Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Repairing Your Boat in Exotic Places (Solomon Islands Version)

We are currently in the Solomon Islands. The Solomons are a tiny island country of approximately 900 islands, located off the east coast of Australia. They have had an interesting and varied history, but they are most famous these days for being the site of some major World War II battles (Guadalcanal being the most famous). They achieved independence from Britain in 1976, but still consider Queen Elizabeth II their queen (according to the Wikipedia article).

Like many other developing countries, a lot of the working infrastructure is created and maintained by foreigners. In the Solomons, it is mainly Australians who support the first-world infrastructure that can be found here.

After an encounter with a log in February on our way to PNG (account here and emergency repairs here), and another encounter with a reef also in PNG, we needed to do a little repair work on our bottom. It wasn't urgent--we weren't sinking, but we had a few weeks with no commitments, so Dave decided it might be a good time to get hauled out. It was also about time to change the oil in the saildrives.

We discovered that there are actually 3 haulout facilities in the Solomons (that we know of). We contacted all 3 shipyards and got verbal quotes to haul our 44 foot (14m) catamaran, and have her out for 5 days while we did the repairs we need. The two shipyards in/near Tulagi (Sesape and Avi Avi) are commercial yards. Tulagi is an island that a ~one hour (wet) outboard ride to Honiara, so getting supplies and repair materials is simpler. But neither location is very nice. Tulagi has a bad reputation for theft and boardings (though once up in the shipyard, there are probably guards/dogs).

The 3rd option, Liapari, is semi-commercial, but also a cruiser hangout. Noel and his wife Rosie have a nice area with a pavilion for cruiser happy hours and potlucks. With some forward planning, Noel can get stuff shipped in from Australia, or tell you where (if) you can find it in Gizo or Honiara. They do have some basic cabins on the property, so you can live aboard or in one of their cabins (at extra cost, of course). Noel runs a shuttle to Gizo at least once a week.

Liapari has 2 slipways, one set up for monohulls and a new one that Noel has recently commissioned for wider/bigger vessels up to 200 tons. The carriage on the big haulout is 24 feet wide, but there is a frame that can sit on the carriage and go under the bridge deck of a catamaran, to haul cats wider than 24 feet. Power is available (240v) and water is nearby, out of a rain-fed tank (we used buckets as we didn’t need much, but you could rig some kind of a hose if necessary).

Noel also has space at his dock for a few boats, and also a few moorings (lots of anchoring space too). A number of cruisers have left boats in the water at Noel's dock for several months at a time. Liapari is above 8 degrees S, so theoretically out of the cyclone belt. The harbor is completely enclosed by 70% land and 30% reef, and would be fine to weather anything but a direct hit from a major cyclone (unlikely given its location). Noel provides a water taxi once or twice a week so cruisers can get needed supplies from nearby Gizo. Gizo also has an airport link that, via Honiara, can get you to Brisbane and international airlines.

Noel has an extensive workshop and can do fabrication and welding, as well as mechanical repairs.

If you are in need of a haulout in the Solomons, we can recommend Liapari. Our Solomon Islands Compendium, a free downloadable PDF found on our Files Page, includes pricing and contact details for all 3 shipyards. SW Pacific Compendiums

Dave Surveying the Haulout Mechanics

The 200 Ton Trolley

Approaching the Ramp with Trolley Down

Up We Go!

Fully Out

Because we opted to just sit on our keels, rather than on Noel's strong frame that would allow lifting under the bridge deck, we stayed at a minor tilt during our haulout. But if you haul out using Noel's frame, it is angled a little bit so that you end up with the boat level. Noel has, or can build, whatever structure you need to make sure your boat sits on it's strongest part for the haulout.

Oops, Just a Small Scrape!

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Last Bag of Lays Potato Chips

I know I am way behind in recounting all of our many adventures... Sorry, we've just been having so many adventures that it's hard to keep up.

But.. this is a momentous (and sad) occasion.

We have just breeched our very last bag of Lays Potato Chips. It's a silly thing, but... for those of us out here in the wild... it is difficult sourcing all those things that make us feel at home. Triscuits (my most favorite cracker in the world) ... Cheerios (Dave's most favorite cereal in the world)... Oreos... the special only in America sweetest choclatiest cookies. Cheddar cheese... etc etc.

In Davao, Philippines, there are enough "foreigner" stores that sourcing the kinds of foods that Americans are looking for, is pretty easy. We stocked up "to the max" in December (very thankful for the fantastic shuttle provided by Holiday Oceanview Marina that made it so easy to stock up).

But it is June now, 6 months later, and all our "stocks" are dwindling. I've just opened our last bag of Lays Potato Chips. I am nearly down to my last bottle of ($4US) dark rum. (I priced a bottle of the cheapest rum available here and it was $35 USD).

We stopped in a store today in the Russell Island of the Solomons. They had about 10 cans of Solomon Islands tuna, a few bags of rice, a few cigarettes (what our boat driver was interested in). Wah, I miss the excesses of the First World. Or even the non-excesses of the third world capital city of the Solomons, Honiara.

Fortunately, we have a HUGE freezer, and it is well stocked. Plus my pantry is pretty large and we won't go hungry soon. And I've just convinced my daughter, who's flying in in mid-July, to bring an extra suitcase. We've already got an order into Amazon Pantry for a few food items we can't get anywhere here. (Cheerios, Triscuits, Italian Dressing Mix).

Here, Australian versions of potato chips are available, in some places. But, I'm tellin' ya, there's absolutely nothing like Lays.
At 6/9/2019 6:15 AM (utc) our position was 09°02.55'S 159°05.15'E