Sailing to the Russels
02 December 2008 | The Russel Islands
We were up fairly early this morning. After running around to give away our internet cards that still had a day or two on them, we brought the dink up and dropped the mooring. We had never expected to be in Honiara a week and a day. We were hoping to leave with parts for our genset and PNG visas but we were leaving with neither. Last week was Thanksgiving in the US so we lost contact with our parts people on Tuesday and haven't heard from them since. The PNG visa saga is too sad to recount (see yesterdays blog).
None the less we were happy to be off to the islands again, where peace and tranquility rule. It was so peaceful we had to motor the entire way.
We have the weather in Honiara down to a science, at least for this time of year. In the morning it is a bright blue sky day. Cumulus clouds grow atop the high islands and by the afternoon there are thunder heads over the Floridas and the interior of Gudalcanal. Then as the sun sets the thunderstorms head southwest across the channel from the Floridas. These inevitably make landfall north of Honiara and south of Honiara, leaving the anchorage with a dead calm in the hot sultry early evening (and sometimes a nasty chop from the distant squall, perhaps a little rain) and then a cool starry breeze through the middle of the night and into the next morning. If you are not riding a squall you have no wind in this neck of the woods. Maybe a little land breeze at night, but not much.
We motor sailed most of the way along Guadalcanal. As we reached the northwest point we got the jib out and the few knots of real wind combined with the motorized wind got us up to 8 plus knots for a bit. We could see the black clouds building over the north end of the big island as we left it behind.
You can easily make out the Russels from the west end of Guadalcanal. Our destination was a mooring on the south side of Karumolun Island. The mooring is owned by a nice guy named Mike and came recommended by Hank, the only sailing charter skipper in the country. Who are we to turn down advice like that? Hank arranged for us to use the mooring and caught us on the cell phone as we made our way to let us know it would be alright.
This will be our first time in the Russels but from looking over the charts and cruising notes of others, the area seems fairly deep all around. There are lots of lovely places to tuck in here but, it seems, few with less than 100 feet of water. We came in on the mooring at about 3PM and tied up. The tie up was a bit of a charade because the mooring has very small loops on it and we have 5 feet of freeboard. We could hook it but it was a real trick getting a line through the loop and back up to the bow. I almost took a swim a couple times.
Swimming here would be great but you have to keep an eye peeled for the salt water crocodiles. This is the first time we have had such a concern since Panama. We settled on just relaxing aboard for the rest of the afternoon.
The little island is very lovely and the mooring is in 100 feet of water just off a little sandy beach lined with trees. You can see straight into the water where all of the reefy rocks climb up the steep slope to the shore. Melanisians paddle around the area in their dugout canoes here and there and there is a small town on a larger island south of here.
On the way in, Angelica II hailed us. They were on the hook off of Telin island, which was our original plan. They said it was a nice and very protected spot.
As night fell we had a fair battle with flies in the still air on the bow. Hideko's new full screen system on the boat, combined with her bug electrocution racket that Cindy from Kelp Fiction II gave us, quickly dispatched all of the varmints inside.
Over night we had several thunderstorms pass to the northeast of us. Electrical storms are my least favorite weather feature. We were close enough to one for the wind to get up to 17 knots. This is not that much but I feel that we may have been taxing this mooring a bit with our size under the conditions. Tomorrow we will move up closer to the western province in the Russels and then make the jump the next day to spare the mooring two nights of our girth.
Hideko made some great enchiladas and we are now settling in for an Enterprise double feature...