Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Paradise Harbor

From Kolombangara we sailed across the Kula Gulf to New Georgia Island. Here, we came to Paradise Harbor.

A very narrow channel through the reef marked by sticks led us into the small bay, protected on all sides, 40 ft deep, and great holding in mud. Well, the mud was really a mess...

The village here is big! Almost 3000 people. We watched hundreds of canoes paddle across the bay every day. Women heading up the river to clean pots, or do laundry. Heading out to the gardens. Men heading out to fish. Kids goofing off.

We were visited by canoes constantly while at anchor, beginning at about 7:00 in the morning! Usually it was kids with things from the garden to trade for candy, cake, clothes, or hair pins. We often would send the kids on missions with very specific instructions just to keep them busy, “We need 11 oranges, 3 peppers, 20 tomatoes, and 1 pineapple!” It was like managing a circus! We appreciated having all of our groceries brought to us.

Here, we bought a dugout canoe. And it was not as easy at it looks! Growing up paddling these very narrow canoes, the locals are brilliant at it. With a bit of practice, we managed to get both of us cruising around if we sat in the bottom of it. Loving the glide.

We loved the river here!! When living in a hot and humid tropical clime, you really appreciate abundant, cool, fresh water to swim in. We bathed everyday, just because we could. Scrubbing ourselves with soap all over, even though we had only been showering once a week for the past few months and totally adjusted to that. We would paddle our canoe up the river everyday, swim, then hike around the jungle.

One afternoon we took the dingy out of the harbor to find some snorkeling. We anchored on a reef shelf and jumped in. This ended up being my favorite snorkeling I’ve had on the trip. The shelf dropped off down to the deep with tons of fish swimming around. Big tunnels and gaps in the reef to swim through. Also, some very curious black tip reef sharks coming through checking us out, obviously doggin us.


We anchored here to wait for a weather window to cross the 70 miles to Isabel Island. While we were waiting though, we got a report of a tropical storm developing to the north of us, and it was headed straight towards us. We didn’t really know what to expect as the forecast kept changing, showing between 25 and 40 knot winds, and one day the forecast had it moving to the east of us, and the next day the forecast would have it moving to the west. Which side of us it went would make a big difference as to the weather we would see. We were very well protected in the harbor, but just to make sure we’d be safe, we hauled up the anchor, took off the danforth, attached the fisherman’s to the end of the chain, then attached the danforth to the same chain about 25 ft up. So, both anchors were on the same chain. This is supposed to give better holding compared to putting out two separate anchors. As it turned out the storm went right over the top of us, so the winds weren’t as bad, just tons of rain for 3 days.

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