February 6, 2005

We are finally ready to get moving again and leave Pohnpei (again). This time we will be going South to visit the two Polynesian atolls just South of Pohnpei. The first is Nukuoro and is reported to be the most beautiful atoll in the world, outshining even Bora Bora in the Society Islands. After that comes Kapingamarangi, often called just “Kapinga”. This atoll is also supposed to be beautiful and is another 150 miles past Nukuoro making it an easy overnighter. From Kapinga we will continue South for another 300 miles to Kaviang on the Northern tip of New Ireland, one of the islands of the Bismarck Archipelago and part of the country of Papua New Guinea (PNG). From Kaviang, where we will stop to refuel and stock up on food, we will sail South along a string of islands off the Eastern coast of New Ireland to the Louisaide Archipelago (also part of PNG).

The Louisaides are very popular with sailors from Australia, partly because the islands lie only 500 miles from the coast of Queensland. But also because they consist of a group of islands lying in close proximity to each other, many surrounded by enclosing lagoons (some are atolls). Some are even islands within lagoons that have their own mini-lagoons! This proximity makes for easy sailing. One group within the Louisaides is especially noteworthy (and it is the most popular) is called the Calvados Chain. This group is about 110 miles long and between 28 and 15 miles wide. It contains dozens of islands, some lying along the Northern edge of the group, others smack in the middle, and the whole thing surrounded by a barrier reef. It is essentially an atoll in the process of forming. The barrier reef tracing the outline of the original island, which must have been quite massive, having sunk and eroded about half into the sea, only the peaks of the former mountainous island remain, each one making its own little island. We are really excited about spending some time there. How much time, that is still an open question.

From the Louisaides we have two options. One is to continue on to Northern Australia in June (Thursday Island and then Darwin) the other is to remain in the Louisaides till August or September and then head for the Queensland coast (say, at Cairns) and work our way South along the coast to Brisbane or Sydney even where we will spend the cyclone season (Nov-Apr) as we did in 2002. Then in April move back up the coast and then make our way over the top to Thursday Island and Darwin. The pros and cons of each choice are many, too many to list here, today.

Meanwhile, our friends Jim and Jeanette (S/V Dancer) have arrived in Pohnpei, and our new friends Graham and Jenna on “Dragonfly” have left (for Yap and then Hong Kong where Graham has a job lined up). We haven’t seen Dancer sine October in Majuro and were happy to see them again. They are also heading South, to Australia eventually, but they are undecided still on where they will go after Kapingamarangi – they are considering heading SE to the Solomons then on to Vanuatu and New Caledonia before sailing for Australia.

We have not been doing anything special here in Pohnpei except we did hike up Sokehs Island to the Japanese anti-aircraft gun emplacements which were bombed by the Americans during the war. Pohnpei was never invaded by the US forces, after the war the Japanese evacuated the tens of thousands of Japanese they had settled here. The views from the mountain were fabulous and Jonah especially loved it. Otherwise we have been food shopping – our old plan was to stop in Palau where we could have re-provisioned at least as well as we can here, but now we are heading South and our only possible provisioning stop for 5 months will be Kaviang, PNG. The available food stocks will not be excellent there and so we are trying to pack in as much as we can.

We have also been renting movies like mad, 5 or 6 a week. We are starting to get into the dregs now and we’ve seen some really bad movies lately. Fortunately, at only $1.50 a rental we are not too upset about it. That’s about it for now. It’s another rainy day here, a Sunday in fact, and not much to do except play cards, clean things, and watch movies.