Water

As the chapter on Weather relates, some areas in Papua New Guinea have different wet and dry periods to others. In Madang, for example, the dry season runs June to November while in Lae, only 140 odd miles to the south east beyond a high range of mountains, the wet season occurs at this time because of the tremendous flow of moist air coming in on the winter trade wind. This precipitates over the mainland and spends its moisture by the time it reaches Madang. Only when the summer north westerlies come in does the situation reverse.

As a result of the above, a town may be overladen with water or it might be suffering an acute shortage at the time you require water.

Water is piped to all shipping wharves but to only a few small-ship jetties. Thus, if you cannot get water alongside a small jetty, and if the wharfinger permits the move, you are obliged to take on water at a main wharf. This is rather expensive in wharf dues as well as difficult because of the size of outlet. It is entirely likely that you will be presented with a hose so enormous that, if held when it is turned on, you might well find yourself sent into orbit. If you can hold it you will find the torrent of water Spends itself uselessly along the deck with only a trickle getting below. All this while a meter ticks away the litres.

A friend tried to adapt a main wharf outlet to his garden hose by seizing a raincoat sleeve to each of them. It worked for a few moments before the sleeve expanded like a kid's balloon then burst to the great delight of the assembled native onlookers.

The best outlet is something that more or less matches your own hose and fittings and this facility will only be found at small ship jetties and often not at all. Details pertinent to watering in the various ports are given in Part Two of this book. It is usually possible to water in most large towns and at a few small government stations. However there can be no hiding from the fact that taking on water can be difficult in certain places and the boatman is advised to carry as many different sized hose fittings as possible and to devise an efficient rain catching method.

Those out on a prolonged cruise will be forced to catch rainwater or obtain creek water. The former can be collected with awnings and buckets or a skin fitting in the deck at the lowest point which leads into the tanks. The latter can be done by filling buckets, or alternatively filling the dinghy itself which is swamped up to a level where it can still be rowed back to the boat. It can then be electrically pumped aboard. For this purpose I recommend the fitting of one general use impellor or gear pump aboard.

The quality of water differs from town to town and creek to creek. Port Moresby, for example, has a reticulating system and the water is treated properly. Madang, on the other hand, depends on bore water for its main supply and expects the locals to supplement with rain catchment. As a result the bore water is limited to large ships and certain important works while the local and visitor alike must somehow catch as much rain as possible against a sunny day.

Rabaul has reticulated water and pipes to small ship jetties but the water is almost undrinkable because of the high sulphur content of this area of active volcanoes.

And so it goes. Without itemising every problem, the reader can understand by now that the placing of water into his vessel's tanks is not always easy. It is often fraught with problems. But the fact is, water is available just about everywhere so if the visitor has just the least amount of imagination and drive, he will keep his tanks full.

If small children and people with weak stomachs are aboard, it is advisable to boil all water in Papua New Guinea.

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