Story and pictures copyright © 1999 Julia Hazel
Jeshan goes to PNG - Page 6
August-October 1999

After a busy time in Alotau (page 5) I got away before daylight, more than half a day ahead of Wayne and Lee because of the big difference in speed between Marlin 1 and Jeshan. Unfortunately the weather was not all that good.

First it was a matter of drifting along in erratic breezes. Then occasional rain showers and some ominous thunderstorms in the distance. Thunderstorms gradually getting closer as the day wore on. And closing in just at the approach to the narrowest passage between strings of reefs. No way to see anything - not even the forestay -- in what seemed like the biggest tropical deluge since Noah launched his dinghy.

No way to go on, and no way to go back. The only option was to circle around in tiny circles, hoping to stay in one spot but with no outside reference point. And hoping against hope that the visibility would improve in time for me to find the intended anchorage -- way through the reefs -- in daylight. For a long time it seemed the deluge would pour down forever, and I kept thinking what a terrible place to be messing around in the dark, even without rain.

At last someone turned off the flood, the gap in the reefs appeared, and Jeshan could creep cautiously through. And creep on around various other obstacles, to anchor finally in the late afternoon off Nuakata Island, all green and gleaming with rain-dripping forest.

Not long afterwards, along came Marlin 1. With twin diesels humming, radar whirring and electronic charts tracking their every move, they could have travelled in comfort through anything. But no, they only got a couple of little showers!.

The next day the weather was fine again, and off we went to dive at three different spots nearby.

One had a scary strong current, and it was hard to keep together. At all of them there was fantastic fish life, amazing coral formations, beautiful underwater scenery... and a fresh water shower on board Marlin 1 afterwards - talk about lap of luxury!

Then on around the tip of East Cape and up the coast a little way. A day in one little bay and then on to the next.

Visits to tiny villages and a some short walks (meaning scramble-up-and-down-a-steep-hill -- the only kind they have) to see their food gardens, a waterfall, another skull cave, and even the elusive hornbill birds.

Two or three dives each day...

...and the diving just brilliant one day...

...and fabulous the next...

[for those interested I've put few more dive pics on a separate page]

Anyway, that's enough for now. This story is already way too long. But maybe you have an inkling now why I was less than keen to return to the working round in Oz.

As many of you already know, I left PNG only reluctantly, had a good trip back to Oz, and arrived back in Cairns with tons of happy memories and even itchier feet than when I left.

Story and pictures copyright © 1999 Julia Hazel

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