Delivery to Papua New Guinea
15 August 2008 | Rabaul, New Britain
Irene, Leila and Rachel
Picture is of Magic Roundabout anchored in Kokopo with Rabaul's active volcano in the background.
We left Nguna Pele for Santo, excited to embark on another part of our journey. We set sail in the morning and by night fall we were in the middle of some unexpectedly strong winds. Unable to go on we turned the boat around to seek shelter in Port Vila.
After two nights safe harbour the bad weather had subsided and with cruising permits in hand, some fresh fruit and vegetables and our spirits high we made our second attempt for Santo. For the most part, the crew was rather inexperienced but we soon learned how to stack shelves properly so our boat did not look like it had gone through an earthquake.
On Friday we arrived on Santo, excited by the prospect of diving the world renowned S.S. Coolidge on our free day. The Coolidge site is close to Million Dollar point and both areas make for amazing diving. The SS Coolidge sank during WWII, miscommunications leading to the boat hitting a series of mines. Luckily few lives were lost and we were lucky to dive one of the most beautiful wrecks in history!
With fresh water, clean clothes and a sense of nervous excitement we set off for a 12 day sail across to Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. On our voyage, Leila, Irene and Rachael worked hard to support Jeges the skipper, learning the many idiosyncrasies of being at sea, reading the wind and setting the boat up to make for easy sailing. This was to be the longest journey at sea for all three women. At times Jeges must have felt very lucky to be sailing through the Pacific Ocean with three beautiful women and at other times we are sure he felt lucky to be such a competent captain, so that he could ensure all ran smoothly. Nothing went amiss and many great moments were shared.
As we passed the Solomon Islands we were in awe of their beauty. We knew then that it was best not to have a time frame to stick to when sailing. Sadly, the wind held and we did not need to stop by to refuel.
On the tenth day with the words muttered "i am starving" from Irene, we felt a tug on the line. Low and behold a huge Spanish Mackerel won the girls the competition of the biggest fish caught (watch out James ;-) ). She could have just said we were hungry, instead we had fish, fish, fish for three days...
On the twelfth day we sailed into Rabaul at 4 am. Our efforts were rewarded by the sight of Rabaul's active volcano glowing into the dawn light. This was one of the most humbling moments in our journey, to be in the presence of such a wild side of nature. We watched well into the day as billows of smoke and ash spumed its way into the air, it was not until we rounded the corner into Rabaul that our smiles turned to frowns finding ourselves covered in buckets of ash. We looked on in horror as our 3 days of boat cleaning disappeared under a toxic layer of grey silt. Its amazing that many families still manage to survive all year round under these tough conditions..
Radioing into customs we made arrangements to get out of there as fast as we could heading for the shelter of Kokopo and away from the apocalyptic scene of Rabaul. We were all excited to finally meet OceansWatch founder Chris Bone, who was waiting for us in Kokopo