Noro to Kolombaranga Island

Lars Alfredson
Wed 22 Jul 2015 11:00

pos 8:3.29S 157:11.34E

Mbambari Hbr, Kolombaranga Island.


2015-07-20 Noro We wake to the continuous buzz of outboard motors as the banana boats whiz up and down bearing loads designed to give health and safety a heart attack. Many of them are heading towards the “Anjeanette” a passenger and cargo ship lying along the fuel wharf blocking our access.

The giant New Zealander who is the Dock Master, leans over the stern and says that the skipper will move along the dock in half an hour. Regrettably we’re on Solomon time, the banana boats overloaded with their cargo of people and baggage arrived with a frequency that would put the D-Day landings in the shade.

Meanwhile a rusting freighter on a nearby dock has completed unloading its cargo of oil drums and its bulbous bow points skyward, demanding ballast.

One o’clock and while we continue to drift up and down the harbour it starts to rain. The armada continues to buzz around the “Anjanette” disgorging their loads, with not a let up in sight. We’ve had lunch and it could it be time for dinner before we make the dock?

At 1:30 despite numerous false starts their deck crane is finally stowed and the hull access dogged closed. She pulls away from the dock heading for the Lucas Channel, rather him than me for although she has the same draft as us her 50 foot beam and her 200 foot length could be a bit of a challenge weaving around the reefs.

Once alongside we encounter a few “Size” problems as the relevant hoses for water and diesel are designed for commercial shipping and are enormous. Anyhow, by cunning uses of filter funnels, the slowest speed in the pumps and lots of patience after 45minutes we manage to load 600 litres of fuel. The next fill of water took considerably longer as we down loaded 1000 litres.

In the middle of all this rain, armed with the trusty brolly, we try to keep it out of the diesel. Then another cargo passenger vessel snuggles up to our stern. The dock explodes into a mass of humanity meeting and greeting as crane loads of boxes are discharged onto the dockside.

Finally we slip our lines and we’re away sliding past docks full of fishing boats as well as freighters, the Tuna canary and a shanty town next to it. On the other side of the bay massive bulk carriers laden down with logs are anchored waiting for more cargo before they leave.

We’re heading to Kolombangara made up of an impressive range of volcanoes shrouded in cloud. Entering Mbambari, which is one of many clefts in its rocky slopes that rise nearly vertically from the seabed, we find the bottom at the head of the bay anchoring in 20 metres.

There are the signs of intense logging with a massive scar running from the jungle covering down to the water’s edge where there is a makeshift quay. Several village cling to the shore line. From one the sight of our yacht brings out a school full of young kids who wave madly and cheer from the shore. A lot of new construction seems be going on with wood salvaged from the logging operation.

It’s the girls who are brave ones and they paddle out to greet us. Mothers and babies and a couple of young sisters. All dutifully receive their lollipops and after a chat are on their way.

As we settle for the night the spooky wildlife calls quieten and are replace by the enthusiastic yells from Lars. He’s won another game of Yatsy!


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