Thursday, September 30, 2010
Monday, September 28, 2009
Coastal Solomon islanders rely on fish and other marine creatures for their protein diet but the environment is under severe pressure, mostly from population growth and uncontrolled harvesting, which decimate the reefs located closest to the villages. Villages up in North Vella are large, up to 1000 inhabitants. Fish is used for food or sold at the nearby markets, here the big market of Gizo.
Women also harvest shells in the mangroves (called Sibele in local language). They find them by feeling them with their feet in the soft mangrove mud.
Worldfish also helps people creating and implementing new marine resources management plans so communities take control of their resources and look after them, more closely for a better sustainability. The challenge here (it is also the object of yet another DVD project) is to weave and revive traditional reef management into newer, more science- based techniques. It is not always easy because communities are often suffering from the lack of leadership.
This breakdown prevents the respect of rules such as Tambu reefs, which is a way of protecting the reef that tribes have used for thousands of years.
For example, in some villages, traditionally, a reef was closed when a man died, so it could be remembered. The chief has the right to re open the reef for special occasions such as feasts for weddings, etc..
In the region of Jorio, which encompasses 20 miles of coast on the North west of Vella LaVella island, a new management plan was started in 2008. It consists of protecting some reef and mangrove areas and rotating opening and closure of the various reefs when the resources have recovered on them. Sign posts help making other communities aware of the closure but poaching at night is still a problem so some communities have introduced a fine in SBD or shell money.
Certain missions (churches) have been more successful in maintaining community harmony than others. But in return, the church collects a lot of donations form the adepts and the money is raised by selling more fish, which in turns contribute to ripping the reefs even more!
Meanwhile, the kuna sat nice and snug in the safety of Liapari cove (see previous post)
Friday, September 25, 2009
Near Gizo is an interesting marine research station on the airport island of Nusatupe. It is the base of the formerly called ICLAMp roject (now renamed Worldfish, present worldwide).
The research station, not unlike one of our Australian reef research stations, like Heron, etc is manned by 15 well trained Solomon islanders and an expat manager.
The mooring in front of the station is a private one so approaching management and volunteering services is recommended. However, opposite is the sandbis resort, which also provides sheltered anchorage (+ bar facilities). The station also has tours for visitors (ask in gizo).
Worldfish’s objective is to promote local livelihood projects, and help local communities manage their resources in a more sustainable way. The tsunami in April 2007 showed livelihoods are under a fine balance. The tsunami, which lifted some islands up to 7 meters above sealevel, destroyed a lot of the mangroves. Worldfish has been managing a number of mangrove replantation projects on Ranongga and supported the production and distribution of new canoes to the people who also lost theirs when the wave hit. 600 canoes were paid for, which is a sudden pressure on the canoe trees…
To help local people to be self sufficient, one of the main Worldfish project consists of spawning and growing giant clams to distribute to local farmers spread around the western province. They are also experimenting with growing corals. Both are exported to the aquarium market, so they need to be the most colourful gena but also reproduce and grow easily.
Large clams are brought from the field into a tank and spawning can be induced.
The baby clams are then grown in tanks.
Various experiments on predation, light and current levels are also undertaken in tanks.
When old enough, the clams are sold to the farmers, who take them home and grow them in their own cages. They then have to bring them back to a depot which is in charge of exporting them. The fuel crisis has affected transport, as some of the farms can be more than two hours away by motorcanoe. Some farmers are resilient and paddle all the way. Some other take this as an excuse: if the clams become too big, the can not be flown overseas: they are now good to be eaten!!! To reduce slackness, farmers must now buy the clams, and after the recent business workshop they can even be purchased on credit!!!!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
On the sleepy island of Liapari near Vella (see post May 6th 2008 for how to get there) there is a shipyard, the only well operated shipyard in the Western Solomons. There is a small slip on Kolombangara Island nearby, at the Kukundu Mission. It is mostly used to slip their own mission boats (the Vari Vato and the Mauri, a large yacht used to transport doctors) but they accept other yachts when the slip is available. About 160 AUD haul out and 65SBD per meter per day, from memory. But organizing anything with them is challenging: hardly possible to get a phone number!! So it is only a good option if Liapari is not available.
Noel Hudson’s slipway at Liapari island was a great and only option: charging fair but high rates -Australian-, he got the job well done with means that are definitely not that of an Australian cleanlift!
The job really used 10 labourers and Noel himself to dive on the keel and adjust the frames, with a bit of shouting and carrying on. Yachts are very light vessels for the slip, which takes barges up to 200T, so the slip can sometime float and lose the rails, arrghh!
It’s best to bring the yacht plans with keel, and hull dimensions to discuss first. Long keel easy, but fin keel and small yachts (less than 25 foot) possible but not recommended. Specs help Noel prepare the job properly.
Diving is required to put a plank under short keels and bolt the frames into place. A patient hit and miss exercise.
The creeking winch ran by a big old diesel engine slowly hoisted the KUNA and because of her funky keel she came up on a bit of a list, which really does not affect a paint job too much, except for the few extra blocks that had to be placed for support.
Previous JOTUN semi hard antifouling had lasted 18 months with not huge amount of hard organisms fouling the hull (mostly slime and algae, and a few bryozoans). Although regular scrub was helpful, it does cut a dent in the paint. Diving to give the hull an intense scrub just before slipping was a huge time saver: there is no karcher/pressure washer here, though a tractor can be hooked up to a citern and a compressor for a large pric, so only a bucket fresh water rinse could be done! The waterline was raised 5 cm: it seems tropical surface algae are more tenacious than on the Queensland coast.
The boys are trying to look why the slipway does not roll back down. Again, 11T is too light for it!
With the slip playing up on the way back down, nothing was easier than just grabbing a coconut tree and push down further with a bulldozer – Solomon way!
PAINTS: KUNA is now testing the local APCO/ Asian Paint antifouling (owned by a dutch company but produced under licence in Fiji). It is five times cheaper than the International in the Solomons. Best is to bring own paint if you can. It seems to dry fast enough to dodge the tropical showers. 2 coats applied, 3 under the waterline. see how long it lasts.
And definitely bring own anodes because they are twice the Australian price here!
Gizo is the best town in the west for supplies, especially fresh stuff from the market (see next post for a map). Anchoring in the mud opposite the bulk fuel supply is the most protected place. On the hardware store front, there is five to chose from. If buying antifouling, the local recommendation was not to buy the paint from the stores located on the northern end of town because the stocks do not turn over much: the stores are too far for people to walk to! Good prices were found in the shop opposite the PT109 yacht club. The local antifouling is a fifth of the price of international paints and worth the try (still 450 SBD/80$ AUD 4 L can!). As usual, one holds its breath withdrawing cash at the ANZ teller, hoping the money is going to come out, which is not always does.
Liapari is also a good anchorage, Noel provides security for yachts and likes yachties and is overall a nice island to hang out. Be warned of the large croc if swimming though. It is lurking around. Market on Tuesdays and Fridays brings some good products from nearby Vella Island to the station.
Previously, Liapari was a coconut plantation. The trees are now 90 years old, but not exploited anymore. The engineer Noel gave some good stats about coconuts:
A tree produces a falling nut every week. There are about 13500 trees in the plantation. It takes 1000 nuts to make 100L of coconut oil with the press. This oil can potentially be used as biofuel in low rev diesel engines. To be viable, the operation must turn over 200L per day. One can do the rest of the productivity calculations. I have no brain today!
Friday, September 11, 2009
The southern half of Vona Vona lagoon (Noro to Lola Island has been described in a previous post (XXXX 2008). Travel through the Vona Vona lagoon is well described in the Sieling cruising guide too and the google earth picture below testifies of the guide’s accuracy.
From Lola to the Northern exits, some very shallow bits (2m depth) are encountered so this path is more recommended for shallow drafted vessels! Little damage can be done though, apart from a few bommies (which can be spotted in good litght), the very shallow passages are sand. Of course when the Kuna set off, it was overcast and cloudy. Not recommended to navigate is these conditions, but the light winds were a great opportunity to silently cruise up the lagoon at 3 knots with plenty of time to stop. Good holding is found anywhere along the way.
The first part of the track is the trickiest, one has to wind their way leaving four islands in a row to their right (waypoint S8° 17.543 E157° 08.064), then turn directly north and leave a set of three small islands again to the right (Waypoint S8° 16.594 E157° 06.996). Thereafter, the large island of Vona Vona can be kept to port at reasonable distance and lightly greater depths are found (5-10 m).
Once turned the NE corner, start heading west towards snake island. The channel has a reef on either side. Quite a few anchorages can be found along the North coast of Vona Vona island and people are quite friendly such as in the village of Orokolo (Anchorage 15m S8° 10.951 E157° 01.003). Nosing in towards the beach allows good protection from the SE trades (anchoring in 15-20 m)
Finally the last stretch west to exit the lagoon between the two reefs tongues may be done carefully, heading to the W-SW to round a couple of shallow patches (see photo), rather than going across them like KUNA did on the map below. Waypoints Flags mark the two patches with depths up to 2m: (S8° 10.493 E156° 58.726 to S8° 10.526 E156° 58.526 and from: S8° 10.506 E156° 58.223 to S8° 10.517 E156° 58.135, I marked those on the GPS as we were going along and it was a cloudy day, so take record with a grain of salt but the aerial photograph below shows what can not be seen from the water!
Of course, the Vona Vona lagoon is full of crocodiles but it’s worth the look due to its myriad of small islands, some inhabited, some only visited for hunting.
The larger island of Vona Vona is heavily logged but sediment run off is not obvious because the island is mostly flat rainforest.
Follows a number of cool lagoon creatures found near Lola island
beche de mer
Friday, September 4, 2009
The anchorage in Noro is just in front of the Market (S8º 14.314 E157º 11.825 but the entrance is located a bit to the South, marked on its port side by a red elongated rectangle. The passage in the reef tongue which extends from north to south is threaded at 90 degrees about 4m depth then turn right (north) towards and slowly go across a second reef bar which comes up at about 2.5 m on the sounder. The chart survey is accurate (WWII was useful for something!). It is possible to anchor in about 6-7 m before this second bar or in 9-10 m after, in front of the market, which is well protected. Lots of canoes traffic but no problems and Noro people are overall more friendly than in Munda. The market is well ressupplied and cheap, and happens even on Saturdays. There is an new internet cafe too owned by philipinos, though connection does not work when it rains!
Time for a bit of fixing on the KUNA. Might have been that the rig was too loose during the last passage (resulting in shock loads) or that simply the stainless was old and it simply broke under the load (or the combination of both: but here is the result: two broken tangs (now I’ve learned the proper word!) on the lower shrouds.
Note the split in the stainless
The 15mm bolt had just snapped too!! Given the light loads of tropical sailing, it definitely is old age!
It turned out that the Harbour town of Noro in the Western Province (New Georgia) is the right place to fix things. It is a major shipping harbour, with lots of cargo and fishing boats pulling the for resupply and it is a port of entry.
Logging ship refuelling in the background
A few doors down from the Noro Delly, 15 minutes walk from market walking on the main road at the back is the very well stocked Island Enterprise hardware store. It is managed by a bunch of tikopians (they seem to get around the country and always be very industrious Polynesians). Everything from a sealed maintenance free truck battery to galvanized rod to Rimula X diesel engine oil and even CRC spray could be found and if not found could be ordered from Honiara! Very unusual for the Solomons.
Lenny, an industrious Australian builder who’s been in the Solomons forever was kind enough to organize re-welding the tang with a local fellow. One piece of advice: travelling with one’s own stainless welding rods is very worthwhile as they are impossible to find , whereas welders can be found anywhere.
Reinforced welds inside the tang too...