27 November 2010 | Manam Volcano, Papua New Guinea
After stocking up on water, fuel, oil, filters, mosquito nets, malaria pills, trading supplies, local produce etc etc we were ready to head out from Madang. It was dark and well past sundown but that didnt keep our adopted family, local friends, and random onlookers from crowding the dock to see us off. As we disappeared into the darkness I blew our fog horn three times loudly and shot up a flare – the crowd went wild.
We motored most the night catching what wind we could arriving in the morning at Bagabag island. It was off of our route but the contours of this old volcano (similar to Uriparapara in Vanuatu) lured me in. We sailed right into a finger bay that extended into the crater of the ancient beast as we layed hook the dugout canoes full of laughing children approached from all sides. Peter immediately got to spear fishing and within a couple hours had 5 nice sized fish including rock cod, parrot fish and trevali some which he shared with the local village. He had five sharks following him after his first kill but no encounters. Reed and Ben snorkeled around while I attended to some things on the boat and saw 9 turtles and some ginourmous kingfish.
After a visit to the village we weighed anchor and during the process, like almost everywhere in Papua New Guinea, we had several dugout canoes hanging of the rail of the boat. Reed had left his fishing box on the back of the boat and Peter his mask. It wasnt until we were back to sea that they noticed both missing. Ben and I had already learned our lessons the hard way and although the people here are very friendly, they have nothing and will take what they easily can.
We enjoyed a freshly caught fish curry dinner to a lovely sunset as we rounded Kar Kar island that evening. With a 10 knot breeze from the north I was happy to be sailing again but later that night it died and we were motoring once again. The next day we approached Manam island, an active volcano that I had been told had been evacuated. It rises 1800 meters from the sea in a perfect volcano cone and halfway up it was covered in clouds no doubt from the evaporation the intense heat was causing from the thick jungle that covered her slopes. As we approached we noticed flashes of light at us and then dugout canoes. The locals who had’t evacuated were using mirrors to signal us to come in but because of its steep drop off there is was no good anchorage and the only thing close was on the south side of the island.
There was another village where we looked to anchor and they all came out to beckon us in. It was still a steep drop off but we decided to give it a go. Reed dropped fore anchor in deep water while I backed in to hook us. We were caught on a log so Ben swam down the 40 feet and freed it up just as we ran aground. Luckily I was able to motor us off as Peter secured a line to the stern anchor were going to need. While and Ben and Peter set the stern anchor from the dingy in the black volcanic sand, Reed pulled up some chain on the fore anchor and I tied up some line for the local boys who swam with in to the beach and tied it to a coconut tree. Using three points of contact to secure the vessel we were now set to explore the island.