Ilo Ilo Bay, Papua New Guinea
Sun 14 Aug 2016 22:16
The timing was good. We approached the pass through the sunken barrier reef at 12:30, but even then we'd not yet seen Papua New Guinea. The humid overcast weather kept the hills and mountains out of sight until we closed the pass when grey edges against the grey horizon appeared and gradually gained depth and colour revealing beautiful steep islands, with sandy beaches and rocky cliffs, stands of palm and garden clearings. Beautiful.
Once through, bird activity and jumping fish identified a bait ball close to starboard and Phil and Jon soon spotted dolphin arching into the fray. But what dolphin! They were the cutest, tiny scaled down dolphin you can imagine: Dwarf Spinner Dolphin, the biggest adults not much more than 1.5 m and the calves were tiny! We were honoured by them leaving their feeding to come and bow ride with us a while.
Frigate birds wheeled overhead (we've not seen them since Galapagos) as we tucked ourselves in behind Deirina Island in Ilo Ilo Bay to anchor. It was already nearly 4 in the afternoon, we wouldn't get to Samarai before dark.
Now we could pause, look up and appreciate the paradise we were in the midst of. Wooded shores overhung sandy beaches which led up to steep hills with smooth green slopes. The sun broke through and the as the sea turned blue all the shades of green that are possible surrounded us. We had only just cracked the long awaited anchor beer when we saw the first canoes sliding out from under the palm trees, we had visitors to welcome us.
We never did manage to finish that beer. A steady stream of boats came out and the folks came aboard. We gave them drinks and snacks and made tok tok. One little chap who'd paddled out with his big brother had cloths falling off him, their true colour long disguised by stains. I rummaged in the starboard cabin and found him some shorts and a top. They were surprised to find we had a 'chicken' on board so we couldn't use the cockpit and Big Ears was very patient with their stroking. He has perked up a bit. He's cleaning his feathers and turning his head to watch us as we move around. He can move a little too, shifting his position to keep in the shade. Eventually we explained to the assembly that we were very tired and we needed to eat and sleep and they left. But even after dark I was awakened by "Hello, good evening!" from outside. "Good evening! We are sleeping, see you tomorrow." I replied.
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