The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Mon 13 Jul 2015 21:51



11:09.26S  152:46.67E


We’ve arrived at Pana Numara in the Louisiades.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


13 July 2015  Luganville to Papua New Guinea (Day 8)

The last fifteen miles to the reef passage seemed to take forever.  The skies were overcast and very gloomy, with showers in the distance.  The wind was 20-25 knots from the south, so we were beating hard into the wind, heeled over at 30 degrees.  I was worried about the light conditions, the strong winds and what sort of current and wave conditions we would have at the pass.


We arrived at 0830, by which time the sun had risen higher in the sky and the clouds were starting to break up.  High tide was at 0615 (UTC+10), so we went through Chubudi Pass two hours after high tide and encountered a 4 knot current against us.  Fortunately, the wind was with the tide, so we didn’t get any big standing waves.  We never saw anything less than 20 metres depth and the pass is 300 metres wide.  (Our waypoints were:   11°05.181S 153°02.231E, 11°05.653S 153°02.068E, 11°06.021S 153°01.843E, 11°06.529S 153°00.731E)


As we were only achieving 2 knots over the ground, it took half an hour to get through the pass, then we had a three hour bash to windward before arriving at Pana Numara Island and anchoring in 6 metres.  The sea bed has lots of coral head, so I snorkelled down to check the anchor, then put a fender on the chain at 15m with 30 metres out, which seemed to be holding the chain above the seabed.  This is a lovely looking anchorage with a white sand beach, blue water and swaying coconut palms. It’s well protected from the south 20-25 knot winds that are howling at the moment.


Glenys made Fish Tortillas for lunch which we washed down with a nice cold beer.  I wanted to go to bed, but we had a couple of ladies paddle up in their canoes wanting to trade.  One wanted to swap some tomatoes for onions and one was asking for fish hooks.  Thirty minutes later, I was in bed.


I was woken up by Glenys shouting for me to give her a hand because an islander called Simpson had cut off the end of his little finger with a machete.  He’d paddled out in his canoe to see if we could help him.  Simpson had tied a tourniquet made from some kind of grass around his finger and it wasn’t bleeding very much - fortunately, he hadn’t cut the bone.  We’ve never dealt with a wound so bad, so were a bit unsure how to proceed.


Using cotton wool, Glenys cleaned the wound with fresh water and then some Betadine, while I dug around in our various first aid boxes and found some small 5cm square dressings.  Tentatively, we asked Simpson to remove the tourniquet and, thankfully, it didn’t bleed anymore.  Glenys then poured some more Betadine over the injury to sterilise it and we placed a dressing over the tip of his finger, securing it in place with a finger plaster.  To finish off, I cut the finger off a rubber glove and placed it over the dressing to keep it dry. 


Simpson was obviously in shock, so we gave him some drinks of water and some Ibuprofen and Paracetomol for the pain, although he didn’t complain at all about our ham-fisted treatment.


The next problem was to make sure that Simpson got proper medical attention, so we tried to find out the location of the nearest nurse or medical aid centre.  Simpson kept saying that there was a “hospital” at an island called “Kirina”, but I couldn’t find it anywhere on our charts.  His English was okay, but islanders have a habit of saying “Yes” when they don’t understand a question, so you have to phrase all questions carefully.  A question like “Is the island close?” will be answered by “Yes”.  A question like “How far is the island?” may get a better answer, but Simpson kept saying “Over there” and pointing, which wasn’t that helpful.


Eventually, we think that “Kirina” is Bagman Island, which is only five miles away and Simpson says that he’s going to get a friend to take him there in a sailing canoe tomorrow.  I emphasised that he needs to go to the hospital, but I’m not sure if he will.  We gave him another dressing, some Betadine solution and some Paracetemol and sent him on his way in his dug-out canoe as the sun went down.  I hope that the wound doesn’t get infected and heals well.


We had a few beers, a nice meal of “Fish stuffed with Garlic Cheese”, a bottle of wine and then crashed out early.