Saturday, August 19, 2017

Takuu to Nuguria to Boang

Our friends on Field Trip have a knack for making connections at the villages. Sarah, an elementary teacher in her former life, visits the schools and offers help. Mark on Field Trip usually offers assistance to fix whatever needs fixing. We were lucky to piggyback on their efforts in Takuu and Nuguria. Both of these islands have been extremely welcoming and generous. At Takuu, we were the honored guests during a "Book Week" celebration where the whole village turned out to watch the school children perform modern and traditional dances and stories. In Nuguria, Conrad and Mark enjoyed helping to give a joint presentation about American culture and our boat travels to the whole school. We were inundated with gifts of lap laps (the local version of a sarong), necklaces, food, and other local items. We made new friends and got a deeper connection than we normally do when spending just a few days at a place. Both places are more Polynesian in culture and are part of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Leaving Nuguria, we used a period of favorable wind to head east to the Tanga Islands. Our short overnight trip to Boang netted us a 50-lb wahoo and 60-lb yellowfin tuna. We broke our streak of Solomons doldrum fishing and actually landed both fish (and without losing a gaff!). Matt struggled a bit to fillet the fish because they were too long to fit on the transom. Boang is a more traditional Papua New Guinea Melanasian village. The villagers have been very welcoming but they don't get many cruisers that visit (only 1 boat in the last 20 years or so), so we have had a lot of canoes that want to just hang out around the boat. With no television and no Internet, we're apparently the most interesting show around for the moment. We chat with them as well as our limited Pigin and their limited English allows, but eventually we leave them to go do other things. This doesn't deter them and they simply continue to hang out around the new 'water cooler' in the area (a place to meet and chat).

Monday, July 31, 2017

Solomons to Takuu

After almost nine months of motoring through the Solomons (the longest we have been in any country while on the boat, by the way), we finally got our parts installed, made the last minute dash to the market to buy as much produce and fruit as we could store, checked out and headed for Takuu. We saw every kind of sailing, from perfect beam reaching through flat seas, to downwind in heavy seas, and upwind into waves and rain galore (to say the forecast was a bit off may be a bit of an understatement). We made some rookie mistakes: Mark's hatch wasn't all the way closed so his mattress was soaked with sea water--first time we have had that happen in 4-1/2 years of sailing. Conrad tossed his cookies inside the cabin and didn't make it to a bucket right away. We also lost a lure to something huge that about ripped the bungee cord in half, let alone snapping the 150 lb test line like it was nothing. Ripe bananas from the humongous stalk that Matt couldn't refuse (less than $3 US) started plopping down as the boat moved from side to side (a la the Pacific crossing), so it's lots of banana bread for the next while.

Takuu (Mortlock) is an atoll that is technically part of the Bougainville Independent government (which is itself nominally part of Papua New Guinea), though they get almost zero and are basically left to themselves. The inhabited islands are only a meter above the sea, so rising sea levels are a real concern facing the 200-300 residents and during very high tides some of the houses get inundated. The government wants the islanders to relocate, but many are reluctant to leave their home to move to a place with a different culture (Takuu is Polynesian in origin, while the rest of Papua New Guinea is Melanesian) and way of life. Our friends on Field Trip have been here for over a week and have making friends and fixing boats. We are enjoying the nice calm anchorage while we dry out Mark's bedding. Conrad turned 11 today (Matt made donuts to celebrate) and is itching to try out the new camera his grandparents got him.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Chillin' in the heat yo

Rescuing gobi fish

We had a fully sunny day for the first time in almost a week and we spent it exploring Rokana Nomana Island, near Lola Island.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Adventures in wildlife

Grainy footage of black-tip reef shark
Zipolo Habu Resort's sweet spot is fishing and their skilled guides know where to find them. Most days end with the clients' catch being cleaned and the scraps being tossed to the abundant black-tip reef sharks that frequent the beach. The following shots show some of the action. The pictures are a bit grainy because the sharks and fish kick up a lot of silt, plus they are just screen captures from an older Go Pro unit.  Oh, you want 4k clarity?  Go watch the National Geographic channel.  We also don't have David Attenborough on retainer, in case you were wondering.  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

More of the waiting-in-paradise game

Tuna in the can...
The good news is that our roller furler finally arrived at the rigger in Australia. Woohoo!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Offerings of the Solomons, good and bad

Stuart was nice enough to let Matt tag along on one of
his fishing trips. Blue fin trevally.
We have now been in the Solomon Islands for over seven months. For most of our stay, we have barely seen any other cruising boats except for the one (and sometimes two) we travelled with. As the season comes to an end, more boats have been popping up for short stays in the islands here but we are still mostly on our own. That's why yesterday was unusual.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

And we're waiting, we're waiting...

Conrad and Mark surfing and boogie boarding
When we mailed our roller furler to Australia to get the seals and bearings replaced, the friendly and helpful Munda Post Office worker, Riko, couldn't find the receipt book. Apparently our package was the first one of the year sent from this branch (yes, it was almost June; yes, they operate on a calendar year). This gave us pause. We'll be on the edge of our seat waiting to see if/when the package gets there.