Lucky the weather has been a tad lack lustre over the last couple of days…it’s helped getting some route planning done…. What does that mean?....research and more research is what it means. We’re up on hard stand next week for a about a week doin’ the tough stuff…but after that we really do need to be heading north to be sure we can position ourselves nicely for a coral sea crossing which would see us in Papua New Guinea by October.

Why October?.. Quite simple really….we want to be up closer to the equator near December to keep us out of the north west and south east monsoon weather patterns. That might mean we have some humid rainy climates to deal with but it should keep us out of the nasty stuff…. not to mention giving us favourable winds to help Hafskip get there. If you couple that with wanting to take in some of the most beautiful places in South East Asia before global warming submerges them, then the Louisiades archipelago in PNG is a good place to start

But before we go anywhere…..there’s a stack to take into consideration…. wind strength and patterns, weather forecasts, currents, chart datum reliability, communication protocols and frequencies, possible places to obtain fuel and supplies, port of entry etiquette, visas… and in some cases cruising permits.

Seems straightforward enough doesn’t it…but when you bear in mind that once we get to PNG we’re not likely to have any internet we really need to get our next couple of months sorted as well because we won’t be able to access Consulates to obtain visas etc… So we need to get our dominos set up just right….so things fall into some logical pattern as we travel.

So where does that leave us?

At this point our thinking is as follows…..

We leave Airlie beach mid to late September, sail to Townsville to get our liferaft serviced (annoying but essential and Townsville is the nearest licenced Zodiac agent)…. Next… on to Cairns to clear customs on exit of Australia and obtain PNG Visas…

Then it looks as if it makes sense to head to Samarai to ‘check in’ to PNG (a designated port of entry for foreign yachts) and then float around the Louisiades for a month (depending on when we get there) before slowly heading north west, along the northern coast of mainland PNG… That would mean we’re well positioned to take a detour to the islands around the Bismarck Sea (new Britain and New Island)….then ‘check out’ of PNG at Vanimo before heading further North towards the equator.

Now this is where it gets a bit tricky….if we head into Indonesia we need to possess a cruising permit and must check in to country at a designated port of entry with the appropriate visas and this is not a simple process (more time and research required)….but another option is to head straight to Palau in Micronesia (potentially 9 days of continuous sailing as Hafskip is no racer)… where we can obtain a visa on entry and simply relax for a bit while we sit out the cyclone seasons of the higher latitudes. It would then be a possible to head back down through Indonesia via the Philippines and Brunei once we’ve had a bit more time to organise the nasty cruising permit.

We still have more dominos to collect and arrange in a line before we can tap the first one over….but it looks like the beginning of a plan eh?