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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Sanbis Resort
01/05/2009, Mbambanga Island

The guys who buy the diesel from the logging company boats came by today. It was timely because the Mobil depot had just received a shipment over the weekend and we were planning to fill up today so that we could leave tomorrow.

These guys with the logging diesel must be watched on several accounts. First their jerry jugs are pretty dirty on the outside. They will happily bounce their painted wooden boats off of your hull (leaving red stripes) while their jugs do the same to the topside. The jugs sit in their boat which is often half flooded and fairly dirty. The only way to handle things is to have them stay in the boat while you take the jugs and fill the tanks, preferably with fenders between your hull and theirs. The fuel is good, but the exterior cleanliness of their jugs requires a Baja filter.

The other problem is that they will cheat you as much as you will allow. Every time they hand you a jug with a different shape they will tell you it is 30 liters. All of their jugs are 20 liters.

When we were buying they tried to charge us 10 Solomon per liter, which is what the Mobil depot charges. They buy the stuff for much less. I paid 9 and I think you could hammer them down to 8 if you had the patience.

On the up side they deliver to your boat and you save 10 or more percent. As long as you deal with the issues mentioned it is a good arrangement.

After getting the boat all set we made our way over to the Sanbis resort to enjoy our final night in Gizo at the last attraction we had wanted to see. After a wonderful dinner and a great night out I can safely say that Sanbis is the nicest place to stay in the Gizo area and certainly the best resort in the vicinity. Fatboys is fun but Sanbis is a real resort. We all had a great last night out and were sad we had not spent more time at Sanbis while in Gizo.

The Solomon Islands
Happy New Year!
01/01/2009, Gizo

It was very quiet today. I think a lot of folks needed it to be that way after last night. We couldn't even pay our bills at the dive shop things were so shut down. Nice to have a quiet day though.

On a sad note, Pacific Magazine (, one of the only places to get current information on the pacific islands, closed its door today. They will be missed.

The Solomon Islands
01/02/2009 | Pablo and Louise
Hey Guys!!! Happy New Year! Hopeing that all is well with you two! May 2009 bring lots of new and exciting adventures swinging around the world in 365 days.
02/07/2009 | Randy Abernethy
Hey Pabs,
Thanks for the note. We are having a great time in this part of the world. We keep getting farther and farther from te world we know. It is a great experience. Come visit again soon!!
Holy Mackerel it's New Years Eve!
12/31/2008, Gizo

We spent a lot of time doing final internet stuff and getting the boat even more ready today. Our friends on Whistler, Polaris and Angelica II invited us to dinner at the Gizo Hotel, where they were having a shebang.

We booked a dive today and went out with Dive Gizo to the Tao Maru and Grand Central Station. The Tao is a nice dive with lots of growth, some artifacts and good swim throughs. Hideko's mask broke so we had to do the dive in two parts. She found one that fit her great but the shop wouldn't sell it. The second dive had a little coral damage from the tsunami last year but was still full of fish.

We are such home bodies that after the all day dive trip we almost bailed out of the dinner at the hotel. Hideko and I are far from the wild and crazy type. That said we love spending time with friends, so we bucked up and joined the crew at the hotel anyway.

It was a nice meal with really tasty lobster and a nice dance show. The dancers were Gilbertese (whom the British moved here a good 50 years ago from Kiribati). I had never seen Micronesian dancing before so it was a lot of fun.

We made it to 10PM and then began to fade. Some of our animal friends went until 5AM!! The Gizo Hotel, PT109 and the Gilbertese village across the bay were all raging late into the night. No fireworks but a great time all the same.

The Solomon Islands
01/08/2009 | okuma
Hi! I'm japanese who met Hideko at Gizo.
Very very thank you for talking with me & Sushi rice!!
It was owesome! I just felt at home.
I wanted to talk with your husband...
So, I hope to see you two guys somewhere in the world.
bye - bye!
02/07/2009 | Randy Abernethy
Konnichiwa Okuma Kun! Great to hear from you. We just sent our friend Nirai an email about you (he is crew on a Japanese yacht, and he is from Okinawa). Hope you are continuing to enjoy your time in the south Pacific!
-Hideko and Randy
Not Leaving Yet
12/30/2008, Gizo

We were all set to sail north today. Then at 5:30AM I heard a knock on the hull. Hmmm. It was our friend on the boat next door and she looked concerned. She was in the process of taking her husband to the hospital and asked us to watch the kids.

We were very concerned because it sounded like appendicitis, and you wouldn't want to have surgery in the Solomon Islands if you could avoid it. Not even in the Honiara, the capital. The main hospital in Honiara is call #9, an anachronism from the WWII USA occupation. They call the graveyard down the street #10.

Though worried about our friend, we had a great time with the kids. It was a gray and rainy day so we watched Disney movies, made pancakes and ran the air conditioning as the genset brought the batteries up. We did a little bit of scrambling to identify flights to Honiara and possibly on to Australia in case things required it.

After some pain killers and a belated doctor examination everything seemed to clear up. The doctor didn't arrive until 8:30, even knowing there was an emergency room call. Our patient was released late in the day with a renewed bill of health. Chalk it up to local food.

These kinds of events make you step back and think. What do you do if your appendix bursts and you're in the middle of a two week passage? There are options, but taking a 5 minute ride to the hospital is not one of them. Maybe it is a good idea to get your appendix out in advance...

The bottom line is there are people all over the world who live everyday of their lives far from quality medical facilities. Many without even the option of flying somewhere sophisticated should it be called for. If they get really sick in some of these places, they just stay in bed and hope to get better.

Internet access is good here but health care has a way to go.

Needless to say we did not leave today. We will probably leave on the 2nd now, with Angelica and Whistler after the customs guy comes back.

The Solomon Islands
Risk and Fat Boys
12/29/2008, Gizo

We are planning to leave Gizo tomorrow on the way north to Pohnpei. Our friends from Kliener Bar came by for a game of Risk in the afternoon. Lucia crushed us all, no mercy.

Boat prep goes well and we should have no problem departing in the morning. It is nice to have all of the major bits of the boat in working order. It has been great to have the genset back online these past couple of weeks in Gizo. Not only is it nice to have full AC power from time to time (and AirCon!) but the MS2000 Inverter/Charger does a much better job of charging the batteries than the engines do when it is overcast for a couple days.

The dinghy's outboard needs some tweaking though. I think cooling water may be coming from a place it is not supposed to (scared to pull the thread on that sweater). Also the reverse is not working due to a needed shift cable adjustment. I'm hoping to fix both when the dink is up on deck in one of our upcoming anchorages.

Some new friends we met at PT 109 invited us to Fatboys for dinner tonight so we happily joined them. Fatboys has the best food in Gizo IMHO. It was a fun evening with Cara and Christian. They are great folks who recently moved to Australia from the USA. Christian is an avid surfer and Yahoo! exec and Cara is a PR exec working for Disney. What great jobs. Two more wonderful folks we've met that we hope to meet again!

The Solomon Islands
12/28/2008, Gizo Airport

The Gizo Airport on Airport Island is a dirt strip used by twin engine inter island prop planes. Two hundred liter barrels of av-gas are stacked by a small building that serves as the Gizo terminal. There's a leaf hut behind the terminal where I assume the caretaker lives.

The dock at the island is in a declining state of repair with the shore side bit looking nice, and the ocean side bit sagging into the water. It is a quaint setting.

In between flights you can find the locals teeing up for driving practice on the strip. At the east end of the island there are supposed to be lots of giant clams at snorkeling depth, though we haven't verified this. You can also see young men flying things other than planes on the run way from time to time.

The Solomon Islands
01/01/2009 | Stian
Just wandted to say happy new year and safe sailing in 2009! We are all well and working now but still dreaming of warmer waters.
all the best Agnes, August, Tina and Stian
02/11/2009 | Randy Abernethy
Hey Stian, Great to hear from you. Come visit!! We look forward to seeing you in Bergen. Best, R&H
Drinks at Angelique II
12/27/2008, Gizo Harbor

It was a mellow day in the anchorage. Things were quiet and perfectly flat at sunrise and we got a great picture of Whistler (shown). Hideko made a cake and we watched some Star Trek. We are on the last season of Enterprise now. After watching the whole franchise from the Original Series on, for the last couple years, we are going to be really bummed to see the final episode go by.

We went to Angelique II for sundowners at 5. At and Dia are a wonderful couple from the Netherlands. They had been sailing for 10 years in Angelique I when the prop and shaft fell out flooding the boat. She went to the bottom as a Dutch freighter rescued them. Daunted? No a chance. They took the insurance money, bought an Amel (built such that the same problem could never happen) and sailed farther and wider than before.

We're very excited because they are going to join us on the trip to the Philippines. So we will be a party of three boats now with Whistler. They are also going to buy supplies for the atolls, which was very kind of them. Cruisers are wonderful people.

The Solomon Islands

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