Finally, I have arrived in a tropical paradise with a wonderful crew and a beautiful boat! The five night journey was well worth the effort to arrive in an area as amazing as the Solomon islands are. We are currently anchored off the island of Gizo which is the capital of the western province here. This is also the island that was hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami back in March. Although the main part of the tiny town on the island is still intact, a large portion of the islanders lost their homes and are now living on the hillside here in tents and under plastic tarps. It is a sad site to see, these people who had so little in the first place, now surviving on even less. They do however seem to have their spirits up, still smiling and saying hello in the streets and in front of their tents we any of us pass by.
I spent the early hours of today with our newest crew member Johann, biking around the island and looking at all of the destruction. Small homes that were along the coastline have been reduced to nothing more than two foot tall concrete piers jutting out of the sand amongst all of the rubble. As the local people are still salvaging bits of wood and metal from the mess in hopes of building some form of a new home, I can’t begin to imagine how they feel. Even the ocean here has apparently changed significantly. Many of the reefs on the islands have been completely lifted out of the water, and another nearby island was lifted up three feet higher after the quake. Hopefully, some of the goods that we have brought to distribute to these people will help in some small way to make things easier.
The journey here went mostly without incident. It was basically, sailing into the wind in ten to twelve foot swells consistently the entire time. Although I never became sea sick, I will admit, that I lost my appetite for a few days, eating only noodles and cereal. Throughout the entire journey, we only saw one other boat, a large cargo vessel passing in a shipping lane we crossed. Definitely an incredible feeling to know you are so far from any form of civilization or other humans at all. Of course on the other end of the spectrum from the remoteness, was the constant beating that the ocean provided. Constant spray from the bow crashing into the swell would keep you wet and sticky with salt water. Combine that with the occasional larger wave crashing over the side of the boat and swamping you while you tried to steer and the journey could get very frustrating at times. Most of the thunderstorms were gladly welcomed as they were an opportunity to flush your clothes and hair with fresh water. All in all, it was an amazing journey, crossing all of those miles with nothing but the wind there pushing you along and the ocean providing fresh fish for us throughout the journey. An amazing way to travel!