Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bwagaoia Harbour and Kimuta Island

June 8, 2010--On Friday, June 5, we pulled our anchor at Rambuso Creek at dawn in order to make it to Bwagaoia Harbour by afternoon. We made our way back out through the reef entrance and motored the 60 miles to Misima Island. The entrance to Bwagaoia is well marked, although a bit narrow. There is even a flashing light to starboard. We haven't seen too many navigation lights lately.

We anchored at the end of the bay where we would be clear of any fishing boats or supply ships that might need to move around in the anchorage. The bay is lined with mangroves with a mud bottom that provided good holding. The bay offers excellent protection; however, that also means that there is not a lot of air movement--that means it was hot!

On Friday we arrived late in the afternoon, so we just stayed aboard and tried to get some things done. On Saturday morning, we took the dinghy ashore to look for diesel fuel. We were able to find a place to pull the dinghy up on the sand that was not too far from the diesel storage. We took our four jerry jugs up and had the man fill them for us. The cost was $4.30 kina per liter, which is about $6.00 U.S. We thought that that was pretty reasonable considering how remote this place is.

While he was filling our jugs, we walked over to the store to see about exchanging some money and found fuel for $4.10 per liter. After exchanging some U.S. dollars for kina, we picked up our four jugs and returned to the boat to put the fuel into the tanks, and then returned for more diesel. This time we went to the store since the price was better. We left those four jugs on deck so we now had a full load of fuel to get us to Australia.

We spent the afternoon walking around town, which wasn't much to see. However, when we walked up the hill, we found lovely homes with well manicured grounds. We met Peter, the local minister of the church, which was a open-air facility with a thatched roof. We also met a man who was making a boat out of a large tree trunk. We even stopped to watch a volley ball game that was in process. Everyone was very friendly.

At the market we discovered little that we could use. The main item for sale was beetle nut. This is a pod about the size of a lime, and it has a seed inside. The locals cut the pod and seed in half and then chew the seed. Just about everyone chews this--men, women, and even some of the kids. It makes their mouths red, and it does nothing for their teeth. There is red spittle on the ground all around where they have spit out the juice, much like chewing tobacco. We don't know if it is an addictive substance or just a cultural thing. One thing I do know is that we have not tried it, nor will we try it.

On Sunday we left the harbour for Kimutu Island, but the north winds would be make the anchorage difficult, so half way there we turned back to Bawagaoia. Monday morning we left again and motored into the wind the 13 miles to Kimutu. When we arrived at the island, we had to wind our way around and through coral in Dim Dim Passage to make it to an anchorage just down the beach from the village. We pulled in slowly and ended up in very shallow water, so we had to back up into about 20 feet of water, where we dropped our anchor. We are surrounded by coral; however, our little spot has a lovely sand bottom.

A local woman came by in her canoe with her daughter and her niece to visit with us. We then ate some lunch but decided to stay aboard for the afternoon as Steve has done something to his back and is moving very slowly. On Tuesday we had hoped to go ashore; however, Steve is still not moving very well, and I felt that unloading the dinghy and the rough ride ashore would not improve the situation so we stayed on board. We planned to leave on Wednesday but were disappointed because the weather was not very good. The skies were overcast, which would make it difficult to see our way to the next anchorage. It also looked like it might rain, so we decided to lay over one more night.

Last night was very uncomfortable as we are getting wrap around waves, and the boat is heaving in all directions. We slept on the settees for the second night. Neither of us slept very well last night and woke to the same dreary weather, but we have decided to move on because we are just too uncomfortable here.

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