Monthly Archives: September 2012

Bobo, Babase and Buka

We are now on Buka Island, well and in good health. It has been a risky, challenging and adventurous trip so far after completing almost 300 nautical miles (600 kilometres) from Manus to Buka before we leave home ground (water!) and head into international waters for the first time on this voyage.

New Crew Member

We left Lihir with an extra crew member – Bobo from Kavieng, whose parents are from Manus and Kavieng and who joined us for the Lihir to Buka leg of our journey. Sadly, he will be leaving us shortly to fly back to Lihir but wished to take up the challenge and travel with us on this adventurous voyage across the Pacific. You will find many of our photographs and videos were taken by Bobo.

Bobo joined the Climate Challenger from Lihir to Buka, Bougainville to experience the challenge of ocean voyaging life. Photo: Manuai Matawai, taken at Lif Island of the Tanga Islands group

Young Bobo getting some hands-on experience taking video. Photo: Manuai Matawai

Anir Island (Babase Island)

The journey to Anir (Babase) Island was rough, and we lost a box full of supplies containing axes and all cooking equipment overboard.

Molean Polin preparing sago for breakfast, a meal for a long journey to give us energy before setting sail from Tanga to Anir island. Photo by Manuai Matawai (taken before we lost all cooking equipment)

Climate Challenger crew enjoying our traditional Manus staples – sago and fish, for breakfast. Photo Manuai Matawai

We spent 2 nights at Anir (Babase) Island, and during that time, we played climate change awareness films, shared Mbuke Island’s climate change adaptation experience and of course performed our Manus dancing. Over 100 people came to watch and listen and villagers told us they have observed climate change impacts in their gardens.

The community of Babase had never seen a canoe as large as the Climate Challenger before, and several people wanted to buy it.  Manuai has promised to return at some stage after the trip and help them build their own one.

The young Anirians welcoming us to Anir (Babase) Island. The ocean looks deceivingly calm, but a day before it wasn’t so calm and we lost a box of supplies overboard in the rough sea. Photo: Bobo

Entertaining on Anir showing the Manus Way. Photo: Bobo

Matsungan Island, Buka Island, Bougainville

We arrived Matsungan island on Buka Island at 9 am on Tuesday. The team was greeted by the chief of Matsungan and welcomed to the island with the traditional practice of feet washing. Culturally, the washing of feet is supposed to bring luck to first time visitors to the island (and maybe wash away bad luck!). We had a short program in the evening where we gave awareness on climate change and showed off the Manus garamut dance.

Chief Tokome of Matsungan Island leads Climate Challenger crew to shore

A Matsungan woman washes the Climate Challenger crew’s feet as part of welcome initiation. Photo: Manuai Matawai

Crew welcomed by the Matsungan community. Photo: Manuai Matawai

Buka Town, Bougainville

We arrived Buka town at 11 am yesterday with a rousing welcome by the Manus community and Bougainvilleans. A refreshment was hosted by the Manus Community followed by a dinner hosted by Mrs. Josephine Manuai Nakin and family, a Manus long time business woman on Buka Island.

Young Bobo on Climate Challenger. Manus/Buka boat escorts Challenger to port. Background; vandalised Starship vessels. Photo: Manuai Matawai

Crew welcomed at Leta village, Buka Passage. Photo: Manuai Matawai

Bobo and Joseph testing out Buka’s giant sized betel nut. Photo: Manuai Matawai

We have been filming all of our adventures and encounters. It is really amazing to see the crew having no fear. Every day we strategise, reach consensus and act… The journey so far has made us more resilient, adaptive and innovative. It is a great experience for us. Sometimes, we give up hope when our prayers are not answered and we encounter rough seas, but then we have come to realise that it is all about testing our faith.

The challenge ahead is, ‘are we able to complete the voyage????’ Only the WIND will tell.

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Climate Challenger at Lihir Island

After Kavieng, we set sail for Lihir Island a small island with a large gold mine operated by the Australian based mining company Newcrest, which at this time are also prospecting for gold on our own island of Manus.

On our way to Lihir Island, New Ireland Province.

Modern meets traditional: Manuai testing the satellite communications gear

We arrived at Lihir Island late last Thursday night (13th Sept) and were greeted with dinner made by the Manus community.

Dinner on arrival. photo: Manuai Matawai

During our stay on Lihir Island we shared our experience of climate change adaptation in Manus and performed our traditional garamut dancing at Lihir International School to coincide with 37th Papua New Guinea Independence celebration.

Manuai thankfully receives a donation at the climate change fund-raising night

On a less positive note, when the we saw the scale of the gold mine on Lihir island and the impacts it is having on the people and environment, it really hit home for us. This could soon be a reality on our own island of Manus where Newcrest is currently prospecting and proposing to open another large gold mine.

The Climate Challenger crew at the Lihir gold mine, New Ireland, PNG

When crew member Pokakes Pondraken saw the mine he commented with “It is a monster. I hope it does not happen in Manus (Worei), as it will destroy our reefs and spawning aggregation sites”.

Photo: Panoramio by user Petadel

The tailings are dumped out at sea and as you can see from this picture, there is a lot of sedimentation and runoff, which invariably affects the coral and marine life. It is a disaster for the environment. We also noticed alot of steam and gases rising out of the mine which is attributed to the geothermal activity of the volcanic island, and most probably contributes to climate change too.

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Paddling to Kavieng

Two days ago, on Sunday 9th, we reached the tip of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, so we are now in Kavieng fixing our rudder (with the help of the National Fisheries College), doing minor repairs, charging batteries, checking emails and doing some sightseeing. Yesterday we made a convoy with 8 other boats from the Manus community living in Kavieng to the local market where we put on a show for local NGOs, Government officials and the public. We blew our tapur (cone shell), beat the garamut and danced in our traditional attire. It was an exciting day and all the crew were buzzing. A few days before, we were not so enthusiastic….

After leaving our home villages of Pere and Baluan Islands, saying sad farewells and summoning the spirit of Sir Paliau Maloat the late Win Neisen leader to guide us on this voyage, we encountered a very strong wind about 50 nautical miles (100km) from Baluan Island. It was dark and we were manouevering well but all of a sudden our rudder snapped off. From there we had no choice but to use the outboard motor. For the next day and a half we battled with strong wind and rough sea, sailing when we could. Tingwon Island was ahead of us, but by that time we had exhausted all fuel and water reserves. We had to change our plans to push on through to New Hanover Island while the wind was favourable. Just before we reached New Hanover, the wind changed direction so we got the paddles out and paddled in the dark, putting the sails up whenever the winds turned.

Once we reached the western side of New Hanover, we searched for petrol and water. We were first greeted by a man called Manase in his small outrigger canoe- a godsend to us, who saw us coming and guided us back to his village, Namaseleng, where we were warmly greeted with Buai from a community that had never seen a canoe as large as the Climate Challenger before. After restocking our water and fuel supplies we set sail arriving at Kavieng on Sunday afternoon.

Once everything is in order (including a new rudder) we are expecting to depart Kavieng for Lihir Islands, New Ireland, tomorrow.

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Our Voyage Featured on Planet Change Blog

We are very happy to tell you that our voyage has grabbed the attention of The Nature Conservancy’s Planet Change Blog – dedicated to enhancing the conversation on climate change and inspiring actions of all sizes.

You can see the blog post here:

It is really great that our voyage is getting worldwide attention on this important issue of climate change, adaptation, and experiences of climate change from a Pacific island perspective! Lets hope the developed nations do something to curb their emissions to stop our islands from sinking!

An excerpt from The Nature Conservancy’s Planet Change blog article written about the Climate Challenger Voyage on the 7th Sept 2012.

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Broken Rudder

Good morning all.  Our travel to Kavieng was slowed by rough seas over the past 24 hours and the fact that we broke our rudder.  We did some on the spot repairs, and one of the canoes oars is now serving as a makeshift rudder – we will replace it when we arrive in Kavieng.  We are currently about 10 km from Tingwon Island, where we plan to stop and do some awareness.  The sun has come out this morning.  The boys are relaxing and chewing lots of buai and we are eating some yellowfin tuna we caught yesterday afternoon. The rough weather meant we were also unable to communicate with the shore support team until this morning.  All is well, see you in Kavieng.


Currently about 10km from Tingwon Island…

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Baluan Island to Kavieng, New Ireland

Only a few days into our voyage, and we are currently crossing the longest section of ocean so far- Baluan Island to New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. After spiritual ceremonies on Baluan, we left the island at 5pm last night. Over night the seas were quite rough, with a swell of about 2-3 metres, but with little wind and alot of rain. There is a small problem with the rudder which we will fix when we get to New Hanover late this afternoon hopefully.
We have a new map on our blog showing our latest position making it even easier for you to follow us on our journey. Once again thanks for all of your support!

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Climate Challenger Current Location

Click on the map for more information

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Goodbye Manus!

All is well, this morning (Thursday 6th September) we sailed the 40 km distance from Pere to Baluan Island, and have now set off with favourable south west winds for Kavieng, New Ireland, a distance of 360 km. We are currently working on an interactive map which will show our current location. Stay tuned!

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