McFarlane Harbour

(Mor^ll Lagoon)APPROACHES


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APPROACH from the south or east is best via Paluma Entrance which is a wide and deep gap in the barrier reefs about 13 miles SSE of the entrance to Marshall Lagoon (McFarlane Harbour). From Paluma entrance, steer a course which takes Twelve Mile Sandbank beacon close to port thence towards the harbour entrance via a black beacon which can be passed to either side and from where a red beacon will be seen well to port marking another small reef. From Twelve Mile Sandbank the harbour entrance is not conspicuous, being part of a low, featureless, background making the steering of a compass course important.

From the west, it is best to approach via Toveli Entrance which is exceptionally wide and free of danger with the first mark being the red beacon mentioned above. It can be passed to either side although it is navigationally correct to pass it to port as shown by the alternative route on the map in the long dotted lines.

The final approach into McFarlane Harbour is made via a channel defined by three red beacons (to port) and one black beacon (to starboard). Close in towards the headland will be seen a buoy which is of little consequence because by then the leading beacons are in transit ahead. This is shown on the large scale map where it will be noted that only two of the three red beacons have been shown owing to space limitations.

There are four sets of leading beacons, their characters being as follows: front board a triangle, back board a square, both with vertical stripes down the centre as shown in the diagram.

Vessels with drafts of up to 4.5 metres (15 feet) can enter the harbour at high tide and proceed to Kupiano by keeping all leading beacons open slightly to the east. This places a vessel into the best water although the average yacht could safely adhere to the leads on any tide.

NAVIGATIONAL AIDS These comprise the reef beacons already mentioned outside the harbour plus the port and starboard beacons showing the best water through the entrance. These consist of three red and one black with one black buoy. There are also four sets of channel leading beacons. No aids are lighted.

ANCHORAGE Once inside the lagoon entrance, which is defined as McFarlane Harbour, there is no restriction as to where the visitor may anchor. However, common sense directs one to the anchorage off Kupiano as shown on the map where there is good holding in mud in eight metres off the first jetty. During strong winds and spring tides, an uncomfortable windward-tide asserts itself but the anchorage remains essentially calm.

FACILITIES The 'town' of Kupiano consists mostly of European homes belonging to Australia and New Guinea Timber Company employees plus a few trade stores, one of which has the post office agency where will be found the only public telephone. This is connected into the main network and STD and ISD calls can be made direct.

Fuel and water might be available on a favour basis but in no way are these facilities offered commercially.

Limited supplies of food and general wares are available from the trade stores and special orders can be organised to be sent by road or air from Port Moresby with the assistance of one of the local Europeans.

Company Accountant and port pilot, Chris Whitehouse, with his wife Hazel, are keen local sailors who enjoy meeting visiting yachtsmen. Their catamaran will probably be seen near the anchorage.

HOOD LAGOON Lying 25 miles west of Marshall Lagoon and about 60 miles south east of Port Moresby, Hood Lagoon is formed by a large bight in the

mainland and is protected from the sea "by a narrow neck of land on which is established a village called Karawa. The headland is reinforced by a large fringing coral reef extending to the west and south. Ferry Mission (Karawa) consists of huts made from European material with a consequent 'shanty town' appearance. Although large there are no facilities which might interest a visiting boatman.

Of interest, however, are the enormous catamaran canoes — or Lakatois, which ply locally and to Port Moresby with passengers and freight. They are seen at Marshall Lagoon also.

APPROACH is clear of all dangers with the exception of the fringing reef extending west and south from Kele Iruna Point and on the end of which is a lighted beacon with a green triangle top. Further in towards the anchorage a red beacon must be passed to port to avoid shoals extending south off Karo One Point.

ANCHORAGE is absolutely secure and calm immediately upstream of the end of Kele Iruna Point off the village itself in 7 to 15 metres of water. This anchorage is ideal in any weather.

PORT MORESBY is the capital of Papua New Guinea being the administration centre with enormous government buildings scattered everywhere and, more recently, concentrated out at Waigani, a suburb of Port Moresby.

Since 1967, high rise buildings have become part of the landscape giving the visiting boatman positive forms to identify on approach and a small reminder of what city life is like. Regrettably, in the context of city lawlessness, Moresby now ranks high in the world with areas of festering discontent created largely by the

The Royal Papuan Yacht Club sits at the base of the steep hills which surround Port Moresby. It offers a hearty welcome and all its facilities.

contrasts between wealth and poverty. Aggravating this are countless wantoks (villagers friendly or related to a person working in the city) who come to the city to 'sponge' off their friends. It is not uncommon to find twenty to thirty people all crammed into an average sized house and all living off the wages of one person. This system is very much a part of life in the villages where it works very well. However, in a modern city, it becomes unworkable, with petty crime a direct result of the discontent it breeds.

While I was delighted to find many friendly faces, both black and white, and courtesy where I had been warned there would be animosity during my visit in 1978,1 am obliged to include here a warning to the visiting boatman.

The fact is, more and more vessels anchored in the harbour are being boarded and looted and there was recently a case where a young couple were held at knife point while their vessel was stripped of valuables. It is advisable therefore, not to leave the vessel untended during the hours of dark and to rig some type of alarm system which might frighten a would-be thief away.

APPROACH to Port Moresby Harbour from the sea is made through the main reef entrance known as Basilisk Pass. There is a lighted beacon on the western end of Nateara Reef and lighted leading beacons on the hill in the background hold a vessel in the passage.

With Basilisk Pass astern, a vessel of average draft can safely steer direct for the harbour entrance, otherwise, stand on until a red buoy is passed to port then round up onto the second set of leading beacons which direct a vessel into the harbour mouth.

Once inside the harbour proceed direct to the anchorage off the Royal Papuan Yacht Club passing either inside or outside a harbour reef which is marked by lighted (red and green) beacons at each end.

ANCHORAGE As a container wharf reclamation slowly consumes much of the shallows along the edge of the harbour between the city and the yacht club, anchorage is becoming more and more difficult. It is best directly off the yacht club unless the number of boats demand that you anchor too far out and in the approach path of ships working up to the main wharves. In this case there is no alternative but to move further into the harbour beyond the Naval Depot where facilities are not only further out of reach but pilfering is most common because of the lack of flood lighting after dark.

Frankly, anchoring in Port Moresby Harbour has become something of a dilemma. All the visitor can do is make the best of it until he clears customs, or whatever, then juggles himself into a more suitable situation should a berth behind the reclamation become available.

During south east weather the anchorage is secure and calm although the massive wind gusts which generate through the saddle where the city is located can cause some concern and discomfort. During the north west monsoon it is advisable to move around to Ela Beach.

The anchorage directly off the yacht club in Port Moresby is crowded. A second anchorage exists further up-harbour.

TIDES in Port Moresby and for much of the coast both east and west are normal. That is, they occur twice daily and rise and fall around 1.3 to 2.0 metres. There is virtually no current in the harbour, the movement being vertical only.

FACILITIES All victualling can be undertaken in Port Moresby although many commodities are priced as if made of gold. Even the native markets are unreasonably high in their prices. It is nothing to be asked K4.00 for a humble pineapple for which one pays around 40 toea at other centres. Of course, many of the prices are a try-on, but unfortunately the barter system seldom works at a market.

Diesel fuel is available from either Steamships or Burns Philp wharf although there is an understandable reluctance to fill small yachts with their minimal tankerage. Their prices are also higher than other main ports, the reason being, I was told, that Port Moresby financially supports other centres with subsidies.

As an example of diesel fuel price fluctuation, the following is of interest. During November 1978, diesel from Burns Philp in Port Moresby cost to the consumer 72 toea (about 90 cents Australia) per gallon. From Steamships in the same port it cost 65 toea per gallon. From fuel agents in both Rabaul and Madang the cost was lower and static at 58.4 toea per gallon.

Water is also available on tap from either of the above jetties but permission to go alongside must always be gained first from the shipping manager whose office is close to the jetties in question.

Despite high prices, the visiting boatman is assured he can properly stock his vessel with food, water and fuel and if he has any money left he can eat out at one of many restaurants, have a cup of coffee, or go to the theatre. Otherwise, there is always the very friendly Royal Papuan Yacht Club where visitors are welcome and toilets and showers are available. The yacht club also has fuel and water piped to its pontoon but only small craft can get alongside. •

About ten miles south east of Port Moresby lies Bootless Inlet where a boating centre called Tahira Boating is growing and will eventually become a marina and perhaps an alternative to Moresby itself when the Yacht Club and the anchorage close to it is squeezed out by the spreading container wharf reclamation.

In the meantime, Tahira Boating consists of a ramp haul-out facility with slipway to follow, a building and repairing shed and a jetty where fuel is available but which cannot accommodate the average yacht.

Situated under the yacht club and also out of Waigani, are ships chandlers who stock a fair variety of yacht gear. Both these centres also build and repair boats and can act as agents for a sail repair service.

Slipping is easy in Port Moresby for any type or size vessel but the prices are exceptionally high. The alternative is to use the tidal grid owned and operated by the yacht club.

HISTORY Discovered by Captain John Moresby RN in 1873 aboard his command the Basilisk, Port Moresby became the seat of government from the declaration of the Protectorate until the Japanese invasion necessitated the replacement of civil by military control in 1942. After the war administration was returned to civil authority.

The Japanese were anxious to secure their Malayan and Philippine conquests by extending their frontier through the Solomons and New Guinea and on to Australia. After their southward thrust was checked in the Coral Sea Battle the Japanese switched their offense to the land and crossed Papua New Guinea to attack Port Moresby from the rear. Thus the famous Kokoda Trail battle which turned the Japs back a scant thirty miles from the back door.

Whilst Port Moresby was hotly contested during World War II, it never really suffered to the extent of other centres throughout the country. However, it felt the sting of many a bombing raid, one of which put the Burns Philp passenger ship Macdui on the reef in Port Moresby Harbour. The actual film of this attack was seen by the author recently where it shows the Macdui alongside the main wharf. When the raid commenced wharf labourers were plainly seen racing from the ship as she got under way, circled the harbour under constant attack only to have a bomb land directly down her funnel on the other side of the harbour. Crippled, but with way still on, the ship was put on the reef where she is still visible today. In 1967 the author and fellow cruising yachtsman, Brian Wilson, accompanied and assisted the crew who recovered Macdui's mast which now stands outside the Royal Papuan Yacht Club.

NOTE: The coast from, and including, Port Moresby to Daru thence to Thursday Island in the Torres Strait is described in detail in the author's book Cruising the Coral Coast.

The passenger ship Macdui lies on her side on a reef in Port Moresby Harbour. These photographs were taken in 1966 but much of the wreck is still visible.

Port Moresby today.






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