The Beginning of the End....
15 July 2013 | Solomon's to Papua New Guinea
We have arrived in Port Morseby, Papua New Guinea. We left the Solomon Islands, for the second time, June 8th. We got beat up so bad in the first attempt we went back to Rendova to make some repairs and gather resolve. With the second attempt, on a good forecast, we got beat up again but we persevered. The second time was complicated by Colleen suffering the onset of Dengue fever. More subtle symptoms were gathering over previous days and the death of her Aunt Kathy but the real deal came on with the bad weather. We didn’t see the sun for the next 2 days. The second night featured torrential rain and frequent ship traffic.
We arrived in the Louisiades at the SE end and entered the Calvados Group at Snake Passage. This 6 mile passage from sea was featureless and could not be seen until we were within less than a quarter mile. From there we sailed about 10 miles per day through the Calvados to Verdano and then checked in at Misima. At this point we were on the fast track to Port Morseby so we could be in the Sail Indonesia Rally to Kupang, Indonesia. The estimated arrival time in Kupang is July 30th. In Misima Colleen was still having relapses of Dengue symptoms but we had to press on--the Rally schedule monkey was on our back. The next 10 dayhops were 30-40 miles in mostly overcast and squally weather. We ventured into the reefs at Orangerie Bay on the S side of PNG where the few local people we met said they had never seen a yacht in those waters. Using very accurate AUS charts from Chartworld we were encouraged to venture where no one we knew of had gone and the Sailing Directions , Pub 164, said were not adequately charted. Just as the coast started to turn slightly N we had clearer weather and Colleen’s symptoms finally abated. We arrived at Port Morseby on Sunday, June 30th and anchored in the Royal Papua Yacht Club’s “millpond” as Foehn wind bullets screamed down the canyons into the anchorage. Gene and Sheri , s/y Reflections, arrived a week earlier and arranged a large boat slip. We moved in behind them the next day. Sometimes you don’t know the weight of your burden until you put it down. That night we slept as if in a coma.
We have begun attending to the 20 or so items on our repair and to-do lists with an eye on the weather in the Torres Straights and Indonesian waters. The beginning of the end! After 7 years in the South Pacific we have finally crossed that great ocean and we will put it behind us after Torres when we enter the Arafura Sea on the central E end of the Indian Ocean. We are beginning to appreciate the significance of this occasion. What is at once an ending is also a beginning. We look into the Indian Ocean and SE Asia as newbies. New lands, waters, cultures and languages. We will be there for some years, if fortune will have it.