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greetings Catnap Crew,

Re customs in PNG:- there are no customs in Misima although you can get Pratique clearance there from John in the health department. Cost is 50 kina.

There used to be customs at the Conflict Group but they closed down on 25th September. The nearest is Samarai which is 30 miles closer to the Louisiades than Alotau. Most yachts just cruise the Louisiades without clearing. Some stop in at Misima for Pratique. We have been trying to get customs back at Misima and I think if enough boats do the Misima clearance and not the customs clearance then they might get the message that they are needed there.

It is a very hard slog back from Alotau/ Samarai to the Louisiades as both the current and the wind are against you. We are currently anchored at the Conflict Group and it has been blowing 25+ knots for the past week – not good weather for going east!! Some have taken up to three weeks to do the trip. If you are going to Australia after the Louisiades the Australian customs are aware of the problem of getting clearance in PNG.

Trust this has been of some help to you.

God bless,

Phil

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Greetings Fred and Rebecca,

The passage from Cairns to the Louisiades is pretty straight forward although the wind can get a bit fine on if the NW setting current is strong as you get closer to PNG. We find the best time to leave Australia is just as the front of the high is leaving the Australian coast as this gives more southerly in the wind. The further off the coast the high goes the more east the wind goes which can be a problem for tha last 100 miles or so. Make as much easting as possible when you leave Cairns just in case the current is strong (it varies).

At the moment the only place to clear customs is a Samarai or Alotau. You may be able to clear at Misima when the rally is there. However, the quarantine officer at Misima was telling me he was going to try to clear the rally at Pana Pom Pom. At the moment anything could happen!!

Re going back to Australia: If you want to go direct to Brisbane it will be difficult due to the angle. The best we have done is Rossel Island to Bundaberg. We needed six days of ESE-E winds and got 5 1/2 days of it. The best time to leave is just before the middle of the high leaves Australia as this gives more east in the wind. Misima to Townsville is an easy trip with the wind usually just forward of the beam for us. However this can sometimes mean you run out of wind on the last day.

Going south along the Queensland coast at that time of the year (October November) can be lousy due to the prevailing SE winds. Northerlies are rare. That is the reason we don’t go any further south than Bundaberg. Even the passage from Townsville to Bundaberg has taken us anything from four days to three weeks — usually closer to the latter!!

Trust his is of some help to you. We might see you over here.

God bless,

Phil

From the Administrator: This was addressed to the crew of “Tonga Moon” when enquiring about sailing to and from Australia. I’ve added this reply because it contains comments that my help others planning the same trip. 

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Greetings Everyone,

Things are looking up.  The pilot boat returned and actually came over to our sand spit to drop off the customs officer and wait for him to clear us.  It was Sunday but he didn’t charge us overtime as he said, “You’re doing a good job”.  He said the reason the pilot boat crew brought him over was they thought they might be able to get some smokes and grog from us.  We gave them all a Bible each!!

We bashed back to Pana Pom Pom where the Panaeati people came over in their sailing canoe to greet us.  We arranged to return in September and to do a Leadership Conference there.  Then to Misima with smooth seas and no wind but a tasty trevally in the fridge along with some paw paws, bananas and passionfruit from our friends.

First stop, the dentist.  Ronald smoothed off my chipped tooth and checked the rest of them.  I had a deep hole in a back molar and he filled that while Phil’s head was hanging over him saying, “Gee there’s a lot of gunk in it” as he cleaned it out.  Phil fixed his “new” dentist chair, installing the foot pedal mechanism that had finally arrived after five years so Ronald decided we were quits and didn’t charge us anything.  (Now he doesn’t have to use the old banana-chair like chair that he had been using.)

Typical Misima — its raining — and we are waiting for the weather to sail on to Rossel island.  Hopefully we will leave on Monday.

God bless,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

We’re anchored in the Louisiades but I don’t feel like we’ve yet arrived. We managed to get the timing right, with no trouble negotiating Flinders Passage and arrived at Herald Cays the following afternoon with good visibility to anchor. The island was a delight — absolutely covered with birds, flying everywhere, nesting everywhere and totally unafraid. Some came to roost on the boat at night and one actually came down inside the boat and had to be gently encourage to vamoose.

Bright red hermit crabs were everywhere on the sand and we both enjoyed filming their erratic progress. It seemed strange to be anchored on a sand island in the middle of the ocean. We walked around it in less than an hour — taking our time photographing things.

It was good to stop but had the down-side of making the crossing seem much longer than usual. And the seas were rough and confused with constant huge beam swells. I was sleeping on the settee berth one night and the boat gave a huge lurch and unloaded the shelf above me dropping a heavy jar on my face and chipping my front tooth. I was not impressed!!

The reason I say we don’t feel like we’ve arrived is that we haven’t put a foot on PNG soil yet. We are in a rather dicey situation, hanging on anchor behind a tiny sand spit with crazy winds blowing (up to 33 knots) and no let-up in sight. We sailed 30 nautical miles west to clear customs only to find they didn’t like the weather either and their boat has gone back to Alotau. The first time we set the anchor it wouldn’t hold and we had to re-anchor just before dark.

Please pray that we stay safe, have some resolution on how to clear customs and get back to greet our friends and get into the work. From here to the first area where we want to work is about 40NM right into the wind and current so we need the weather to abate before we tackle that trip otherwise we burn a lot of fuel going very slowly.

God bless,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

Three weeks since my last update and the dramas continued.  After we picked up the spare anchor from our friends we sailed on towards Mackay and the gear cable broke!!   We went into the marina there and then onto the slips with me sitting in the engine room and pushing a knob every time Phil needed to change gear.

In 2 1/2 days on the slips Phil changed the prop shaft bearing and shaft seal, the top and bottom rudder shaft bearings and shaft seal, the gear-change morse cable, the engine throttle morse cable and both steering cables.  He reckoned “not bad for an electrician”.

We then sailed to Airlie Beach and picked up first aid gear and torch batteries for PNG and then on to Townsville.  We waited here to FINALLY pick up our long-term visas and also a replacement anchor provided by the manufacturer of the swivel that broke.  Apparently they are withdrawing the product until they can find out why it broke.

Tomorrow we clear customs and will move out to Magnetic Island to wait for a weather window to the Louisiades.  Keep praying for fair winds and smooth seas.

As usually we are well loaded — two 80 watt solar panels; two 100 Ah deep cycle batteries; three HF radios; antennas and other radio gear; 1000 exercise books; several hundred Bibles; several large cartons of reference books for pastors; several large cartons of first aid materials; Sunday School materials;  LED video projector and screen and amplifier and two 24Ah batteries (these are to show teaching videos in the remote villages); several cartons of clothes; 100 “D” cell batteries; gardening and hand tools plus other odds and ends.  All the cabins are full and we have seven cartons and two batteries to walk over to get to our cabin and eight cartons on the floor in the saloon area (all jammed in so they can’t move in the rough seas).

Tomorrow the customs have to sight some of the goods so we can claim back the GST and Phil spent an hour this afternoon searching through lockers and under the floor trying to remember where some of the items have been stowed.

God bless you all,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

A month since my last update and still further delays. I am again reading ‘Waiting on God’ by Andrew Murray. It seems essential reading for me for this season each year. We actually left Bundaberg Friday night after waiting a week for the weather — 30-35 knot winds and three metre seas on two metre swells didn’t sound nice to start the trip. We were sailing along nicely at 6 to 7 plus knots with the sails goose-winged and the seas behind us (almost perfect sailing) but Phil became increasingly alarmed by the obvious knocking sound that shuddered through the boat. He decided the prop shaft bearing was the problem and must be replaced so we are now in Gladstone harbour waiting to go up on the slips on Monday and hoping they have a suitable bearing in stock. Please keep praying for our visas. We have obtained tourist visas but are still hoping the process for our three year visas will have been completed before we leave Australia and we can switch them over. NEXT e-mail we will be on the high (not too high) seas!!

God bless,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

I expect many of you are wondering why you haven’t received an e-mail describing the state of the seas, my seasickness and the wonderful welcome of the PNG people.  It’s because we are STILL here!

In March I took what was to be a week’s trip to Brunswick Heads (Northern NSW) to celebrate my Mum’s 90th birthday.  Dad got sick the day I arrived, missed the party and had six weeks in hospital with cellulitis.  I stayed another month until he regained his strength and was able to remain living independently — a fine effort for a 96 year old!

Phil spent the time removing the carpet from the floor of the boat and replacing it with cork tiles.  He did a superb job and even tackled some of the mammoth task of cleaning up the acres of fine dust from the sanding process.

We are now tackling the provisioning and hoping to leave Bundy in two or three weeks.  Our BIG prayer need is the renewal of the work permit for our visas which is held up in PNG.  Hopefully my next e-mail will describe our trip to Townsville and the date of our departure for PNG.

Gos bless you all,

Pam and Phil

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