Papua New Guinea Log (PNG)
We chose to anchor at the middle pass, which turned out to be very bumpy and exposed. The reef is not high enough to
break up much of the surf and we had winds from all directions. The forecast made no sense to head over toward the village,
because west winds were expected in a couple of days.
We did two dives and never met the locals. The first dive was the pass and it was beyond boring. The second was on the
outside wall and was also boring. Mostly expect no fish, dead corals, not great vis, some fans, and not worth the stop. So
much for that PNG dive book we bought, though it is 18 years old and things might have changed with global warming.
Anyway the diving was so bad we stayed only one night and left before the strong west winds came.
This is a bit of a bouncy anchorage off the village in SE winds, but great in any westerlies. The folks are polite and want to
trade. Now they come up with 3 eggs, or a small bunch of bananas, or a tiny pineapple, but at least they want to trade. They
don't just ask for things other than the kids expect lollies, because other boats have been giving out candy. We had none to
give and had a few unhappy kids.
The island also had an old American WWII airbase, but yet again some Australian company came in and melted down all the
plane wrecks so there is nothing left to see. Just some old barge or docks in the shallows and of course coke bottles.
The diving on the outside reef is clear, but really pretty boring. The best diving is the middle of the pass, but it has wicked
current. Try for near slack, but you want some current for the action. Once you get over the edge the current is less, but still
you are tired after that dive. We saw eagle rays, schools of jacks, snappers, bump head parrot fish, sharks, turtles, clown
fish, huge fans, etc. It is worth a few dives.
This is a bit of a bumpy anchorage with a nice little beach covered in trees that drifted in. We had high hopes for diving, but
were let down. We did see a nice Dugong on the point, but the corals are all dead and the vis is terrible. We could not even
find much of anything to photograph so we only stayed one night.
Duke of York
We stopped in at Mioko island, because it was supposed to be a really calm anchorage. It is not in strong SE winds, but it
sure is calmer than the run up here in 20 knots of wind against a current making for steep seas and a bouncy ride. Watch out
for trees and other floating stuff!
The anchorage is OK, but the folks are a bit aggressive about trading. I don't like it when canoes are hitting the boat, folks
are knocking on the hull, and worse when they climb on the swim steps uninvited. Most folks were just curious so maybe we
just got unlucky.
We did one dive near the pass and it was terrible. The corals were dead, the vis was terrible, and there was lots of trash on
the bottom. The highlight of the dive was seeing a canoe glide over us. Ten minutes later we found that canoe at our dingy
pulling the anchor up! So much for a safety stop as I bolted to the surface. He dropped the anchor and paddled off in a
hurry. We quickly got our gear off and took chase. 15 horses sure makes quick work out of one paddle power. Just as we
were closing he went into the shallows and surf, beaching his canoe. We then stayed just offshore and gave chase as he ran
down the beach stumbling and falling a few times. We lost him at one point and went to the village to report him, but nobody
spoke much English. The women were very friendly and for some reason loved to pat my bare white back so I guess it must
bring them luck or something. Luckily they did not go for the Buddha tummy:)
We went back to where he left his canoe and he was there and trying to hide. Luckily two locals were also there and spoke
some English. We confronted the guy and all he said was sorry and thought it was drifting. I wrapped the chain twice around
a dead coral head so no dice. Also why was the dingy being towed by a canoe and why did he run away from us? The locals
were nice and said he was from the next village and they would try to report him to the chief. Nothing was stolen, but what a
fright. Nothing worse than the thought of being 1 to 2 miles from your boat and someone stealing your dingy, while you are
underwater! Luckily we have a locking dingy locker where we keep anything important.
We decided to spend only one more night then head for Kokopo and clear in officially and hope for a better reception there.
This is a nice town (ok other than the smoke from the fires and the pollution) and the clearing in is very easy. The Kokopo
Beach Hotel is allowing us to beach our dingy there and they have a security guard to watch the beach! Customs is very
close by and can also do your passport stamp so no need to go to immigration at the airport. There are several largish
stores and provisioning is way better and cheaper than Gizo in the Solomons. With no dingy dock it is also much harder.
Alcohol is fairly expensive. The fresh veggie market is huge and much cheaper than the Solomons.
Our first evening happy hour was enjoying jumping dolphins, watching a tuna leap 10 feet straight up in the air in the middle
of a school of fish, and seeing lava spill down the side of the volcano in Rabaul. It was also being wary of theft, after hearing
the previous boat was robbed just after dark while he was ashore at the hotel bar. We are the only boat here so the alarms
are out at night.
Gasoline and diesel are easy to get at the station on the water next to the wrecked ship bow sticking out of the water. They
are great and even help you carry your jugs to the dingy. Fuel is also cheaper here than the Solomons. They also rented
me a propane tank to fill my own tanks using my gravity fill rig. The nearest place to fill your own tanks is 35 Km away.
Basically the locals in this town are friendly and helpful. We had no issues, being the only white folks in town other than a few
expats. Expect a few folks to come up and shake your hand, many hellos, folks sort of hanging around our of curiosity, and a
bit of english communication problems.
Talali Bay (Kulau Resort)
This is a safe and fairly calm anchorage about 20 miles around the top from Kokopo. The lady running the nearly dead resort
is a bit batty, but the locals are nice. There are some WWII Japanese caves behind the resort. There are also a few wrecks
sunk by the resort to dive on. We only found one and it was pretty barren and the vis was bad. The reef about 3.5 miles west
of here was nice diving, but a long dingy ride.
Skip this dead silty reef for diving.
NW Corner of Gazelle Peninsula
We found a coral head in the middle of a pass that had mooring eye at 20 feet. Of course there was no actual mooring rope
or float... The dive on the coral head was heavy current and boring. The dives out at the pass edge were great with lots of
Really bad dive spot and exposed anchorage. We got tossed half the night in 25 knot northerlies, that of course were not
Kimbe Bay Area
Great diving in many areas. Alice's reef is not the best vis, but great fish life and some current. The mooring was underwater
and not very secure. Father's reef area has several moorings if you can get the waypoints, but they are all missing. You will
find a tire or just a ring and no rope and all 15 to 30 feet underwater. The currents are fierce and the fish action awesome.
Bradford has two visible moorings at least and is nice for the fish action (barracuda, spade fish, unicorn fish, jacks, etc.) and
has much less current than Fathers.
Walindi Resort has a couple of moorings available for no charge and they are nice about helping you find some dive sites and
other stuff. They did charge us reef fees (for the local villages that own the reefs at 10 local per dive) and mooring/chamber
fees at 13 local per day. They gave us waypoints for the better dive sites, but they are not very accurate and we could not
find most of them. We even got a lift into town (kimbe town is not very exciting at all). The veggie market is basic and the
supermarkets are ok at least. The number 1 minibus comes very seldom so expect to wait a bit to get back.
Our best dives were Susan's reef and Lemu reef just for the pygmy seahorses and boy that was cool! Susan also has at
least one ornate ghost pipefish as well. Walindi's boats were very friendly and even let us join up on one dive to show us the
first pygmy seahorse we had ever seen. Boy they are freaking tiny! Vanessa has some great fans and sponges, but is a bit
deep for a long dive. There is no major fish life on these sites, but the corals are pretty good and we have no complaints
about the diving. Emma turned out to be a bit of a let down, but Inglis Shoal was great. This site has the same fish life as the
ones with more current, but has very little current. For some reason the fish are not afraid at all (too many divers each day?)
and you will get some great photos of many kinds of fish up close. We were inches from schooling barracuda, a foot or so
from unicorn fish, etc. Now the weather is a bit of a pain. All throughout Kimbe bay we experienced lots of thunderstorms,
winds to 25 knots, and seas up to 1 meter. All this makes for some very sleepless nights, but at least this does not happen
every night. I guess November is too much of the transition season toward the monsoons to be stable diving weather.