SV Ah Ma

Roderick Bay and a squall

After reveling in Santo’s charms, preparing Ah Ma with fuel and goods, we set sail on June 24th towards the Solomon Islands, targeting the humble port of Honiara, a relaxed 4 to 5 days downwind journey away. The sail was serene, a mix of sporadic light rain and favorable winds propelling us at a constant 7 knots, covering 180 miles a day.

With Alma aboard and the previous problematic passenger gone, our spirits soared, operating in a smooth rhythm, like a well-oiled machine. We landed in Honiara on June 28th, enduring the usual paperwork rituals in the island’s laid-back manner. The town streets, unfortunately, were marked by red betel nut spit, giving a somewhat lackluster vibe.

Off to Roderick Bay on Ngella Island, our next stop. Advertised as a welcoming and secure anchorage, local kids guided us in, and the village chief, John, extended his warm hospitality.

At the Bay, days were spent snorkeling, working on the boat, and enjoying the laid-back island routine. But schedules beckoned, nudging us to leave the peaceful bay on July 3rd, heading to Noro, an industrial tuna harbor. The port’s reality was far from inviting, driving us to hasten our departure.

Our sights were now set on Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, contemplating the unforeseen challenges that awaited us on the journey ahead..

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A week in Esperitu de Santo

Santo, an island of contrasts, where the natural beauty of the Segond Channel’s might clashes with the bureaucratic intricacies of its ports. Customs here paint a picture of a land caught between tradition and regulation. Amid the resilient moorings and vibrant dive clubs, the administrative hurdles at the customs office, especially during check-ins and check-outs, stand as a paradox to the island’s otherwise warm and welcoming ambiance.

The customs process reflects the island’s duality—the warmth of its people in contrast with the rigidity of protocols. The clash between the free-spirited nature of the surroundings and the stringent guidelines in the administrative offices creates a unique, albeit challenging, experience for travelers and sailors navigating through Santo’s waters.

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Vanuatu, Tanna to Santo

Sailing the Vanuatu waters for 20 days, our crew has diminished, leaving Ben and me as the remaining sailors. A German crew member is set to join us for the Indonesian passage, while our initial crew’s captain, Chris, is held up in Port Vila awaiting boat repairs.

Our arrival at Tanna on May 30th after a week at sea was a relief. After promptly attempting to make contact with customs, we resorted to the protocol by going ashore. Amid navigating the reef, a helpful fisherman securely moored our dinghy, and we located the customs officials at the market.

After a swift thirty-minute process, we returned to the market for a local meal. Instead of staying, we opted to sail to Eromango, reaching the island after dark and anchoring for the night.

At Eromango, we experienced a rather misleading village tour and a less-than-satisfactory interaction with David, who unexpectedly requested items from us. Subsequent stops in Port Vila and beyond included encountering the challenges of an inadequate road trip and seeking refuge at Havannah Bay.

A warm dinner at the resort and a cozy gathering of fellow travelers provided a much-needed break. Yet, issues with our new crew member persisted, compelling us to make more stops, leading to further adventures, and bidding farewell to our crew and setting sail for Espiritu Santo, where we’ll reorganize before our next voyage north.

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