Mal Island, Ninigo

Mon 10 Oct 2016 07:10

01:23.6S 144:11.5E

A typical kitchen come dining room.

We’d stayed longer than we’d intended to in Longan Island, and wished we could have stayed longer, but we needed to clear out of PNG before our visas ran out and we had one more stop in Ninigo before we could head to Vanimo and check out. Tom and Susie had asked us to deliver some clothes to Willy on Mal Island and, as it happened, John and Michaela’s daughter Gloria needed to get to the clinic there so they came along for the ride, along with the two little grandchildren. There was no wind; we couldn’t show off Lochmarin’s sailing capabilities so it was a gentle motor - a good thing for Gloria as it turned out as the poor girl was sea sick even then!


This was to be our last PNG island, the last opportunity for trading and I’d already packed up the few remaining bits and pieces of trading goods to pass on to Willy and to Justin’s father-in-law, Thomas. The starboard cabin was now unrecognisably empty, where once it was so full that I was worried to close the door whilst we were on passage in case something fell down and blocked the door (which opens inwards) and we’d never be able to get in there again. Whilst Jon was with us we had to wash and dry bedding in the same day because of the impossibility of getting to the linen cupboard at the far end of the starboard cabin. I could now simply walk up to it. In exchange we had baskets of fresh foods and coconuts everywhere. I joked with the Hermit ladies that if we hit a reef we wouldn’t sink; the buoyancy of the coconuts would keep us afloat and our stop in Longan had added to the store. I did a rough tally of the bananas on board (“Come Mr. Tally man, tally me bananas…”), in various stages of green to black, and worked out we had over 200, it must have been nearer 300 at its peak. “Surely you could have said ‘No thank you’ to more bananas?” you must be thinking. I did! Many times, but what can one do when a smiling face pops up over the gunwale, presents you with two coconuts and a bunch of bananas and says “Here! For you! To welcome you to our Island!”. It would be rude to refuse. Also, often things would be passed on to us, “These are from so and so”, what should we do? Send them back?

So we had banana shakes, banana cake, fried banana, boiled banana, frozen banana, sago banana fritters and finally just-too-far-gone-a-gift-to-the-sea bananas. Though I’m proud to say only about 50 went that way - not bad out of 300 when there’s only two of us!

We also had greens, snake beans, wonderful pumpkins and squashes, watermelon, lemons, papaya, lemon grass, chillies and eggs. Some eggs looked rather strange. They came from a Brush Turkey, megapodes, that don’t incubate their eggs, they just bury them in warm sand to hatch. Unfortunately one of them was bad and the other had a chick growing in it. I told this to Justin and he said he loves the ones with chicks in them, they’re a treat! Hum, not my idea of a treat.

Brown megapode eggs next to a white chicken egg.

We knew Thomas would be a lovely man as Justin held him in high regard and he proved himself to be an absolute gentleman. He joined us all for lunch on board (Australian lamb shank from the freezer cooked with lemon and snake bean sweet potato and breadfruit. The recipe calls for lemon, potato and broad beans, I had to adapt a little) and he was a delight to spend time with. Unfortunately Willy was away but Thomas took us the next day to find Mary, Willy’s wife. We were able to spend a little time with Thomas' family and met his wife Elizabeth, who very kindly gave me a handmade woven hat, of which I am very proud. Susie - if you’re reading this, one day we must get together with our matching Ninigo hats!

Justin had given us a note to pass on to Thomas, you can read it below:

We have never had a gift of a slaughtered chicken before and felt honoured indeed. Elizabeth boiled up some water in a pot to scald the chicken once she was killed so the feathers would come off easily and kindly did the plucking and gutting for us. We were certainly not going to starve on our next passage! Banana coconut chicken? Is that a possibility?