Originally Posted by Tetepare
Any update? I'd love to cruise those islands.
Quite an adventure so far as a matter of fact.
We cleared in at Samarai with Felix the customs
officer who has been here for many years. The port is no longer officially a port of entry however, Felix can do the customs paperwork and any quarantine inspection
however you still have to take a water
taxi to Alotau for Immigration and to pay the quarantine fee with Rose. These offices are in opposite directions of course but not too far to walk. We had to go back 3 times to catch the immi guy in the office. This arrangement ay not last much longer however as they are trying to force Felix to relocate to Alotau. This may be a done deal as I heard that they were cutting off the rent payment for his house on Samarai.
Unfortunately, I had my Ozzie hat and my shoes stolen from the dinghy
in Samarai but then I was stupid to leave them there in the first place. Other than that we have had no problems with theft although we do take the appropriate precautions, now. It was a real bugger to lose that hat.
Just off the Island of Goya Bora Bora
we went diving
with the Manta
Rays. There must have been about a dozen of them frolicking in the current
. The local villagers told us that they come every day to the cleaning
station there and you can even watch them from the deck
while you are anchored. I took on a local guide and diver to accompany me and he has proven invaluable as well as enjoyable during our cruise. This really helps with communication and he has excellent eyes for the reefs
We cruised the Lousiades through the Conflict and Deboyne Islands on the way to Misima. There was a real water
shortage on at the time and we stopped at a beautiful little village on the south side to fill up from their dam. The bay was beautiful deep water with a depth
of 200 + feet almost right to shore. We took 2 stern lines to shore where they are trying to construct a wharf from coral
rock and fill with the anchor
in 80' just in front of the bow. After leaving this village we came across a pod of 60 pilot whales who conveniently stopped for us so we could spend almost an hour while they leisurely made their way westward around us.
Unfortunately this area was hit very hard last week with many houses destroyed by the storm. Our new crew member
has lots of family
in this area and they are trying to put themselves back together with little help from any government
sources. They are saying that they haven't had a storm like this last one for many years.
Departing Misima we headed NW towards Normandy on the way to Kiriwina where we chanced upon a dinghy
with a family
of 9 people off the coast almost 20 miles. The had been coming from Woodlark Island on their way to the hospital in Alotau having run out of petrol the previous night and had been drifting for 12 hours. There were 4 children
on board with no water or even a tarp for coverage and I was amazed and a little upset that someone would venture out on such a long trip without adequate supplies and fuel
. I can only imagine what would have happened to them if we hadn't happened along. We took them on board and towed their dinghy 20 miles over to Normandby where we hope they were able to get fuel
and provisions from the village to make it the rest of the way. Ironically, the almost same situation happened while we were at Lolobau Island in West New Britain although they at least, where only a few miles offshore
. It is quite a sight to see a 23 foot dinghy loaded with about 18 people being paddled across the ocean.
We are now in Kimbe waiting for a weather
window to continue west. Things are looking good for Friday and over the following week although it looks like the winds will be to light to sail. We saw big seas and winds to 40kts in the Bismark Sea and have been tucking into small bays for shelter ever since leaving the Duke of York Islands where there are some very good wall dives in the North end. We tried to get out of the village of Lasul 3 times before getting out of the reefs for weather
and then only having to divert to open bay for shelter again. I guess that s what you get for sailing in the Bismark Sea in January although everyone says this year has been far worse than usual for an extended period of time.
We still hope to dive in the reefs around the Vitu Islands as well as hit Sherburne and Circular reefs on the way through but it may not be prudent if the weather doesn't improve.
We have only seen 3 cruisers since our arrival almost 2 months ago, both of them at Rabaul. Both boats had come from the Solomon Islands.
Unfortunately 3 months will not be enough time to cruise the area properly as there are endless opportunities to explore and see the wonderful country. Our having picked up a local to cruise with us as crew has made the trip so much more enjoyable and I would recommend this approach to anyone coming here.