Friday, August 15, 2014


Ninigo, Papua New Guinea

We finally departed Palau on March 11, 2014 for the next stage of our circumnavigation.    We hated to leave Palau.  It was so beautiful there and we had so many good friends, but it was time to push on.

We had heard about little Ninigo atoll in Western Papua New Guinea and the remarkable friendliness of the villagers on the island of Mal so we set off for there.  It took us 8 days to sail from Palau to Ninigo and it was a pretty good passage with only a little bit of motoring to get through the doldrums.

We were greeted almost immediately after setting anchor by John and some of his extended family as they sailed in their "kanu" back to their little village.

 Shortly after that came Thomas and his son Richard who have gained some fame for their outstanding welcome to yachts.    They have only started receiving yachts to their village since around 2010.    Word has spread about their friendliness here so every year now a few yachts make the passage to visit Ninigo.    Thomas presented us with drinking coconuts and bananas and we gave him a starting battery we had replaced that was still more than good enough for powering up lights around their home.    Thomas was thrilled.

Thomas invited us to his little village of Puhipi on Mal for a tour and to have us for lunch.  He takes great pride in showing us how he  and his family live. 

  Thomas's wife, Elizabeth makes pandanus hats and presented Joy with a couple as a gift.    She requested some dressmaker pins, which I happened to have in my kit, so that she could start training some of the younger women in the skill.

Richard explained how he makes the mastic (lime powder) from the shells and coral.    They use it with their betel nut chewing and actually it is not a good thing as it can cause cancer, tooth rot, gum disease and of course turns their mouths bright red.     Its a prevalent habit throughout Palau, PNG and the Solomon Islands.

Thomas's sister in law, Marianne, is thatching a new side wall for her kitchen.    A big storm in February knocked down some of the houses and flooded gardens.

We also met Wesley and Mollina who live a short distance away in the village of Piakuku.   Mollina also had us for a wonderful lunch with a greeting from the whole family when we arrived ashore and were presented with leis.

 Every time we went back to the boat we were given crayfish (lobster) and fruits and vegetables from their gardens.

We gave (traded) things like t-shirts; plates (Elizabeth and Mollina were sharing their plates so they could have enough for their dinners), diving masks and snorkels and children's books.    Here I get to read to the kids after dinner.  Little Anastasia was such a cutey,  I knicknamed her "flower pot".

Wesley and Mollina came out to the boat to visit just before we left.   Mollina was so concerned about Jim's cancer in his eye that she and Wesley went out searching for a particular tree, culled some of the bark, boiled it down and added it to coconut oil and presented it to us as a "cure".

 Wesley was very interested in our Ham Radio set up.   The islanders really want to connect to the outside world and the visiting yachts present them with a unique opportunity.    We became a de facto post office while we were there, typing up their messages to old yachting friends and sending them via e mail using winlink.   While we were there they received a few replies and were really excited to have made contact.    Wesley dreams of having a radio system so that he can get e mails and reach out to the rest of the world.    One of the benefits of this is that they can request things they need and hopefully another yacht stopping by will bring them a few things.    They don't ask for much and give so much in return.    This has become one of our most favorite stops of all time.

Just before leaving we were invited to the school and Jim gave a short presentation to the children about our lives, what it was like to live and travel on a yacht.   The kids sang songs for us and gave us even more fruit for the trip.

The medic showed us his clinic.   There were a number of broken things that maybe could be fixed if someone had the time and parts.   That's a big problem out in these that is much needed breaks down and then that's the end of it as no one can fix it.

Cruiser Notes:    Anchored at 1 23.5S; 144 10.8E.    Lots of coral around and comes up quick.  We anchored in 45 feet.    Good protection unless wind was out of the North.   

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