Cruising in the Solomons.
Due to a number of reports on the internet, and information given to us from other sailors who had previously visited the Solomon Islands we were very concerned about the armed robberies and harassments reported, which made us go to the safe and beautiful lagoon of Vonavona where we anchored at Lola island with its island resort. We only met friendly people in this lagoon, but the variety of vegetables which could be obtained also on the market at Noro were very limited.
We remained for a week at Lola Island before checking out at Noro again after 10 days stay in the Solomon Islands, and headed south for Port Vila in Vanuatu.
Solomon Sea passage from the Solomon Islands to Vanuatu
The distance from Noro to Port Vila, the chosen entrance port in Vanuatu, is in strait line approx 850 Nm; however the total passage amounted to 1270 Nm due to tacking against the wind. It was a difficult passage because in the beginning we were in the ITC zone with this type of weather, and sometimes had to deal with little or no wind but also with rain storms offering winds of up to 45 knots and confused waves. After 3 days we entered the trade wind belt with winds blowing from the south east at an average speed of 25 – 30 knots. Typically the waves were 3 – 4 m. Occasionally we had winds below 20 knots and also longer periods above 35 knots. We had to tack all the way against the current, and entered Port Vila a bit tired. The passage was made in 8½ days with 30 hours of motoring.
Coral Sea passage from Vanuatu to New Caledonia
The passage of 383 Nm was made with a south easterly wind speed between 15 and 30 knots, with an average of 25 knots, and could be made without tacking. The average wave height was 3 m and the sailing turned out to be pleasant and uneventful. The passage through the Havana Passage and south of the main island required 4 hours of motoring before we could anchor in Noumea Harbour after 2½ days sailing. We intended to stay a bit longer in Noumea; however chose to depart with a good weather window heading for Norfolk Island.
Tasman Sea passage from New Caledonia to Norfolk Island
This passage began with a south easterly wind with an average speed of 30 knots and with 3 m waves the first day; however the wind slowly backed to east with a speed between 20 – 25 knots until it faded out close to Norfolk Island. No tacking was needed, and since the average wave height gradually decreased to 2 m it became a nice and easy passage of 434 Nm before we could anchor in Ball Bay after 2½ days sailing with 4 hours of motoring.