Report: February 28
Inside Info, Steaming to Port Moresby, and Unauthorised Repairs.
Looking up from the newspaper I caught the man’s eye. My waving hand seemed to confuse him but I continued to stand up and approach anyway. “Chris?” I ventured, now realising that I’d got the wrong man, and already backtracking to avoid further embarrassment. I was down at a waterfront café (trying) to meet with Chris Harries. He’d spent three years in New Britain, an island province of PNG, with his family and I wanted to hear of his experiences. A bike pulled up nearby, I lifted my gaze with more caution and sized up the rider. “You must be Chris!” I pointed out firmly but with a hint of desperation. It was. We talked about malaria and staying healthy, banana boats and missing fishermen, ways of showing respect and what I might be eating. A picture of a land and people rich with beauty formed in my mind from Chris’ stories. This gathering of information and ideas is an important part of traveling to a new place. There is always a sense of anxiety, verging on unbridled excitement, with entering a big unknown. Even if my ideas of PNG are way off the mark, by talking to people who know the place first-hand, I’m alleviating a little bit of that anxiety.
Organising to get the kayak and equipment to Kiunga has taken a few turns for the better over the past fortnight. I’ll be loading it onto a plane from Launceston, Tasmania to Melbourne, Victoria. From there it will be couriered (haven’t organised this bit yet so if you know a good courier in Melbourne let me know) to the wharf where it will be loaded onto a ship. From there it will bounce up the east coast of Australia, dropping in at Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville before steaming off to Port Moresby. In Port Moresby it needs to be cleared by customs so I’ll have to get help from a shipping agent on the ground over there (again, if you know anyone…). Once through customs it can be forwarded to a barge that travels up the Fly River to Kiunga. I will fly into Port Moresby when it is half way up the river and continue in a light plane to meet it at the wharf. Fingers crossed that we both arrive in good shape and can head off down the river by 1st May. Unfortunately my excellent contact in Kiunga, Warren Dutton, will be away when I arrive.
On the visa front, I have decided on an alternative plan to avoid the necessity of obtaining a six month permit, which I can’t really see happening. I’ll get a normal two month visa upon landing in Port Moresby and try to get a one month extension. The paddle from Kiunga back to Port Moresby should take around two months. Once there I will have to fly out of the country (probably to Cairns) and straight back in again to get a further tourist visa, hopefully again with a one month extension. This will give me three months to paddle from Moresby to the northern border, which should be enough. As said before, not elegant or cheap, but it does give me some degree of certainty for planning purposes.
Closer to home, I’ve been in the shed making repairs on the Hope and Grace (I named the kayak in 2006 after my two grandmothers, Hope Hughes and Grace Hollingsworth). The rudder had worn out and needed replacing. This involves cutting the lines which run from the rudder to the deck, sewing the new lines onto the old ones and pulling them through. The new rudder was generously provided at a discounted price by Lawrie Schem at Mission. During the east coast paddle the kayak had also developed an odd inverse bulge in the bottom. I was sure it made life slower than it needed to be. Being made of plastic (polyethylene) it’s possible to carefully heat it up and guide it back into a better shape. A polyethylene guru, that I met at the Salamanca Market by chance, gave me the instructions and it seems to have worked- no more inversely bulging bottom!
If you’re a teacher check out the climate change curriculum and other suggested units of work. Your feedback on how you might use them, or how they can be improved is always welcome. Keep an eye on the Learning ZONE page for developments. There will be more news about how students can share their work and join an online forum soon.
Lastly, if you’re in Australia and would like to read about the 2006 expedition, grab the upcoming Wild magazine (early-mid March?) for the full report.
Next report due 14th March.
Until then, Andrew