Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Louisiades Rally – Part 2 (25th September – 4th October)

We left Panasia this morning for our new destination which is Panapompom in the Deboyne Group - the actual anchorage we stayed at was off Nivani which is right next to Panapompom.  We had good winds for the 21NM trip.  Again the anchorage is delightful and we are quickly in the water to check out our new surrounds.  We are at Panapompom for one of their major events of the year which is the Panapompom Regatta and Sports Festival and we have a busy couple of days ahead of us
Arriving for the
Panapompom Festival

We awoke to a rather grey morning which delayed the start of events but gave us all an opportunity to go for a snorkel on the Zero plane that did a forced landing on the island in the Second World War.  This was an awesome snorkel and we got to see a more types of tropical fish in this little area than what we had seen up the entire east coast and we finally we got to find Nemo and Marlin!
Great Paw Paw
After the snorkel we all headed for shore for the sing sing and start of the sporting festivities which involved some swimming and canoe races along with a craft and food market in the morning where we made some excellent purchases including bananas, passionfruit to die for, and the obligatory Paw Paw.  The big event for the day event was the Sailau race in the afternoon.  The competition is pretty fierce amongst the 3 divisions of Sailau’s and the prizes of sails, ropes, tarpaulins and cash are hotly sought after – we had many sailaus competing from the area including one that had come all the way from Sudest which is a 3 day sail away from Panapompom.

Getting ready for the Sailau Race

The Main Event - Sailau Race

Our Crew for the Fun Race
Some of the Dim Dims (white folk) partook in a fun sailau race in the morning and in the afternoon the Dim Dims got to take the locals for a sail in the fun race.  We ended up with around 25 on Sally and I think the record for the day was around 75 on both Reliance and Attitude.  The locals are excellent sailors and certainly took much interest in how we Dim Dims do things on yachts – of particular interest was the power winch!   They also seemed to enjoy tacking so we made sure we did plenty of these to keep them happy and we ended up with Captain Sammy steering for the last part of the race.  We met Captain Sammy when he came out to visit us in the morning for Coffee and Bikkies and with his credentials of 25years as a merchant seaman and a sailau sailor we figured we had it in the bag.   

We finished off the day with the presentation ceremony for all the races along with another Mumu (we are certainly getting our fair share of pork and yams on this trip)

Clinic at Panniet
The rain in Panapompom continued but this didn’t stop a group of Dim Dims (including Gina and I) from doing the trip over to Panniet on the sailaus.  I think we ended up with around 20 of us taking the trip over.  We ended up on a boat called Jelly Fish (which was the Sailau that had come all the way from Sudest for the regatta).  Panniet is a nice village and has a local clinic and primary school.  The clinic is not quite we would call a clinic but certainly plays a very important role in this community and is one of the key groups that the rally donates to.  We wandered around the village and were welcomed by the very friendly locals and ended up dropping in to the trading store where I managed to buy a new red bucket since one of our buckets went overboard a few days previous. 
Trading Store at Panniet

Waiting for the trip back to Nivani
New Red Bucket in hand!
We left Nivani and Panapompom on our way to Bagaman which is back in the Calvados Group of Islands (the biggest group in the Louisiades).  Not long after we dropped the anchor we had a visit from the famous Chief Gulo who made sure we signed his yachties book and we also gave him some Panadols for his aches and pains (from the discussion we figure he is now around about 85YO although this has also been disputed so who really knows).  The next visitors were Jerry the Muster organiser and Joseph.  We had a pretty relaxing arvo with a swim and snorkel off the back deck.  The people as always were delightful however, as this is one of the most popular anchorages for boats we did find their trading techniques a bit more sophisticated than what we had been used to.

We had a leisure day in Bagaman before the rest of the rally turned up in the arvo.  Many of the yachts had spent the 29th in at Kamataal with Jimmy at the yacht club.  We are hoping to get their at some stage during the rest of our time in the LouisiadesAUD$10)
Trading for a Lobster Dinner

Getting a Tow by Team Rex!
We all went ashore to the main village for the Bagaman Muster.  Unfortunately we had to get a tow in by the Rex team as our dinghy motor is still playing up after the dinghy was flipped over at little Panasia – hopefully we will get it fixed for good soon!!  The muster started with the usual welcome dances and sing sings and we got to wander around the elementary school and again check out the craft market.  Bagaman is re-known for carvers so everyone was keen to check out their wares.  We ended up with our fair share of carvings and also a couple of Bagi which are beautifully crafted shell necklaces which they used to use for currency.  We finished off the day with yet another Mumu and then all the dim dims had to get up for a bit of a dance which was lots of fun and certainly provided much amusement for the locals.   This was a really well organised event and the locals had gone to an amazing amount of effort to make the muster a huge success.  We were all quite amused as they even had a time keeper to make sure we kept on track for the day (we haven’t been wearing watches for months).
Craft Market

Ladies getting ready for
the Pem Pewa
We left Bagaman and did the 5NM trip to Blue Lagoon for the beach party.  Blue Lagoon like its name it beautiful and after some snorkelling we wandered ashore to get involved in the party which including cricket, sand castle building and volley ball tournaments.  Whilst it is nice to have the locals visit it was nice to have a day to ourselves. 

Before heading over to Hoba Bay (all of 2NM away) we managed to make a loaf of yummy bread and then wandered over to the reef at Blue Lagoon and had an awesome snorkel with some of the best coral we have seen to date and we got to find another Nemo family.

Dancing at Hoba Bay
We went ashore at Hoba Bay and got to meet Chief Bernard who was looking after us for the afternoon.  The locals at Hoba Bay put on a great afternoon for us which included some of the best dancing we have seen.  The rest of the afternoon was filled with cultural activities whereby they showed us Dim Dims how they make baskets, mats, bagi, light fires which was quite enlightening and was great to get involved.  We also got to do some more excellent trading for sweet potatoes and tomatoes.

The School Bell

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