Papua New Guinea, New Britain, Ndawa Bay: Armed Boarding, Attack and Robbery - August 2012
We woke to the sounds of people boarding the vessel at 0100. By the time I jumped out of bed, there were torches shone in our faces, and bush knives banging in the companionway. Much screaming of "we will kill you, we are going to chop you into little pieces, etc".
I shone a torch, and saw that they were wearing balaclavas and scarves, and sounded young and scared. I repeatedly told them to calm down, and tell us what they wanted. They agreed to my pulling on a pair of shorts before coming on deck, so I kept telling them to be cool. Dawn managed to dress before coming on deck. There were 3 with bush knives, one with a paddle which he insisted was a gun, and another in the dug-out. When I pointed out to one that his gun was only a paddle, he struck me with it a couple of times.
I went below at knife-point to get them the money, and during this time Dawn had a knife to her throat, and was mauled, and told to take off her clothes. Luckily I reappeared with the head pirate, and the boys leaped back to their stations by the dodger. Then I was tied up, and the interior looted, before they departed. They didn't take the sat-phone, computer, wallets, or anything needed to sail or navigate the vessel.
Next day, the Kimbe police assured us they were on their way. Eventually, in the evening, pressure from the Aus. consul in PNG saw 3 RIOT POLICE, temporally stationed in Kimbe, attend. The 5 boys melted into the bush whilst they were there, but the surprise attendance of these heavy police saw our gear start to trickle back. A recovered camera held posed shots of each of the 'pirates', and the police had already been given a list of their names. The leader was the youth who had shown us around the village, school, church etc the previous day.
Over the next 2 days, we had constant assurances from the police that a squad was on its way, stay where you are, etc. The head men had some of the offenders shut in the community centre. Meanwhile, the families of the offenders kept returning bits and pieces, until we had recovered around half of our gear. There are some fine people in the village, upset by the actions of these problem, dope smoking youths.
Eventually we sailed around to Kimbe, and fronted the police. They just did not want to know, and never had any intention of arresting the pirates. "They are wild men up there, carrying bush-knives, we don't go there!" "Why don't you just sail away?" The mention of justice and law enforcement came as a total surprise to them. It took 3 days to organize statements and photos, a complete farce. No-one was arrested, so beware the next yacht to visit!
This was only one of several incidents we experienced in Western Province, New Britain. We narrowly escaped another late-night attack off the Hoskin's Airfield, near Kimbe, bursting through a ring of 4 canoes with the anchor barely out of the bottom.