Sunday, December 12, 2010

Release Date 11/15/2010

I went out for an afternoon paddle. It was slightly overcast, so very comfortable, but the sea was surprisingly rough. It was a combination of 3ft plus swells with a lot of wind, and wind waves that made things very confusing.

I planned to go fishing, but abandoned that because it would have been too difficult to deal with a fish if I hooked one in the rough weather.

I just went out for 2 hours down the coast and back again. I paddled at a good clip and got a decent workout. At one point I was feel proud of myself for braving the surf and the rough sea when I noticed there was a guy out fishing in his outrigger canoe. His only safety gear was half a coconut shell for a bailer. I can’t imagine how they get the canoes with no bulkheads out through the surf. He said the he “slip here” and pointed to the shore. He wasn’t afraid to go fishing, in fact that is what he came for. Note his feet hanging over the side, his only concession to the rough sea.

I saw, or actually just saw the last bit of the most amazing thing. I looked over my shoulder and saw a big 3ft long fish flying through the air going straight back into water from over 5ft high. It must have jumped all the way up in the air, like 10ft and turned over and I saw it on the way down. I have never seen any fish jump anywhere near that high, and wish I had been closer, and also seen it from the start.

On the weekend Kate and I watched a huge pod of dolphins swim by our porch. They were little ones, and jet black stretching out for 100s of yards. We estimated there were over 100 of them. Also saw a bunch of frigate birds 25 or so flying around in giant circles gliding on the thermals.

Last Friday was a very interesting day, very much a day in the life of in PNG. We both had difficult mornings at work struggling with bad infrastructure and difficult people and situations.

Some guys came into Kate’s office with two tags they had taken off a sea turtle. A large turtle had climbed up on the shore to lay eggs in the middle of the night. It basically came right up to their shelter, dug a hole and started laying. The guys stopped it, ate the eggs, and were presumably planning on eating the turtle when they saw the tags. They brought the tags to Kate’s office, it took almost a week for them to get a ride and make it up to our town.

Kate has worked on sea turtle projects before, so she arranged a field trip out to see where it was caught, and if it was still alive. It turns out they hadn't killed it; they just flipped it over and left it on its back. Turtles aren’t limber enough to turn themselves over, and people don’t have fridges, so this is a good way to keep your food ready. They held off eating it because the tags might mean it was a special turtle or something. It sat there for 6 DAYS in the sun with dogs nipping at its flippers dying a slow death.

When we got there it was still alive, so Kate took all the necessary data points, and the local guys helpped her put the tags back on and they let it go. The tags were from Australia which is on the order of 1,000 miles away, so it made a very long journey!

This area of the coast was very beautiful. It is much calmer because it isn’t exposed to the surf like our side is. I think I could paddle all the way down here in a day, and get a ride back, so I’m thinking about doing that someday.
We also saw a really cool archeology something, but it is secret now, so I can’t post any info on it.

Kate later found out that they aren't sure where the turtle was tagged.

Apparently some researches had taken these tags out for a research trip, but they never returned. They were out off the coast of Australia on the Great Barrier Reef, and they never returned. Their organization assumed they had capsized and were killed.

When we got back to town we went to “the club” associated with the golf course for a light supper. We feel so fancy now that we belong to a golf club and have dining privileges!

We started talking to an older ex-pat who had lived in the country for over 30 years. He was telling us various stories and getting loaded. Then he started yelling at the security guards working at the club because they were coming in, buying beer, and reselling it through the gate. It is not possible to buy beer after 5:00PM here in the store.

He made a stink because it was a violation of club rules, then when they did it again he grabbed a young guy and started throwing him around. One thing led to another, including the ex-pat’s kids getting scarred and starting to cry, it took 10 people to keep them apart.

The white guy left, we waited a while then we left too, but in the meantime somebody put bottles and nails under our tire so we got a flat before we got home. Presumably they thought we were in league with the other guy.

This is the 2nd time since we have been here we have befriended someone in a bar, then they get drunk, and make and ugly scene and we are branded the “friend of that a-hole xyz”
While Kate and I were changing the tire 3 local guys in their church clothes showed up and helped us change the tire so the night ended on a nice note.

Truth: Reorganization Cleans things up

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Paddle Date 10/27/2010

I went out for an afternoon paddle from our house. The surf was pretty high at our house, but fairly mellow on the outside of Nusa. The difference was the direction of the swell. It was from the North East, and Nusa faces West, so when I got around the front of the island I could paddle right up to it.

I did a good surf ride in on way home. As long as the waves aren’t too big, AND its high tide I can come right into the front of our house safely.


We spent a week in Alotau for the annual PNG Canoe Festival. It was cool, but a bit of a disappointment. I missed all the paddling canoes, and some of the cool things we found and bought were stolen. Welcome to PNG….In true PNG form it was very disorganized, and the few paddlers that were there only came in the mornings when we weren’t around.

Most of the boats were sailing canoes. They are MUCH bigger than the traditional paddling ones we have in New Ireland. The boats are totally symmetrical, and the sail always has to be outside the outrigger, so when they “come around” the bow becomes the stern, and they start sailing in the other direction, while the sail stays out away from the outrigger.

We did a ride on one of them on the first day which was cool.

We went up to a resort called Tawalli for a few days before to do a bit of scuba diving. I think the diving up here is even better than it is in New Ireland. I found a cool spear on the bottom of the reef, but it was stolen from our hotel when we went into Alotau, so I didn’t get to take it home.

One of the interesting things to do at the resort was a tour of the "skull caves" The local people used to display the skulls of their enemies that they killed and ate around their houses, but when the missionaries came they relocated all the skulls to remote caves. The skulls are being slowly covered over by limestone and incorporated into the rock.

We also bought a traditional fishing spear but that was broken by the airline. It was not a good weekend for souvenir fishing spears.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Release Date 10/22/2010

I got off work early and went for a birthday paddle. I wasn’t able to swing a birthday trip this year, but we are going to the PNG Canoe festival next week. That is a big culture show and outrigger canoe race that is held every year in Alotau PNG.

The paddle was nice. The surf has remained mellow, and I was about to go out and in directly in front of our house. On the way back in the dark I landed on the reef and got stuck for a second, tide was falling, and was down by about 1/3, so that must be the minimum tide for a crossing.

I just went down the coast to the little school on the highway. I could clearly see the Fisheries College, but it was still quite a ways away. It was just about an hour to the school.

I was surprised by some dolphins I paddled

right up to them. They freaked out when the saw me at the last minute. It was rough so I don’t think they could hear the paddle or the boat until it was right on top of them.

The moon was up in the early evening, and it was full, so even after the sun went down it was very light.

Kate had been going out every night to check for the palalo worms. These are worms who live in the reef and spawn once a year a few days after the full moon in September and October. People had told us that it happened last month when she was out of town, but she has continued checked to keep track. All of the worms, many different species, all spawn on the same night and time every year so they can be sure they will meet other worms.

There were millions of them in the shallow water near the reef squirming all over the place. She caught a number of them, to get samples, and soon we had all the little kids from next door our helping. It was an army of field biologists to do her bidding.

Some people eat them, so I fried-up a batch. It tasted like a creamy spinach, it was very rich. The doggies helped me finish it off. I just cooked the little ones, a guy on the beach told me the bigger ones were more like prawns (shrimp), but Kate was hogging all of those for her stupid science stuff.

Truth: Sometimes its your birthday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Release Date 10/14/2010

I made it back to PNG and took a quick paddle over to Nusa for dinner. Nusa is very close to our new house. It is a shorter paddle there, than it is back to Kate’s office. It might have only seemed like a shorter paddle since I wasn’t towing a boat like the last time I made the trip.

On the way out I saw this wacky Indonesian fishing boat. T
hose are giant outriggers made out of huge logs on the side of it. The guy who owns the local Fish plant bought it and is using it for some kind of plundering of the sea project.

The surf has remai
ned fairly low and I had an easy time getting back in. I was too tired from the jet lag to drink anything so that made the trip home a lot easier.

Truth: Electricity makes life easier.

No Release Date 10/2/2010

I was back for a visit in NYC and I went paddling with my old dtbh kayak buddies.

We, or actually I, was trying to collect a ton of beach glass to us for my next Figment Festival art project. Years ago I found a beach in Staten Island that was totally covered in it. In my memory the entire beach was glass, with just a few rocks.

I found the beach but it only had some glass on it, not nearly as much as I remember. I picked up some, then found quite a bit more at another location that some of the real “locals” pointed me to.

We also found a bit of trash on some of the beaches. You don't see this amount of crap in PNG yet!

When we got way down near the very bottom of Bayone we saw what appeared to be a castle perched, up on top of a grassy cliff. For a while we thought we were in Scotland. It turned out to be an exclusive golf course!

It is totally crazy to have a golf course here.

Compare and contrast the course with the next door neighbor fuel terminal. St. Andrews doesn't have anything like this!

It does have a nice beach, and I am dreaming of some guerilla evening golf to the tune of full moon someday in the future.

I did find a whole bunch of floating golf balls. It turns out the driving range is made-up of floating balls and a 5 acre area sectioned off by an oil boom. A lot of balls must get hit out of the park. I brought them back to PNG.

Now I just have to train the dogs to fetch them out of the surf off of my porch and I’m all set.

We fooled around a lot on the way home. Most of the delays were caused by me picking up glass. It got very very dark, as it usually does at night, and the tide turned against us. The trip ended just like the old days paddling into the tide, in the dark, into the wind without enough lights. We got back to the boathouse around 9:00PM, totally missing going out for drinks with friends after the boathouse closed.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Snorkeling/Freediving 9/6/2010 - 9/8/2010

I went snorkeling in front of the house a few times this week. Looks like the diving here will be very good. I was only freediving but there are lots of fish because there is a huge ledge that runs along the end of the reef.

At one section there is a cool swimthrough. You enter vertically on the flat of the reef at about 30 feet and come out horizontally in the side of the ledge at about 40. I have to give it a try as a freedive when Kate is out there with me.

I have seen lots of pelagic fish, tuna and jacks, and a couple of pretty good size sharks.

We are going to try and get tanks and do this as a dive, because its too deep to spend much time down there just holding my breath.

Earlier in the week I found these excellent mangoes at the market. Everybody in town was complaining about the price. They are 7 kina, about $3 USD; Still cheaper than Dean and Deluca, but not by much. They are called Rabaul Mangoes, after the town on New Britian with the volcano.

I had to fix the network antenna at the Government office. I was putting in a new mast for the antenna. The antenna is right next to this old Japanese artillery piece. This is by far the best one I have seen since I have been here. Notice the PNG style networking tools, a shovel and a piece of hardwood.

No Release Date 9/6/2010

I went for an afternoon paddle on a very rainy and stormy Monday. I was supposed to go diving at one of the best dive sites around here, Albatross Pass, but it was cancelled because of bad weather.

I waited till the very end of the day, then thought I would duck out on an afternoon paddle. It was still pretty stormy and windy, but the tide was high and did a launch through the surf, in front of the house.

The swell was pretty big, and by the time I turned around it was getting very dark. Since it was cloudy it got extra dark, extra early.

It was pretty hairy near the end. I haven’t been paddling in big waves in the dark in a while, and forgot how disorienting it can be.

As I got close to the house I could see that Kate was down on the beach with our giant super bright flashlight.

She of course couldn’t see me because of the dark, and she was worried. I almost accidently got surfed in, in the heavy surf, but managed to get back out and go around to the entrance to the harbor where the surf was much less. I walked back up the beach.

Just another reminder that I should always bring a light, even if its only close to dark!

There was a torrential rain storm about 15 minutes after I got back, that would have been very unpleasant since it was way too rough to get out a jacket when I was on the water.

Release Date 9/2/2010

I went for an afterwork paddle from the house.

I finally finshed fixing up the racks for the b
oats under the house so now it was time to paddle. All of the neighbor kids came over and joined in when I was working on it. By the time Kate came home there were 6 of them doing various jobs with me. I launched at high tide, its only about 10 steps from where we keep the boats to the water, and I can paddle right from there. When the tide is low I have to carry the boat a ways down the beach to a cut in the reef to get out, but at high tide if I can get through the surf I can go straight out.

I just went down the coast for about 45 minutes.
I found a little kid’s toy that had been carved out of a piece of Styrofoam. This is the second one of these I have found here, and there is very little trash, so it must be a common thing.

There are people living all along the coast. I saw some flags posted on the beach where I turned around. These look like what I have seen in the past where a section of the beach is marked as a sacred area, where people can’t go, or more commonly where only men can go. There is no sign just a couple of flags marking off sections of the beach. You are supposed to know, and the only way is to ask a local. So if in doubt don’t go in there!

As always it was great to get back on the water after all the millions of home repairs.

Truth: If you wait something will happen.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Move Date 8/16/2010

We FINALLY moved into our new house.

Papua New Guinea landlords, contractors, are bad, but the plumber was a new kind of bad, so it took a while…

We are still getting settled, every afternoon after lunch, and every weekend, has been a different construction, repair, cleaning, break up dog fight, job, but we are getting to the end of it. I want to bring the kayaks over soon, We already unpacked the gin.

I’m including some pictures, and you can see the highs and the lows of the place.

The backyard.

Although it looks like an ICBM bunker, it is in fact our water tank, the water comes from the rainwater off the roof.

The front yard.

The house is behind the trees you can’t quite see it.

A dog on the porch (Maity).

He was bad, so he was chained up, Stinky was moving too fast and his portrait was blurry. They have developed a fighting technique with the other dogs. Maity goes out to make friends, the neighbor dog attacks him, when the other dog’s back is turned Stinky jumps on top and gets the other dog by the neck. It’s both savage and effective.

A view of the sea from the porch.

A view of the side of the house.

The big metal thing on the left hand side of the picture is the turret to a Japanese artillery piece that was left here at the end of WWII. It is solid steel and weighs more than a car.

A view of the hammock.

We bought this hammock when we lived in Brooklyn, but our yard was too small to put up, and we have been toting it around for a couple of years. This is its last move.

The neighbors.

They live in a traditional house with no electricity, no plumbing, no nothing. I went outside to type this on the porch, and 8 little kids were staring at me, so I went inside. We did put up bamboo shades.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Release Date 8/1/2010

Release Date 8/1/2010

We decided at the last minute to take a dive trip for the weekend on a local couple’s dive boat, the PNG Explorer, We went up to see the a sunken ship off of New Hanover. The ship was a Japanese ship, and American planes caught it when it was delivering a minisub. The minisub is laying about 100ft away from the wreck on the bottom. It is really small, I can't imagine people living in it.

There was another smaller wreck nearby that we also dove.

The captain of our ship showed us a picture from WWII of one ship on fire, and almost completely sunk, and the other one under attack. You can see the sailors running, and the bomb dropping toward the ship. All of the people in the picture were probably killed. Really intense.

The diving was nice, interesting wrecks and very sheltered, but the visibility wasn’t great, maybe 30 or 40 feet. It is often over 200 here, so I’m sure getting spoiled.

The food and drinking on the ship was also excellent, and it was nice to get away.

We also took a trip up a local river, and watched a young guy climb up a bettlenut tree.

This guy on the beach looks like sideshow bob on the Simpsons.

Kate is wearing this crazy radar reflecting hat that a friend of mine gave me in NYC.

Truth: (can’t read it picture too faint)

Release Date 7/20/2010

Release Date 7/20/2010

Just did a short evening paddle to try and get some exercise. We have been really busy trying to get our new house sorted out, so I haven’t had much time for kayaking.

A few days earlier I was trying to sort out the internet link between the government offices, and took these pictures of this giant gun. It is in really good shape, and is in the hill right above my office. You can actually see the bits of brass mechanism that controlled the firing, and the gears look like they would turn with some grease. It’s just nutty this stuff is laying around….

Check out this bettlenut stand. It is made out of an old truck cab. Its hard to read, but it says “Transformers!” on the awning. A space age robot transformed itself into a narcotics stand.

Truth: Some things happen when you aren’t expecting them to.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Release Date 7/11/2010

I went out for a short Sunday evening paddle.

I went out around the near the beach house point, but then it got really dark, so I went back. I didn’t want to deal with the surf in the dark.

There is still no moon, so it is impossible to see anything when the sun goes down. There are only a few points of light for reference along the shore, one of them is our new house’s security lights.

I have been meaning to do a long trip with lots of paddling, and I wanted to do a lot of it at night. I have to remember to plan the trip for when the moon is full, and also to do the paddling around the moon. Ie night paddling with an early moon rise, or early morning paddling with a late moon set.

On the way back in the harbor I was trying to avoid the surf breaks on either side of the harbor entrance, and also not get run over. Other motorboats zip around, some with no lights on. I also came across groups of people fishing in canoes who were just invisible until I was right up on them.

Everybody is a bit nervous. Last week some armed men stole a boat from one of the dive companies. When the divers were under water the came up and pointed guns at the crew and took the boat. When divers came up their crew were there treading water. The worry is they will use the boat for a big crime, and use it as a getaway boat. It was one of the fastest ones in the town. Yikes it’s like Somalia.

I went to check the progress on the house this weekend. It is coming along. They attached a pipe from the neighboring large house for the water, since our tank still isn’t ready. Our contractor is supposed to start on Thursday to do the work we need to fix it all up.

Truth: You don't know how much you need electricity until you don't have it.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Not Release Date 7/6/2010

No Release Date 7/6/2010

I wasn’t feeling much like paddling, but wanted to go for a snorkel so I went out Edamago Island. I had wanted to go to Rawl, but the heat was just killer and I was feeling crappy, after an hour so I stopped at Edamago.

As I was approaching the island there was this funny area in the lee with bubbles all over it. It must have been from the surf, and then the swell changed and just left this hot sticky scummy water. Yech. You can “feel” the heat in this picture…

I had to immediately jump in the water to try and cool down. I went out to the West and then eventually to the south near the surf break, but the time I went over to the break I was on the outside of it.

The water was cloudy to the West but I kept swimming farther and farther out looking for something different. I must have been 300 yards from shore, when I found very clear water toward the south, outside the break. The reef here was amazing, all kinds of coral and TONS of it. Lots of fish too. I saw one or two that would have been worth catching, and even 2 small sea turtles. It was really beautiful, and so close to town. In the future it would be best to snorkel from the kayak without the long swim from shore through surf and shallow water.

When I got a cramp in my foot, I was borrowing too small fins, I wanted to go in and realized I would have a problem getting over the break since it was very shallow on top of the reef. There wasn’t much surf, but there was a bit. Eventually I found a small valley where the water was a tad deeper. Fortunately it got deeper one I got past the break and I could swim right up to the shore. This would NOT be possible at a low tide.

I found a cool poison nut growing a new tree on the beach. Kate says these nuts are poison and that the local people grind them up to use them for fishing by stunning the reef fish. So do NOT eat these, they are NOT small funny shaped coconuts!

Found Date 05/2010

One of my regular kayaking friends found this message floating in New York Harbor. It’s hard to believe that it was in the water for 4 years. It doesn’t look very worn or faded. It was in a large plastic juice bottle.

The story was really wacky, and didn’t make any sense. I’m not sure if the person who wrote it dropped it into the water, or if they just reused the paper.

I tried searching for the author:

Lynne E. Bryant

2345 Broadway #324

NY NY 10024.


PO Box 342

Madison Square Station

129 East 23rd St.

NY NY 10010

But can’t find her for sure. I suppose I’ll try and send a letter when I get back to the USA.

Blow-up the picture below and read the wacked out story…

Release Date 7/5/2010

Release Date 7/5/2010

(I actually released the 7/3/2010 message on this paddle I forgot on 7/3)

We went to a big fourth of July party yesterday, and I /was feeling a bit raw, but wanted to get out for a paddle in the late afternoon. I didn’t get on the water until 5 or so, and it quickly got very dark.

The tide was pretty high, and there was no moon, so when it got dark I couldn’t see a thing.

I decided to go to the north around Cape Surrat(sp?) and go along the coast since the water was high, and it looked like it was pretty shallow.

I saw a few people a young woman came out to the beach, followed by 2 young guys with guitars, go figure???

It gets very swampy a bit further on, and if there are people living in there, they aren’t right on the waters edge, its just miles and miles of mangroves.

I did find one spot where somebody had cut a bunch of branches, but I can’t imagine why. It seemed the stuff they cut away was right there in the water, but they must have taken some of it with them.

It was shallow and boring so I turned around just as it was getting really dark and paddled home using the lights on the cape as a beacon.

Once I came around the corner I was blinded by a super bright light at Nago Island. A lot of the rest of town was dark because of the blackouts, but they make their own electricity out there.

The bioluminescence has been really impressive lately. Maybe because there is no moon, but it just glows very brightly in a light green. I tried making a movie of it, it just came out as black with a few white spots. It is stronger and weaker in places, but when it is going it is really going and super bright.