position S09 25.500 E159 58.500

Ocean Rival Journey Log
Adam Power Diana Power
Thu 27 Jun 2019 11:57

Tuesday 25th

Enjoyed a 1 in 7 day nice sail to Honaria with good 15 Kn breeze just enough off the stern to fill a poled out jib and main, and no roll. The light winds over the last couple of days  have flattened the sea so now the modest waves are behaving sensibly.

Arrived in Honaria on Tuesday afternoon about 3pm. My chart wasn't revealing much detail for the bay, but the cruising guide did have a mini chart suggesting a sheltered anchorage. The bay  was smaller than I was expecting and I was glad there was only one other small yacht in, otherwise space for anchoring would have been hard to find. As it was I was compromising the anchor length a bit in order not to get too close to a riprap concrete wall on the west side. I rowed ashore (the outboard hasn't been getting much exercise the last few anchorages) and found the yacht club- a faded notice suggesting we should sign in to gain temporary membership.
The staff looked blank at the signing in suggestion and showed us the facilites- a nice bar and some cold showers.  Rubbish was not catered for unless you count the litter strewn stream running beside the building but the manager suggested I phone a number on his board for someone to collect our bags. I did that and then left our bags by the gate for collection. I think there might have been a charge for the service but so far we haven't been asked and  we aren't inclined to volunteer more payment due to the following days charges (more later). 
We had a quick look at the immediate bit of town around the yacht club, found an atm and had a beer at the club. The lonely planet mentioned an indian restaurant being about the only one open in the evening so we swayed across the busy main road on sea legs and enjoyed a very passable Lamb Rogan Josh/Korma with plenty left over to take away with us for the next night.
The yacht club is quite smart with a doorman keeping out the riffraff and some attractive beach volleyball players getting in some serious practice for a tournament. As you exit you soon see that the real Honaria is bustling with beetel nut sellers crouched at the side of littered and dusty pavements, traffic choked along the main drag, and chinese shops selling  everything cheap.
Wednesday 26th June
Knowing that the paperwork would take for ever we started early and made for the customs office down on the commercial dock. We handed over our form from Lata which mentioned the light fee still to pay. It didn't mention that the light fee is $1800 SD or £180 which was a shock -all the more as we have only seen two lights in the Solomons- both here at the entrance to the harbour and we seem to have paid for those outright. I didn't have enough cash and had to trapse back to the main street for the atm.  Then at immigration  later we were stung for another $500 which was almost certainly an unofficial fee for officials personal use as the receipt we had from Lata said  clearly that the $500 fee paid there was for both in and out. What happens if we refuse to pay we asked? The official laughed and said he wouldn't issue our clearance. Not knowing quite what problems that would cause we coughed up. We emphasised at both offices that high fees deter yachts from visiting- they get a paltry 40 yachts a year that they know of. I guess most don't bother checking in at all.
The main market and then the newly built craft market made up for much of the fee disapointment- wonderful fresh produce and lovely crafts, delicate shell jewelry, intricate basketwork and expert wood carving. We also looked in on the little town museum which had a nice display of the usual ethnic arts and crafts and interesting history of the confict between the two central islands, Malaita and Guadalcanal and the successful policing initiative between neighbouring countries to put things on what is now a fairly even keel. I chatted with 85 year old Michael in the market while Diana browsed. He is from Malaita and confirmed that the tensions were now history, but also had a little dig, mentioning that Malaitians are much more industrious than the Guadacanalians. Also interesting stuff about the battle for the pacific between USA and Japan, much of which took place in the Solomons.

I found a hairdresser and got him to restore some respectability to my appearance which had grown rather wild. The ladies stylist chatted with Diana and recommended a supermarket, which we found had a better range of goods that the chinese shops.

So well provisioned and shorn we retired to the boat with the intention of setting off early in the morning, except I had forgotten the beer. Also I had succeeded to get a local sim card to produce internet access and we managed some administration for the office before it ran out so needed to top up requiring a trip ashore in the morning.
Thursday 27th June
Beer and a couple of bottles of cheap aussie plonk required another visit to the atm and then as we now had spare cash I emptied 3 of my 4 jerry cans into the tank and bought 60 litres of diesel at the garage next to the yacht club.  All that and the office administration took us deep into the afternoon so we upped anchor at 6pm rather than the planned 6am. Now the wind has died completely and the engine is pushing us gently towards  a little island north of Guadalcanal where we might find a nice anchorage for a swim and gird our loins for the longer crossing to Papua New Guinea.
It is clear that the Solomons are some way behind Vanuatu in tourism development but the potential is there. Honiara deserves its reputation for being a bit rough but we didn't feel unsafe at all and it is evident that some money is being found for tourism. It is cart and horse though- the new craft market was full of sellers with lovely stuff, but not many buyers as yet. The sellers may get dispirited before the buyers turn up.