Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Arnavan Island

With a steady light east wind we pulled anchor and made our way back north to our anchorage at Kale.  A beautiful slow sail that took most of the day.  We planned to stay here just a day or two before sailing onward to Arnavan island, but the winds were not favorable for about a week.  Once we had a good forecast, we decided to take Poru passage through Isabel island. This passage is very narrow in places, and a very swift tidal current gets running through it.  To get to poru passage from our anchorage, though, we had two choices.  Either sail out to the east through the another reef pass into headwinds and swell, around Kale island, and into Poru passage.  Or, time the tide and pass through a very shallow, narrow pass immediately adjacent to the anchorage and pop right into poru passage.  We chose the sketchier route, even though the locals discouraged it.  I used the lead line and the dinghy to plot us a course through the shallow pass.  When the day came for us to go, everything was lined up.  We had a high tide at sunrise to get into Poru passage, then a brief time where the current would be slack, then the current would pick up to carry us through the 8 miles of Poru passage, and although the winds would be strong, they would be in our favor to then cross over to Arnavan island.  Serena sat at the bow as i maneuvered us into Poru passage.  First step is done.  Now i followed my charted course through Poru.  The first half was relatively simple, as i followed my gps waypoints.  It then got very narrow with big cliffs on either side, and the current picked up to about 3-4 knots.  Serena could see the bottom at some points, but I think it stayed deeper than 10 ft, because the depth alarm never went off.  We got spit out the other side and sailed along in the lee of Isabel in order to gain some sailing room before heading across to Arnavan.  The wind was picking up, and once we felt like we had enough room, we turned to cross over to Arnavan, about 10 more miles.  We had a very fast and fun beam reach.  I tested out the new slab reefing setup that I had put together recently, shifting from the roller boom reefing I had before.  We sailed through the reef pass into the anchorage on Arnavan island.  Very happy to be here after a very technical sail.  I stressed and planned so much for that sail, and it went perfectly.  

Arnavan island is a marine reserve in the Solomon Islands.  It is also a sea turtle hatching area.  Since we were planning to sail to Australia soon, we would have to get rid of our dugout canoe.  Typically, yachts are charged quite a bit of money to anchor here, so we traded our canoe for permission to anchor.  We had wonderful snorkeling, a great beach trail to run on, and saw baby turtles hatch. This was also where we had our closest croc encounter.  As we were taking the dinghy home after snorkeling nearby, we saw something on the beach. As we got closer we realized it was a croc, about 10 ft long, and then is suddenly ran into the water.  We kept motoring, and then we saw it swim directly under the dinghy.  We couldn’t believe it.  Then as we kept going, we motored right over another one about 3 feet below us.

One evening we motored the dingy over to a beautiful sandspit jutting out from one of the small nearby islets.  There were lots of pieced of drift wood, so gathered up a larger pile and started to build a fire.  There is very little in my life I love more than tropical campfires on a beach under the stars and sky.  We laid out next to the fire for hours that night.  All alone, just us.  How is it that we have come here to this place to experience this moment?  There are so many other people on the planet fighting for survival.  What are we fighting for?  We are fighting for the collective consciousness of our planet, of our universe.  We fight for love and peace through our own growth and awakening, and pray to inspire that in this world.   

Watching for the right weather to sail back to Gizo was really challenging.  We had about 50 miles across to New Georgia island.  Once across we could anchor again in Paradise harbor, or continue towards Gizo and possibly anchor on Kolombangara.  It would depend on how long it took us to get across because we wouldn’t want to enter Paradise harbor in the dark being that the channel is so narrow.  So, if we didn’t make it by sunset, we would just continue in the dark towards Gizo.  The wind seemed to be blowing from a different direction every day, and it was usually different than forecasted. I was looking for a forecast of favorable winds lasting at least three days.  The first day I could make sure the forecast was right, I would sail the second day, and the third day meant that the second day would probably be good.  It was still monsoon season so the winds were all over the place.  I found my good forecast.  First day was good.  Started motoring the next day with super calm conditions.  The wind came up out of the complete opposite direction that was forecasted, but luckily it was just barely still favorable.  We had a perfect sail across and anchored in Paradise harbor with last light.  

The next day we made our way to Gizo.  Ran into a squall the jibed the boom twice, snapping the end of it off.  Luckily we were only 3 miles to Gizo town.  Motored in and began the process of figuring out a new boom.  For about 500 bucks we had a new timber one milled, transferred the fittings, sealed, and setup.  Solid and beautiful.