Tetepare Island

We left Marovo Lagoon and sailed south through the narrow channel that separates New Georgia Island from Vangunu. After an overnight stop in Matakuri, we continued south to Tetepare Island together with our buddy boat s/v Perry. Tetepare is the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific (118 sq km) and has untouched rainforest, gorgeous coral reefs and unique wildlife. Many different stories try to explain why this long rugged island was abandoned 150 years ago: fear of head-hunting, curses, inter-village rivalries. But what’s most special about Tetepare is that, unlike all other islands in the Solomons, it has been untouched by commercial logging. The rainforest is intact and the reefs are protected by a conservation project.

We were recommended by a friend to anchor in the western end of the island, within the reef system. This conservation zone is looked after by park rangers and apparently there are dugongs that live there. And sure enough, as soon as we had dropped the anchor in the shallow water, we spotted a huge dugong. I have to admit that before we went on this trip, I had never heard of a dugong. Now I know they are similar to a manatee (but with a different tail) and a relative of the seacow. This herbivorous mammal is an endangered species, close to extinction and used to be hunted for its meat and oil.

Seathan and I were still tidying up the boat after just having anchored but Tyrii was already in the water snorkelling and, lucky him, the dugong swam right past him. He was literally 1 metre away from it. No camera, no photos, the only one I have is where the dugong briefly comes up. We will just have to lock these memories in our brains forever.

In the afternoon we went ashore to see the park rangers. Three rangers man the station one week off and one week on, all coming from a nearby island called Rendova. They told us there was an anchorage fee and a conservation fee totalling 700 Solomon Dollars per boat (approx 70 pounds). This surprised us, nowhere else have we been asked to pay to anchor and the fees were written on a scrap piece of paper and didn’t look official at all. We questioned the formality of this and soon enough the price came down to 200 Solomon Dollars. Fair enough…

Apart from ‘trying it on’ the park rangers were very friendly and showed us around. It was a beautiful spot and seeing a dugong certainly was a privilege!

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view from the cockpit, anchored in Matakuri


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another stunning sunset


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dolphins!


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tiny desert island anyone?


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freshwater river over black sand: the perfect playground


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view from our cockpit, Tetepare


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Tyrii swimming with a dugong


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and this, my friends, is a dugong


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view from the park rangers’ lodge


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the stunning lagoon, and this was on a cloudy day!


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the jetty with Rehua and Perry in the background


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best spot in the house to watch the sunset


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so comfortable


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Perry against the Tetepare sunset

 

 

 

 

 

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Uepi Island Resort

We’ve been anchored in front of Uepi resort since Monday and it’s been wonderful. The resort can’t always accommodate yachties but lucky for us it wasn’t too busy and we were invited to join the other guests for drinks and dinner one night. Delicious food with local ingredients and homegrown veges.

Diving Uepi point was an amazing experience. This area has been a marine reserve for many years and the fish and corals thrive here as a result. Many sharks, turtles, manta rays, … We have too many pictures to post so here’s a selection…

Matiu Island, Marovo Lagoon

We spent the weekend anchored in front of Matiu Island, an uninhabited part of Marovo lagoon with pristine turquoise water for the kids to play in and some gorgeous corals for us to snorkel around. It was fun to catch up with our buddy boats Fieldtrip and Perry and the kids crammed as many play-overs in as possible. A few canoes still came out to see us on Friday afternoon and tried to sell carvings and ask for this and that. The old ‘wantok’ system is present everywhere in the Solomons and locals aren’t afraid to ask for anything (some petrol, batteries, sugar, yeast, fishhooks, etc.). We had hoped to avoid canoes out here; it can get quite disturbing when you are trying to do school with the kids or when you are in the middle of a boat maintenance job. On Saturday however, all was quiet. Most people in this area are extremely religious and part of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which prohibits any activity or work on Saturdays. So no canoes that day, phew.

View from the cockpit

Tyrii the taxi man

Splash party

Windsurfing on the blow up SUP

Fieldtrip and Perry at sunset

Passage to Marovo Lagoon

The 150 NM passage from Tulagi to Marovo Lagoon was rather uneventful, which, of course, is a good thing. It took roughly 30 hours and we managed to sail most of the day but by nightfall the wind died and we turned the engines on and ‘SV Rehua’ became ‘MV Rehua’. Never mind: the engines never sounded so good. They were purring away like two little cats, thanks to all the work Seathan did in Tulagi.

We spotted a pod of pilot whales just after sunrise and as we went through the pass into Marovo Lagoon, a pod of dolphins turned up to lead us in. It’s not the first time this happens and it seems dolphins like to guide yachts. These were spinner dolphins and as soon as we passed through the entrance they turned back into sea and started doing some extremely impressive vertical barrel rolls. One dolphin performed a quadruple backwards flip. And he wasn’t the only show-off. We couldn’t believe our eyes and scrambled for the camera but unfortunately we weren’t fast enough to capture these acrobatic moves. We wanted to see more tricks (and get some photos) so did a 180 and headed back out to sea. Sure enough, the dolphins returned and guided us in once more. But this time there were no more tricks. Despite all our clapping and encouragement.

We navigated through the lagoon and soon spotted our buddy boats Fieldtrip and Perry who were stocking up on some produce in a nearby village. We chatted over the radio and agreed to meet up at Telina village, 5 miles further north. Other friends on S/V Rampetamper recommended this anchoring spot and we were keen to check it out. The carvings were supposed to be amazing. As soon as the anchor was set, the first canoe turned up and the carvings were pulled out of a bag. Other canoes turned up with pamplemousses, pineapples, avocadoes and green beans.

We preferred to go ashore to see all the carvings, and the village itself, and agreed to do so later in the afternoon. The village was cute with lush green vegetation and neat over-the-water huts. Nearly every other hut had displayed their carvings on a rug or a table and every time we had to stop and look and chat. We didn’t buy anything but pointed out what we liked best and invited those carvers to come out to the boat the next day.

So the next morning was trading time! We traded part money part books and other items for a couple of stunning carvings. This area is famous for its gorgeous ebony carvings, with the shiny inside of the nautilus shells used for detailed accents. More canoes paddled over to bring yet more fruit and veg and after we were loaded up we decided to follow Fieldtrip and Perry out to quiet uninhabited anchorage nearby for the weekend. No village meant no more canoes (yay!) and the thought of turquoise water, perfect for swimming and snorkelling, was like music to our ears.

Sunrise at sea during our 150 mike passage from Tulagi to Marovo

We must have taken more than 100 photos, the colours being so amazing

Pod of pilot whales

Approaching Marovo lagoon

Dolphins lead us through the pass into the lagoon

Inside Marovo lagoon

View over the lagoon from Telina village

Lush vegetation in the village

Making our way through Telina village

Checking out the carvings

More carvings, every other hut had put out a display

Local cuties

The school, no idea why it is so high

Rehua anchored in front of Telina village

Sunrise over Telina village


Major Upgrades

Tulagi has been a good stop for us. Being anchored in front of Raiders Hotel, with stern lines to their trees, made for a very comfortable, calm and cozy stay. But all good things must come to an end, and, for around-the-world-sailors it is requisite to keep moving. So we’re off to Marovo Lagoon, approximately 150 miles northwest from Tulagi.

Rehua underwent some major upgrades in the last two weeks. First up were the engine mounts. Replacing engine mounts is a BIG job anytime, so add to that that Seathan accomplished this whilst the boat remained in the water and it’s an even bigger achievement. The engines had to be lifted out and propped up with a cleverly self-invented pull-up system. Each engine is fit into place with four engine mounts, which had to be taken out and replaced with new ones. The shafts were then re-aligned and fine-tuned to perfection. The entire upgrade took about a week to complete and adds a big improvement to our boat.

Next up were the propellers. Our eight year-old props were upgraded from a three blade to our four-blade version to give us extra bite in heavy weather. Changing the props was tricky business too, especially as it was also completed in the water. To make it easier, Bob from Raiders suggested we pulled even closer into the shore and tied onto the pillars of the bar. That way, we had barely 4 feet of water underneath the hull and Seathan could stand up on the seabed with his dive tank on to replace the props. Tyrii was his little helper, breathing from the occy, with a weight belt on to keep him down. The first attempt to remove the old props didn’t go very well. They were impossible to get off. Luckily Ian from Sasape shipyard around the corner offered to lend us a special prop-puller tool. That got them off pretty quick. The shiny new four-blade versions went on and after some fine-tuning and tweaking another hard day’s work was done. Skip certainly deserved his beer that afternoon.

Now Rehua is purring away like a quiet cat. The engines run smoothly, no more vibrations! We are ready to go again! 

View from the cockpit in Tulagi

And the other side, view from the cockpit

Working on the engine mounts

Rehua tied to the bar

View from the bar

New props

The team at work