Well, where to begin, its been a while since we left Townsville bound for Louisiades PNG. We had a couple of nights spent at Holmes reef , a few hundred miles off the coast of Aussie. It wasnt the most pleasant anchorage, the lagoon was 6miles long and probably that wide. The reef was shite, we went kayaking around the place when it wasnt too windy, it just provided a nice stopover to get some extra sleep enroute to PNG.
Dudley made some friends on night watch, they left nasty suprises in the morning, bird shit all over the solar panels from one end to the other, because they were his friends he could clean up their shit. Those birds stayed with us at Holmes reef. Its amazing how they hang on while we are pounding through the waves!
|the cling on shit ons|
The sailing over here was shit to say the least, bascically hard on the wind, (I dont know how people leave from cairns!) bash bash bashing into the waves the whole way, solid walls of water over the boat from bow to midships, lucky we had 4 egg and bacon pies to eat, coz we didnt feel like going below not for a second. I likened the bashing into the wind like a bucking bull contest, a difference is that we couldnt get off the ride, we hanged on most of the way getting real good at the old pelvic thrusts!
It took us about 4 days sailing to get the Dauchetau group which is just inside the reef at Louisiades, how very remote, not a soul to be seen. We could smell land (very rich smell of soil) before we saw it. We anchored at Ana Island.
|Panorama Ana Island, Dauchetau Group|
Before finding the best spot we anchored further out, as there was coral heads everywhere then we took the dinghy in to find the best route.Ana island is where fisherman come to stay for a few days and smoke their catch, have a rest before heading back to their village (the nearest island about 15miles away). We saw their shelters and fish smoking apparatus.
|Fisherman's hut and smoker|
We had this magic spot to ourselves for a few days , we could walk the perimeter of the island and found many tracks through the island, which the natives had obviously made souly to cut down hardwood trees and branches for i dont know what. The island smelt like natives and old fires, while we were wandering around we imagined them hiding in the bushes watching us... we saw many turtle egg shells, painted cray shells water bottles. After a few days exploring, kayaking and snorkelling (not much marine life to be seen) our friends on Memphis turned up, great to see some people, after not a soul.
After a nice rest and clean up of the boat at Ana Island we convoyed to Bagaman Island, on our arrival there the locals from one village was waving a mirror to get our attention to anchor at their village, we ended up going to the one with the most shelter.
|Loti having a milo, the first native we saw|
This island was mountainous, therefore the catabatic winds had a nasty effect on baikal, the wind would catch her side on and spin her around, needless to say Memphis took us to shore in their horsepowered dinghy instead of our man powered one!
So this is the first place we were introduced to the natives. Loti a lovely fella was circling our boats as we were anchoring, we called him over and gave him a milo which he enjoyed very much. He didnt ask for anything which was lovely. We went to shore and gave the kids some chocolate rough slice which they hungrily took one kid was rather greedy taking a handful...tut tut, share it round I said. We were in awe over their simplistic lifestyle, but its not for me, I enjoy the finer things in life! I tell ya what its always nice to come back to our boat, a safe haven with all the luxuries of the 1st world.
|Natives Bagaman Island|
Most of the natives have red teeth from chewing bettlenut with mustard and crushed lime powder (made from crushing white coral), it gives them a buzz while they're eating it and makes them bright eyed and ready for work in the garden! They also say its a cultural thing, and they all sit round doin it, everyone is selling it, you go to a market and that is mainly what they sell, they cant believe we dont do it, very young children do it. Its addictive and studies prove an incresed rate of oral cancers beacause of it, a bit like alcohol ha? When you walk around there is red spit everywhere..yummmmmy! The more educated the people are the less or no bettlenut they have.
We asked permission to anchor in their bay and walk on their beaches. This beach was rather corally, with a few nice shells. What the hell is it with the natives thinking we want to trade shells?? Who went and stuffed that up? WE LIVE ON A BOAT, small space, no room for decorations which are best looked at in their natural environment ! We want food people !not ornaments! If everyone went around the world collecting shells there would be none left for future sailors/explorers to enjoy and your stealing someone's home! A bloody conch could be living in it ! Enough of that rant..
From Bagaman we sailed west to Moturina, unfortunately not east, as we were worried we hadn't yet checked into the country yet, and would have some explaining to do as to where we had been the past 2 or so weeks.
Moturina provided an amazing spot to anchor.
|Dudley rowing ashore Moturina|
A couple of young boys took us on a walk to another village over the mountain, along the way we met people working in their gardens and we saw a public notice on a tree, it was about the people to stop stealing coconuts off trees that aren't theres. We met some nice people at the village, Dudley had a game of soccer with them. The Boys love soccer and the girls love netball. We met the reverand and the pastor. The people are very proud of who they are and what their husbands do. Warren off Memphis helped to fix one of the long boats, that had a hole. On our way back to the boat, the Mother of the boys wanted to give us coconuts when really it should be us giving them stuff.
|Local playing field Moturina|
After a couple of days at Moturina we went to Broker Island, what a horrible entrance, reef everywhere, many times we were stressed, with unsurveyed areas and inaccurate gps's we relied on our eyes, but even that can be a problem when its cloudy for days... again another village tour, this time we saw turtles dying, the boys were kicking them, nice one... we saw a locked metal hut, wondering why it was locked.. we got the feeling we weren't welcome here people staring us out, had heaps of kids come to trade. Dudley traded a big bush turkey egg for pens and paper. He was assured we could eat it , make panckes. but no, there was a half formed bird inside. Naive Dudley! We enjoyed the trading but when they dont go away after youve traded and just sit in their dugouts wanting more, you start to get pissed off. One boy Jarod, said he'd tell us a story, we were like cool what? Then, this is how its going to go you will give me some clothes.... Im not painting a very nice picture of the place am i?? Oh well im just telling it like it is..
There was another beautiful looking island we stopped at (Hummock Island) a real little piece of paradise. Dudley went snorkelling at night with the locals and he got a painted cray! Also one of the guys got a turtle who was sleeping....
|Made from the sago plant|
Anyhow we left there early the next morning as the sun came up and went to a couple more islands, more village tours, more trading before making our way to Samarai to check in.
Felix was a lovely fella, what a breeze it was 56 kina about 28dollars and we were officially cleared into PNG. From here we decided the wind direction wouldnt allow us a comfortable and straightforward sail back to the furtherest islands of the Louisiades. And for now we had had enough of it all.
We stopped at Pearl Bay, here the locals were having trouble with the owners of the pearl farm. the village claimed they werent receiving any benefits from the company being in their bay, so to retaliate, the locals were stealing the pearls at night time and cutting the lines. When we went to explore their village they were having a 'meeting' with the police about stealing pearls while some of the boys were coming out to try and sell them to us for 30 bucks.They looked so sifty!! Constantly looking around to ensure they werent being watched!
From here we went to milne bay and some beautiful anchorages nice walks in the mountains up to waterfalls, with landowners as the tour guides, they were lovely people.Henry 14years was a landowner along with his mother and her sister, lucky man! He was busy working in his banana plantation when he saw us walking along and came with us to show us the way, he said we would not be questioned by anyone going with him as he was the landowner. They allow people to live on their land and they dont have to pay rent. We asked Henry if he drinks water. He never drinks water . Only coconut water.
|Waterfall Walk with Henry and Sonny|
|Tanya and Dudley at water fall|
|Henry's sister and puppies!!|
Things we got from trading were limes, green coconuts dehusked for drinking, yam and a few other root vegetables, bananas, passionfruit, green oranges, ibecca (like spinich) and yummy eggs. We gave them fishing hooks, pencils, biros, paper, clothes, rice, sugar.soaps. Some were extremely grateful, others not so.
Copra is a big industry amoung the islanders of Louisiades, every village has a long boat with a 40hp yamaha, they fill up a sack of copra which might take thema few days and then they get 160kina (80bucks) if they take it into Alotau or Misima minus the petrol costs for their outboards. It is pretty much a cashless society out there, but when they need cash all they have to do is dehusk, cut open, get out the white stuff, dry it, bag it and sell it. I would not call them poor, of course by western standards they are poor but they have all they need, and they are soooo happy, never hungry, just hoon out into the bush grab some tucka to eat, one young boy we asked him what his favourite food is, he replied taro mmmmmmmmmmm yumm. how refreshing is that to not hear a child say some kind of junkfood as their favourite food. They start preparing dinner at 3pm so it can be all over before dark. They use hurricane lanterns with kerosene. so they need to buy that, but its easily affordable, as long as they have the coconut trees, and the physical capability to make copra they're set. Its only when us whiteys come in with all our fancy gear that the locals feel like they 're missing out, and then they start to want things. We got asked for some solar panels, batteries, stereo, torches, in exchange for 2 limes or 2 coconuts.
We also went to Alotau (a big town in Milne Bay province) and Dudley bought a machete, a longer one than the one we have now.While we were in Alotau we saw guards everywhere. razor wire, high fences. In the milne bay there were crocodiles which we never saw, but memphis saw him after we left, we went snorkelling in that bay, with Ali on the lookout of course.
|Cool tree Wagga wagga|
|Warren from Memphis trying a dug out canoe|
We parted ways with Memphis in the Milne Bay province, our buddy boat thus far and prepared to take on the onslaught of trading solitary...
Shit we could have never prepared ourselves for the onslaught of dug out canoes at Port Glasgow, (south coast). Before we dropped the pick we had boats coming from every village, i was like oh fuck... before we had a chance to turn everything off we were bombarded with boats 3 deep all around Baikal, they were leaning on the boat standing up trying to see through the curtains. It was like we were a circus freak show.
|Dugouts Port Glasgow|
|And they just keep on coming!|
And would you believe it some of them wanted to trade, lemons coconuts. We said not today because everyone will want something, come back tomorrow. We spoke with all of them for a while , it was getting dark so we said we have to go and have dinner, Dudley had to end up telling one of the elders for them all to leave, coz they wouldnt listen to us. In the morning we discovered they had cut lines off our kayaks and after we went for a kayak we came back and they had taken the ropes holding our kayaks down..theiving shits, time to get out of this place. If they wanted rope all they had to do was ask!!!!
So after that we avoided all the villages up the coast to Port Morsbey, doing an overnighter aswell as stopping at times just inside the reef, well away from villages. I tell you we were sick of..
1. feeling entrapped on the boat
2.having the curtains closed for privacy
3. not being able to go for a swim, walk on the beach, kayak without being followed and gawked at.
So here we are at Port Morsbey, anchored in the duckpond behind the break wall in the marina. There is a guard house 24 hours a day, guards everywhere, all very nice people, its nice to have freedom again. Here we will try and sort out our indonesian visas and Dudley is busy getting frustrated to hell with the altenator, it was very loose on the brackets, the bolts holding it on sheared off and he is having a bitch of a time getting them out, heres hoping it all works out. What a treat to have meat again, lamb chops... its nice to stretch the legs after 5 days of not being able to get off the boat! We asked the security guys at the marina where is safe to walk, so looks like we'll be catching a cab tomorrow. The supermarket is super expensive, we can't wait to go to a country where our money goes a long way for a change! And theres lots of white people here, most of them have jobs with australian government, one guy we spoke with is ensuring medical aid packages get dispersed all over PNG , he gets to fly all over the country, what a cool job!
At least now we have a better idea of places we would enjoy cruising in, we dont regret coming here, at least our curiosity about the place is gone.