Cheeseburgers in Paradise

We were tired and hungry after swimming with manta rays yesterday morning, so we decided to grill cheeseburgers for lunch when we got back to Sophie. And yes, Steven Fell, I was thinking about you while I ate my cheeseburger in paradise. It was delicious. If I am ever in a position where I need to arrange a last meal for myself, it will be a cheeseburger that I will eat while anchored in a remote tropical atoll.

Our 36 hour pit stop in Carola Bay on Luf Island in the Hermit Islands of Papua New Guinea was an outstanding break in our 600 mile passage to Indonesia. There is a 150 person village there organized around a Seventh Day Adventist church. 8 year old children would paddle their canoes up to Sophie and ask if we wanted to trade with them. They offered fruit and beautiful pieces of handiwork made from varnished sea shells. They were seeking things like rice, laundry soap, towels, or t-shirts in return.

Jenna even traded her U2 concert t-shirt to last group of girls that came by to trade. “It’s for the band U2. I got it at a concert. You’ve heard of them? The band? U2?” She was met with blank stares. Later when I was telling this story to Leo, he asked me “Who’s U2?” I thought it was hilarious. Bono needs to come out here and donate his red guitar to the village.

A local named Bob took us around to a pass on the western tip of the island where manta rays feed. He said that during the new moon, hundreds of them gather at this spot. We saw 5 on our dinghy ride down to the point and had the opportunity to swim with one large one off of the beach in front of Bob’s house. We also saw a couple of decent-sized reef sharks. Bob has a written proposal for building a guest house on this point. Lauren gave him her underwater camera and will create a Facebook page advertising Bob’s efforts. I will post a link to it when she does so.

Per Ardua was with us during our stay in Carola Bay, and the kids from the two boats played with each other the whole time. We really enjoy buddy boating with another family. We could easily have stayed longer in the Hermits, but we need to get to Indonesia given the time constraints on our visas and cruising permit for that country. Besides, the weather forecast called for strong southeasterly winds, and we really liked the idea of covering ground without using the engines.

So we left Carola Bay at 4:00 PM yesterday and are currently 150 miles away from Jayapura. We turned the motors off at 3:15 AM and are currently sailing at 7 knots with a single reef in the main and a full jib out. We were averaging 8 knots for most of the morning. It’s a bright sunny day and we hooked 2 fish in the last 30 minutes but lost them both. Our noon position is 01.56.399 South, 143.09.124 East. We should drop anchor in Jayapura around noon tomorrow.

Lauren will be leaving Sophie in Jayapura, assuming she can get a reasonably priced airplane ticket back to the states. She has been an excellent crew over the last 2 months. We will all be very sad to see her go. She’s cooking a shepherd’s pie for dinner.

From Jayapura, we plan to sail another 260 miles to the Padaido Islands, a coral atoll where we will hang out for a week or two. Hopefully Per Ardua will catch up with is there. We are very excited to spend the next few months in Indonesia. For the last few months it’s just been a destination on a map for me. Tomorrow it will become real.

One thought on “Cheeseburgers in Paradise

  1. Hi, guys…we always love your stories/blogs. They are fascinating and we are so happy your voyage has been safe! When you get to Lombak there is a little island off the northwest coast called Gili Aire. We spent several nights there in a small, raised dwelling with a bath “facility” in the back. Transportation around the island was via donkey-driven carts. The monkeys were everywhere. The nightly rate for the room including breakfast was $8. There were several fairly good restaurants…some with power! Just in case you are in the area! Steve and Colleen from the “hood”.

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