Notes on Entering and Departing the Solomons and PNG
I have made a few notes re. entering and departing Solomons.
Basically to remain 100% in the law if you go to Nendo (Lata) you can get Quarantine/Health clearance but nothing else. The police will say it's OK for you to cruise and they send your info. to Honiara, but when we got to Gizo to clear we were told that we should not have listened to the Police as they do not know what they are talking about and we should have gone straight to Honiara. Had to do lots of diplomatic talking....
Then in Gizo we found that there was no Immigration Officer (and none expected for 1-2 years) and we had to sail back to Noro where we cleared no problem.
We also got in trouble in PNG briefly. We arrived in Rabaul and went straight to Kokopo for clearance. We were there last year, went to Simpson for clearance and were told to go to Kokopo so did the same, especially as we could hardly see Simpson for ash clouds. Of course we tried to contact harbour authorities by VHF but no one would respond, even though we heard them talking to a ship. We also called by phone to Customs several times and the numbers did not work! A few days earlier our office had got a fax of our arrival notice through but only to Moresby. Their email bounced! I went ashore and found a shipping agent who rang Customs for me and I then went to their Office. When I got there the Customs guy had just had a hit of beetlenut and was high and he and the Health Inspector got really mad at me for "breaking the law" and getting off the boat before clearing!! I then had to go back to the boat with 6 guys in boots who filled the dinghy and boat with sand and were not nice to deal with at all!
Eventually after them hearing about OceansWatch and what we were doing they calmed down and after an hour on the boat were best mates. The Health Inspector was from an Island I knew all about and he ended up offering to bunk work and be my chauffer!
We did not have Visa's when we arrived but that was no problem. We were issued with a receipt for 100vt each crew and 200vt for the Master which stated we had a visa for 60 days.
We have created a Marine Reserve with the community of Rennell Island and expect to create 2 more in PNG so the trip is proving very worthwhile for us. Not seen any other boats since arriving.
Next year I am thinking of organising a small "Cruise in company" rally for people who are interested in getting involved with OceansWatch. PNG is a magical country and I would love to see more people enjoy it but it's not really suitable for the novice sailor!! Many areas are unsurveyed and most anchorages show as being ashore on the plotter!
Just had a couple of magical days in Garove and now en route to Madang.