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.