4th March 2011

We've been in Rabaul for over a month now! Who'd have thought it? In this time we've ordered a new autopilot rudder, new cushions for the cockpit, installed a capacitor for the generator twice, sewn up a few holes in the sails, tightened the propellor shaft, bought a few fan belts (gotta have those spares), consumed way too many beers and found bones in a sunken American fighter plane.

Not to mention the Sunday drives to local mountain rivers and day sails to nearby islands with Christophe's family...and last but by no means least had a visit from Ralph's Mother, Erika.....so all in all a full month.

Rabaul continues to be a very pleasant and I think much needed break. Prior to our stop here we were pretty much ready to high tail it outta PNG as aside from our Gasmata stopover we'd been feeling a little worn by the constant opportunism of the locals and the ever present undercurrent of resentment.... but here in the safety and good company of Simpson harbour we've been able to relax and enjoy the beauty that abounds....the market is close and full to the brim of fresh fruit and smiles with a choir of 'hello' as a regular feature of a shopping trip.

All this aside...it is soon time to leave. I think there's a limit to how long you can remain in such a place without gainful employment...or at least meaningful participation in the community. The gloss slowly dims as the new yachties lose their novelty value and the joyful discovery of the local environment and history becomes less apparent as you hear the same stories repeated from various lips....I would not expect much else though....after all we are no more than visitors....and we are extremely grateful for the reprieve and the warm welcome we've received.

So where next?

The plan is still to head to Palau, but the wind will decide our exact path. Potentially we will head north west as best as the trades will allow but they are fickle so it may well be a round about trip....maybe across to the Hermit Islands (outer PNG) or even up north to Micronesia prior to heading more directly west towards Palau, so we'll just wait for a bit and keep a close eye on the weather.