Cruising in Papua New Guinea waters: Don Hook

In May-June this year I spent 28 days with the Collins Brothers as a paying passenger on what was billed as an ‘epic voyage’ from Kiunga on the Fly River to Wewak in East Sepik Province.

Two boats were used on the voyage: the MV Miss Rankin and the MV Harbour Surveyor. Miss Rankin is a 28 m steel hulled multi-purpose small ship. There is accommodation for 32 people including crew. The Surveyor, also 28 m, is designed as a survey, supply and research vessel and can carry 12 passengers.

On most nights the two ships came together and “rafted up” for several hours to allow passengers to socialise and enjoy some wonderful meals prepared by the ships’ cooks.

The aim of the voyage was to explore PNG from the upper reaches of the Fly River, across the Gulf of Papua and the archipelagos to the east including the Trobriand Islands, and then across the northern coast to the mighty Sepik River.

Among the highlights of the voyage were:

  • Ferguson Island with its hot thermal springs: far better than anything I’ve seen in New Zealand.
  • Trobriand Cricket: a joyous event with each activity loudly celebrated in song and dance
  • The Sepik spirit houses full of traditional carvings and artifacts plus a performance of the Forest Dance.
  • The remarkable wildlife reserve outside Port Moresby featuring tree climbing kangaroos, birds of paradise, and glorious orchids. A very pleasant escape from the dust and dirt of Moresby.
  • Kulkul Island with its volcano last active in 1888 that claimed many lives including two German scientists.

A special and memorable occasion was a visit to the United Church overlooking Hanuabada. Our group was led by Jacqueline (“Jacky”) Lawes, a great grand daughter of the Reverend Dr William Lawes, of the London Missionary Society. Dr Lawes reached Port Moresby from Savage Island (now known as Niue) in November 1874. He is recognised as the first white inhabitant of Port Moresby.

The United Church in PNG and the Solomon Islands is a merged denomination dating from 1968 comprising the former LMS, the Presbyterian Church, and the Methodist Mission. 

As regards future cruising, it’s understood Collins Shipping has plans for shorter voyages focussed on particular themes such as the Fly River and Torres Strait, the Milne Bay Province including the Trobriands, and the Madang/Sepik area.

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