That pretty much sums up the 12 days it took us to cover the 450 or so nautical miles between the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Just to give you an idea of how slow that is we could have walked here faster than we sailed…literally. No joke.
We were hampered by very light winds for the whole voyage. We sailed over the Solomon Basin, home to the New Britain Trench which is some 8000M deep. Either we found the home of the nefarious creature of the depths, the Kraken, who took a liking to our keel (our depth sounder regularly flashed 4.5M while we drifted over this chasm for 4 days) or it causes some rather annoying contrary current when you’re sailing north.
We had very squally conditions and spent several nights dodging rain and violent lightning. Weather that is par for the course at 4 degrees south but annoying none the less.
But there were bright moments.
Pods of dolphins visited us every other day, at least someone was enjoying playing the in the current lines. And we had some beautiful, calm sunsets.
We decided to stop in Rabaul, 160 NM short of our intended destination of Kavieng, both because we were worn out and because we wanted to address a couple of mechanical issues. We were greeted by a beautiful sunny morning and, for the first time, fresh winds, and sailed into Rabaul under the watchful eye of the volcanoes that stand like angry sentinels at the mouth of Simpson Harbour.
So far the impressions of PNG and Rabaul are positive. We are moored at the Rabaul Yacht Club in a quiet corner of the harbour where the staff is friendly and the beer is cold. Despite this being a much bigger city than Gizo back in the Solomon’s it is noticeably cleaner; people actually put their trash in garbage cans and not just drop it on the ground! And the local people have been very welcoming, greeting us on the street with smiles and hellos.
I guess sometime we are pushed, slowly, to the places we are meant to be.