Yesterday morning we arrived in Honiara after a long overnight passage dodging electrical storms and motor sailing into 15 knots of wind. Fortunately the seas were basically flat and we faired far better than 3 boats who had left the day before and endured 1.5knots of headway in 20+ knots of headwind; one of them took 33 hours to do the 100 odd nautical miles.
Not only are we in a city of sorts but there are also 4 other yachts here and so it feels crowded. There is the sound of traffic, building construction, and music from the resorts along the shore. We anchored to the south of the starboard marker but would anchor on the west side of the reef if we were to visit Honiara again as Paul had to clear the chain from one or two bombies. There is a yacht club nearby with a relatively secure dock for dinghies that is open 7 days and can take rubbish and has showers. Next door is the long boat station for commuters to Isabel, Malita and the Fluorides.
Honiara often gets a bad rap but we thought it was fine and the people we met were lovely. There are cafes that cater to the expats and so are a little pricey but very comfortable with good food. At Panatina Mall is The Deli which has a good range of Aus and NZ products and Nambawan meats have a good range of meat and frozen veggies that unlike The Marshalls have not been sitting around since the dark ages. We loaded up on groceries and fresh produce from the excellent market, which was one of the neatest we have seen, and bought a couple of paintings and carvings from the "art gallery".
Casey and his painting
On one day we hired a car for the day with Brenda and Rod to visit some of the battle sites and basically potter around Guadalcanal (the north coast at least; the south coast is almost inaccessible).
Betel nut shop
Guadalcanal was the site of one of the largest sea battles in history, between the Japanese and American and allied forces. Rod had sussed out the sites and we headed off to see them. The focus of much of the conflict was the now called Henderson airfield which had been built by the Japanese to reinforce their ground operations. The allied forces took Henderson in 1942 and the Japanese made a number of attempts to take it back. The airfield remained in allied hands but the battles resulted in the loss of around 67 ships, over a thousand aircraft, and 38,000 deaths across Japanese and allied forces. Today there is not a lot to see and the practice of charging unrealistic kastom fees (eg SBD100 to look at a view because it is from their land) is a bit discouraging. We wouldn't mind paying a fee - perhaps a slightly more reasonable one - if there was something really worth seeing or if the relics had been kept well but often they are decayed; no-one has bothered to care for. Its a shame for them and for us.
Views from Edson's Ridge one of the main battle sites in defending Henderson Airfield
View from Edson's Ridge
Tomorrow we haul anchor at 4.30am and start to make our way towards Santa Cruz and the last leg of our Solomon's stay. We will be sad to say goodbye to The Solomon Islands but we are looking forward to cooler weather and water. Our first stop is Marau Sound.