Sailing, Storms and Safety in the Solomon’s

We made it to the island of Ghizo, Western Province, Solomon Islands just before Christmas, as was the plan. It took us four very windless days to sail the 250NM from Honiara, by far our slowest passage in years but that is typical in this area for this time of year. We were thankful that our previous passages-Vanautu to Ndende, to San Cristobel to Guadalcanal to Honiara-had gone so smoothly. Sure we hadn’t broken any speeds records but we put a solid 1000NM under the keel while averaging 4kts, the wind aft of beam and only flying a poled out headsail. The boat was comfortable, the skies clear and the weather warm enough to sit night watches in shorts and a light shirt-a far cry from our wet/rough/windward passages earlier this year. The 50NM days, the drifting for hours at a time, having rain squalls dump on us then steal our wind and see us tacking back on our own track when winds did set in again were frustrating, but they were offset by the night we had dolphins playing in our bow wave, shimmering with phosphorescence as we blasted along for a few short hours at 7kts, and the hours spent gazing at stars and watching some of the biggest, brightest meteors streak across the endless sky.

The reason we pushed so hard to get here is because we are now above 10* south and far enough west to be considered in a safe zone for the South Pacific cyclone season. We read recently that Ghizo has not suffered a cyclone in recorded history, a statistic that has to be taken with a grain of salt as who knows how long people have been keeping records. But comforting none the less.

However this is considered an area of cyclone genesis, an area where cyclones form. Which means the season will still be punctuated by low pressure systems that will bring wind and rain. These systems can then move further east where they may deepen into a tropical depression and then intensify further into a tropical revolving storm, or cyclone.
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