Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yeppoon to Manly (16th - 23rd November)

After a couple of pleasant days in Yeppoon we headed off again on our quest to go south.  This time we didn't have far to go as we were off to Kingfisher Bay Resort for a few days which is only about 15NM.   We had a lovely sail to Kingfisher and after a bit of a wander around the resort in the arvo headed back ashore in the evening for Sundowners at the Sand Bar on the pier and a meal.  It was really nice to see a resort up here doing well and there seemed to be plenty of coming and going's every day. 

On the morning of the 18th we thought it was a good idea to have a bit of an explore so did a couple of the walks that leave from the Resort.  The first was up to the look out at North White Cliffs lookout and we then headed off to the McKenzie Pier and then back to the resort past the remains of the WW2 Commando Training centre which was based on Fraser Island. 
After all the morning activity we were back to the boat for a swim off the back and a bit of R&R on the aft deck.

On the 19th we are going back through the Great Sandy Straits.  With a bit of luck and good management we seemed to time the tides perfectly and had current with us all the way and also had plenty of depth to get through the shallows.  We decided to spend the night at Elbow Point which is just around the corner from the Wide Bay Bar as we will be having an early start in the morning to get through the bar at the best time.

Up at 4.00am on the 20th which means we will get through the Wide Bar Bar just at the end of the Flood.  The swells are pretty low at the moment so our exit was relatively gentle which was rather nice as it can get very nasty going across this bar.  We had light north easterly winds so had a lovely motor sail down to Mooloolaba - one of our favorite spots!   Initially we were only going to spend a night here and then head off to Tangalooma (North Stradbroke Island) for a couple of nights but with some odd weather forecast plus I really like Mooloolaba we decided to spend a couple of nights here so we had a good walk around and also managed to fit in a body surf - always a favorite!

Up again early on the 21st and this time we are heading to Manly (just south of Brisbane).  This will be our last sail on Sally until we come back up in January to bring her back home to Melbourne so feeling a bit sad - especially as this means this part of our adventure is actually coming to an end. 
The trip to Manly was quite pleasant although the wind did build to 25knts during the day which meant parking procedures were going to be a bit exciting but luckily one of the locals here helped with our lines which was much appreciated as always.

The next couple of days are going to be spent giving Sally a bit of TLC and pack her up before we fly home for a couple of months.  We will be back up at the end of January when we finish off the trip and sail her back home to Melbourne. 
So far to date we have done around 6200NM (or around 12,400kms) and looking forward to our next big adventure in 2013....

Sorry but we didn't think to take any photos for this entry.

We will be catching up with Leapy Lynda on Friday for a bit of a celebration - she has just finished her first week of work.

This will be the last Blog until Jan or Feb 2012 so thanks for following and hope you will keep tabs on us again when we set off again next year

Monday, November 14, 2011

Southward Bound - Brampton Island to Yeppoon (9th - 15th November)

Things didn't quite work out as planned on the morning of the 9th November.  If the weather behaved itself we were hoping to have a longish day sail through to Curlew or Digby Islands however, the weather didn't behave at all and we were greeted with moderate South Easterlies as we left the bay at Brampton Island so we moved onto Plan B which was to go to Keswick / St Bees Islands (just off Mackay) for the night in hope of better winds tomorrow.  As we approached St Bees we were met by the Marine Parks IRB that informed us that anchoring was not allowed at St Bees as there was a goat cull in progress so after a few mutterings we diligently moved around to the anchorage on Keswick which unfortunately was pretty roly and not that nice at all.  Luckily a bit later in the morning the Parks people got back to us and encouraged us back to the original anchorage for the night which was very polite of them and made conditions aboard a whole lot more comfortable.  By evening we were accompanied by a  number of other yachts all waiting for weather windows to move south. 
A "Tough" Sail to GKI
The forecast for the 10th was looking great with light ENE winds so the alarm was set and we picked up the anchor at 4.45 and were on our way but this time the plan was to do an overnighter through to Yeppoon or Great Keppel Island (locally known as GKI).  The forecast was to plan this time so the start of the 165NM trip began.  The day was all pretty uneventful and we enjoyed very light and favourable breezes so were making good time especially considering the tides that you find in this part of the world.   Just on dusk we went past the Percy Islands - one of Mark's ambitions is to stop and spend a few days at Middle Percy however, yet again this was not to be as we sailed past still en route for GKI.  The moon was absolutely awesome and excellent for a night sail - it was so bright we had shadows on the boat.

The Percy's at Dusk
Remembrance Day and we turned up at GKI mid morning and dropped the pick at Second Beach - before you could blink we were in the water for a refreshing and much needed swim.  GKI was one of our favourite stops on the way north so we decide to spend a couple of nights here waiting for our next weather window. 

GKI Sign Post
When we were here last we did a number of the walks on the island but never made it to the Light House so figured this would be a good thing to do on the 12th.  As it gets warm pretty quickly in these parts we decided that an early start would be best.  The walk was pretty much all up and all down but was great to have a look around the island again.  The view from the Light House was pretty good especially the one looking back over Wreck Beach.

Wreck Beach

Guess Who at the GKI Light

As the anchorage as Second Beach was proving to be a bit roly we decided to move around to Fisherman's Beach which is the resort side of the island.  We kind of forgot that it was a Sunday but soon remembered as we were met by an army of people on this side of the island who had decided to come for a beach day out from Yeppoon.  Despite the chaos we also had a lovely day at the anchorage kind of just hanging out but did go ashore for a bit of a wander around the shops and ended up going to Island Pizza for a spot of dinner!  One thing we did notice as we were sunny ourselves on the back deck of Mustang Sally was the poor condition of our very well travelled Little Red Dolphin.  According to our log the Little Red Dolphin has now completed around 6000NM (or approximately 12,000KMs) and he still has quite a ways yet before we get him back to his home at Safety Beach however, I think we will be approaching the hierarchy at Safety Beach Sailing Club to see if we may be eligible for a new one before we start our next pacific adventure in 2013.  Don't worry we will be finding a good home for our well travelled friend.

Our Very Well travelled Little Red Dolphin
The weather was again looking good so up bright and early on the 14th and this time we are doing an overnight trip through to Urangan (Hervey Bay) which is about 170NM.  The trip started with good winds and in the right direction so we were able to sail for the best part of the day and evening but we ended up motor sailing for the second part of the trip as the winds lightened.  

I got some really exciting news today as Leapy Lynda and I have re-joined the Carlton Football Club which means, we will hopefully, get to a fair whack of at least their home games in 2012.  This isn't going to be anywhere near as easy as it was in 2010 when we were both living in Elwood as it looks like Leapy has moved to Brisbane for a while (she received the good news that she has a job at the University of Queensland starting tomorrow - the 16th) and we now live in Safety Beach however, I am sure with our determination and passion for the mighty blues we will find a way.  

Correct to plan we arrived at the Hervey Bay Boat Club Marina at around 9.00am and are looking forward to a quiet ale or two tonight on the balcony of the Boat Club Clubhouse

Monday, November 7, 2011

Southward Bound - Townsville to Brampton Island (3rd to 8th November)

After a leisurely week in Townsville (one of our favorite spots) the weather is shaping up for a Thursday departure (3rd November).  Despite the Qantas debacle Leapy got herself on a flight arriving on Wednesday arvo so all is well. 

We are all up bright and early on Thursday morning and leave the Townsville marina about 7.00am before the tide gets too low plus we are keen to get on our way south.  If all goes well the plan is to do an overnight sail and end up at Bait Reef, (~135NM) Friday morning for a bit of a snorkel on the outer reef. 
Feeding the Maori Wrasse at Bait Reef
The sail went very well with light east to north easterlies blowing for most of the trip and we were able to pick up a mooring at Bait Reef around 9.30am in the morning.  It is quite a bizarre sight seeing boats parked in, what would appear to be, the middle of the ocean.

We spent a lovely few hours at Bait Reef and did plenty of fish feeding of the back of the boat which included the usual bat fish but also a huge Maori Wrasse and some Dolphin Fish.  We also spent quite  bit of time in the water and did heaps of snorkelling on the coral in amazingly clear water.  No matter where else you go in the world for a snorkel the Great Barrier Reef is definitely amongst the best diving spots in the world.  As mentioned the water clarity was excellent and the coral and fishies we saw were excellent.  We even got to swim with a few turtles which is a first for me.

After an awesome morning at Bait Reef we are off to the Whitsunday's proper for the evening and are hoping to pull up a mooring at Blue Pearl Bay but by the time we arrived late in the afternoon they were all taken so we sail on for a bit longer and stay the night at Bali Hi which is so named as part of the film was shot here.  Up early on Saturday morning to Blue Pearl again in search for an empty mooring and this time we were in luck.  The snorkelling in Blue Pearl is still as good as last time and again we managed to find a tamish turtle to have a swim with.  Juddy and Andrew also decided that it would be worth taking to the water for a bit of a swim with Nemo!
Juddy and Andrew getting ready for a snorkel

Sunset from Bali Hi Island

A bit of R&R for the boys
As we are on a bit of a time frame to get the boat back to Brisbane we can't loiter too long so we head off to Cid Harbour for the night and head into the Hamilton Island Marina for a day of R&R on Sunday,  Hamilton Island never fails to disappoint and is a hive of  activity and there are always lots of fun things to do.  We spent a few hours lazing around the pool and then decided it was time to have the obligatory holiday cocktail before having a yummy meal and the Manta Ray Cafe.  After the busy day we were all pretty stuffed and struggling to keep awake however, Leapy and I were pretty keen to stay up until 11.00pm to watch Casey Stoner in the last of the MotoGP races for the season and we are very glad that we made the effort as it was an action packed race and to make it all the better Stoner pulled out an amazing victory - YAY.

Bye Bye to Leapy Lynda

Unfortunately Leapy had to cut her holiday a bit short.  For those that don't know she took a redundancy package about 1 year ago and has been travelling around to Costa Rica, Bali and Turkey for the best part of the year.  We were hoping that she would be able to do the trip all the way to Brissie with us but it looks like she might be in with a job at the University of Queensland so she figured it was best to get things sorted on the job front.  We were naturally very sad to see Leapy go as she it is always good fun to have her on board and Juddy just isn' the same without his good mate Andrew Walker.  Leapy arranged for a flight out of Hammo early arvo on Monday so we figured it was also a good time for us to start heading south again.  Unfortunately the winds are not all that favourable at the moment with light East to South Easterlies blowing (our course is pretty much SE) however, we did manage to make it down to Shaw Island for Monday evening and have just pulled into Brampton Island for the night.

 The forecast is looking a bit more promising with very light East to North Easterlies planned for Wednesday and Thursday and so hopefully the BOM has it all correct so that we can make some good mileage south over the next few days.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Louisiades Rally - Part 4 (11th October – 29th October)

11 October
Anchorage at Sabira

Welcome for the Water Tank Opening
Spent the day swimming and relaxing at Sabira before heading ashore for the launch of the new water tank.  The people of Sabira have to travel by Sailau to their Grass Island to get their fruit, vegetables and water so the installation of a water tank is certainly of great benefit to their community.  The rally in 2010 were kind enough to donate to the island a water tank and it has taken the best part of 12months to get the parts to the island and get it installed! 

Chief George and the Dancers

Official Opening - Guy Chester

Quite a spread!

The festivities were not part of the rally but were instigated by Chief George and his village as they were so appreciative of the assistance offered by the Dim Dims.  We were greeted by the villages with lots of dancing and the girls wore some amazing headdresses and outfits.  There was also some sing sing before the official opening which was then followed by some games with the kids and refreshments and an awesome sunset!
Sunset at Sabira

12 October
Banaba Boat or Sailau??
Many of the yachts decided to spend another night at Sabira but we figured our time in the Louisiades is quickly coming to an end so it would be good to check out a few more anchorages so we are off again – this time through the Maga Maga passage on our way to Hessessai Bay which is at the north end of Panatinani.   On the way we crossed tracks with a Banana boat that had been fitted out with a Sailau sail (guess they ran out of Zoom) and had Mum with babe in arms doing the driving, she even managed to give us a wave!

Trading at Hessessai Bay

Hessessai Bay was again another lovely anchorage with some more good snorkelling to be had.  We were the only dim dim yacht in the anchorage for the night and the word quickly got around the locals that we had some fabric on board for trade, which is much sought after in these parts, so we certainly did get plenty of locals dropping by for a visit – we were lucky enough to trade for some beautiful shells and paw paws so all parties were pretty happy.
Local Sailau - Hessessai Bay

Moon Rise at Hessessai Bay

13 October
Nimowa Ambulance
The rally fleet is meeting up again this afternoon at Nimowa.  As we had promised the cruising fleet out of Royal Prince Alfred YC that we would check out the Nimowa water ambulance, that had been donated, we thought we better take the opportunity as it was on its way to Misima with Father Tony.  Mark did the right thing and had a look and it seems to be in good running order although they were waiting on an alternator that was being delivered by the rally.  After the ambulance visit we continued on our way to the anchorage at Nimowa.  There were some festivities ashore in the arvo but as we were filling up the water tanks from 'Little One' we were all running a bit late and felt a swim off the back was more needed.  We could hear the singing from the boat and from all accounts it was some of the best sing sing and dancing that had been seen. 
Sunset at Nimowa
Junior Sailau Skipper - In Training

14 October
A scene from Apocolypse Now!
Today we are off in five banana boats across to Sudest (the big island) and up the Fieori River.  The scene as us dim dims headed across to Sudest looked a bit like a scene from apocalypse now except we had Doctor Livingston (aka Dennis) leading the way.  Upon reaching Sudest the long boats took us up the Fieori River and into the heart of the tropical rain forest which was pretty amazing and quite different to coastal fringes that we have been visiting.  Upon arriving at the waterfall we all went for a stroll to the local inland village which was a bit of an eye opener as it made the villages we had been to almost look opulent.  It really makes you realise just how little these people really have.  A lot of the children didn’t look well but they are expecting a visit from Sister Sarah from the Nimowa clinic so hopefully she may be able to offer some help.

Our Banana Boat Skipper

Jungle Di!

Waterfall on the Fieori River

Local Inland Village

Back to the banana boats and most of us had a bit of a dip in the waterfall before a spot of lunch and we were back on our way to Nimowa.  Our banana boat seemed to have a bit of a fuel issue on the way back but after a bit of attention from Alex (the resident diesel mechanic on Muscat) we were back on our way.  We all had an excellent day and the trip on the banana boats was heaps of fun.

15 Occtober
Welcome for the Nimowa School
Today is pretty much the climax of the rally.  The program today includes a visit to the Nimowa School and then onto visit to Clinic.  The Clinic at Nimowa is the major charity for the rally and from all accounts the money raised by the rally fleet over the years has greatly improved the services offered.  The Nimowa clinic looks after around 7000 people in the eastern part of the Louisiades archipelago and offers a very valuable service to all the people living in this area.  Through the generosity of the current rally (including bribes, fines, auctions and other donations) and crews from previous rally fleets we were able to collect in total around 42,000Kina (~AUD$21,000) of which a fair share was being donated to the Nimowa clinic.  Sister Sarah and Father Simon (standing in for Father Tony) struggled to find ways to show their gratitude and put it quite simply when they advised that this was substantially more funding than that provided by their own people in the PNG government.  To give you some idea of the commitment from these people Father Tony  (an ex Victorian) who is now in his 70's has been working in the Louisiades since before he could grow a beard and Sister Sarah has been awarded a Queens Medal for her service to her community!

The Nimowa Clinic

Sister Sarah

The local soccer team from the Elementary School

After a really yummy lunch (including pizza, donuts and banana chips) we had to take on the kids from the local primary school in a game of soccer.  Our captain, Janis, the backpacker, (we figured a German should at least have some idea of how to play the game) tried to install some order but found it all a bit challenging to provide some structure to our team although most of the time was spent defending goals and not a lot of time in attack.  From the outset we figured there was no way that we were going to beat these little dynamos but we did put up a good show and at least scored a goal which is better than most.  In the end we were clearly beaten 2 goals to 1.    We certainly provided plenty of entertainment and laughs for the local village that were gathering for the main event which was the semi-final game between Nimowa and Sudest (I think).  The locals are all pretty good at soccer and put on a great game but unfortunately the team from Nimowa were just beaten. 
The Main Event - Nimowa Vs Sudest
Today was certainly a real highlight of the whole trip and put a lot of stuff into prospective – it is also very gratifying to think that perhaps a little of what we have given is doing some good and providing a little bit of assistance to these wonderful people. 

The official last day of the rally and effectively the day when we turn the corner and start heading back towards Melbourne (quite a daunting thought)!  The last day of the rally is at Wanim (or Grass Island to the locals for obvious reasons).  The anchorage on the western side of Wanim is a lovely spot and has a great outlook and again some really good snorkelling and we found the water here to be really clear so the visibility was excellent. 
Tonight we had the official closing BBQ for the rally which was a great opportunity for us to catch up with everyone before we all start to head off our own way.
Anchorage at Wanim
17 October
Most of the fleet decided to spend the day in Wanim although a few of the boats did head off to other anchorages.  Based on the weather it doesn’t look like any of the remaining boats (Reliance and Attitude are already on their way home) will be leaving till late in the week.  Sanctuary were kind enough to have us all on board this evening for some pre-dinner nibbles and to rid them of their cheese problem as we are not able to bring cheese back into Australia.

Mark & Lisa - Little One

Most of the fleet are wandering off although we decided to spend another day at Wanim.  The feeling is a bit flat today as everyone is heading off and it really feels now like the rally is over and we are all now looking to the trip home.  After all the preparations I am definitely feeling a bit out of sorts and quite sad that the big adventure is quickly coming to an end.
Walk along the ridge at Wanim

We went for a bit of a walk in the afternoon along the ridge towards the village at the north of the island and was good to get the chance to give the legs a bit of a work out.  During the days the clouds had been building and in the evening we had an amazing light show and plenty of wind and rain but were happy as clams aboard watching it all go by.  The only other boat with us still at Wanim in Love of Gaia who, due to some anchor issues, will be at Wanim until it is time to head back to Australia
19 October
The Very Famous Chief Gulo
Off to Bagaman again!  As we are going to have some strong winds for the next few days, and the forecast it is now looking very much like we won’t be heading home till Saturday we decided that Bagaman would not only be a good spot for a few nights but is also a good spot for a final departure out of the Louisiades.  At this stage Moonraker is already at Bagaman and it is looking like most of the fleet will be spending their last night in the Louisiades in Bagaman so should be a bit of fun plus we may get to spend a bit more time with the famous Chief Gulo!
Team Moonraker invited us and Leyla aboard for a BBQ this evening and was really nice to catch up with them all again.

20 October
Spent the day at Bagaman and as the weather is pretty stormy and wet outside spent a day hanging out on board which was kind of a nice change as we haven't had too many chances to hang out and not do too much

21 October
As predicted the forecast is still standing up and looks like we will be leaving the Louisiades tomorrow (Saturday 22nd October) so we spent the morning doing chores to get the boat ready for the ocean passage and prepared a few meals to make the cooks job easier on the way.  Headed ashore in the afternoon and wandered up again for one last look from the Worship Hill.  We also took the opportunity this afternoon to distribute the last of our trade and donation items.  The rest of the fleet is all meeting here this afternoon (apart from Sanctuary. Love of Gaia, Rex and Honeywind) as it is a good spot to leave from when departing from the Calvados Group.   It was great to have most of the fleet back together again (Leyla, Moonraker, Desire, Finesse, Tinker, Little One and Sally) although everyone was getting ready for the voyage so there wasn't a lot of socialising going on but Moses was been kept very busy finishing off the last of the carvings before the cut off tomorrow morning. 
We have also made arrangements with Chief Gulo for a visit in 2 years time when we hopefully pass by through the Louisiades  again on the way home from our inner pacific trip - we have been put on orders to bring back Milo which is apparently one of his favorites!
Our last visit ashore at Bagaman :(

22 - 26 October
Leyla is off early in the morning but the rest of the fleet are hanging out to do a last weather check before we depart.  Forecast hasn't changed and everyone is off and it is nice to be heading home as a group.  The fleet is splitting up as some will be heading back to Cairns but a number of the boats (especially the ones that are heading south) are planning to head to Townsville (Little One, Moonraker, Desire and Sally).  The first couple of days on the trip home are a bit windy and the sea state is a bit uncomfortable but progress is good - Sally even managed 180NM on the second day out which is an average of 7.5knts - not bad for a cruiser. 
The wind started to back on day 3 and conditions became very pleasant - this is a good thing as it is Bruce's birthday today and we would hate to have a grumpy birthday boy on board.  We served up one of this favorites, Tuna Bake, for dinner so a birthday at sea isn't all that shabby.
We were lucky enough to sail most of the way home but did start motor sailing around lunchtime on Tuesday as we were keen to get into Townsville as planned on Wednesday morning to meet Customs and Quarantine. 
All went to plan and we were tied up at the fuel dock in the Breakwater Marina around 6:00am on Wednesday and were cleared and in our pen by 10:30am.  First stop as you can imagine was a shower and then the laundry.
What a treat - our first dinner off the boat for a while and would you believe it we ended up at the yacht club!
27 October
The rest of the Townsville fleet went through there clearance formalities in the morning.  We must admit we were pretty impressed with both customs and quantine people and they really made clearing back in pretty easy and certainly not an issue at all. 
The rally still  hasn't quite finished yet as we had dinner tonight with the Townsville team (including Dennis and Annette) at the Seaview Hotel for a good catch up.

28 October
We say goodbye to Bruce this morning as he is heading back to Melbourne.  I am off to get a much needed haircut and Gina is out getting a pedicure as she is flying out to Brisbane tonight to spend the weekend with a good friend before she also heads back to Elwood.  They have a busy time in front of them as they are now getting ready to head over to the Caribbean to go cruising on their new yacht Wyuna which is a 47' Leopard Cat - how exciting is that

29 October
OK this has to be the end of it! 
One last BBQ for those of us that are left - the numbers are now quickly depleting as crews are returning back to a more normal way of life  This time Team Tinker (Dan & Belinda) join in as they are driving back down the Mackay so that they can get back to work on Monday - which is already 1 week late due to the delay in our departure from the Louisiades.
We are now waiting for Leapy Lynda to join us so that we can start making our way down south. 
Qantas is causing her a few issues but at this stage the weather is indicating that we wont be leaving until Thursday or Friday so all good at the moment.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Louisiades Rally – Part 3 (5th October – 10th October)

I have been a bit negligent and not provided a whole bunch of information about the Louisiades so before I go further with our trip here is a bit of background info.

The Louisiades is a chain of islands lying 100 nautical miles east of 'mainland' PNG with the Solomon Islands lying to the east.  The Louisiades comprise sand cays, lagoon reefs, limestone outcrops (uplifted coral reefs) and continental islands.  With abundant coral reefs there is snorkelling, diving and fishing galore.  There are skull caves. hills to climb, coral cays to explore, mangrove lined creeks, coconut shaded trees to sit under.

The people of  Louisiades are Melanesian and are very warm and friendly.  They are exceptionally welcoming to yachts and will paddle out to say a welcoming hello and of course to trade their local produce and crafts for other items not readily available in the Louisiades.
The locals look similar to the folk of the rest of PNG (and for that matter the Solomons, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and to some extent Fiji!).  There are three main languages spoken by people in different areas in the Louisiades, Misima-Paneati, Nimoa and Sudest.  Whilst Pidgin is often spoken throughout PNG in the Louisiades the majority of people speak their local language and English.

Life in the Louisiades is simple and unburdened by the ownership of many material possessions.  Many place are completely self sufficient and have little need for money.  The economy of many islands is not based on cash and the only use for such would be a long trip on a sailing canoe to a trade store
Many folk live in villages, which are home to any number of families from a few to a few hundred.  The villages have no formal or traditional chiefly system, but every island has a Councilor, who forms part of the local government.  Most villages have a church where the locals practice Christianity.

The sailing canoe (Sailau) is the main form of transport for locals to get around the Louisiades.  These are hand crafted from trees growing on Paneati.
5 & 6 October
Since we had such a nice stay in Bagaman last time we decided that it would be a good place to spend a few more nights before moving on to Misima.  After some discussions with the other rally yachts anchored in Bagaman we headed off on a walk firstly up to hill to the north east of the anchorage which s the place of worship for the local villages.  It was a pretty windy morning and even more so once we got to the top of the hill but the views up there made it all worthwhile.  We then made our way across to the other side of the island which has another village (sorry cannot remember the name of this one) and we went for a long stroll along the beach before heading back to the yacht for an afternoon of some serious R&R.  Team Leyla joined us for sundowners at five on the aft deck and after some high power bartering we ended up with an excellent trade where we ended up with a very nice bottle of red in exchange for a 6 pack of Gordon's G&T
View of anchorage at Bagaman from Worship Hill


<><><><> <><><><> <><><><>
Sailau Ride
Gina did some awesome work in the morning of the 6th and arranged for a Sailau ride for us Mustang Sally Dim Dims - especially those of us that were not brave enough to take on the elements for the trip across to Panniet!.  The crew seemed to enjoy the 3 hour cruise around the bay and unlike the SS Minnow they didn't get stranded on an uninhabited island.  As they had such an excellent adventure and also noted that the sail on the sailau was in pretty back nick decided that is would be a good thing to donate a few tarps and twine to the skipper of the boat.

After the sail we were all so full of beans we decided to go for one last snorkel at Bagaman and headed over to the east side of the bay and found some lovely coral and plenty of fish which kept us entertained for a good hour or more.  Amazing how much time one can spend with one’s head under the water looking at fish and coral especially when the water is a balmy 28oC

7 October
Misima Market
Today is when we head for the big smoke of Misima.  As it is a fair hike (~30NM) all the yachts had the same idea and got up early for the trip across.  As it was a good sailing breeze we all made good time and ended up having to slow down to give Guy on Sanctuary enough time to arrange things before the fleet arrived.  Misima is where we finally get to clear customs and quarantine.  As we can’t get off the boat until clearing we get to entertain ourselves on-board for a while until we get clearance at around 6pm but finally we get to put pull down the Quarantine Flag and officially put up the PNG flag (despite the fact that we have had both up for the duration of the rally to date). 

8 October
Elementary School Welcome
Today is the day of the Misima Festival.  After arriving ashore we were greeted by the elementary school and led down to the parade grounds where most of the festival activities occur.    The locals are very proud of their traditions and are keen to be able to put on these displays for us visitors.  This also gives them the opportunity to keep some of their culture and traditions alive. 

The Dim Dims on display
(local for white folk)
Local Dancers
Miss Misima Contest
After lunch the activities continue and we start the afternoon with the Miss Misima Contest which is a little different to your standard beauty contest.  This was followed by comedy hour and we concluded the day with the Pem Pewa which is a gift giving ceremony – apparently the women in Misima and surrounding islands / villages undertake a special selection process to be involved so they were all pretty chuffed to be there.  We had spent many weeks collecting items for the Pem Pewa so we hope they appreciate the items we had put together.  In return the ladies prepared some amazingly presented baskets and bags full of fruits, vegetables, carvings, shells etc and were very keen to introduce themselves and learn a bit about us as well.  Unfortunately there ended up being more of their Pem Pewa’s than what we had planned for so we ended up giving a small gift of Kina in exchange – despite the minor muck up they all they were all OK and were just happy to be able to give us their gifts.  Despite not having a lot of material possessions the people of the Louisiades are in general very generous people and more than happy to share what little they have – this is quite a refreshing concept for us Dim Dims and something that I am sure will stick in our minds once we are all back in civilisation.
The Pem Pewa - Local Style

The Pem Pewa - Dim Dim Style

The local kids were keen to help us get our load of Pem Pewa gifts back to the boat so we ended up with a what must have looked like a scene from the Pied Piper as we all wandered back down the main street to the dinghy wharf.  After much sorting and negotiations we eventually made it back to the boat for a clean up and also a sorting of the Pem Pewa gifts - you wont imagine how much fresh fruit and how many baskets we ended up with and were lucky enough to be able to give some of these goodies to some locals as we were never going to get through it all.  After a bit of a break we are on the move again and this time off to the Guest House for a yummy dinner and auction.  As with many of the activities on the program they are aimed at raising funds for the Nimowa clinic and other worthwhile causes (there are plenty of them!).  We ended up with the highest bid on  many items with some of the stand outs being a really lovely Bagi, Bundy Bear Wind Sock, and a bottle of marmalade which ended up costing 60Kina (~$30AUD) .

MV Reliance Crew

The Local Drop
9 October
After the fun of Misima we were still keen to move on and took the opportunity to depart from Misima once we had finished our morning tasks.  We decided to head for Robinson's anchorage for the night (~30NM) which proved to be a great spot for the night before we head over to Sabira in the morning.  We followed Little One over to the anchorage and we ended up being the only 2 yachts here for the night.  Mark and Lisa from 'Little One' were kind enough to donate some of their HUMUNGOUS Mackerel that they had caught on the trip over.  Mark was even kind enough to fillet them for us.  We decided the best thing to do was wrap the fillets in foil with some herbs and chuck them on the BBQ - this was all pretty YUMMY - especially as fish hasn't exactly been a staple food in our diet so far  On the fishing front Mustang Sally hasn't been doing all that flash and seem to have developed a reputation for losing lures and being fish lovers not killers!.  So far the score is fish = 4 and Mustang Sally Dim Dims = 0. 

10 October
Up early again as we have about 20NM to do today on our way to Sabira and are keen to get there as we have heard that it is a really beautiful spot surrounded with small limestone islets.  We arrived just before lunch and were not disappointed with the beauty of the place, crystal clear water and sandy bottom – YAY – no bommies to worry about here.  Chief George was pretty keen to come out on his dug out to greet the yachts as they arrive and in most cases hoped on board to lead you through to the best anchoring spot
Village at Sabira Island

After lots of swimming and snorkelling in the arvo we head to the shore to participate in the five o’clock drinkies with the five or so other yachts that have decided to come to Sabira.