Monday, 28 October 2013

Louisiades rally (updated with pics 29/10/2013)

06 September

We arrived at Yorky's Knob Marina in Cairns in the late afternoon on about a half incoming tide. The tidal range is only about 2.0 metres but lowest tide is only 1.8 so we needed about a half tide to get in and out safely
Yorky's has a great clubhouse and the crews assembling for the cruise were all made very welcome with temporary full membership which gives good discount on fuel plus bar and restaurant. Their food was excellent and cheap so we tended to eat there regularly and usually had a table of 12 or so people for dinner.

Monday was Mac & Tillies time to fly home. We had to deliver them to Cairns by 1130 for their 1pm flight to Launceston. They were then collected at Launceston airport at 10.00pm and dropped off at their “holiday home” at Hadspen for the duration that we are away.
The next week was mainly shopping and last minute boat preparations as we need to be fully self-sufficient for at least 6 weeks. Allusive was in good order and mainly needed engine servicing and installing 12 volt fans in all of the sleeping cabins, galley and saloon. The humidity is already very high and we are keeping all windows covered with shade cloth: even at sea: to try to make the interior more comfortable. Two full days were taken up with rally briefing s. There are 20 boats entered, with very different levels of offshore experience and crew numbers.

Guy Chester has been running the rally for the past 6 years and has a wealth of knowledge of the Louisiades area. He runs the rally to assist the local island people and the rally is a way of helping them with outside income and donations of cash and goods for the schools and medical clinics.

Education is not free in New Guinea and each family, poor as they are must raise some cash if they want to give their kids a basic education. When we arrived, loaded down with donations from home we found Guy had collected heaps more and each vessel was allocated more goods. We somehow squeezed in another 10 large Hong Kong shoppers and Allusive has never been so low in the water.
Ken and Wendy arrived on Wednesday night on the 1145pm flight and our crew was completed.
Customs clearance was done at Yorky's on Friday 13th and was a fairly relaxed affair.

Departure was set for Saturday 14th September at 10.30 which was low tide! This wasn’t a worry for the cats but us deep drafted “leaner hulls” as Guy calls them left as early as 0530 while there was still water in the marina channel.
The weather forecast for the trip was excellent with 10 to 15 knot winds predicted from South East.

By 1430 all of the boats had departed but by the evening HF sched one boat had turned back because of electrical problems.
The breeze stayed in the upper end of the predicted range for most of the first 3 days but shifted further East than forecast. This caught many boats west of the rhumb line, particularly the cats who hadn’t taken Guys advice and sailed a course that took them East of the  line in case of an easterly oscillation. To make matters worse the current this time of the year sets north East at 1.5 knots.
Cooling off in the Coral Sea

We sailed the whole leg fairly hard on the wind with 1 reef and a few rolls in the headsail and the 16 miles we put in the bank to the East of the line became very useful later in the trip.
Life on board Allusive during the passage was fairly comfortable with some slamming occasionally much to the cooks’ disgust at times who had become very used to sailing on an even keel downwind for nearly the entire trip up. However Di managed to come up with great food every mealtime which we all enjoyed.

We arrived at the Duchateau waypoint 11’20”S 151’20” at 1100 on Tuesday 17th September and motored the last 8 miles through the passage between Pana Boba Island and Panuwabobaina Island to the anchorage on the northern side and anchored in 20 metres of water. (all rally yachts were required to carry 90m chain)
Du Chateau Island anchorage
We were the fourth boat to arrive and by nightfall about 2/3 of the fleet had anchored. This proved to be a fairly rolly anchorage.

It wasn’t long before a couple of the local sailing outrigger canoes (sailau) came alongside and we did a brisk trade for crayfish in exchange for caps, shorts  ,a mask and some fishing gear.
There are no permanent residents in the Duchateau Island group but these islands belong to the locals from Brooker Island (Utiah), and many of the men and boys had sailed the 15 miles South to meet us here and to do some trading. All of the locals speak English plus the local dialects and all were very pleasant people to deal with. We became friendly with a couple of young lads “Peter” and “Frank John”.

 In the evening we had drinkies onshore at the local’s campsite and met up with the 30 or so people who had sailed down to meet us. We then retired to Allusive for our first crayfish feast with Andy and Kelly from Quintessa.
Wednesday 18th

The morning was spent rearranging our freight and cleaning up the boat after the passage,
 regularly interrupted by sailaus pulling alongside wanting to trade. Lunch was on Quintessa then a run ashore in the dinghy for a walk and swim on the nearby uninhabited island of Kokobbu.
The rally fleet met for BBQ on the beach that night hosted by the locals who had been out during the day and caught 153!!! painted crayfish. The fleet supplied the salads etc and we all had a great evening. Ken and I learnt a few new tricks watching how the local men prepared the crays that will impress even the most ardent cray fishermen back home.
Crayfish BBQ

Thursday 19th
During the morning the fleet moved 10 miles further north to the impressive anchorage at Panasia Island.

The entrance through the reef can be a bit tricky so Guy, the rally organiser, stationed a few dinghies with second time rally participants manning them, in the channel to help guide the first time visitors in. The track on the chart plotter showed we had sailed over the reef and missed the channel by hundreds of metres. The accuracy of the charts cannot be relied on with a reliability scale shown of plus or minus 500 metres!
Once anchored, a quick swim was in order then lunch in the cockpit where we enjoyed crayfish again, cooked on our BBQ this time.

The anchorage is spectacular with enormous limestone cliffs and small sandy beaches on the Southern side of the anchorage. The locals had set up an area on the beach for us to enjoy.
This island belongs to the Brooker Island people and normally only has a handful of permanent residents. Because the rally was calling here over 100 Brooker people had sailed over to do some trading and enjoy the fun. This put a major strain on the Islands meagre water supplies so we were all asked to take 20 litres ashore to assist them.

During the afternoon we cleared quarantine and customs. One of the rally yachts had sailed to Misima the day before to pick up Sarah the quarantine lady and the Customs man John had made his own way over to Panasia in a longboat over (30) miles of open water. I don’t think this would happen in Aus!
That evening we all met on shore again to catch up and discuss the next day’s activities before retiring to Allusive to eat more crayfish and smoke some fish for later use.

Friday 20th September
In the morning the rally crews took to the dinghys that would plane and we motored over to little Panasia Island. Those with slow dinghies were loaded into two longboats powered by 40 horse outboards and the whole fleet made the three mile crossing in beautifully calm conditions.

To get to the skull cave involved a very hot climb up a steep rocky limestone track. There were some great views on the way and the cave itself is a depository for the skulls and of those killed in tribal wars in the bad old days. Cannibalism was common in old times, but now these people are very easy going and peaceful.
The afternoon for John was spent assisting one of the rally yachts “Desire” change their four bladed prop for a fixed 3 blade. The four bladed had lost a blade on the way over. We managed to make the change underwater without too much trouble. Thankfully they had a good puller.

The rest of the crew went coral snorkelling.
The local Traditional Owner (chief) John and his wife Gwen put on a roast pig for us during the evening and about 60 kids from Brooker Island put on a sing sing. The Aussie kids also put on a show and the night was a bit of fun.

We have been lucky having Andy and Kellie from Quintessa nearby as their water maker has helped us keep our water stock high. They and other yachts have also been supplying water to the visiting Brooker Islanders as the local supplies from a well soak are very limited.
 Saturday 21st
The village on the other side of Panasia Island had invited the rally group to visit and have a traditional Mu Mu lunch which involves the food being cooked in a hole in the ground lined with palm fronds and covered in hot rocks much like a Maori Hungi.

The rally fleet took to the dinghies again as the second village is two miles away on the Northern side of Panasia and the water is too shallow inside the reef here to take the rally yachts around. We took the southern villages’ chief’s two sons as they wanted to visit and join in the fun.
When we arrived we found the village had decorated the beach front with palm fronds and the girls and ladies put on a sing sing to greet us.

The chief was very stiff and upright as he greeted us and was decked out in his best ceremonial bagi, a decoration made up of tiny red shells all drilled and strung in a necklace form a couple of metres long. A series of gifts were exchanged and we were then invited to visit the large limestone cave formation in the hill behind the village. This involves a climb up a series of ladders then a slippery decent to the bottom of the cave where there is a large pool of water perfect for swimming. The top of the cave has collapsed allowing the light to filter down the 200 feet to the water. This is a limestone cave with many stalagmites in evidence. It was possible to swim into adjoining caverns underwater and to climb up onto some natural diving platforms. This was regarded by most as an “awesome place”, one of the most spectacular cathedral caves many of us had seen. While we all swam the locals gathered on the limestone outcrops above to watch the “Dim Dims” as all whites are known here.

After the swim the formal part of the day and the Mu Mu lunch took place in the village.
One rally lady was bitten by an insect in a very embarrassing spot and had to be rush back very SMARTLY to her yacht for some anti-histamine treatment so missed lunch but recovered quickly.

Saturday evening was supposed to be a film night for the kids but a row developed between the two villages over the division of the donations the rally had brought to Panasia and it was deemed wise to cancel it until the argument was settled, which it was by morning.
sun downers
yet more crayfish
Allusive had befriended a Louisiades born lady in Cairns who had left Brooker Island when she was 19. Now 42 with 4 children Lucy had no idea if her parents were still alive or any details on her five siblings, and we had promised to try to find out. We found one brother, Ismael and his wife and family visiting Panasia from Brooker for the rally fun and managed to get the names of all of the siblings, their wives or husbands plus kids and grandkids names! Di and I enjoyed talking with these lovely people and jotting down the family tree so we can send the details on to Lucy when we return to Australia. It was wonderful to hear all of the family, including Lucy’s parents were still living and we were asked if we could provide paper and an envelope so the family could write to Lucy. The letter was promptly delivered to our boat by canoe early the next morning along with gifts for Lucy from the family. They obviously value family bonds very highly.
Some of Lucy's family

 Sunday 22nd September
Allusive motored 20 miles north to Panapompom in a flat calm in stifling humidity. We spent the whole trip huddled in the shade of our boom tent.

The anchor went down in 7 metres of water at 10’ 47”S, 152’23”E in a sheltered lagoon between Panapompom Island and Nivani Island.
We had heard a WW11 Japanese Zero fighter plane had crashed in the bay in shallow water and it was still semi intact.
WW11 Zero
Di John and Ken located it fairly quickly and took photos of the boys sitting in the cockpit (not for long as we were only snorkelling!) Remarkably, the engine and propeller are still intact as is most of the fuselage and the outline of the wings. The cockpit seat and Joystick are also still in place.
Monday 23rd September

A big day at Nivani Is with swimming, canoe and Sailau races for locals and the Dim Dims (yachties).  38 sailaus competing in 3 divisions. Most of the village people came over to Nivani Island, an old coconut plantation, freehold, uninhabited, and up for sale if anyone is interested in a bit of private paradise. We all enjoyed the day .
 Panapompom regatta day
 local girls waiting for the canoe race start
Sailau race at Panapompom
Julie, the local pastors wife had organised lunch for everyone at a cost of 5 Kina ($2.00) per head, as well as taking in washing at 10 K per bag, all washed at the local well by her daughters. Julie is a very enterprising lady and acts as agent for many of the other ladies who are too shy to trade with the Dim Dims.

Julie’s house is lit by solar power but it hadn’t worked for two years. Ken and John took the charger back to the boat and after a bit of investigation, found a broken wire which was an easy repair and we made a friend for life!
Tuesday 24th

A quiet morning preparing for the big yacht race. All of the yachts loaded up with extra locals as crew. Some of the big cats had an extra 50 people on board, Allusive managed 19 and a semi-serious race followed to the other end of the lagoon and back. While the boys and men were busy on deck sailing Allusive, Di and Wendy were busy below having a clothing fashion show with the ladies outfitting the babies and girls with donated clothing. This was a great day followed by a big prize giving ceremony, in the evening, for the previous day’s races followed by a Mu Mu meal put on by the villagers.
Loading the crew for the big race

Wednesday 25th
We left the lagoon on our own at 10.00 to head off to Moturina Island, 30 miles away. This involved passing through the lagoon reef of Panapompom, then re-entering The Calvados Chain of Islands outer reef at Pana Sagu Sagu Islet. We motored the whole distance into a light South Easterly and dropped anchor in 19 metres off the small village at Rima Bay.
Village at Rima Bay, Moturina Is
 It wasn’t long before the steady stream of dugouts made their way out to Allusive wanting to trade fruit, veges and more crayfish!

By this time we had been eating crayfish every day at least once a day. We had it boiled, baked, bbqed, Mornay and even in wraps for lunch.

We went ashore soon after and found this to be a very poor village with the 12 families living here doing it fairly tough with little or no water for their gardens and a very limited diet. Many families throughout the Louisiades have a government issued solar powered lantern and we were asked to repair these frequently as we went from village to village. They were mostly simple repairs and usually successful. Broken knives and machetes were also a repair commonly requested.
A new house

Pencils handed out to Moturina kids
Di befriended a number of the young mums (mostly pregnant by 16) and the baby clothes and handmade teddy's were a great success. There were a lot of children in the village but the only toy to be seen was a toy mandolin, so the few we had were eagerly accepted.
By late afternoon another 5 yachts had turned up so the traders moved on to them.

Thursday 26th
We had sailed past the main village on Moturina Is to get to Rima Bay the day before and we had heard they had a small school and health outpost located there. Di and John decided to walk over the hill and check it out as we had some donations for a school and were hoping to find a school that most of the rally donations missed. The walk was an hour plus each way,  partly on a very steep track which we later found out the kids as young as 5 had to traverse every school day , rain or shine!
The second half of the walk was on a very pleasant shady track through the village gardens and native vegetation.

Main village in the corner of the bay

We caught up with the local headmaster of the Moturina Primary school “Mr Christopher” who told us a bit about the school and accepted a few bits we had carried over.

Friday 27th
The next day we took Allusive around to their bay and unloaded all of the school books, pencils, soccer tops and gardening tools etc that we had on board. We were given a full school tour this time. The kindergarten has its own vegie garden and is separate from the intermediate school. The intermediate school goes up to grade 8. The large oval is used by the school and locals as a soccer ground and all of the kids play so the soccer tops were very well accepted. “The kids feet won’t touch the ground when they get to wear them” remarked Christopher
Mr Christopher with some of the students and some donations
Moturina classroom

SOC soccer top 
The school is supported by the PNG government and the Uniting Church, has 189 pupils, 20 who board (the kids cook for themselves or a parent moves in to do the cooking). There are 6 teachers who receive 150 Kina ($75.00) per week. The classrooms are basic with open air walls, but there are desks and  Mr Christopher appears to run a well organised school without power and very limited resources. Each term he makes the 100 mile trip to Alotou (by open boat) to scrounge what he can in teaching resources. We would like to send this school some more resources and clothing and hope to follow this up on our return. It is hard to recruit teachers at present as the LNG company is offering better money if they leave the profession and work as clerks. Sometimes development hurts the local communities
Villagers building a community vessel ...4 years so far.
We left the bay at lunch time and motored the 10 miles directly into the wind to Bagaman Island. We spent the night just past Bagaman in a small bay off Baboaina Island where we bought some nice carvings and traded yet more crayfish for some rice and sugar. Repaired another light

Saturday 28th
We re-joined the rally in the early morning at the Bagaman anchorage and the rally fleet motored in the dingy's to the next bay where the main village was to a formal greeting by the local councillor and singing and dancing by the local children who attend the Bagaman elementary School.
Rally fleet waiting to arrive at Bagaman en mass
Allusive's motley crew
This is a much more prosperous village with some European style buildings and a satellite dish.
The rally supports this small school of 29 students because the village had the foresight to welcome Guy Chester when the earlier rallies were being set up. Some of the other villages are becoming disenchanted by the rally, not sure what’s happened behind the scenes but it appears the rally is not welcome at Hoba Bay on the next island this year although we can visit as individual boats. Perhaps Bagaman is seen to get the best and there is some jealousy between the communities? We do know that Moturina was invited to participate when the rally was originally set up and did not show any enthusiasm so the rally goes to those villages that were keen to be involved. They are now wanting to be on the official rally route.
Anyway the day at Bagaman was enjoyable with the dancing, singing and market that sells intricate and ornate wooden carvings all decorated with mother of pearl inlay. This island specialises in wooden carvings and they do it well.

There was a bit of cultural cringe when a couple of the local men dressed up as warriors danced into the arena carrying a live pig tied upside down to a pole strung between their shoulders. This was later despatched with a lump of timber to the head and butchered on the beach not far from our lunch spot. It would not be a good place to be a dog here, as by our standards, they were treated very roughly while we were there, and had to scrounge anything at all edible, including the pigs intestines.
Another Mu Mu was served for lunch. Then we all returned to the boat to trade with the locals who didn’t take part in the market as they didn’t want to pay commission to the village school on any sales they made.

A pleasant sun downer evening followed on Smart Choice.

Sunday 29th
The fleet moved to the Blue lagoon for a day of R & R away from the villages. A BBQ on the beach, white rum punch and tug of war with the “leaner” hull crews defeating the catamaran crews made for an enjoyable afternoon. We spent the night here and it proved to be quite rolly when the tide was in and covering the anchorage reef.
The Andy imposter
 Monday 30th
After some heavy negotiations with the local village councillor who wanted to charge an anchorage fee of K50.00 per boat, the rally decided not to go to the village at Hoba Bay as it would set a precedent if we started paying for anchoring rights which traditionally were free. The villagers were all prepared for us to do the Pem Pewa (basket exchange of goodies). In the end they convinced the councillor to back down. The fleet then moved to Hoba Bay and we went ashore for a great afternoon of cultural dancing, and watching the people doing their cultural handicrafts, fire lighting, weaving and Bagi making (shell necklaces.) Bernard George, one of the elders was great to talk to and demonstrated a fascinating hand drill used for drilling the holes in the shells for stringing.
In the Pem Pewa exchange each village lady swapped a basket of local produce and handicrafts that they had prepared beforehand with a yachty who had put together a basket of handy bits and pieces they could spare from their ships stores or equipment.
Hoba Bay village Pem Pewa exchange
Dim Dim Di
Di scored a handmade model sailau but only after elbowing a couple of big yachties out of the way. They both claimed later that they had bruised ribs! This village also has a very small primary school but very limited resources. A couple of solar cells were in evidence to power some light. The rally also handed over 6 large bags of school supplies and small solar lights for distribution amongst some of the families without any form of night lighting.
We returned to the boat and hosted the Salacia crew to sun downers, sitting in the cockpit, peppered by the occasional warm shower of rain.

Later in the night we had a tropical downpour, (the first since we arrived) and managed to collect 100 litres of lovely fresh water.
Tuesday 1st October.
As visibility is not great for coral spotting we decided to stay put for the day in Hoba Bay. We need a rest day and some time to do some washing etc. Some boats moved off to explore other anchorages.

Di and John did some snorkelling amongst the coral bombies and took some good photos of the bright reds, yellows and blues in the different corals. Later we went trolling for fish in the dinghy but without success.
Many of the rally fleet are experiencing the need for repairs with some as follows

Defective generators at least 4 (8 by the end of the trip including ours), mainly electronic control panels with diode failure. Lots of sat phone calls to try to order replacement parts
2 propeller failures, 1 blade fell off and 1 rope bind causing seal leaks
1 harmonic balancer failure
1 prodder failure
1 bow roller failure
Outboard motor failure
3 Water makers giving up the ghost (most repaired)
2 anchor winch failure (repaired)

Wednesday 2nd October
Another day at Hoba Bay due mainly to help Yantara whose engine had broken down.

Thursday 3rd October
After helping the Yantara to hand pull his anchor (80 metres chain in 30 metres depth) we “donated” Ken to assist them sail to Bugoiya harbour on Misima Island some 30 miles away.
The local school teacher, Inosi, hitched a ride with us as he needed to put in supplies for the next school term. On the way over we discovered we had done the Pem Pewa exchange with his wife and daughter and Inosi had made the sailau model Di had received. When asked how he was going to get back to Hoba Bay he thought he might be able to hitch a ride on a sailau. In 2008 he was sailing back to Hoba Bay with all of his supplies when it was capsized by some big waves. He lost all of his supplies and all of his school papers, but they managed to right the sailau and reached home empty handed. A very big setback as he had no rice, sugar or flour. He has a family of 6 children ranging from 13 year old twins down to a 10 month old.
Inosi the teacher from Hoba Bay Is hitches a ride on Allusive
We arrived at Bugoia at about 1.30 after a very pleasant 5 hour sail. John was very sunburnt that night not realising how much sun there must have been even though we had been trying to sit in shade all of the way over because of the heat.

We installed 4 12 volt fans before leaving Cairns and they are on whenever we are below. The temperature inside is 30 degrees minimum with very high humidity and it makes sleeping below very difficult in some cabins as the airflow is negligible.  Ken sleeps on deck most nights although John and Di sleep under the forward hatch with some breeze. We call Ken the night watchman and he is supposed to keep the crocs from boarding. (Haven’t seen any but there are always rumours)
Bugoiya Harbour is the main township for Misima Island and there was a goldmine here until 2008.

Rally fleet rafted up in the small harbour of Bugoiya at Misima
Misima market

There is a small airstrip and 3 flights a week are the only contact the Louisiades has with the outside world. The township has a limited number of small stores with very basic supplies for the surrounding islands, a bakery and a guest house and that’s about it. There is also a school and police outpost plus a health centre with two nurses, but no doctor. Any bad injuries or illnesses have to be transferred by boat to Alatou on the mainland as no one can afford to fly. There is no free medical transfer so usually you get better in your village or die.

Friday 4rd October
The plan was to refuel the yachts as we had pre ordered fuel for most of the fleet before leaving Cairns. This involved pumping diesel and petrol from 44 gal drums into a 5 litre measure then transferring it to 20 jerry cans to carry back to the boats. Quintessa, the power cat needed 1500 litres but carried a 12 volt transfer pump, so it was a bit easier but still took about 4 hours to refuel.

The fleet was “entertained” by a 8 ft croc who lazed around amongst the boats during the refuelling operation. The rubber duckies didn’t hang around to long as we passed him as we ferried fuel out to the boats. The local kids stood on the wharf throwing rocks at him but he didn’t seem too perturbed.
During the Evening Ken did a talk at the guest house on his round the world trip which was well received by the rally yachties present. This was followed by a meal (more crayfish!) and a few drinks

Saturday 5th October
A radio call went out at 6.30 that there were guys wandering about the waterfront with rifles. It wasn’t long after that gunfire was heard and we all stayed below wondering what was happening.

We watched as a group of people were herded onto a longboat and it then raced towards the harbour entrance with the hostages on board. A man in a canoe had tried to prevent them leaving by towing a rope across the harbour blocking the entrance and the longboat hit this at speed, stalling the outboard. They managed to clear it and after restarting their outboard continued to make their exit. This happened alongside Quintessa and Sanctuary whose crews were flat on the floor hoping the rascals wouldn’t decide to transfer to a bigger boat!
Needless to say the entire fleet had witnessed this and were very rattled by the events.

We found out shortly after that 6 “rascals” as bad guys are known, invaded the home of a local shop keeper and took him, his wife and 2 children plus two house girls captive. They drove to his shop and forced him to open the safe. A 3rd house girl had escaped and ran to the police outpost to raise the alarm. The first lot of shooting was two rascals keeping the police pinned down in the station and the other shots were to scare the locals in town away.

They took 4 large bags of money down to the wharf and forced the hostages into the longboat. During the loading, with shots being fired, they could only carry two bags on board and had left 2 bags of cash on the shop verandah.  Two brave locals ducked out of hiding and ran up the street with the bags and tossed them into the police compound while another mob of locals threw rocks at the rascals!
 Fortunately no one was hurt.

After leaving the harbour with another longboat and a trading vessel in pursuit the rascals tossed the women and children overboard close to the shore. They were rescued soon after and returned to the harbour on the trading boat. The shopkeeper was later dropped off on Panapompom Island and made it home the next day with some concussion from a rifle butt blow.
We decided, after some long consideration to stay on in Misima and take part in the festival the local ladies group had organised, as it had been in the planning stages for months, but we all wanted to be back on board before dark!
 Miss Misima contestants

Another Pem Pewa
The day turned out to be very enjoyable with some of the rally ladies asked to judge 30 girls in traditional dress, followed by another Pem Pewa exchange.
The rally people later had a fun auction at the guest house followed by an early dinner and retreat to the boats.

Sunday 6th October
By now we had all relaxed a bit after yesterday’s excitement and half the fleet hired a truck with seats in the back to do an island tour. We visited a number of villages and small schools during the drive and had a lot of fun with many of the locals we met. The robbery was the first in Misima’s recent history and was the talk of the island with many locals apologising, as it was totally out of character for these lovely people to have this happen to them.

During our stay on Misima we had some very heavy rain and we filled our tanks with the run off on the decks.
Monday 7th October

We left Misima at 9.00 and sailed the 17 miles across to Kamital, a collection of small islands whose traditional owner is “Jimmy” who lives here with his family of 19 people. Jimmy has built a little “Yacht Club” building to try to attract yachties to stop by. He also carves yacht name plates for a small fee and there is quite a collection on the club walls as well as a book exchange where yachties leave their old novels. The Kamital lagoon has a reasonably tight entrance between bommies and the beach is a lee shore so we weren’t too comfortable in this reef anchorage.

Tuesday 8th October

We planned to leave early but Jimmy wanted a hand installing some solar lighting another yachty had given him. In the end we didn’t leave until after 11.00 and head winds and rain changed our plan of moving to Sabara Island. We ended up in Robinsons Anchorage on Kuwanak Island where we found 5 other rally yachts relaxing. Some of the 4 foot Spanish mackerel we caught on the way into the anchorage was added to the meal for 16 people that night on board Quintessa for a Mystery Murder dinner.

Wednesday 9th October
Our little group of 5 boats split up again with some going to join the main fleet at Sabara Island.

We decided to check out some of the local anchorages and ended up moving only a short distance to Panawina Island where we were made welcome at Bomalou village by Robert Nelson, the head man and local magistrate. This is a poor village of only 400 people and for the first time we saw signs of malnutrition amongst the toddlers.
 The two school rooms

students love balloons!
We went to the local elementary school of 2 huts where the 29 students are looked after by a local woman Maree. She has had 6 weeks teacher training per year over 3 years at the Misima School. For all that the school room seemed to be well run and we were happy to leave a ream of photocopy paper, pencils, and pens, scissors etc. for her use.

Pana Wina village

 Robert Nelson showed us his house and Bagi making. He was using the tip of an old 3 sided file as a drill bit and it took ages to drill each shell. I gave him an old set of drill bits I had on board and his eyes nearly popped he was so excited to get them. This village is off the beaten track and we were only the 3rd yacht to visit this year.
We later anchored at nearby Gigila Island for the night.

Thursday 10th October
Most of the day was taken up motor sailing into a stiff SE to Nimoa Island.
Large sailau big enough to carry passengers and cargo
Friday 11th October
A trip up the Fiori River on Sudest Island had been organised by Guy and about 50 of us made the 20 nm round trip from Nimoa by hired local longboats powered by 40 hp outboards.

The local boat skippers go everywhere at one speed: flat-out; and the trip over was extremely bumpy and wet.  However the trip up the river to the waterfall was worth it. There is a village on the river above the waterfall and pretty soon they had all walked down to spend an hour or two with us and to do a bit of trading.

On the way back 3 longboats stopped at Griffin Point primary school located in a village with great views from Sudest Is to Rossel Island and Snake Passage. Here we dropped of some donations to the small medical clinic and some goods for the school. Griffin Point includes the Fiori River area and has a population of just over 1000 people and this clinic looks after their minor medical needs.

Some of the other longboats went to a snorkelling spot, but ran out of fuel on their return journey. They were able to communicate their dilemma by hand held VHF and more fuel was sent out. Their “reserve” fuel that had been put on board before the trip started has mysteriously disappeared. Such is the way these people operate with little concern for minor matters as safety!
Saturday 12th October
The main purpose of the rally to come to Nimoa Island is to support the Nimoa Clinic which looks after the medical needs of 12,000 people in the Rossel and Sudest areas. The main role of the clinic is as a maternity hospital and about 120 babies are born here each year with a surprising low mortality rate.

Sister Sara is an indigenous nurse who has a staff of 6 and they have an old committee boat donated by RPAYC which they use as an ambulance and for clinic visits to the villages on the surrounding islands. All of the staff are paid by the PNG Govt but running expenses and medical supplies rely heavily on donations from outside. This is where the Rally is so important as we left a large donation of cash and goods with Sister Sarah.
 Emergency room
 General ward
 Clinic day
 Newborn with mum and Di
 New mum with baby (under red sheet) waiting for transport home.
 This may be weeks
 Soccer match against the local kids
Everyone had stories to tell
The visit finished with a luncheon then a soccer match between the local boys and the yachties, and a netball match against the girls.

The Nimoa Ambulance boat supplied by RPAYC

This vessel was originally the PRO boat at the RPAYC in Pittwater NSW. It was donated by the club and is now used by the clinic nurses to make regular calls to the surrounding islands and to transfer emergency cases to Misima. The fuel and maintenance is supplied each year from rally funds.

Sunday 13th October
 The fleet anchored at Wanim Island for the final Rally get together. Most of the crews got into the spirit of things and dressed up as pirates before copious amounts of rum punch were consumed at the BBQ on the beach. This was a great night which ended up (as often did happen) on Quintessa until the wee small hours.
 Ken the navigator? or Dr Livingston I presume!
A dirty old pirate takes a hostage

Salacia's crew makes an entrance
Another perfect sunset in another perfect anchorage

Monday 14th October
We left the anchorage early as we had promised to return to Bomalou village on Pana Wina Island. As this was our last stop we had collected a lot of remaining donations from the other yachts for supply to Robert Nelson and his people. Included was a heap of primary school uniforms donated by the catamaran Glide.
Di and I had a very full dinghy and most of the villagers turned up to greet us and help carry the bags ashore. Rather than give the goods all to Robert for him to share out we made a point of talking to the people and giving out what they mostly needed. Rope and fishing gear to the fishermen with long ropes going to the sailau crews and short ropes to the canoe paddlers. Some of the little naked kids received clothes for the first time in their lives.
 Di outfitting the ladies
 A hat and a T shirt for a lad who needed a pickup
 Dividing up the ropes
 The first school uniforms ever
 His first set of clothes
 The Two Johns
After 2 hours we managed to get away and rejoin Allusive.
Our trip home then began with a long motor across the lagoon in little wind to the Duchateau Islands.
We had a choice of 3 destinations, Cairns, Townsville, or McKay.

Cairns is an easy sail on a reach but is a long way north for us Tassie people. Townsville is also fairly easy and McKay needs an ESE to be a comfortable ride. We opted for McKay as did three other boats as an ESE was forecast. We managed to sail 10 miles to the East of the required course during the first 24 hours but then the wind moved further south and strengthened to over 20 knots with us having more than 400 miles still to go.

It was an easy decision to ease the sheets and set a new course for Townsville. During Tuesday night the wind stayed in at about 25 knots and we reduced sail to the second reef and no 4 headsail. A wet and fast night followed with speeds of 9 to 10 knots being constantly achieved.

By 10am Wednesday the wind was down to 20 knots and we were sailing through the passage between Willis Island and Magdelaine Cays with the other two boats who intended to sail to McKay not far behind. The route sailed was not the shortest to Townsville and from our last anchorage at Wanim Island to Townsville was about 650 nautical miles but we did it in 3 days 12 hours with an average speed of 7.75 knots

The breeze slowly lightened and we ended up motor sailing the last part through Palm passage to Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island. We dropped anchor at 10pm on Thursday night and motored into the Townsville Motor Yacht Club Friday morning to clear customs. After a couple of days tidying up we have decided to leave Allusive here for a few weeks while we fly home to tidy up after the floods and to reconnect with family and friends.

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