Top: Nivani Island, in the Deboyne Lagoon, bears east (arrowed). Centre: Nivani Island bears west from the eastern side of Deboyne Lagoon. Bottom: These islets help identify the East Channel through the encircling reefs of Deboyne Lagoon.
PASSAGE FROM THE CONFLICT GROUP TO DEBOYNE LAGOON. This is well charted and free of hazards. Lunn Islet en route is low and flat with plenty of coconut palms. There is a shack conspicuous on the north west corner and a major light visible at night for six miles on the north east corner. Further to the east the Torlesse Islands appear as a group of densely wooded cays ringed by a white beach with at least one village being conspicuous from the north.
DEBOYNE ISLANDS are mostly high, continental type masses lying around the Deboyne Lagoon which is protected by reef and islands. Used as a base during World War II, it provides some excellent anchorages, the best being under Nivani Island as described later. The native canoes here are said to be amongst the best in the country and most are equipped with a dipping lug sail made of rice bags.
APPROACH is clear of dangers through the western-most passage aptly named West Passage. The reef to the north dries and a number of boulders on its edge are conspicuous helping to define the entrance from a distance. Other reef entrances can be used with normal caution. The large islands within the lagoon are easily identified from the entrance and other islands will be seen down in the Calvados Chain to the south east as will Misima Island to the east.
LEAVING DEBOYNE LAGOON Those continuing east towards Misima Island, will logically pass through either Redlick Passage or the one to its immediate south. The latter is probably the best being hard under the lee of a lagoon type reef to its immediate south east. The passages are narrow but deep. Many of the beacons shown on the chart are no longer in existence.
ANCHORAGE The best anchorage is under the lee of Nivani Island as shown both in small and large scale on the map. The water suddenly shoals up onto a sandy bottom with scattered coral patches none of which appear to rise to within less than three metres from the surface. Caution should nevertheless be exercised during final approach to the anchorage. Ideally, the Admiralty Pattern anchor should be used here.
Nivani Island is entirely under coconut palms looking rather like a pin cushion from the distance. The plantation was owned by well known local identity Dusty Miller who sold out to the local villagers early in 1978 to retire to Sydney.
MISIMA ISLAND lies east of Deboyne Lagoon and north of the Calvados Chain and is included in the Louisiade Archipelago. It is a magnificent, rugged mass with evidence of terracing along some of the mountains. The only town of any consequence is Bwagaoia which lies on the western side of a harbour by the same name. Other anchorages exist along the north coast and I understand a fair anchorage can be found on the south coast close to the western tip of the island but these were not investigated for this book.
BWAGAOIA HARBOUR is an indentation in a large fringing reef lying off the south east tip of Misima Island. The reef is overgrown with mangroves giving the harbour the appearance of being a landlocked inlet. Regardless, the effect is the same, there being complete protection from anything but an unlikely, severe, true southerly. Although not a customs port, the government is represented by an Assistant District Commissioner (ADC) who should be notified of your arrival as a matter of courtesy. His office is in the post office building up the hill as shown on the map.
APPROACH is clear of offlying dangers from any direction and is finally made between two unlit beacons, red oblong to port, black triangle to starboard. The harbour itself is clear of hazards being surrounded by a narrow fringing reef of coral which is easily identified from the deck.
NAVIGATIONAL AIDS consist only of the two beacons mentioned in Approach, there being no other aids nor any lights to aid night entry.
ANCHORAGE is in excellent holding mud off, or upstream from, the town jetty. Should local or visiting boats already occupy the choice sites, there is no alternative but to anchor down harbour of the jetty. During strong winds when plenty of anchor cable is required, yet not too much so that it risks the boat against the fringing reefs, a pattern of two anchors may be necessary.
During strong winds a swell works into the harbour but is tolerable if the vessel remains fore and aft to its influence.
FACILITIES Water is piped to the jetty and is of excellent quality although a visitor might be well advised to boil it anyway. Fuel is available in a crisis but it is inconvenient to obtain and very expensive.
The NSW and Papua New Guinea banks have agents at Bwagaoia and two trade stores stock basics including cold beer.
The post office service is limited only by the fact the Misima is visited by only one plane per week from Alotoa.
Entering Bwagaoia Harbour, Misima Island. The top pic shows a typical view of Misima whilst the centre and bottom pics show the actual harbour entrance. The arrows point to the red and black port and starboard beacons.
The local hospital has no resident doctor but medicines are dispensed by the medical orderly.
The local market where fresh fruit and vegetables can be purchased opens every Friday and Saturday morning. It is situated close to the jetty.
HISTORY Like so much of the history of the more romantic areas of Papua New Guinea, reliable facts and figures are difficult to pin down. But, certainly, during the early part of this century gold was mined from the hills around Bwagaoia which became the centre of entertainment and the source of provisions. One of the only two railway lines in the country was laid here between the jetty and the diggings along the south coast. The south coast road which runs for about 15 kilometres follows the old bed and passes through a unique, narrow tunnel in a hill.
Well out along the north coast road which runs for about 40 kilometres there is a cave on the edge of a precipitous limestone cliff in which the spoils from past raiding parties are to be found. It is full of human skulls and can only be seen with the help of a guide and a promise that no souvenirs will be taken.
Based on the historical fact that Misima was well endowed with gold, there is talk that Conzinc Riotinto, using Placer Development as the managing agent, plan to open-cut for gold about ten kilometres from the harbour. This will involve the upgrading of the airstrip and, presumably, will improve facilities in the township.
The Misima Market is held every Friday and Saturday morning under a large thatched building by the harbour front.
Bagie — or Badie — as described on page 94 is a government station with trade store, post office and airfield on Tagula (Sudest) Island. It is the nerve centre for the Calvados Chain.
THE CALVADOS CHAIN A group of islands ringed by coral reefs, this lagoon-like formation extends from the Jomard Entrance, to the west, for 105 miles in an east south east direction. Its eastern extremity underlaps Rossel Lagoon, Rossel Island being the last island in the Louisiade Archipelago.
The largest island of the chain is Tagula — or Sudest, where the government station of Bagie is situated where shown on the small scale map. Other islands present ideal anchorages giving the visitor the opportunity of making short daylight runs with maximum time at anchor.
WURI WURI PASSAGE The logical entrance through which a vessel approaching the Calvados Chain from Misima Island would pass is Wuri Wuri Passage. Whether the name is linked with the word 'worry' I have no idea but can assure the navigator that it presents no special problems in its negotiation.
The passage lies magnetic south and 18 miles distant from Bwagaoia (Misima Island) making it possible to lay it on the one tack during normal trade wind conditions. On each side of the passage there is an island of similar character in that both are low, heavily wooded and surrounded by a white beach. The eastern island is shorter than the western but is slightly higher where a knoll of trees will be seen on its eastern extreme.
DEI JEI RADI PASS is a clear entrance through the reef into the Calvados Chain from the south. It lies close off Tagula Island's southern extremity which is a headland affording fair anchorage in its bay named Dumaga Bay. I have not
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