Kicking back in Kavieng, Papua New Guinea


Friday 21 August 2015

Sometimes a cruiser needs a break. Having explored many remote islands, visited many villages, met many people, run medical clinics, traded day-in day-out from the boat, entertained kids by the boat and visited several schools, we were a little worn out and all up for a little taking it easy. That said, we know we will get no sympathy from anyone. So we set sail from Tabar leaving our local crocodile basking in the sun, aiming for Kavieng, Papua New Guinea. Not the busiest place in the world but still a town with a fresh food market, a few small supermarkets and, best of all, a resort which we could anchor safely in front of.

An overnight sail, we headed off having wind promised in the weather forecast, goal to arrive with the sun in the right position so we could pick up the reef scattered around Kavieng. No wind, so we started to motor but soon realised we had 2 knots of tide behind us. So there we were engine hardly ticking over, gliding along on a silver sea lit up by the moon above. The wind did eventually arrive in the early hours but with a strong current we had to reef the sails right down to go slowly and time our arrival. So frustrating when all you want to do is hoist the sails and have a nice sail on flat seas.

We made our way to the little area in front of the resort, commonly known as the duck pond, reef surrounding us, taking our time to ensure the anchor was well dug in with not too much swing room. We got the dinghy ready, made our way to shore and introduced ourselves to the Nusa Island Retreat owners, Shaun and Shannon. An unwritten rule amongst cruisers is that if you plan to use a resort’s facilities, even just their anchorage, you make sure you buy a meal or some drinks in return. Most do it though there is the odd spoil sport giving yachties a bad name; the thought of someone cooking our dinner for us and serving it with a cold beer is a no brainer. The buffet dinners at Nusa Island Retreat are well known and we signed up immediately.

Shaun and Shannon have owned the resort for eighteen years and are a wealth of information, even having a yacht information sheet. Five star start in our books. Next door to the resort is a local village and Shaun does his bit supporting them, suggesting we get our laundry done there so the locals earn some pennies too. A walk around the property reveals a restaurant and bar with soft white beach sand floors. All around are local Papua New Guinea mementoes – whale bones, crocodile heads, carved masks and the odd pet bird complete the scene. Susie and I are in heaven – time to play tourists!

We embark on a week of relaxing, exploring and getting Adina ready for her next adventures. The town market provides provisions of fresh local produce and supermarkets provide our staples and a top up of the Adina bar. There’s a stationery shop so we also re-stock on supplies for schools. Shaun makes our lives even easier and has diesel delivered to the boat. We go diving on a Sunday, reminding us of the Sunday dives we used to enjoy with friends in Havannah Harbour, Vanuatu. We dive the Albatross Pass and it’s mind-blowing – sharks, schools of barracuda, tuna, batfish, we love it. We explore nearby islands, walking and snorkelling. Kavieng is famous for its big mud crabs. We ask at the resort if they offer them as part of the buffet. Shaun mails us on the boat asking how we’d like them cooked – boiled, chilli or pepper and salt.

We explore the local island and village, as ever being escorted by smiling, laughing children. Now we’re in equatorial waters the sea is extremely fertile and Adina’s hull needs a clean every three weeks. We offer up the job to a local man and arrange a meeting time. We didn’t expect him to come out with an army of children too. We watch from the boat as the man and five children swim over on an odd assortment of floating devices – fishing buoys and even a quarter of a surfboard! He gets to cleaning the hull and it’s clear we are on child-minding duty for the morning. But what fun! A tour of the boat and then some juice and biscuits, and Susie can’t help but fix up the assorted wounds they have. We try our best in Pidgin English, they try their best in English and we get there. The boys start to jump off the boat, trying to outdo each other, somersaulting as they go. Tom joins in and up goes the tempo. Our coral spotting ladder becomes a dive platform. Laugh, smile – laugh and smile hard!

Back at the resort, the buffet more than delivers. These mud crabs beat even crayfish. Shaun then joins us or shall we say regales us with his tales and does his level best to get us drunk. He succeeds. We swap notes, each jealous of the other; he wants to know how we can manage to take the time to see the world, we want his business!

After a week and armed with some tips on our next stop, we leave relaxed, restored, re-energised. Shaun and Shannon – our hearty thanks. May you continue to get many guests padding your soft white sandy floors – and remember we’re swapping a hotel for a boat one day!

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