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Papua New Guinea, Ninigo Atoll: Report of Three Visits

By Alev and Richard of SV Muggerl and Edited by Sue Richards and Val Ellis — last modified Apr 12, 2013 11:25 AM
Contributors: These reports by Yacht MUGGERL were passed on by Terry Sargent of Yacht VALHALLA.
Alev and Richard of SY Muggerl have visited Ninigo Atoll three times. First in May 2012, again in October 2012 and a third time in March 2013. They particularly enjoyed Heina Atoll but recommend giving Longan Island a wide berth.

Published: 2013-03-28 11:20:00
Countries: Papua New Guinea

Our First Visit May 2012

Ninigo Atoll: Longan Island

Ninigo Atoll is a nice atoll. Sometimes a little bit rolling but not bad. So we did not use our stabilizers.

Our first anchorage was near the island Longan. The anchorage is not bad. Most of the people are friendly and it is possible to trade with them to get fresh food.

But, there is one person, his name is Salomon and he is a monster. I am sorry but I cannot find a word which is bad enough for this guy. He comes on board every day, sometimes twice, sometimes also at night. Always without asking. He just climbs up from his own boat and is sitting in the cockpit waiting for a coffee. And he wants everything: Compass, onions, solar panels, epoxy, nails, cloths, tablets, our orchids, gasoline, vegetable seeds and everything he sees. He takes Alev's cigarettes without asking and puts them in his pocket. He is like a pest. And he doesn't come alone, always with the family. His daughter has bad legs with purulent abscesses. She cleans the purulent abscesses with her fingers and then touches parts of the cockpit.

The only way to get rid of them is move to another island which we did, and we are now at the island of MAL to the South of Ninigo. Here we can relax. Everything is ok here.

It wasn't just us who were upset by this Salomon, other boats who anchored there had the same negative experience. Such as, they gave him gasoline and he did not bring back the container. Even after they asked for it back.

The best is to keep your distance from Longan and this Salomon.

Musical entertainment on board

Ninigo Atoll: Mal Island

Here at the island Mal the people are very friendly. Especially THOMAS and his son RICHARD. But also MICHAEL UMITEL: He is Ward counselor and deputy president for Nigoherm Local level government. He offered us to stay as long as we want. And they ask us very often whether we are satisfied. All people bring us fresh food, chicken and lobsters. Well we trade. And both sides are happy.

 

Our Second Visit October 2012

Ninigo Atoll: Ahu Island

This time we decided to stop at the island of AHU, just North of the Western Entrance. Nice Island, clear waters, but a very uncomfortable Northerly swell.

Only one hour after we anchored, a boat came from the south with some islanders. First was Thomas. He greeted us like old friends, and indeed he is. So different to 'Salomon' (from Longan island) at all. He came with many fruits and he gave us as a present, two very nice Pandanus hats, handmade by his wife but for us (most important) he brought us a very warm welcome.

We can advise all visitors to anchor at the island of Mal. Here, you feel like at home. The only disadvantage is, it can sometimes be swelly. But Thomas can help find a place where it is more quiet and comfortable.

PNG_Heina Atoll EntranceNinigo Atoll: Heina Atoll

The quietest anchorage in the Ninigo group and the Hermits, is the Heina Atoll. We were there for many weeks, and it was blowing sometimes very hard, but there was NO MOVEMENT AT ALL!!  The description in the "Cruising Guide to Southeast Asia volume II" (page 110) is wrong. It says the boat pass less is than 1.5m.

Our boat has a 2.2 m draft and we passed through 3 times out and 2 times in and had always more than 1 m below the keel. But when we entered the 3rd time we crashed on the reef badly. No help from outside is possible! Luckily we have a steel boat and luckily we had high and very long swell from North and we could move back in deep waters. The conditions were bad: heavy rain, bad visibility, strong current against us with an additional surface current across the pass. Also two of the three bouys were missing. But on the second run we entered safely using much more power. A boat entering for the first time should first inspect the pass with the dinghy. The entrance is narrow, but with less current, easy. Take care, the cross current is always setting North to South. The islanders have carefully installed  more buoys.

PNG_Heina Atoll Lemki and his familyThree families live in the Heina Atoll. Close to the entrance is 'Rellen' and his family. Also close to the entrance  is "Low" with family. He is Rellen's brother. The third family is 'Lemki' in the Western part of the lagoon. All three are very friendly and they do everything they can do for visitors. Mostly we were with Lemki. A very very hospitable man. He supplied us permanently with fish. The supply in the atoll is limited, but sometimes people from other islands come and bring fruits etc. Visitors are never asked for payment, but all sailors should not abuse the hospitality of these nice people. Please offer them your help, be it technical or mechanical, or trade with them. Small bags of rice, or sugar, or bring LED lights, which are used on the cars, or long thin wires for the LEDs, or batteries which are too week for the boat use. They can use them for lights. Copper or stainless steel nails (2,5'' or 3'') to build their sailing Kanus, or paint for the boats will always be welcome.

The anchorage at Lemki  (with 20 m under the keel and using 70 m chain) is:-
01°07,300' S 144°29,828' E
The position just in front of the Entrance is:-
01° 07.858' S 144°28.733' E

PNG_Heina Atoll Sailing CanoeFrom this point steer mostly 60° close to the northern sand at the top of the island. At the sand turn right and you are now in front of Low's House. But the anchorage here is coral ground and you should not drop your anchor into the nice coral garden. Just at the entrance is sand ground and a secure anchorage. There is no swell, even in strong wind. After the entrance, there is a chain of coral heads but it is possible to find the way to the Lemki point. The coral head area is not more than 50 m wide. The deepest, we found in the Lagoon was 30 m. In the lagoon are no coral heads.

Our Third visit March 2013

Ninigo Atoll: Back in Heina Atoll

Heina Atoll is the best and quietest anchorage in Hermit and Ninigo.

Together with Lemki, a local man, we fixed a lot of entrance markers. So it is pretty easy to enter into the lagoon now. Our draught is 2.20 meters and we had more than 1.60 meters under the keel.

Following are the waypoints for the entrance, however I don't give any warranty! Everybody has to open his eyes. Some other boats used these WPTs without any trouble. But it is necessary to have a good lookout because mostly a current is setting across the entrance.

1. 001°07,892' S / 144°28,634' E

2. 001°07,865' S / 144°28,703' E

3. 001°07,813' S / 144°28,780' E

4. 001°07,748' S / 144°28,885' E

Warning 1: After the 3rd WPT you can turn to starboard and there is a shallow anchorage with about 5 to 6 meters. However, the coral here is incredible and anchoring here will damage the environment, so cruisers should avoid doing so. We recommend you ignore the locals' advice if they want you to anchor here. It's the closest anchorage to the settlement, so of course the locals want you close to make it easy for their daily visits (and they come with all their children many times!). There are many flies here also as the locals tend to throw food scraps onto the beach and the flies will find their way out to your yacht.

The course through the entrance is approximately 60 °. The markers we set are fishing net floats of approx. 50 cm diameter. Most of the floats on the SE side have additional bamboo sticks with small flags. The floats on the NW side are mostly double. Because of the cross-setting current you should pass closer to the NW markers.

After the last WPT the lagoon is deep up to 30 meters and you can proceed directly to Lemki anchorage (our preferred anchorage - see comments in previous report above). Pos. 001° 07.300' S / 144° 29.800' E. All anchorages in the lagoon are quiet and protected from all directions of wind. There is no swell at all.

PNG_Heina Atoll sharpening sawsLemki and his family are most hospitable. They are never obtrusive. If you ask Lemki what he needs, he will not answer. However there are many things they urgently need: rice, sugar, salt, dive goggles, stainless steel rods (wire) for spear guns and technical assistance. We assisted them and islanders on Hermit by sharpening 103 hand saws.

Warning 2: One yacht that stopped here was asked for a compass, which all the locals want. Unfortunately (for him) he had one brand new original packed as a spare part. He sold it for the original price. Two days later the locals that purchased it brought the compass back. They had tried to open it with a screwdriver, so there was no more liquid inside. They wanted their money back immediately. The yachty gave the money back to avoid trouble! This local was not Lemki. Lemki was upset when he returned back to Heina and heard about this practice of the islanders.

Some islanders came to me to repair their GPS and other electronic things. When you see how they use and damage these things you can be only surprised.

Availability of Fresh Food
Coconut, banana, papaya, pumpkin, fish and lobster. You can trade with Lemki. When a boat arrives from another Island you can ask for other fruits. They also will want to trade with you.

Alev and Richard - SY Muggerl (German)

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