Vanimo in a day

Team Rehua was super efficient today. We arrived in Vanimo at dawn, after a two day sail from Ninigo. Before the Indonesian Consulate opened we were already waiting at the gate. Our paperwork had been submitted before we left Kavieng so the only formality left was an interview with the Consul. Once he was satisfied with our reasons for wanting to spend time in Indo, we were told we could pick up our visas at 2pm. We used the time to do a quick shop. To our surprise there was no beer for sale because the elections were on. Beer will be back for sale in four weeks time. What ??? And we would have liked to stock up because buying beer in Indo is not that easy apparently. Anyway. We went back to the boat to put our shopping away and then off to see the Port Authority. Then back to the Consulate and yay our visas were waiting. Quick dash to Customs and the official there was kind enough to also stamp our passports (in addition to handing us our clearing papers), so there was no need to see immigration. Whoop whoop, job done. Now what about that beer ? Well apparently the army could sell us some, so off to the army base and yep they didn’t mind selling us a couple of cases. Result! Finally, some ice cream for the kids, some internet time and everyone’s happy. Off to Biak, Indonesia now!🇮🇩

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Advertisements

Ninigo life

One evening in Ninigo atoll anchored of the Nth side of Hotum, (isolated and stunning) we were having a campfire on the beach. The stars were out, the new moon was rising and the tide was coming in slowly. The kids were poking the fire and feeding it new branches, which they had collected from the dense bush before sunset; the adults were happily chatting away. Seathan jokingly said that the only thing missing was some crayfish to put on the fire. But we were on a desert island, so no chance of asking anyone where to find crayfish here. And then suddenly, as if by magic, three locals turned up: a man, a woman and a child. They had been looking for sea cucumbers around the reef and just finished work for the day. They came to say hello and brought us some crayfish! They politely chatted with us for a few minutes and then left to go home to nearby Pihun Island.

The people from Ninigo have been extremely welcoming and have been bringing us gifts (carvings, shells) and food (fish, crayfish, eggs, coconuts, oranges, lemons, papaya, bananas, aubergines) without wanting anything in return. They like to chat and are always respectful, friendly, warm and very proud of their remote island atoll.

They also have an ancient tradition of sailing specially designed, 10 meter, pirogues. It’s been impressive to see them speeding past when we were at anchor, showing off their excellent seafaring skills. They resemble a fast catamaran from the distance but once closer by they remind us of the ancient Maori or Polynesian outrigger canoes with a lateen sail.

The people also remind us very much of the Polynesians, both culturally and in terms of looks. They are lighter skinned than the Melanesians and some have straight hair just like the Polynesians. It’s been great getting to know some of the local families and last Sunday we were anchored near Longan Island and we were invited for a farewell feast. The village slaughtered one of their precious pigs and the women spent all morning cooking and preparing food. We had a great afternoon eating and talking and the kids ran along the beach and played with the local children. As we were leaving the next day, Oscar brought each of the three yachts another package of pork to take with us, along with some sweet potatoes. They just wanted to make sure we had enough food for our crossing to Vanimo

Ninigo also marks our last stop in the South Pacific as we head into Asia. It’s been a wonderful stop and PNG has rocketed into our top ten favourite places ever. Like many other islands in the South Pacific, these remote atolls have crystal clear turquoise water, desert islands and stunning reefs. We will miss the South Pacific very much. Hopefully, one day, we will be back.

Hermit Islands (extended version)

It took us four days and four nights to sail from Kavieng to the Hermit Islands, with very little wind during the first two days. But we didn’t start the engines once, at least not until we had to enter the pass to the lagoon. We have quite a few long distance legs coming up and we can’t rely on diesel, even if that means going slow. On the second day, the wind picked up a bit and we managed to fly the spinnaker for most of the day. The last day and night unfortunately was a bit rough. It’s as if I had jinxed our trip by saying on day three that, so far, it had been one of the most enjoyable crossings ever with flat seas, calm winds and following current. Ouch, shouldn’t have said that.

Anyway, nothing too horrible but an uncomfortable 24 hours later we were happy nonetheless to enter the pass into the lagoon of the Hermit Islands. It was pouring rain and the visibility was pretty bad but, surprisingly, the pass had markers (sticks put in the reef edge to mark the entrance). Now we just had to figure out on which side we were supposed to pass these markers As we peered through the rain into the turquoise water it soon became obvious which way to go. Once safely inside the lagoon, we dropped our anchor next to s/v Rampetamper and s/v Pacha, in front of the main village.

The Hermits are one of the remote offshore atolls of PNG. There is no airstrip, no tourism. Not even a supply ship stops here. If the villagers need supplies, they have to motor 140 nautical miles to Manus Island, which takes 8 hours each way in a longboat. Needless to say, these locals were happy to see us and keen to trade some lobsters and fruit and vegetables for flour, sugar and anything else we were happy to part with. But we didn’t experience the long queues of canoes behind our boat, like we had seen in other places, all wanting something. The people here were very respectful and not pushy or demanding and were even reluctant to come and trade fruit and veg unless we explicitly asked them to.

The lagoon itself was stunning; dotted with many islands – some inhabited, some not – with turquoise water, exquisite corals and a healthy sea-life (turtles, manta rays).

After a few days we moved to the other side of the atoll and anchored beside a desert island. It was one of the most enjoyable anchorages since the Tuamotus in French Polynesia, two years ago.

As we sailed overnight from the Hermit Islands to Ninigo – another remote atoll – I had some time to contemplate and appreciate this life we love living so much. I treasure those few hours of ‘me-time’ during a nighttime passage, alone under the stars and with the moon rising. I get to read my book, listen to some music or podcasts, put together a few playlists, In between, of course, I keep an eye on the instruments and I scan the horizon every five minutes, checking for other boats and approaching squalls. And I noticed on the calendar on my phone that it was three years ago when we hopped on a plane to Turkey to pick up Rehua and started living onboard. So happy anniversary to us! It’s amazing how time flies.

Ninigo Island

We made it after an eventful overnight sail to beautiful Ninigo, the people here are “numba wan” they waft over the lagoon in patchwork bent, square rigged, outrigger canoes; it seems just for the fun of it, today two of them screamed by waving and hallooing to all who would watch, methinks they like to race? Watch this space it looks like fun!
The weather has been great for the water collection but its a roughty-toughty, roly-poly anchorage tonight, squalls all day from NE to SE most touching 30knts. Looking forward to getting a bit further south from the line. Can someone please tell us who is winning the Americas Cup?
Rehua X

Hermits

All is well on Rehua, Hermits are wonderful, we have a resident Manta who likes to put on an aerobatic show in the afternoon, turtles galore, and for the first time giant clams everywhere, this is an SDA village which means they don’t eat them, the clams that is not us, beautiful colours. We are heading for Ninigo in the next week, winds are favourable at the moment but squall activity can change that in a moment. Happy days in turqousie water, with a small private island “Tatahua” for our afternoon bonfire with sun-downers. Rehua in Paradise.

Hermit Islands

On approach to the Hermits, four days and nights of frustrating but rewarding sailing, the breeze came on the nose two days ago, NW, Hmm, we must have forgotten this months sacrifice to Huey.
All is well despite a busy night with squall after squall, if I remember correctly the French call the Doldrums the “Pot au Noir” or was that a coffee I ordered, no matter, I understand what they mean it was a menacing sky last night to say the least.
Bit of a tight pass to negotiate this morning then looking forward to dropping the hook somewhere flat. More coffee needed!
Pot au Noir Sir?
Really…..
Rehua.

Kavieng, New Ireland

After a lovely and calm 36-hour sail from the Duke of York Islands, we arrived in Kavieng just before sunset. Kavieng is a medium-sized town with a few shops, a market and one resort on nearby Nusa Island. 

Our main reason for stopping here: internet. We needed some decent 3G coverage to complete all the paperwork for Indonesia. And wow, do they need a lot of information. So far, out of all the countries we visited by boat in the last three years, Indonesia has been the most complicated and demanding in terms of paperwork required to obtain a visa and arrange clearance for the boat. The only upside is that most of the info can be submitted online so at least we don’t have to bother with photocopies. 

Anyway, once that’s all in order, we will look forward to spending a few weeks in two remote atolls:  the Hermit and the Ninigo Islands. 

So if you don’t hear from us for a few weeks, it will be because we are probably having a good time far away from civilisation, internet and Indonesian red tape. 😎

Kavieng sunset

Duke of York Islands

It doesn’t get much better than this: turquoise water, good holding in sand, hardly any canoes bothering us, no crocs, lots of dugongs and turtles, … The Duke of York Islands are a little oasis not far from the bustling town of Kokopo. A great place to rest up, swim, do school and get on with a few boat-jobs.

Now that the dry season has begun we have fewer rain-showers. Seathan bought parts in Kokopo and upgraded our water collection system; the tanks fill up much faster now. Of course we still use our water maker too, but it’s always a bonus to fill up ‘for free’.

We’ve been feasting on all that delicious fruit and veg we bought in Kokopo. Who would have thought that potatoes, lettuce and carrots could be such a treat? We all craved them after not having seen any for many months.

We had also craved some turquoise water. There are no crocs here, so we can swim as much as we want. And there is much to see in the water: cute clownfish, turtles, corals, and … dugongs! Every morning and afternoon they swim around the boat, feeding on sea-grass in the shallow water. They come up to take a breath every so often and graciously slide through the water. There’s one mum and baby pair we’ve seen often. One afternoon, we jumped in to film them but they are rather shy creatures. Still, it’s a privilege to see them.

We’re reluctant to move from here but there are other places to see, things to do…

sunset over Duke of York Islands


Rehua in the sunset


mum and baby dugong

dugong seen from the surface 


rain is coming


cutest clownfish family


sparkling fishes 

evening fishing 


Aeneas fishing 


science project: how does a volcano work?


Kokopo chillies


drying chillies to make hot sauce


local cuties