Kavieng, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

We spent ten days in the comfort of the very beautiful and well protected anchorage of the town basin. On our approach to Kavieng and in our discussions with various parties on the safety issues surrounding Kavieng our attention was constantly drawn to the recent 'White Hawk' incident.

As it turned out our fears were unnecessary. We spent a few days in the outer islands of the New Hanover group before getting to Kavieng town. Whilst there we enjoyed many fine anchorages and some spectacular diving. The dive sites we enjoyed visiting are listed in Bob Halstead's "Dive Sites of Papua New Guinea" which we have on board. We checked out Planet Channel, Byron Strait, Three Islands Harbour, Chapmans Reef, Chamisso Chanel and Muscotte channel off of Muscotte village.

The approach to the port was made in good light but as the channels into the port are wide and almost free of danger we had little problems during our entry. After considering White Hawks message we decided we would like to anchor somewhere far from town but close enough to the Malagan resort for them to have us in there sights. We opted to drop the hook off of Nusa Island just across from the hotel beach. We found that leaving the dinghy here was a good option as you could arrange a taxi, hitch a ride with the Malagan resort bus or take a leisurely stroll in to town from this point. When we parked the dinghy at other places we found that the kids tended to use it as a jungle gym/dive platform. As 'payment ' and appreciation for allowing the space on their beach we had dinner at the Malagan resort which was Buffet style and very pleasing. It was K37.50 a head which gave you three choices of mains. We had a selection of very fresh fish, great lobster, mudcrab, crocodile, steak and chicken along with the salads and fresh rolls.

Check in is done at the Main wharf which you can access by dinghy. It is the largest wharf on the waterfront in between the market wharf and the fisheries plant wharf. Be sure to check in on arrival or have a very valid excuse for not clearing on the day of arrival! They are all very friendly and love to chat and ask questions once you break the ice. Do not forget that in Papua New Guinea you need to clear in and clear out from every port you visit before moving on to the next port. It is not a big deal and most times both clearances be done at the same time.

Our main reason for the Kavieng stop was to rendezvous with a DHL package which is another long story in itself! Let us just say that this is not the first time that we have been let down by the people at DHL. We also would provision here and if all went well we would make our final clearance from Papua New Guinea waters here. This way we could avoid having to stop in Manus at Lorengau. From what we have heard this port is really full of vagrants and rascals. It seems that even the police there are in on the illegal trade market.

When we were not shopping or attending to the list of things to do we enjoyed the company of a fellow South African couple and made use of their facilities. They are Scuba Ventures and are based in Kavieng town. Dorian and Cara who hail from South Africa originally, have been scuba diving for years and years. They have been around the world in search of a place to setup their own business, most recently in the Solomon Islands in Gizo, where we had passed through not too long ago! Eventually they found Kavieng and they have made it their home. Jim and I enjoyed diving with Dorian at Steffen Strait,Albotross Pass and Echuca Patch. Dorian and Cara give yachties a discounted rate of K80 per dive. They provide tanks and transport to the dive sites. Some are far out and some are close but they have a very flexible approach.

Whilst in Kavieng and we enjoyed meeting many friendly faces in the market. This takes place at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning and if you want to be in line to buy the freshest vegetables you need to be there by 6am to watch them unload and lay out there wares before making your selection. You can get almost everything including Buai (betelnut) and Bilums (hand woven bags). The produce , as usual, seems freshly picked and as such usually comes with a fair amount of soil and the occasional bug!

Kavieng is host to a very well run fish packaging plant down at the fisheries wharf at the western end of the port. We picked up wonderfully succulent ocean snapper steaks for just K12/kg (US$4). We also bought crabmeat for K18/kg and lobster tails for K70/kg. The lobster tail was an unnecessary purchase as it turned out. When we made our stops at New Hanover, the Hermits and Ninigo we were inundated with free lobster from everyone.

We visited with the locals on Nusalik island where the Nusalik Surf resort is based and run by Shaun the owner. He is in his mid 30s and was born in Papua New Guinea although schooled in Australia. September to March is their busy time when the surf is at its best and for us we had the run of the resort. We had lunch here in the sand floored restaurant and enjoyed chatting to the few guests that there were in attendance. We also had the opportunity of perusing the curio store which boasts numerous Malagan carvings which are rare in Papua New Guinea but abundant right here in Kavieng from where they are manufactured by the local Malagan tribe.

Whilst here we also met up with Adam and Danny who own and run Tiki Turtle Eco adventures. They run TIKI TU, a 10m catamaran out of Kavieng on day trips and extended charters too.

The hospital, which we had to visit for X-rays, is located at the Western end of town along the waterfront. Although the lines are long and the waiting is mandatory the fees pretty much make up for that. Jim had two X-rays taken and the total charge was - TWO KINA! About US 0.66c!

We checked out at the Main wharf before making a final stop at the market and heading out to New Hanover. We find that the Customs and Immigration people are very relaxed in allowing extended arrivals or departures. They do not fuss over whether you arrived two weeks before or whether you will depart two weeks after your official clearance. As long as you have a good time in Papua New Guinea. Our time in Papua New Guinea has been absolute bliss. We encountered no violent crimes or bad feelings towards us as cruisers. The people of Papua New Guinea are wonderful people who love to visit and chat about everything and anything. And it truly is the last unexplored place on earth. In the full six months of our time in Papua New Guinea we did not see one other cruising yacht! Not one! It has so much to offer and the expansive territory offers everything any cruiser could ever wish for. It is a magical destination that should not be missed.