SOLOMON ISLANDS - MAKIRI & SANTA CRUZ

San Cristobal leads to the Coral Sea and another challenge awaits the intrepid crew of the Solar Navigator

 

 

 

 

Solomon Islands is a sovereign country consisting of a large number of islands in Oceania lying to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu and covering a land area of 28,400 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi). The country's capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal. Solomon Islands should not be confused with the Solomon Islands archipelago.

The islands have been inhabited for over 30,000 years. In 1568 the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña was the first European to visit them, naming them the Islas Salomón. By 1893, the United Kingdom had established a protectorate over what was then known as "the Solomon Islands". During the Second World War, the Solomon Islands campaign (1942–1945) saw fierce fighting between the United States and the Empire of Japan, such as in the Battle of Guadalcanal.

 

 

US Marines during the Battle of Guadalcanal

 

US Marines during the Battle of Guadalcanal

 

 

Self-government was achieved in 1976. Independence was obtained in 1978 with the country adopting the formal name of Solomon Islands. The Islands is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II (UK), as its head of state. Gordon Lilo Darcy is the eleventh and current Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands.

 

Solomon Islands is an island nation that lies east of Papua New Guinea and consists of many islands: Choiseul, the Shortland Islands; the New Georgia Islands; Santa Isabel; the Russell Islands; Nggela (the Florida Islands); Malaita; Guadalcanal; Sikaiana; Maramasike; Ulawa; Uki; Makira (San Cristobal); Santa Ana; Rennell and Bellona; the Santa Cruz Islands and three remote, tiny outliers, Tikopia, Anuta, and Fatutaka.

The country's islands lie between latitudes 5° and 13°S, and longitudes 155° and 169°E. The distance between the westernmost and easternmost islands is about 1,500 kilometres (930 mi). The Santa Cruz Islands (of which Tikopia is part) are situated north of Vanuatu and are especially isolated at more than 200 kilometres (120 mi) from the other islands. Bougainville is geographically part of the Solomon Islands but politically part of Papua New Guinea.

The islands' ocean-equatorial climate is extremely humid throughout the year, with a mean temperature of 26.5 °C (79.7 °F) and few extremes of temperature or weather. June through August is the cooler period. Though seasons are not pronounced, the northwesterly winds of November through April bring more frequent rainfall and occasional squalls or cyclones. The annual rainfall is about 3,050 millimetres (120 in).

 

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Paradise - the Solomon Islands, a land of milk and honey, turquoise waters, clear blue skies and the very occasional tropical storm.

 


The Solomon Islands archipelago is part of two distinct terrestrial ecoregions. Most of the islands are part of the Solomon Islands rain forests ecoregion, which also includes the islands of Bougainville and Buka; these forests have come under pressure from forestry activities. The Santa Cruz Islands are part of the Vanuatu rain forests ecoregion, together with the neighbouring archipelago of Vanuatu. Soil quality ranges from extremely rich volcanic (there are volcanoes with varying degrees of activity on some of the larger islands) to relatively infertile limestone. 

 

More than 230 varieties of orchids and other tropical flowers brighten the landscape. Solomon Islands attract tourists , most notably , its naturalness , lack of desire to create something special for them. It offers recreation in natural environmental conditions, and this valuable colorful Chinatown. Just a few kilometers from the capital are the famous waterfalls Mataniko. The water falls into a cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites , and then hiding in the depths of the island. Will be unforgettable journey into the lagoon Marivaux . Here is turystychnt country village - World Heriteydzh . State trying to preserve the unique flora and fauna of the place, limited logging . Benefits that locals get through turyzmu.ostrovy for the traveler.Travel to the islands usually starts from the capital of the state - Honiara . It is located a place called Point Cruz. According to legend , it was first landed Mendanai Spaniard set a cross in honor of the island. 

 

It is also interesting to visit the National Museum , Parliament, Botanic Gardens , Village Nusambaruku (Fr. Guizot ) - an example of an isolated traditional village. It consists of several buildings, located high on stilts. To get to the village is possible only by boat or via narrow causeway. Anarvon Islands are 280 km from the capital. This group of 100 islands that are home to rare sea turtles. It was organized by natural reserve : a few dozen specially trained people monitor the safety of lives and turtles accompany tourists.Western Province is famous for its beauty and richness of the underwater world. This rush of extreme sports lovers and water sports. Here are comfortable kurorty.yPerlynoyu Western Province was truly lagoon Marivaux . This is the most salty lagoon in the world ( 150 by 96 kilometers). Thousands of islands and coral reefs surrounding the lagoon.Almost the entire southern part of. Rennell takes Tenhano lake . It is the largest freshwater lake in the Pacific. The lake and the surrounding area make up the National Park wildlife that are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The islands contain several active and dormant volcanoes. The Tinakula and Kavachi volcanoes are the most active.

 

 

 

Chapter 33   -  STORM CLOUDS   150 S, 1550 E, Solomon Islands

 (extract from: The $Billion Dollar Whale by Jameson Hunter © 2014)

 

The sky darkened as heavy clouds filled the horizon and suddenly a wind got up to chill the air. Mariners instinctively recognize situations like this and know of old that they are likely to be in for a rough ride. The phrase, ‘Batten down the Hatches,’ is not a well used cliché for nothing. On a solar boat with large wings, the centuries old saying is given new meaning, since if the solar arrays are not balanced the forces generated are equivalent to the sails of any powerful ocean racer, and might cause lift and finally capsize if not trimmed.

Suki was sitting behind the helm on the transom bench-seats sideways, with one arm over the stern, watching Kulo swim beside the Navigator. She was not paying too much attention to the changing weather, but closely watching the big whale as she rhythmically shallow-dived and surfaced. Kulo seemed to have recovered a good deal of her strength and tenacity, after the pirate chase ordeal, which had seen her swimming as fast as she could for hundreds of miles taking her close to exhaustion. The near state of collapse, brought on sooner by the loss of blood and her painful back injury.

John was manning the external helm position ahead of Suki. He was absorbed with the task of navigating, standing up to better view the horizon, and consider what action to take against the ever darkening skies. It was time to act.

 “Dan,” said John, into the intercom mike. “I’m taking control back from Captain Nemo, retracting the wings and readying for high seas, you’ve got the com on manual, over.” Click.

“Roger that. How’s our guest? Over.”

“Which one? Suki is keeping tabs on Kulo, they're joined at the hip for now – so, get the cocoa on. We'll join you in a moment. Over and out.”

John looked over at Suki who was now looking back, rather than at Kulo. Although he was obviously concerned at the change in weather, he smiled at her, and she nodded back. She realized from the mixed expression on his face that the weather signs were not good. John folded the solar wings placing the resultant smaller wing into a central neutral horizontal position, thus presenting a significantly smaller flat section to the wind. He then partly flooded the central hull in submarine fashion, so that the extra displacement from water taken on board as ballast, acted as a sea anchor, lowering more of the boat's hull into the sea and so too the exposed wing edges, considerably reducing the side area presented to the wind and waves as a defence against a broadside. With this configuration the wind would have to be that much more powerful to lift the Solar Navigator out of the water or effect a rolling capsize. John knew he had to do his level best to maintain steerage to be able to head into the waves nose first.  

Fortunately, the boat had not only been designed with foldable wings, but also with adjustable outriggers, that could be raised and lowered independently for exactly the situation the crew were now facing. In fact the swing-wings could also move independently of each other to track the sun overhead as it arced from an eastern sunrise to sunset in the west. With the auto-tracker disengaged the solar wings could be angled to induce down-force, so using the wind to keep the hull in the water during extreme conditions. But that was bold sailing - and now was not the time for taking chances with experiments. Running this low in the sea increased wetted area and displacement which slowed the Navigator’s headway to what seemed like a laborious crawl.

 

 

Having sorted the vessel, the next thing to look after was their valuable mottled gray and white friend.

“How’s she doing?”

Suki was thoughtful. “Well, whales live in the ocean all year round. I guess she’ll be okay to ride this out and we’ve got a working tag on her now. We can watch out for her on the stern cameras.”

“In that case, we’d better look out for ourselves” said John, motioning with his head for her to get up .  They both waved energetically to Kulo from the stern rail. Kulo seemed to understand that that was his friends signaling to her that they were taking shelter. Humans are so fragile.

John motioned to the hatch, moving ahead of Suki so as to hold it open. “After you maam.” Suki went through and John closed down the rear instruments and followed, locking the hatch down securely.

“Thank you kind sir,” said Suki once inside, genuinely grateful for his thoughtfulness, though affecting a theatrical tone. They went through the bunk area opening the door to the open walkway ahead, closing that and then quickly crossed the walkway to the forward control position, went through that door and sealed that bulkhead behind them to join Dan. John was the perfect gentleman at each opening. They could smell hot chocolate. It would have been near impossible to drink their Belgian treats, but for the spill-proof containers that Dan had served up.

In just under an hour the wind had reached force 8. The waves began to grow higher as a function of increasing wind speed, giving the crew of the Navigator a battering. John, Suki and Dan buckled up the six point harnesses, settling back into the reassuringly plush seats and reclined to improve comfort further. Ahead of them, the comprehensive instruments and computer screens showed exactly where they were and the weather pattern they were now caught in. Unfortunately, for them, the pattern was unmistakable, it was a revolving storm, or cyclone, like those now a regular feature causing much devastation on land, on the east coast of America, Gulf of Mexico, and the Indian Ocean. They were facing a hurricane.

They'd navigated between Makiri (formerly San Cristobal) and Santa Cruz, two of the east Solomon Islands group, heading south for the Coral Sea without any sign of things to come just from looking at the sky. The instruments told them another story. The ships sensors kept track of wind-speed and barometric pressure, feeding that information to Hal, the ships computers, when Captain Nemo, the name for the program that tied all the components together, would decide for itself whether to fold the wings or lower the turbine boom. That was if the ship was set to run autonomously. John was still getting used to having the extra pair of robotic hands, so rarely allowed Captain Nemo full control. But that facility allowed the crew to concentrate on other things, such as unexpected guests.

The camera to the rear still showed Kulo as a glimpse every now and then, but the radio tag gave a more reassuring beep signal when she was surfaced, a sort of heartbeat reminder, giving direction and distance. Kulo looked forward trying to keep her new friends in echo vision. She’d seen many storms over the years and could sense that this was going to be a big one. But she knew that in order to ride out the storm, she’d have to dive deep down, which she was reluctant to do, because she felt so safe with her new friends in sight. But they’d gone inside their metal cocoons and would be there for quite a while, at least until the storm abated. With a huge intake of air through her twin spout, she dived down into the deep blue sea, making a soft whining noise as she descended all alone followed by a short trumpet. Unlike her male counterparts female humpbacks are not known for choral singing. Humpbacks can submerge for up to 45 minutes to escape surface turbulence, venting their lungs by volume by up to ninety percent, making their respiration one of the most efficient in the animal world.

Kulo took advantage of the huge breath she'd taken and dived deep, forgetting all her worries as she noticed the seabed was not that much further down on her deeper dives. Kulo liked to dive to about 300 feet normally, but got a thrill in trying to break her own record and once reached almost 1000 feet. She could do this because she was considerably bigger than other humpbacks, so her lungs had greater capacity, tempting her to find her limits. As Kulo felt the need to breathe she came racing to the surface, bursting out of the water and snorting a huge spume of stale air for maximum inhalation, which she repeated twice and down she went again to escape the foaming white cauldron above. After five or six of these dives, the big whale had lost sight and sound of the Solar Navigator completely and become a little disorientated. Playtime has the effect of clearing the memory. Then she came back to her situation and began to panic as she realized she'd lost her friends. She frantically searched around for an echo to head toward to no avail.

Aboard the Navigator it was not much different. John and Dan were so intent on monitoring the ships performance in the foul weather that they'd left the nursing of Kulo to Suki. Suki was so exhausted that she had nodded off for a few minutes, coming to again with a start, angry with herself for being so tired. John grabbed a second to look at the rear cameras and could see nothing of Kulo, who had always been easy to spot. In fact Kulo had never strayed far from the time they had rescued her from the sharks.

“Where is Kulo?" said John to Dan and Suki with some urgency in his voice. 

Suki scanned the rear cameras and could see nothing. Then Dan zoomed the cameras in and out and saw no sign of the whale, so he rushed to the rear pod, through all  the watertight hatches, braving the driving sea spray. He climbed out onto the open rear helm and peered aft north, north-east, panning from right to left. There was no sign of the whale. He waited for a very long twenty minutes in the hope of spotting a breath plume. Nothing. Dan then returned to the front pod, closing all the hatches as he went. As Dan entered the command cabin he looked at Suki for a sign, who motioned with her shoulders that she'd seen nothing. She looked worried. There had been a faint blip from Kulo's tag showing on the monitor, but it looked to be a distance away and disappeared just as quickly as it appeared, so could not be relied on for a fix.

Dan summoned up the courage. "Kulo's nowhere in sight." 

Suki confirmed, "Yes, I can't see her either and her beacon is not giving a reliable signal." 

They had all been worrying that Kulo could not manage the storm. Dan and Suki kept watch for another two hours. But, they also had the Navigator to worry about in the raging storm and could not come about to start a search, nor stop, meaning that they were helpless to do much about relocating their patient.

The turbines had been spinning so fast that they had to apply the brake and angle them ninety degrees to the vertical. John had folded the solar wings centrally completely. Even so, the turbine boom was vibrating from the wind and the ship was being swung left and right noticeably as the high speed gusts caught the tail again and again, each time the blast swinging the hull violently away from its course heading.

"Hells bells," said John, "I'm not sure the Navigator will take much more of this beating. "Is there any sign at all, have you found her?"

"No skip, I think we've  totally lost her."

Just then the Navigator crested high on a rogue wave and a whirl of wind grabbed the ship and spun her almost 180 degrees where a broadside caught her full on. They heard a gut wrenching screech of metal and the warning lights on the navigation consoles lit up like a Christmas tree. This was serious.

 

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A humpback whale stikes a blow for anti whaling - The $Billion Dollar Whale movie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACIDIFICATION - ADRIATIC - ARCTIC - ATLANTIC - BALTIC - BERING - CARIBBEAN - CORAL - EAST CHINA

 

ENGLISH CH - GULF MEXICO - INDIAN - MEDITERRANEAN - NORTH SEA - PACIFIC - PERSIAN GULF - SEA JAPAN

 

STH CHINA - PLASTIC - PLANKTON - PLASTIC OCEANS - SEA LEVEL RISE

 

LINKS & REFERENCE

 

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/2013/07/23/06/08/divers-nearly-swallowed-by-humpback-whales

http://www.cascadiaresearch.org/robin/humpback.htm

http://www.seashepherd.org/lightbox_pages/humpback_whale.php

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/whales/species/Humpbackwhale.shtml

http://www.dimdex.com/en/warship-display.aspx

http://www.npp.com.qa/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar_Armed_Forces

http://www.asdwire.com/press-release-8988/

http://www.maritimeaustralia.com.au/

http://www.pacific2013.com.au/innovation-awards/index.html

Kestrel Marine's Sentient object recognition system

Maritime Australia Limited

Pacific 2013 Awards

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