Friday, June 4, 2010

Arrival in the Louisiades

June 4, 2010-I just checked the date of my last blog and can't believe that it was May 28. Needless-to-say, I am really behind.

Our passage was a difficult one, not because of too much wind but because of too little wind. Our conditions were not anywhere close to the forecast we had received, so we ended up motoring much more than we wanted to. Because of the light winds, we could sail at only about 2 knots, and our wind vane just doesn't steer well at that speed, and we don't want to sit at the helm all day long. Therefore, when we could sail at 4 knots or better, we did. Otherwise, we motored with the main sail up. We also had pretty confused seas, which made for an uncomfortable ride and some difficulty sleeping.

Late in the afternoon of June 1, we got a strike on our fishing line. When we pulled it in, we had a nice little barracuda on the line. Now pulling in a barracuda is a bit tricky as they have some very nasty teeth. Steve was able to get it on the side deck, and we threw a towel over its head to calm it down. We figured that we would just let him expire, but he started flopping around so Steve had to speed up the process.

Now we realized that the lure, which had been thrown back in the water, had another fish on it. This time it was a Dorado, not as big as the others that we have caught, but a nice one to keep. We hauled him aboard, and now Steve had two fish to clean. He decided to filet the Dorado first and was working away with the barracuda about six inches from his feet. I noticed that the barracuda's gills were still moving, and sure enough, he started snapping. Steve jumped out of reach and then made sure that the "cuda" could do no more damage.

We got the Dorado and the barracuda all done and went to retrieve the line for the evening. To our surprise, we had another fish on the line. It was another barracuda, and this one was bigger than the first. We wanted to throw him back since we didn't have enough room in the reefer; however, he was securely hooked, and because there was no safe way to remove the lure, Steve had to kill him. At least when we threw him back, we knew that he would feed something else in the ocean.
We arrived at our destination late in the afternoon on June 2 and were worried about making it into the anchorage before dark. We were both very tired and did not want to spend another night keeping watch. Luckily, the tide was with us, and we made it through the opening in the reef and slowly motored into the lagoon at Rambuso Creek on Tagula Island in the Louisiades. The anchorage was beautiful with mangrove trees all around us.

Soon after we were anchored, a canoe with four local men came by to chat with us. Three were brothers and one was a brother-in-law. We visited for awhile, and then we told them that we were very tired and needed to get to sleep. They understood and left our boat and were kind enough to stop some of the local kids from coming by that night. We took a quick shower, ate a cold dinner, relaxed for a little while, and then went to bed.

The next day was filled with visits from the locals. Many of the children came by in their canoes on their way to school, during their recess, and after school. They all spoke very good English, and one group sang the Papua New Guinea national anthem for us. They were despite for school supplies so we gave them anything we had that might be useful. They brought us coconuts, papaya, and bananas in return. The clergy from the church, along with his wife and son, also stopped by to visit for awhile. One woman came by with her four kids and offered us eggs. She also had a live chicken with her, and there was a knife beside her in the boat. We decided that if we had wanted the chicken, she would have killed it for us. Thankfully, we have more than enough meat in the freezer.

Today we left very early to make it to Bwagaoia on Messima Island before dark. This is the only place where we can get fuel, and since there is still no wind, we are motoring the whole way. Luckily, we still have enough fuel to make it the 65 miles. From there we will have to decide which islands to visit during our two weeks here.
This area is lovely, and there are, I believe, just two other cruising boats in the area with us. More will arrive from Australia later in the season, but for now, we will enjoy the solitude.

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