Bison

On the hill overlooking the harbour is St. Therese Catholic Mission which has one European Priest.

Approaching the harbour, the most conspicuous marks are piles of road repairing sand on the eastern headland. The entrance is clear of mid channel hazards and the bottom is very good holding mud.

HATZFELDTHAFEN HARBOUR is around the corner from Cape Gourdon from where the harbour is unidentifiable. Its reefs offshore and the small islet surrounded by a white beach become obvious as it is approached. The harbour is entered after opening the islet from the obvious mission buildings on the western headland and rounding the reef which extends westward from Cape Tombenam.

Swing anchorage can be had where shown by a half anchor on the map but this area is troubled by swell during moderate to heavy onshore winds. The best way to avoid the swell is to anchor out and put a stern line ashore at either of the two alternative areas shown by a full anchor. The one against the islet offers greater freedom for the crew to swim in the crystal clear waters while the other one permits a visit ashore to either the Seventh Day Adventist Mission or the Catholic Mission.

None of the jetties invite use except by smaller boats, but permission must be sought.

BOGIA is a government station where will be found post office, trade stores and most of the comforts of life, although in limited supply. Exceptionally pretty, with white beaches, rolling hills and rugged mountains with plantations everywhere, the boatman will enjoy perfect anchorage here off the Mission where shown by an anchor on the map. The township area suffers from continual swell and cannot be recommended, but a road connects the two centres.

LAING ISLAND is a tiny, low mass completely surrounded by white beach and settled by Belgian marine biologists who rent it from the Catholic Church for the princely sum of one dollar per year. With living quarters ashore for up to 18 people the purpose of the station is to identify new, and to more fully understand existing species. A fibreglass yacht provided by the Belgian government for transport will be seen at a mooring near the single log jetty.

Laing Island was owned many years ago by an Australian couple who produced copra and were known for their grand colonial way of entertaining. After selling out in the 1950's to retire to Sydney they returned to New Guinea and started a trade store at Bogia. The husband died there after which his wife committed suicide. It has been said that they regretted the loss of their old way of life and died of frustration trying to recapture it.

The anchorage is in the lagoon on the western face close to where a spare mooring will in all probability be sighted. The depth is 15 metres and the bottom sand. The water and reefs here are very inviting and a walk ashore will prove interesting, although the mosquitoes are prolific.

Laing Island lies in Hansa Bay where the diving enthusiast will find a couple of interesting wrecks. One is about 60 metres long and has her davits exposed above water while a larger ship lies in 18 metres of water (six metres to her tophamper). Their positions can be pinpointed by the divers stationed on Laing Island.

Of interest, it was in Hansa Bay during the last war that a number of Mitchell Bombers were doing a run across the bay attacking Japanese ships. One of the

» HATZFELDTHAFEN HARBOUR

Laing Island bears west. It is a low scrubby islet supporting a Belgium Government Marine Biology Station.

bombers scored a direct hit on an ammunitions ship but did not survive the blast, blowing itself up and plunging into the sea. The sequence of events was recorded almost unwittingly by the tail gunner of the leading plane. Later, it is said, natives found the bomber and the mother of one of the crew flew from the States to souvenir a part.

THE SEPIK RIVER I have not sailed up the Sepik River, being prevented by my son's serious illness with what later proved to be advanced hook worm, which forced a return to Madang. But that was not the whole reason. Frankly, I could not raise the necessary enthusiasm for a river that, although fascinating, is nevertheless just a mosquito ridden stretch of water with enough debris and sand in suspension to wreck any engine cooling pump impellor.

But I do not wish to discourage those whose hearts are set on seeing this world famous river from where some of the most fascinating artifacts originate and where the village life style can be so primitive that one might really believe the country has yet to be discovered.

For the interest of those boatmen intending to make the trip up the Sepik, the following information is the result of my research prior to my trip to the Sepik.

The best time of year to do the trip is in the dry season which extends from April to November but which is especially dry between July and October. August is therefore the best month of them all when the river is carrying minimum hinterland runoff and its rate of flow reduces to around two knots.

There are other avantages of the mid to late dry season. The mosquitoes are less prolific and the floating islands which are the children of eroded river banks reduce in number and rate of travel.

As the map shows, the water is deep in the entrance with no dangerous bar. Navigation into the river is therefore very simple. Navigation within the river should follow basic common sense, the deepest water must always be presumed to be on the outside of the curve with a midstream course probably being the best along the straights.

During the dry season, the average yacht would be battling to go further than about 200 miles. But most people have had enough by Angoram, not 50 miles

PORT OF BOG IA

ANCILA BAY

BlSMARck Se i\

Al I becjclies around Bau are white £>and

BlSMARck Se i\

ANCILA BAY

ANCILA BAY

(MALAGAZZA ISLAND)

HANSA BAY

arme Biolo esearck Sfati'on arme Biolo esearck Sfati'on upstream, where refreshments and supplies are obtainable.

In fact, as recently as 1971 a vessel of eight foot draft got as far as 320 miles during the wet season and far greater distances have been reached in the past.

Unlike its mighty cousin, the Fly River on the southern coast, where weeks can pass without seeing a soul, the Sepik is inhabited along its length, there being regular villages and a few government stations. There are also many lagoons branching out of the river which might be explored by outboard runabout.

Crocodiles still abound in the Sepik and the visitor is advised against swimming. There are more villagers lost to this reptile than is generally realised.

In rounding off advice about the Sepik I advise the carrying of plenty of insect spray or the fitting of screens to portholes and hatches and take at least two spare engine cooling pump impellors. Fuel, water, liquor and food can.be purchased at Angoram.

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