Put Put Harbour to Umboi Island including Rabaul and all of the north coast of New Britain

NEW BRITAIN is an island lying west to east between the Papua New Guinea mainland and New Ireland. As it sits on the earthquake belt, disturbances occur from time to time and a few active volcanoes periodically give a performance.

The south coast was not surveyed for this book but it can be advised here that the best time to see it is during the summer north west season, or between seasons. The south east winter trade wind season makes it a lee shore, and while not especially dangerous it can make the finding of an anchorage an obligation rather than a pleasure. There are, fortunately, many fine anchorages for those who wish to sail the south coast.

For those following this book, the north coast of New Britain will be found to offer some superb anchorages, interesting people and occupations and a tolerably calm sea in winter as long as the land is held close during strong south easterlies.

The largest town on New Britain is Rabaul with the next largest being Kimbe where the palm oil industry has recently commenced. Both these centres are described under their own headings later.

RABAUL Meaning 'Lap Lap' in the old native tongue and also called Simpson Harbour, Rabaul Harbour serves the largest town on the island of New Britain and provides fair haven and most conveniences for the visiting boatman. It is the only town outside of Port Moresby where the yacht club is large enough to open at regular, daily intervals.

The harbour is the actual crater of an extinct volcano and there are a number of active ones in the vicinity. While the whole area here is prone to subterranean disturbances, they are mostly of a minor nature providing little more than spectator interest. Major disturbances are described under the headings 'Volcanoes' and 'Earthquakes' earlier in this book.

APPROACH to Simpson Harbour is clear of all dangers except for the spectacular Beehive Islands in the inner entrance. These are more than obvious to the sleepiest navigator and were once inhabited by over two hundred natives.

The harbour is provided with leading beacons which will be found quite unnecessary during daylight hours.

ANCHORAGE is not good in Rabaul during strong south east weather. Considerable wave action takes place in the recommended area off the yacht club which can be quite maddening at the high-tide-change period when even large

Approaching Rabaul from the south-east. Cape Gazelle, foreground, is a low extension of land beyond which is the harbour. The two hills in the background are actually active volcanoes on the harbour foreshores.

yachts will hobby horse. The only way to reduce this is to move hard in against the foreshore to the immediate south of the recommended anchorage and remain there until the wind moderates. Fortunately, there are many calm periods in Rabaul making the anchorage tolerable for much of the time.

The bottom is mud but unfortunately has a fairly firm crust on top which can deny penetration by a mud anchor. The best way to force the anchor through the crust is to lay out far more cable than is necessary then snatch the boat back on it. When the anchor bites, shorten the cable to a sensible length and the vessel should be secure.

Do not move in too close to the shoreline near the commercial area of Rabaul Harbour owing to the presence of many small wrecks and old wharf piles. Similarly, do not anchor in these areas in case the anchor permanently fouls.

FACILITIES Rabaul is the only town, apart from Port Moresby, where a decent coffee shop will be found, and this, together with clubs and motels, provide fair alternatives to those wishing to dine out.

The yacht club offers barbecue meals with open air films every Sunday night and, of course, beer, food, and general recreation at other times. Visiting boatmen will automatically be made temporary honorary members. Unfortunately, the showers leave a lot to be desired but they are better than nothing.

Rabaul market is enormous and it opens every day except Sunday.

In the industrial area of Rabaul will be found substantial engineering, engine rebuilding, electrical suppliers and all the usual services the boatman unfortunately finds he needs occasionally. As a matter of interest, the cost of imported items, such as electric generators and so on tends to be slightly cheaper here than elsewhere in the country owing to the direct import from other countries.

The many shops in the town provide for most needs and the NSW, Papuan New Guinea and Development Banks are represented.

Taubmans have a large paint warehouse where a boatman might enjoy a trade discount if his order is large enough and there are many slips capable of hauling out any size vessel. The charges are astronomical even by Papuan New Guinea standards.

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