We’ve finally managed to depart Lae!!! Hard to believe but there you have it. We motored all the way to Salumau Harbour yesterday (no more than 20 NM left of Lae) with no troubles what so ever and spent a swell (take that literally) night away from the yacht club for the first time in over 2 weeks…heaven.

We have an addition to our yacht as well… a young Dutch Hitchhiker in need of a lift to Rabaul…so we’re a team of 3 for the time being…It’s a tad strange to be sharing the confined quarters of the yacht but surprisingly easy thus far.

So today is a relax day…just a little snorkelling off the nearby reefs before we head off in the morning. We had intended to spend a little more time in Huon Bay before heading across to New Britain but given our Visas expire in a couple of weeks we figure we’d better hop it a little and head straight for Gasmata (our mid way point to Rabaul and home of one of the ex-pats) where we have to drop off some rice and coffee for the locals.

Turns out we’re lucky we have some ex-pat contacts here…. There was a meeting in the village when we arrived and we were about to be asked for an anchoring fee of 200 Kina! But Onion (our local contact) explained that we were guests here and we weren’t to be bothered. Apparently other yachts have been asked for similar amounts of money by the land owners… one yacht declined to pay and his boat was ransacked the following night…such an amazingly beautiful place and so peaceful, but like much of PNG the pursuit of Kina makes it unwise at times to simply pull in and anchor just any old place…. Onion has been great though, he’s kept the locals at bay and has been watching our boat for us.