08 January 2009 | Fauro Island
We had a decent hop in front of us today, again dead to windward. This trip is taking me back to traveling east along Puerto Rico. The only thing is we're going west in the tropics! This is a crazy part of the world. The Monsoon turns everything on its head.
Two week ago it would have been light but following winds. Oh well, we are cruising and though we try to pick the best weather windows, see the places and enjoying the people we meet along the way is more important. The monsoon trough that has formed is huge and nasty looking but well south. We are still getting plenty of electrical storms and rain but I can only imagine what it's like south of here.
Our three boat fleet left around six AM for the 50 mile trek across the Solomon Sea to Fauro Island in the Shortland Group. Angelique left on time, then Whistler and finally we got out. Our dinghy was still down and that takes a good half hour to stow.
Out of the pass it was not pleasant. The seas were up because a thunder storm was passing to the south and we had 25 knots on the nose for a short bit. Yuch. It settled quickly though and the seas came down to a more reasonable 3-5 foot range. Still not perfect as it was from 300 degrees and we were headed 320.
The starboard Yanmar got a good workout at 1750 RPMs today. There was a bit where the wind tacked our track and actually got over to 25-35 degree off to starboard. We were motor sailing under jib and main at a good 7-8 knots with the apparent wind around 13-15 knots. Then back on the nose.
As we closed in on the Shortlands the sky cleared a little, the wind lightened up and the seas calmed. The Shortlands lie just south of Bouganville and there is a reef system broken by the Bouganville straight between the Shortlands and Choisuel Islands (the last big island in the Solomons). Inside of 10 miles things were pretty settled.
We had a line out most of the day and caught a small marlin of all things. Only 2 or 3 feet but we would have released it regardless. I got him onto the swim platform and as Hideko was getting me the pliers to release the hook he got off on his own.
Shortly there after we came in on Brooks Reef. This is a scary looking reef system but well charted, at least on our Navionics charts. We left the reef to starboard and turned to port inside the reef. The currents were mixing and strong here setting you a good 15 degrees so you must watch your track. Once inside the outer reefs we turned to port and followed the island along to Siniasoro Bay. It is deep, over 100 feet all the way in, with the one 50 foot exception of a spot off of the rocky island near the point before the bay.
Inside the bay a little sea turtle came to greet us. It is a lovely bay and a perfect harbor this time of year. The opening is small and to the south and protected by an off lying reef. The bay has decently high hills all around the east, north and west as well. The wind comes from the north here, sometimes northeast, a lot from the north and, this time of year, the northwest.
There is one shoal that sticks pretty far out from the eastern shore of the bay about 2/3 of the way in but there are some sticks sticking up there that you can see with decent light. The water is dark but you can see well to about 30 feet. We found a spot all the way up at the head of the bay near the east past the shoal that had a 50 foot spot to anchor on with decent swinging room. The only other spots we found we 80 feet or so. The bay's one draw back is the depth. It is 110ish feet deep everywhere and comes up fast at the edges so it is hard to get a decent depth without being too close to shore. You could anchor in tight and just hope the wind only blows from the north.
After setting the hook a local guy named Steven came by and gave us a couple of lobsters. We gave him some hooks for fishing and everyone was happy. His father owned some of the land in the area and he gave us permission to stay the night.
Whistler came in shortly there after and then Angelique. It was along day but everyone enjoyed the bay at sunset and then turned in for the night.