Cruising through PNG and the Solomon Islands 2014-2015
Papua New Guinea
I cleared in and out at Alotou. Customs and quarantine are efficient and strait forward. A yacht was boarded & robbed late last year (this information is already on noonsite).
Alotou town is not a good anchorage due to being exposed to the east, south and west winds, and is a very deep harbour shoaling sharply near the Airways International Hotel. Anchoring in a remote location is unadvisable due to security. Driftwood resort is to the west of the town centre and have a mooring and jetty for tenders. I anchored in Discovery bay, Wagga Wagga village, on the south side of Milne Bay and caught a banana boat across to clear in. Customs and quarantine had no problem with this. Wagga Wagga village is very friendly, people welcome yachts, it is very protected from all but the NW winds. A policeman lives on Bismarck point so I anchored near his house and introduced myself to him.
Excellent anchorages can also be found among the Killerton Islands about ten miles east of Alotou. The road from East Cape to Alotou runs along the coast here and local PMV buses can take you into town for clearing in and out and shopping etc. I suggest anchoring in front of a village and getting friendly with a few people. Talk with a village elder if you are unsure about security.
The Trobriand (Kiriwina) Islands
These islands offer excellent cruising, friendly people, a little pushy sometimes but no crime. Take trade goods as supplies are limited on outer islands.
New Britain Island - Rabaul
A wonderful and historic place. I anchored in front of Rapopo resort, Kokopo. They welcome yachts and I frequented the bar and restaurant (excellent pizzas!) and was free to use the swimming pool. Unfortunately my boat was broken into one evening shortly after sunset as I was enjoying a sundowner ashore. A few small things were stolen, not a major robbery, but a robbery none the less.
Budi Budi Islands
A good stop over between PNG & the Solomons. This is a very isolated place. You cannot clear in or out but it is advisable to pay a visit to the chief and the ward recorder and give them your details. The people here are very isolated and welcome any trade goods you can bring. Anything at all!
Western Province - Gizo
Gizo has an excellent anchorage and I did not hear of any reports of thefts from boats in the three months I was in the region. There is a strong police presence here. The waterfront bars are open until the early hours and play loud music, so you may wish to anchor in one of the bays further north if you like to sleep. Fatboys and Sanbis resorts welcome yachts.
Western Province - Liapari
Liapari Island has an excellent slipway and a marine mechanic. Most works can be done here. This is a very secure place to leave your boat for weeks or months if you want to fly home for a visit. 24 hour security for less than AU$10 per day. They do transfers to the airport and have accommodation in bungalows. It is also a very pleasant place to just stop and visit. Good walks around the island and diving outside the entrance.
I visited the Sterling Islands, plenty of excellent anchorages, WW2 relics, friendly people willing to trade for fresh fruit, veg & fish. Very well charted as this was a major base during WWII. The local chief has resisted advances from logging companies and Mono has some of the last virgin forests in the Solomons. The locals want to keep it this way.
Shortland Island was very friendly although heavily effected by logging. Shortland harbour is an excellent anchorage. Customs officers are present so you should report to them, but you can't clear in or out. I contracted malaria in Shortland, so precautions should be taken.
Overall I had a wonderful and exciting 7 months cruising this region. I always travelled with trade goods and was welcomed by people everywhere I went. I strongly discourage trading alcohol or consuming any in public as this attracts the wrong kind of person.