Solomon Islands - Nggela Sule Island, Roderick Bay

July  - September 2012




Information on Roderick Bay Hideaway - CLICK HERE


Photos from the 1st Annual Bonina Vale Cultural Festival  - CLICK HERE



The Sign

Willy (on the left with his son, Philip) carved this sign for the forestival. John Ruka, chief of the clan completes the picture.

"Carina's" Mooring

sits over a seamound alive with coral and tropical fish.

The Yacht Sign In

Each of the eight yachts printed their names on this board.

Participation of the Island Kids

When we visit a new country we try to enlist the help of local children to pose for a photo with our gnome (here held by the young lady in blue). We then email the photo and a short story back to a school in Bainbridge Island, WA to educate the US children of distant countries.

Puppy Love

Wyatt (left) and Morgan were captivated by a local puppy which promptly became theirs. They named her Coco. Philip didn't think the animal would live since it was so lethargic. After a few days of Jake's cast off cat food, she was romping on the beach like a...well puppy!

Making Decorations

Leslie joined in helping Virginta & Beatrice - John Ruka's youngest daughters - to make kastom decorations for the festival and here sports some of the results.

Welcome to the Village

We received a traditional welcome given to strangers arriving at a new village. What we weren't able to capture in photos was the warlike and seemingly savage charge by painted village warriors who whooped around us brandishing war clubs and shields that surprised us when we first arrived. This is Ben, the kastom chief of the region.

The Greeting

Each visitor received a leaf or floral necklace presented by an island beauty; here Leslie receives hers.

Chief Leading a Procession

Ben, the ranking chief of the region, somberly led a group of dancing girls into the pavilion built by John Ruka and his clan on the beachfront of Roderick Bay.

An Island Beauty

is caught here singing the songs of the welcome ceremony...the national anthem, the anthem of the central province and a welcome song.

Pan Pipe Band

The local boys comprise a pan pipe band that play and dance for visitors.

Pan Pipe Dancing

The boys danced as they were playing their instruments.

Pan Pipes

Most of the Solomon islanders, especially the men, are attractve, healthy looking people (well, except for their teeth which are stained red from betel nut chewing. Unfortunately, the lime powder they use to break down the betel nut eventually rots their teeth away.

Pan Pipers

Close up of one of the younger players.

Village Tour

This is a typical example of the houses in the village.

World Discoverer

The 200' World Discoverer hit a rock outside of the bay. The captain was able to beach the vessel on shore hoping the ship could be repaired and refloated. Sadly the damage was too extensive. No casualties in the mishap, though.


We were served a hearty islander lunch of fish, taro, sweet potatoe and, for dessert, fresh watermelon, all on a biodegradable banana leaf. Drinking water was served in tall bamboo sections and drinking coconuts came with slim bamboo straws.

Betel Nut Trees

are tall with only sparse vegatation at the crown. This is where the nuts are found. A young man wrapped a rag around his ankles and shimmied up the trunk to break off from nuts and threw them to the waiting villagers on the ground.

Learning to Chew the Betel Nut

Chief John gave a nut to Philip to try. The nut is extremely tough and fiberous and is strongly astringent. The lime leaves or lime powder that is taken along with the nut somewhat neutralizes the astringency. It took about 6 hours for the foul taste to leave Philip's mouth.


Pretty Lillian, John's wife, wove this basket in about 15 minutes.

What's Kathy Doing Weaving???

While in Roderick Bay, Kathy learned to make roofs and walls for homes using sengo palm. The houses constructed as such are completely dry inside even in the most torrential downpour.

More Weaving

Cindy of s/v Distant Shores wove this small section and then posed with her teacher.


We try to collect carved wooden masks from each country we visit. The artist, Willy, holds the one we bought, nicely carved from kerosene wood.

2nd Day Welcome

On the second day, two Aussie girls, Mandy and Emily showed up so the villagers felt compelled to put on another traditional welcome.

War Stories

Chief Ben led the story of exhorting his warriors to be brave in battle.

Ben on Fire

Ben demostated how to start a fire without matches. He took a dry stick about two inches in diameter, scrapped one side flat and then took another, smaller stick and rubbed it rapidly against the larger one. Fire in one minute.


This young man paid rapt attention to Chief Ben's story.

A Grisly Tale

These skulls of former headhunting victims (or former tribal chiefs, we never found out) we thought were being stored in a kastom house though, when we asked to see the house, Chief John said one did not exist.

Canoe Racing

The villagers thought it would be great fun to stage canoe racing of the yacht participants. The villagers howled with laughter at our pathetic skills.

Canoe Racing #2

Allen and Kathy (s/v Love Song) raced Chief John and Lillian but the villagers won handily.

Canoe Race #3

Leslie teamed up with Willy who was able to keep very tippy canoe upright

Food Demostation

This lady showed how sweet potato pudding is made. Taste? pleasant but bland.

Roderick Bay Dancers

These women danced gleeful dances derived from childrens' stories.


This little girl appears to be enjoying herself. We were certainly enjoying her dancing.

Beautiful Costumes

Each of the dancers prepared their own costumes including the bikini tops of natural materials.

Shell Money

Each of the dancers was adorned in shell money that is their inheritance. A young woman's bride price is at least 60 fathoms of shell money.

Littlest Dancer

This pretty little girl, Keri, courageously danced for a hundred or so strangers.

Sandfly Beauty

The second day of the festival, a group from nearby Sandfly Island staged a dance and enacted the negotiation of a bride price. This beauty was part of that group.

Ritual Presentation

of the feast. This woman carries an elaborate woven canoe containing one of the puddings that the women had so painstakingly prepared. She was part of a parade....including the meat of the pig prepared in the earth oven, called biki in the local Nggela language.

Even the littlest

girl carried her portion of the feast.


wanted to linger the day after the festival and to take a picture together.

After the festival

Tribute and Carina lingered and Larry and us climbed John's hill, called Susupu, after the local soup made in days past up on its slopes that overlook Sandfly passage.

Prodigal Philip Returns

after a heart attack and evacuation to Australia for treatment. Roderick Bay, with chief John Ruka and Larry of SV Tribute, used the occasion to get together for a nice supper ashore.

Attention to Detail

continued even after the festival...these were plates woven and decorated for Philip's return supper.

Dressed and ..

ready for supper, Philip relaxes at Roderick Bay; healthy once more.


was injured while we were gone from Roderick Bay and her hand was swollen and oozing when we returned. We gave her instructions on soaking in clean water, soap to keep the wound clean and oral antibiotics.

An entourage of

family joined us on a hike to Susupu Hill to watch Tomboy arriving from Honiara

Even Coco

the puppy, got into the act and was decorated for the occasion.


John and Lillian Ruka's youngest daughter and her cousin playing on Susupu Hill


sails up Sandfly Passage


arrival prompted another family gathering at Roderick Bay

Hararo Beauty

This little princess was a student at the primary school in Hararo, the "big" village across the peninsula from our anchorage.

A New Dugout

in progress.

Dugout Roughout

using simply and axe and an adze.


demonstrates how he makes a canoe...the same basic techniques that have been used for centuries.

Teak Farm Excursion

One Sunday early in September we waited until showers cleared, dinghied to the far end of Roderick Bay and climbed through the thick jungle on a slippery trail to meet Ben, the paramount chief of the region who lives on his teak farm at the top of the island. As we climbed we could spy Carina bobbing merrily at anchor.

As we reached the top

...our path took us through Ben's pineapple garden, already in bloom for a Christmas-time harvest


blooming but not producing beans...we couldn't help Ben to figure out why but promised to try to find out

A Single Mother

and her four children, shunned by their village, live in this modest hut and live off the adjacent garden. Ben and his family provided her with a haven...

Sengo Palm Mushrooms

began to arrive as gifts from the village and we loved them. On our tour to Ben's teak farm, John showed us how to find them.

Parmount Chief

Benjamin Sosi came by Carina on the Sunday before we left and stayed for a bit of tea and chat. He wanted to make a special effort to say goodbye.


night and stories was an event organized by Tomboy. The kids of all ages loved it.


is always hard, so we said it over supper and again on the beach the morning of our departure. We are wearing our heirloom shell money given to us by John and Lillian.