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Endless Summer
Endless Summer is a 43ft Ian Farrier cruising catamaran.
Keith's blog post 6
Keith
07/30/2011, Kavieng, and Manus Province, Papua New Guinea

What really left an impression on us over the course of those few days was that there were these two islands, just 15 miles from one another, with such vastly different lifestyles, education, access to food, living conditions, etc. And, as is typical all over PNG, little means of communicating with or accessing one another. One has an abundance of what the other needs and yet they do not figure out a way to help one another. It is troubling to ponder.

Meanwhile, a few reflections on life on the boat and other brief highlights:

I have been on the boat for three weeks and in that time the following things have broken: the windlass motor (which raises and lowers the anchor - meaning Steve and I have been trading off the manual anchor duty since day three of my trip!), the propeller on the dinghy's outboard motor, the line that attaches one of the bigger sails to the boat (for you sailors, we were without our screecher for about 24 hours of this passage), the watermaker, the GPS, and the paddlewheel that allows the autopilot to function. Other than the windlass, all were repaired in fairly short order. But, Steve is often in system repair mode and it certainly made me appreciate (and not desire) the challenges of owning a sailboat.

Although the water has been, by all accounts, murkier than usual because of the unseasonably stormy weather, we have had an amazing time snorkeling every day we can. The best snorkeling so far has been at the Hermit Islands. I am being treated to the most diverse marine life I've ever seen. In addition to the zillions of fish, there is an amazing variety of coral, sponges, plant life, etc. and it has been an absolute pleasure! And not too many sharks!

Day-to-day boat life is a matter of slowing down and easing into the routine. It is indeed strange to be in a part of the world where there is no cell phone or internet access. It's a great way to disconnect. We have remarked several times that the three of us are doing great traveling together in a confined space. No one has thrown anyone overboard the whole time!

This has truly felt like a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a very remote part of the world. It has been very special and I'm having an amazing time!!

So, we are underway and headed to Palau for the final two weeks of the adventure. The best thing is that Karen gets to join in the fun (oh, and she's packing a new windlass motor to boot!)!!! There promises to be great skin diving in Palau, which has some of the best in the entire world. Hopefully, I'll get to share again on the blog!

Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau
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Keith's blog post 5
Keith
07/30/2011, Kavieng, and Manus Province, Papua New Guinea

Because of some rain squalls that hit as we got back to the boat, we didn't leave as early in the morning as we had intended. When we finally got underway, we scuttled the plan for our next destination and decided to move just 15 miles west to another small, remote island; Johnston Island (named by an American in WWII). When we arrived at Johnston we anchored near an absolutely beautiful tropic island which was small, ringed with a beach, lots of palm trees and other tropical growth in the middle, coral reef all around.

Once again, the canoes began arriving from a nearby island with a village. However, unlike the people from Pam Island, they spoke very little English and looked to be quite poor. One of the women who had paddled out said, "we don't have anything for you, but we have need of food and medicine." They invited us to come to the village to meet the village leader. It is also necessary to ask their permission to park the boat near their island. I stayed on the boat and Steve and Manjula took the dinghy to the village. What they reported back was that this was a very poor village of only 30 people, all from the same family, and that they lived in grass huts. Once again, the village leader said that we were the only cruising boat to ever stop near their island. There were only two or three people who spoke even a little English.

It's incredible how things happen in life. We left Pam Island with more food than we could possibly eat and later the same day encountered a group of people whose greatest immediate need was food. So, the next morning we assembled as much food as we could, some stickers, and a medical kit from some of the surplus supplies Steve and Manjula keep on board. Steve and I went to the village and Steve gave them our gifts and explained all of the medical things he had brought to them. They were very grateful and I think were a little embarrassed that they didn't have something for us. So, they sent a couple of children off and they returned with two turtle shells for us to take. They know little about endangered species and catch turtles for food. Manjula was a little horrified when we returned with the shells!

Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau
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Keith's blog post 4
Keith
07/30/2011, Kavieng, and Manus Province, Papua New Guine

We spent all morning exploring Pamlette, then went back to the boat to have lunch, promising to meet them at Pam Island after that. We took the dinghy to the island and were greeted by every kid in the village. There are two villages on the island with a total population of about 200. We were also met by two of the village leaders, Peter and Popson (who is the school superintendent). We were escorted to the steps of their two-room schoolhouse where they gave us an official welcome, mentioning that this was a first for them, and expressing appreciation for the things we brought as gifts. The entire village was crowded around to observe. We gave them school supplies, stickers, puzzles, an atlas, a book on weather, some sports items, and t-shirts for each of our seven hosts from the morning.

After the ceremony, Peter and Popson took us on a tour of the entire island. This island was filled with people who spoke decent English, had built many of their houses with wood, which is rare in these remote areas, had a rainwater collection system (supplied by the Red Cross), and had a nice school building and a well-built Seventh Day Adventist church. One house, which belonged to Peter's sister, was in such a beautiful location that we commented that we wouldn't mind coming back and hanging out for a week. It was near the top of the island, had a nice outdoor deck with a view of Pamlette island, the beautiful light blue water and the reefs: a world class view!

As we walked through the village, people who we had already met would come by and either say something to us or not say anything at all, but just walk with us for a while. Several gave gifts: Manjula received more than one traditional beaded headband which the women wear when they dance; they gave hand-woven purses to Manjula and to Karen who's picture I had shown them on my camera; and, sensing Steve's comfort with his masculinity, he was given a man's bag! As we left for the boat at the end of the day we let them know we'd be back once more in the morning to say our goodbyes as it was time to move on.

The next morning, Steve and I took the dinghy to the village, bringing a few more things with us. Again, they all came running out to greet us. As we were saying our goodbyes, Jack, our lead guide the day before, came over to us, holding something, and said, "I think you left this here yesterday." He handed me a newly made canoe paddle. In the blade of the paddle he had hand carved "Endless Summer" on one side, and "Pam Is. Manus PNG 2011" on the other. It was an absolutely incredible gift! What's more, that morning the school children had gathered up an enormous amount of fruit (papaya, pomelos, oranges, lemons, coconuts, etc.) and vegetables (assorted root vegetables, chili peppers, greens, etc.) for us to take with us. They told us how much they enjoyed our visit, that we were their friends, and were always welcome on their island. It was an amazing experience! One of the things they said as we were leaving, which struck me as a wonderful attitude with which to live was, " we don't have much, but what we have we want to share." If we could only all live with that philosophy!

So we loaded up the dinghy with what was somewhere between 100 and 150 pounds of produce (!!) and headed back to Endless Summer. Little did we know how important that produce would be as soon as the next day.

Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau
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06/04/2012 | harmony
wow! incredible. thank you for sharing your adventure and experience. I agree with your thoughts... " we don't have much, but what we have we want to share." If we could only all live with that philosophy!
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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