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Endless Summer
Endless Summer is a 43ft Ian Farrier cruising catamaran.
Keith's blog post 3
Keith
07/30/2011, Kavieng, and Manus Province, Papua New Guinea

I'll share two island experiences that I will never forget. At Pam Island (again, pronounced Pom), Steve made a very bold move and threaded the needle through an opening in the coral reef to a wonderful, shallow anchorage next to what appeared to be a beautiful, uninhabited island with a sheer cliff that had more things growing on it than a cliff like that ought to have; a beautiful spot! We dropped anchor and immediately put our snorkel gear on and jumped in the water to check out the reef. Within about five minutes, the canoes began arriving from the neighboring island, which was inhabited. It turns out the inhabited island is called Pam and the one we were parked beside they called Pamlette. Both are in the Manus Province of PNG.

One of the things we do with any group of villagers upon meeting them is assure them we are friendly and ask if there are any "raskols" in the area (that's the local term for thieves and such). They said we would be safe there and told us that we were the only cruising boat that had ever anchored at, or visited their island; ever! One man, Solomon, took out a manila envelope, handed it to Steve and asked him to open it. Inside was a paper that showed he was the Peace Officer on the island. Another man, Jack, told us that they had "talked it over and decided that if we were friendly, they'd be friendly." That didn't exactly make us feel safer, but we struck up a conversation with Jack who told us more about the village and that the island we were anchored beside was where they did all their gardening. We told Jack we would love to have a restful night, free from interruption, and invited him to come back with no more than three other men at 9:00 the next morning and we would serve them some Peet's coffee! They agreed that after that they would show us Pamlette.

Of course, the next morning, about 15 people showed up! They were nice enough to bring fruit and vegetables for us to have. So, everyone piled onto the boat, we served coffee (even with lots of cream and lots of sugar, it wasn't a hit!), and just as we began to talk a huge storm arrived and lasted about half an hour. So, we all huddled closer and chatted. After coffee, we and Jack got in the dinghy, the others got in their canoes and seven of the men, led by Jack, escorted us to a tiny secluded little eddy at the edge of this wall of rock. We climbed out of the boat onto a huge tree and crept along the tree to the island.

As an aside, Pamlette, is a rock island made of almost 100% obsidian. There was sharp pieces of obsidian laying around everywhere, which of course they walked over in their bare feet. It was impressive to see these big cliffs of obsidian.

We climbed up to the plateau of the island and walked over the entire thing. They explained all the many fruit trees and nut trees that grew there. They showed us the many private gardens where the locals mostly grew yams (not really what we think of as yams, but some sort of root vegetable anyway). They showed us how they turned coconuts into coconut oil. And, they showed us the graves of family members who had died. The top of the island was thick with tropical growth, and was steamy with humidity. We asked if there was a place at the edge of the cliff where we could see the boat and take a picture. They said yes, escorted us to the edge, pulled out a machete and hacked away until - instant clearing! We walked down to the other side of the island where there was a small beach and I was able to take a group picture of Steve, Manjula, and our guides. The men were a great bunch of characters whose names were Jack, Enoch, Beldan, Carl, Johnny, Bushman, and Screw (that's right, Sc rew!).

Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau
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Keith's blog post 2
Keith
07/30/2011, Kavieng, and Manus Province, Papua New Guinea

First and foremost, a big part of the reason for some of the special things we've encountered is that Steve and Manjula made a bold decision to sail from Australia to Indonesia the long way around, taking a little traveled path. Almost all cruisers take the direct route, bypassing Papua New Guinea (PNG). Nearly all the cruising literature speaks of the dangers of the area: theft, harassment, and worse. Even though most of those issues involve the more populated areas of PNG, the warnings have been sufficient to scare a lot of cruisers away. Steve and Manjula decided to avoid the mainland and island hop their way around PNG. I met them in Kavieng, New Ireland Province, on the island of New Ireland. If you would like to track our stops, or look them up on Google Earth or Google Maps, from Kavieng we went to the following islands: New Salamon, Ungalik, St. Andrews, Pam (pronounced Pom), Johnston, and the Hermit Islands.

There were many memorable things about that first day in Kavieng: we checked in with Customs (a guy named Patrick in a one-person office in the middle of a gasoline refinery), we went into the city to buy food for this leg of our journey, and I got introduced to the wonders of betelnut and the Pidgin language. Betelnut is a slightly intoxicating and addictive root that they mix with lime and mustard and chew. Nearly everyone there, men and women alike, had red lips and red teeth from chewing betelnut and the ground is full of what look like blood stains because everyone spits it everywhere! It's not a good look! One of the very unique things about PNG is that there are over 800 languages spoken in the country. Most of those who have gone to school speak at least a little English. Otherwise, the only common language they have is Pidgin, which is a weird derivative of English. So, all over Kavieng there are signs often in Pidgin. My favorite was a sign advertising coffee and th e Pidgin word on the sign said "kick-start-em-day" (not how it was written, but that's the phonetic result); that cracked me up.

After our day in Kavieng, we lit out the next morning for our island touring where I was anticipating great skin diving, a chance to meet some of the villagers along the way, and lots of time relaxing on the boat. One of the things you quickly discover is that whenever you anchor the boat near one of these remote, inhabited islands is that you are immediately met by a flotilla of dugout canoes fitted with outriggers (all made by the villagers from local trees). Men, women, and children all come out to look at the boat, look at us, talk to us, try to trade fruit or vegetables for things they need, etc. Just staring and making no effort to talk is also a favorite activity apparently.

Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau
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06/04/2012 | harmony
fascinating!!
06/04/2012 | harmony
fascinating!!
Keith's blog post 1
Keith
07/30/2011, Kavieng, and Manus Province, Papua New Guinea

In case anyone doesn't know, Keith is Steve's brother in law.

Keith Here! Well, Steve and Manjula have agreed to let me make a blog post out of sequence. They are still catching up on posts as there was a period of time where the posting process was not working properly. But, I know there are a few out there who have been waiting to hear about this part of the trip, so we decided now would be a good time to provide an update.

I have now been aboard Endless Summer for three weeks and at the moment we are in day five of what is turning out to be a seven-day passage to Palau. We suffered headwinds and rough seas for the first two days, then very light tailwinds the last three days. It has been quite slow going, but we should arrive in Palau midday on Sunday, 7/31. Karen will have just beaten us there as she arrives at 1am Sunday morning. I have been anxiously anticipating our reunion!!!

I've decided to not try and cram into this post all the wonderful experiences of Papua New Guinea (but look out when we return!). Rather, I'm going to share just a few highlights of the time so far.

Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau
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Kamatal Part 3
Steve
07/30/2011, Kamatal Island, Louisiades, PNG

As a reminder to the reader, cruising in the tropics around coral reefs is dangerous. If you run into one of the many coral heads jutting up from deep water, you may well sink your boat. Between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM on a sunny day it is quite possible to avoid this fate by carefully watching the water. The different colors of the water indicate the different depths. Dark blue is deep. Light blue is 30 to 50 feet. White blue is less than 20 feet. Yellow is coral less than 20 feet. Light brown is coral less than 8 feet, and so on. After 3:00 PM, it becomes increasingly difficult and then impossible to see the uncharted reefs. We needed to be anchored soon, or spend a night at sea. With this in mind we decided to see what this man Jimmie could show us, although our expectations were low. With that, we tied Jimmie's kayak to our stern and welcomed him aboard. He walked to the bow of Endless Summer and pointed across the channel toward his island a mile or so away. We approached cautiously, as Jimmie pointed the way. The reef came into view, and the bottom came up fast as Jimmie pointed for us to go more to the right. Reef was close by on both sides, but we were indeed still in deep water. We radioed to Sea Level just behind us, "40 feet, 50 feet, 70 feet." Jimmie pointed to go hard to the left and the sun caught the water revealing a large area of sandy bottom in 30 to 40 foot depth. We had indeed threaded our way through the reef and were in a protected lagoon with plenty of room for our boats and more. We grinned with relief at the happy sight, and dropped our anchor. Over a cup of cold water, Jimmie explained that cruising boats come to his island every year as part of an Australian Rally to the Louisiades. He invited us to come ashore and see the, "yacht club", and then to our amazement he said, "you must be tired, I will leave you now." After the long days of constant visitors we couldn't believe our ears. "Did you hear that?" we said to each other. "I will leave you now." After a swim in the beautiful lagoon, we and the crew on Sea Level took our dinghies outside the reef and snorkeled along the steep drop off. We couldn't believe our good fortune. Only a few hours earlier we were facing a long night at sea, and now we were anchored in a perfect lagoon among a cluster of beautiful small islands waiting to be explored.

Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau
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Kamatal Part 2
Steve
07/30/2011, Kamatal Island, Louisiades, PNG

Once again our charts provided little help. Sea Level was looking for a way into a large area of reef surrounding an island about 3 miles to our north, and we were heading for a little sand island that appeared to be floating alone in the water. The islands were a group of 7 spread out over as many miles and surrounded by a complicated network of coral reefs. We came into a channel between three islands that looked passable, and threaded our way with Manjula on deck looking for shallow water. We slowly approached one of the islands and were disappointed to find our depth gauge reading over 100 feet deep right up to the edge of the reef. The ocean was so flat and calm, and the wat er so clear that we were emboldened to go very close to the edge of the reef. We could see right down to the bottom in about 80 feet, and we were able to go along the edge of the reef within feet of the sharp coral. Unfortunately, as beautiful as it was, there was no way to anchor in water that deep and so close to the reef. We continued searching and just enjoying the spectacular beauty of the small islands. They were just little circles of rock, with white sand beaches, covered with palms and tropical bushes. Sea Level continued searching around the islands the opposite direction from us, and after a while we met having circumnavigated a group of three. At that point we had found what we thought was our best chance of anchoring and we were both dropping and picking up anchors trying to get a safe spot. We were ending up either too close to the reef, or to close to the edge of the drop off the small shallow patch we had found. Just then to our irritation, two men appeared in a canoe and a kayak respectively. We had hoped that we could get a little break from visitors. Not wanting to be rude, I greeted the older of the two men as the other had paddled over to Sea Level. He was a man in his 60s, paddling a plastic kayak. He introduced himself as Jimmy and said we could anchor near his island across the channel. Skeptical, I double checked that he understood the requirements for anchoring a boat like ours, and he smiled broadly and said, "Can I come aboard? I'll show you where to go." "There is a pass into the lagoon."

Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau
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Kamatal Island part 1
Steve
07/29/2011, 10 56'S:152 42'E, Louisiade Achipelago

After a week of an almost constant stream of canoes coming out to the boats from the various villages we were anchored near, we were ready for a little break. Our buddy boat Sea Level, with Jim and Kent Milski along with their friend Chuck, was in full agreement that we should sail out in search of a place to explore that was uninhabited. With that in mind we set out in light winds and clear skies heading generally toward the islands that lay on the northern edge of the archipelago. As is our custom, when Sea Level and Endless Summer sail, it's always a race. Sea Level is faster than Endless Summer, but we make them earn it. On this day, we were dropping slowly behind in light winds, when a large squall moved in. We tacked early anticipating a wind shift, and soon were making up distance on Sea Level who was invisible through the heavy rain of the squall. When the squall blew over, we seemingly emerged into another world. The sea was perfectly calm, and shiny like glass. The fluffy tropical clouds floated improbably close to the water, and improbably tall as they seemed out of proportion. We saw a cluster of low islands about 5 miles to the north, and radioed Sea Level suggesting we explore. As we approached the group, we were watching the water for reefs and shallows.

Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau
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07/30/2011 | Sandy Whittaker
Thank you for giving this written gift to everyone! I've
only glimpsed the promise of the full feast of beauty and
wonder you've so generously provided. Sail on! More!!

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