joel, two of the men who live in English Cove. Both spoke really good Englsih, and neither chewed bettlenut (a mild drug from a local plant that leaves the chewers with red stained and broken teeth). So we had a nice chat with them. Passie told us we could come in to the river to get water or take a swim in their swimming hole. He also told us there was a waterfall a little ways upriver that he could guide us to if we wanted.

We had planned to depart for Buka the next morning, but we had a little happy hour conference and decided we'd stay for the day.

Passie guided us up the river to the small waterfall. It was more like a small rapids than an actual waterfall, but it was nice to get out and walk some (though a little of it was walking up the rocky river bank, and those with flip-flops struggled a bit). On the way back, we took a shortcut through some of the village's gardens. The birders in our group were happily spotting birds, too.

Back at the swimming hole, we had a nice time splashing around in the surprisingly cold clear water. Liz from Indigo brought her laundry in--the laundry she'd sent out in Rabaul came back no cleaner than when it left, and a little smelly because it never got properly dried.

The next morning we did an exhaustive look at the weather. The weather didn't look great for a long passage to Buka, but it didn't look great the next day either. So we collectively decided to go ahead and go, knowing that the forecast showed either light wind directly behind us, or light wind on the nose... we would be motoring most of the passage.

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At 3/14/2019 10:31 PM (utc) our position was 04°46.28'S 152°51.42'E
http://svsoggypaws.com/currentposition.htm