Across the Coral Sea

It is 10am on Wednesday August 15th (UTC+11) and we are into our 5th day at sea en-route from Luganville, Vanuatu to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Our position is 15 00 S, 158 57 E. Bob is bowling along down-wind at about 6.5 knots under half of a genoa in a force 6, rising to the swells, occasionally corkscrewing at the crest and then sliding down into the trough. It’s not an uncomfortable motion under the circumstances. I am down below writing this and Sarah is on deck reading. The sun has shown itself this morning so we’ve raised our solar panels out like wings in an effort to capture as much power as possible while it lasts. Yesterday was grey and squally. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Anyone who cares to plot our position will notice that we are taking somewhat of a circuitous route to our destination. The reason for this is that in a few days the South Pacific Convergence Zone is forecast to move South into this area and that will bring with it very light winds, squalls and thunderstorms, none of which I’m a fan of. We’re staying well to the South in the hope that we can skirt around the bottom of it before gybing and heading North for our destination. This tactic adds about 120 miles, or one day, to our passage but if it works it will have been worth it.

Our destination itself, Port Moresby, is not so much a destination as a stopover. Although Papua New Guinea is by all accounts an incredible place that offers some amazing cruising and the opportunity to meet some truly isolated and unique people we, alas, won’t see any of it. Port Moresby is probably the least-desirable place on our itinerary. It’s main claim to fame is it’s violent crime rate, which is very high and still rising. I’m expecting it to be similar to Colon, in Panama (where several people I know have been mugged and the first thing we saw when we ventured beyond the boat club was a man pooing in the middle of the street), only worse. However, it is excellently located as a staging point for a transit through the Torres Straits, which run across the top of Australia and connect the Pacific and Indian Oceans. There is also a yacht club in Port Moresby – the Royal Papuan Yacht Club – which is supposedly a lovely place, and secure and safe as well. Certainly the lady with whom I have been in contact with via email has been wonderfully friendly and helpful. We’ll make straight for the yacht club, anchor inside the boundary of their sea wall and then rest and run errands for a few days before checking out and making for Indonesia. One day we will return and explore the other areas of Papua New Guinea, but not this time.

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