Alotau is a town (as opposed to a village) and quite a busy port!...with all the trappings that go with this.

The primary anchoring spot was full to the brim when we arrived so we simply found another up the way a little and settled near a small covered jetty. We later discovered that this jetty belonged to the Airways International Hotel which has been a boon in more ways than one. We’ve been able to go ashore and leave our boat and dingy unattended for hours with no concerns about ‘rascals’. Not to mention hop ashore, use their wi fi dial up connection, have a beer and a hamburger!!

Customs was probably our low point….

The sun was at it’s hottest when we arrived and after eventually finding the right building… and the right office we spent the next half an hour or so completing formalities in yet another stifling office only to be informed once done that we were required to pay an overtime service fee of 30 Kena to compensate Matthew for working during his lunch hour. As we were not anticipating any ‘fees’ we then had to dingy our way back to the main drag and find a bank…..accompanied by Matthew who was more concerned with ensuring he received his Kena than assisting us with our navigation.

Having duly paid our requisite ‘fees’ to the authorities we set Matthew back on his way by bus….you could tell he wasn’t happy with the lack of escort back to his illustrious establishment but at that point  I was past caring….the whole ‘asking for money after the service has been rendered’ thing simply gives me the shits! Actually it made me quite cranky for the rest of the day until I cooled down enough to shift my perspective well away from Anglo notions of customer service.

In retrospect we probably got off quite lightly…. Matthew has scored much higher fees from other yachts… so we discovered…..

We have parked ourselves in the perfect spot…not only do we get evening entertainment from the jetty (the hotel has what appears to be a bar/club going) but we are in easy striking distance from the only petrol station in town…so 2 dingy rides and 170 litres of diesel later we have re-fuelled… all we really need now is to spend a little time at the market and get some fresh food and we’re set to go again.

Having completed our lugging of jerry cans…we went across to the hotel for a beer and lunch. Mid bite of hamburger we spotted our friends from Holmes reef (the divers of ‘Baguette’) chugging into the bay…. We had dinner with the six fold crew and it looks as though we may have some company for the next leg of our journey as they are pretty much travelling in the same direction. This has some pros and cons attached to it…. On the plus side we get some diving company and some additional protection from ‘rascals’* but on the down side they are skipping over some of the territory we’d like to see and are heading north rapidly well away from likely re-fuelling stations.. whilst this may not be a problem, if the wind continues to be as non-existent has it has been we may well need to remain closer to the mainland and regional centres that at least have the potential to be re-fuelling stations…..so we’ll have to see how it turns out….who knows we may well accompany Baguette some of the way at least.

 

*’rascals’ are the local term for thieves, criminals, pirates and other unsavoury types… we hear reports of rascals at various ports, villages or passages and all are usually conflicting about time, proximity and seriousness of intent. Whilst there is a little scaremongering going on, I’m sure such types exist (after all the profession of pirate is almost as old as prostitute), so we will simply take all precautions and progress through recommended channels….. the grapevine is good.