Our brief stop in Manokwari was extended as we made the most of the friendly town facilities restocking at the local market, sourcing fuel and getting some locally made Batik fabrics. In between awaiting the delivery of fuel we were accompanied by a steady stream of children who swam out to the boat on various flotation devices to visit.
Worth mentioning, fuel can’t be purchased from the service station in jerry’s. Locals have devised an ingenious method of getting government subsidized fuel and making a buck by fitting their large 4x4swith an easy access tank taps so you can fill up at the servo for 4,500rp, cross the street and empty it into jerry’s which you can sell to the fisherman and us for anywhere up to 7,000rp depending on your bargaining skills and demand This often means a long wait for fuel as each vehicle is only allowed to fill up once per day.
The afternoon whiteouts and cloudy skies did not stop us exploring once we reached Rumberpon where our Google Earth images came in handy for finding our way thru reef in the rain squalls. Cendarawasih Bay did not disappoint, with steep jungle clad mountains to our right and countless islets fringed with reef on our left, we found mangroves and deserted white beaches with the odd dugout parked in the trees. Finding water shallow enough to anchor in was the only challenge.
As always there are plans and then plans when sailing and as we stumbled upon a small islet group south of Rumberpon we couldn’t resist exploring. A recon reef snorkel was so surprisingly beautiful we were encouraged to dive the drop off. We also took time meeting the local farmer and exploring the surrounding beaches for climbable coconut trees.
We managed to squeeze in a small hike to the top of a nearby hill, giving great views of the surrounding area. Jean survived the first of our walks, but needless to say returned hot, sweaty and covered in dirt. We thought we had better break out Thyme’s fine Kentucky Bourbon to aid recovery.
Jean must be a magician, as along with the copious amount of boat goodies she carried from the Kentucky in the US for us in her super small bag, she also managed to squeeze in this personalized fifth of Kentucky Fine Bourbon Whiskey.
Continuing south deeper into the remote, Jean and myself explored beneath the water, finding all sorts of interesting fish, sharks and critters while Simon rested, recovering from yet another infected cut, this time with fevers! What are we going to do with him? The locals were so friendly but being this remote we were keen to remain cautious and created a fictitious male, swarmee (husband) of Jean called “George”. Unfortunately when locals visited, big strong George was resting so they couldn’t come aboard. Many ignored this and at times we had over 10 people on the boat at once, all very curious as they never have kapal layer (yachts) visit.
In Nusaneer we met a lovely man who climbed the coconut trees and returned with no less than 14 fresh green coconuts in exchange for a packet of Malboro 20s. He ended up spending the afternoon onboard before showing us the local waterfall and washing area… Jean and I were in hair washing heaven! I’ve included a photo of Simon trying to light a beach fire. As most of you are aware Simon is not renowned for his fire lighting skills. Needless to say he’s pretty handy with accelerants.
Sailing onto Palau Roon we dived a Zero Japanese aircraft wreck one afternoon. We got some great photos with Jean’s new toy – the GoPro underwater camera. She quite cleverly catches Simon giving the wreck a thorough once over, luckily there was nothing he could pry off by hand. I was more interested in the Crocodile Fish sitting in the wing crevice.
It was here we came across the lovely Cedrick and the Black Manta tour boat. Given we had jumped straight in and dived the wreck first with our hookah unit we were quite surprised when Cedrick approached, inviting us to visit, supplies and assistance if we needed anything. He was free with sharing info on the Whale Sharks and I as I write we are headed south ready to look below in pursuit of the big fish – fingers crossed!