Those are not my words but of a sixteenth century Portuguese explorer when he first sighted these islands. Ilhas dos Papuas means ‘islands of the frizzy haired’. A Spanish explorer later added the New Guinea part because he found the people resembling those of Guinea in Africa. In any case, we are in Papua New Guinea. After six months we’re finally in a new country and so far so good.
We sailed for two days and two nights and arrived in New Ireland, PNG, where we spent a day anchored in Irish Cove. A beautiful spot, perfect to take a rest and get ready for the final overnight sail to Rabaul in New Britain. Rabaul used to be the capital of New Britain but was evacuated when the surrounding volcanoes (there are not 1, not 2, but 6 of them!) started heating up. The eruption of 1994 covered the town in a heavy layer of ash and everyone relocated to nearby Kokopo, on the other side of the bay. Today there is still the harbour, yacht club, some shops and a market in Rabaul, but most businesses and people stayed in Kokopo.
A new country also usually means a few days of paperwork to sort out. We had already arranged a visa in advance through the PNG consulate in Honiara and that made things much easier. All we had to do was go to Customs to clear in and they stamped our passports and then the Quarantine and Health officials met us at the yacht club to complete the remaining paperwork. Easy peasy and much cheaper than the Solomons.
Next on the program was topping up our provisions and wow do they have some good shops here. Definitely a step up from the Solomons. One of the supermarkets in Kokopo even had an escalator, something we hadn’t seen in a long time!