25/5/2017 Maron Island (Hermit Group) 53nm ESE, Anchor in Coral rubble,17m, No cell service. We left Pihun and moved closer to the SE entrance, just to give us Maximum daylight hours not knowing exactly what we would strike current or wind wise as we head to the Hermit Group.
The plan was if we could sail NE at 4-5kn we would, but if we had to motor, then we may as well burn the fuel going the shortest path (SE), and that’s what happened we motored the whole way and I think the sails maybe added 0.5 to 1knt. Apart from one short squall the trip was uneventful, neither of us caught fish, although I’m used to that, and current was not strong. In fact at times around the Islands to my surprise it gave is a push.
On approach I did the usual chart checks and proceeded to adjust the chart off set. The problem with that was the chart was out by over a 1nm and my Raymarine equipment only allows for 3500 ft offset. To date I have not had a chart this far out. The reef came about 1.2nm before it should according to the chart, and anchoring on one side of the Island actually showed you on the other side. Once again I was very glad of my Google Images, I collected some weeks and months before. However these will run out in a month or so roughly as I only took Images down to Bougainville.
We got in ok and crossed the reef in about 8m of water. Once inside the general depth was around 25-35m. We have had mixed reports about swimming here as to the existence of Crocodiles so no one actually leapt into the water on arrival, and instead we focused our eye’s on the water just above the rim of the glass. As we came in Kim did spot something, and it was in the order of 2-3m but by the time I got there, it was to late to be sure what it was. Locals later confirmed it probably was a crock as they lived in this bay.
My HF Radio has been struggling to get in contact with any of the sailmail station. For you Land Lubbers when we are out of cell range I can use HF radio to send and receive email, all be it at speeds of 1960’s (ie around 300-1200 baud) In this case the ISP equivalent is in Sydney, so the radio signal must travel nearly 4000 Kilometres. It was working poorly and consuming a lot of power to do it.
On investigation I guess I was lucky I didn’t actually have fire, clearly the power was being lost in burning up the case. The earth lead connection had been there for some years which was the start of the problem and has now been replaced with a much bigger and better connection.
I think Kim is trying to fatten me up…. trouble is more is going her way than mine, and well mine is going to all the wrong places, I just need to slid it up the body about 30cm, and squish it out my arms and all will be good.
26-28/5/2017 Luf Island 1nm, NE, Anchor in 11m, Sand, No Cell service. Where we had anchored the previous days was a little exposed plus it was said we could swim with the Mantras at Luf something I had been trying to do for some time now. As always wondering around inside these coral lagoons one needs to pay attention and looking at the chart is just confusing. The images below are from Google (Left) and the Chart (right). If you look at the track you would thing I was in a hovercraft.
Anchored in amongst some coral it wasn’t too bad although not the sort of spot I would want to leave Screensaver unattended for many hours.
Bob is the official Tourist host and has been on the island for many years. We signed his book had a good chat, got all the local run down. It would seem PNG are trying to crank up the tourism side and Bob had recently been recognised and now his roll here was official.
When he said you can swim with the Mantas just out there, pointing 10m off the beach, I must admit I was a bit sceptical. Paying (20PGK) to see natures untamed wild life is a bit hit and miss, but in this case Bob has it down pat. The weather had been a bit windy and a bit of swell so sadly the clarity wasn’t great. We walked out a few metres off the beach and swam another 5 or 10m, there below us were two Mantas more or less sitting there.
A great experience and so easy almost unbelievable. Kim wasn’t keen to go reminding me of “what happened to your Steve Erwin” I reminded her she was going to swim with Whale sharks before …. but that was different of course. Katrina I understand was little reticent as well, but in the end we all went and Kim was keen to hang around when we began to return to the beach.
Next a bit of bush climbing which certainly got the cardiovascular system working much more than lifting my scotch glass. Bob took us up to one of the vantage points on Luf that is also where he does some garden work. The track one would not find on there own, but once started there is a rope that you need to use to haul yourself up and believe me you will need it. Some 3 weeks later I still have the blisters on my hand to prove it, so you will earn your beer. The others carried water of course, but that makes no sense, water will just make you rusty.
29/05/2017 Jaluan/Arkeb 1nm, Anchor in 20m, Sand, No Cell. This was just around the corner and looked like it would be well protected in its lagoon. I was expecting a little rain and perhaps some squalls so this place would provide the best protection.
We spent a few days here just relaxing. Not a lot of swimming was done as Watusi had spotted a Crock, but I did manage a quick dip while I was burning off some rubbish. It looked like a nice place, if only one could dive in, snorkel etc.
We got our rain and a couple of squalls pushing 35knts that came with plenty of rain to fill our water tanks which meant laundry was coming.
2/6/2016 Pemei Island, 8nm dog leg East, Anchor in 16m, Sand No Cell Service. We took a bit of a punt that mother nature would be kind to us and anchored directly exposed to SE so we could get a good start early in the next morning for our run to Manus East South East about 110nm.
AS it happened mother nature obliged us. She through a little water our way and puffed a bit but all was well. Got a bit of walk around the local village and beer, so all was good.
Next stop would be Manas.