Shakin’ All Over – Ninigo Islands Pt 1

Many people assume that a cruiser’s worst fears are facing big storms or pirates. To my mind they’re always possible, but probably unlikely if you take sensible steps to minimise the risk. No, my biggest fear is something happening to Bruce through misadventure or illness, particularly if we’re in a remote area with little help at hand. And now here we are in the Ninigo Islands, possibly the remotest place we’ve ever been, 200NM from the mainland with no airport, ferry service or hospital and I’m having to face my fears.

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Night Moves – Passage to Ninigo Islands

After the deer-hunting episode on Akib, we decided to move somewhere a little quieter. I was keen to visit Leabon Island, known locally as ’Bird Island’, down on the southern reef. The weather was sunny and the wind not too strong, so off we went, only to be hit by a massive squall halfway there. The rain was torrential and we couldn’t see more than 20 metres in front of us. So for an hour we did circles in the open water of the lagoon until it cleared enough for us to pick our way through the bommies to Bird island. It’s a tiny island packed with thousands of nesting seabirds, but by now the wind had picked up to a fresh south-easterly and being anchored downwind of the island….. we also got the pungent smell of a thousand seabirds. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea of mine…. 

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Mantas & Mangoes – Hermit Islands Pt 1

The smell of wood fires. A cock crowing. In the distance the sound of children playing and a dog barking. Reggae music wafts from the village. Nearby a turtle pops his head up from the aquamarine water and little silver fish skitter and flash across the surface.  This is tropical island life. It could be any one of a number of islands in the south pacific, but these are the Hermit Islands, 140NM WNW of Manus Island and just one and a half degrees south of the equator.

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Reflections on Manus Island

Manus Island. (pronounced “Man-oos” by the locals). The words are loaded with preconceptions. Immediately the detention centre springs to mind, the accounts of violence and brutality, the harshness and inhumanity of the place. We’ve also read accounts from yachts who’ve visited here in the past and they don’t make for reassuring reading – yachts being boarded, violence and theft, corrupt officials, a general sense of lawlessness.

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Night Watch

Our general rule for night watches is simple. No-one goes on deck without first waking up the off-watch person. It’s our safety policy to ensure that the off-watch person can get a good sleep safe in the knowledge that the other one hasn’t slipped overboard in the dead of night.  But tonight on my watch I’m sitting perched on the bow seat, with PFD (life jacket) and tether, torch in hand, scanning the water ahead. The half-moon is obscured by clouds so there’s a tiny glimmer of light on the water but not much. I’ve been here for two hours and have one more to go, and my eyes are starting to play tricks on me.  This is definitely not our normal night watch routine so what’s going on?

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