Papua New Guinea
Cruising in the Louisiade Archepilago, PNG.
Sailing among The Louisiade Islands was as in many other places in the Pacific a bit demanding because even the newest C-Map charts were lacking a lot of details and some small islands were either not shown or misplaces on the chart. Most other islands were out of position, making the radar overlay system vital in order to improve the navigation.
The islands were an interesting mix of atolls with coral reefs, rocky islands and even green hilly ones. The local population who were very friendly lived from fishing and growing a limited amount of vegetables. They used wooden dough-out canoes with outriggers, and for travelling between the islands they had well optimised sailing canoes with outriggers. They were well operated and were used for transportation of goods as well as passengers. E.g. every week end school children were transported from the central schools to their home islands and back again by these canoes. When tacking the canoe the crew move the sheeting point of the sail and the steering ore to the other end of the canoe. With experienced crewmembers this procedure is done swift and elegant.
The local islanders looked healthy and came to the boat for trading wooden carvings, vegetables, fish, mud crabs, and lobsters. In return they wanted sugar, flour, rice, fish hooks and line, and T-shirts and shorts. Money was not much in demand because there were typically no shops where it could be spent. The only production on these islands is copra, which is collected by a passing boat once or twice a month. This boat can also bring goods to the islanders on request. Otherwise communication with the outside world is very limited. E.g. the island of Missima with a population of several hundred thousand did have cell phone connection; however hardly any usable internet connection.
The last atoll visited on the way to the Solomon Islands was the typical and very beautiful Budi Budi. It is very remote from the other islands, but is well organized and houses a friendly population of approx 500 – 600 inhabitants.
Solomon Sea passage Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Islands.
The passage of 250 Nm from Budi Budi to Noro on New Georgia Island where we checked in, was uneventful and made in very light and shifting winds. It required 12 hours of motoring and lasted a bit over 2 days because we chose to heave to during the night outside the entrance to the New Georgia Islands Group.