Fuel can be delivered to any jetty, the most common point being Burns Philp's jetty near the yacht club where visitors are welcome as long as they first check with the shipping manager who will be found in the office in the Burns Philp shop close by.
Water can be taken on here direct from a reasonably sized tap but it is rotten with sulphur and does not rate as a good drinking water. Unfortunately there is no alternative unless rain is caught.
HISTORY Originally under German control, then after World War I, Australian control, New Britain has always been an important part of the Papua New Guinea economy because of its excellent plantations. Now it has palm oil as an extra string to its commercial bow and its people, especially the Tolais of the eastern end, tend to be more business minded than those of other parts of the country.
Rabaul was taken by the Japanese during World War II where they became so deeply entrenched that after dropping over 22,000 tons of bombs, the allies eventually went around them and starved the garrison out. Of great interest are the numerous tunnels in the hillsides around the township, one of which, it is said, opens up into a vast subterranean chamber. Another was specially built to hide navy barges and still another was dug into the cliffs overlooking the ocean for the purpose of servicing submarines which came alongside the fringing reef. Parts could be removed and trundled into the cave for repairs while the submarine submerged from enemy view.
The remarkable caves at Rabaul. Dug by the Japanese during their occupation in World War II as shelters, the hills around Rabaul are riddled with tunnels.
LASSUL BAY lies on the north west coast of the Gazelle Peninsula and is the logical first, or last, anchorage after leaving, or approaching, Rabaul. The coast offshore in this area is strewn with coral shoals and islets but is easily navigated with normal caution and a regular lookout. There are beacons on those reefs close to the logical inner route through these shoals which were all in place in 1978.
There is a government station in Lassul Bay with a medical aid post and police station. There is no post office here.
The anchorage is best over a rapidly shoaling sand bottom against the western side of the bay where indicated on the map. The steep beach here is free of fringing reef and provides excellent swimming despite clouds of sandflies ashore.
CAPE POMAS ENTRANCE Not illustrated, but shown photographically next, is the sand cay at the gap in the reef directly off Cape Pomas which is the entrance to the inner route along the north west tip of the Gazelle Peninsula. Logically, anyone leaving or approaching Lassul Bay will use this passage and it will be found that Cape Lambert on Talele Island provides a natural transit for the entrance although this is scarcely necessary owing to the conspicuous nature of the reef beacon on the edge of the passage.
Lassul Bay offers good anchorage on the north-west wing of the Gazelle Peninsula. There is a government station here.
Leaving the protection of the barrier reef around the north-west corner of the Gazelle Peninsula is made relatively easy by natural and man-made navigational aids. The bottom pic shows a sand cay and beacons marking the entrance through the reef off Cape Pomas. The top pic shows Talele Islets to the northeast of the cape which assist the navigator by their relative positions.
Tavanatangir (or Powell) Harbour has a large timber mill taking advantage of its perfect security (bottom) and is enclosed by low featureless land at the end of which (arrowed) is the entrance.
TAVANATANGIR HARBOUR (Powell Harbour) is situated towards the south east corner of Offene Bay in North New Britain. It represents a fair hike down the coast for a vessel heading west especially if the trade wind is well developed. This is the only decent anchorage within reach from Cape Pomas reef entrance.
Perfect all-weather protection can be enjoyed in the 'inner' harbour towards the Tavanatangir River entrance where will be seen a huge log dump and mill jointly owned by a Japanese company and the local government. The depth is extreme and the sandflies can be bad on a calm night.
The best alternative anchorage during offshore winds is off Badulu Village where shoaling water over dark sand will be found. A small trade store is established at this village and there is an employees' club to which the visitor will, in all likelihood, be invited.
LOLOBAU ISLAND During the south east winter season just about any part of the north New Britain coast will suffice as an anchorage as long as some semblance of a headland is chosen to reduce the inevitable movement of water which is found even under the lee of a land mass. Therefore, from Tavantangir Harbour west, the visitor can do his own thing by crawling close along the coast and enjoying a fair wind with small seas. Lolobau Island is suggested here only as a change from the coast and in no way is it recommended as a comfortable anchorage except in calm or northerly weather.
The best holding is where shown on the map which is also the only place around the island where reasonable depths will be found. The bottom here is patchy reef and sand and the holding is best using an Admiralty pattern anchor although a mud type will hang on.
As a matter of interest, from this anchorage one enjoys a grandstand view of the active volcano, Mount Ulawun — also called The Father. It is known to give occasional stunning displays of fireworks. Also, in that general direction will be seen a sawmill and mission run by the Catholic Church.
COMMODORE BAY For those still coasting along this part of New Britain, which is known as the Baining Coast and which is devoid of plantations, Commodore Bay provides tolerable anchorage immediately to the east of the Kapuru River entrance where the ground shoals rapidly from 35 metres to three metres. Shallow draft vessels can enter the river if the occupants have no objection to mosquitoes and sandflies. Numerous logs will be seen strewn around the entrance.
The beach here is quite inviting but the surrounding water is not, being fouled by the outflow of the river.
Kimbe is the biggest settlement on New Britain outside Rabaul. A recently started palm oil industry gave it overnight growth so that now there are modern supermarkets, a hotel and many trade stores. The main wharf shown here takes large ships only.
KIMBE is the second largest town on New Britain and is situated in Stettin Bay more or less at the bottom of the 762 metres high Mount Du Faure. It was established as a port for the shipment of palm oil, and a typical palm plantation can be seen on the Hoskins Peninsula as the visitor approaches from the east.
APPROACH There are many offshore coral reefs in close to the coast around Stettin Bay and a navigator should have a large-scale chart of this area before venturing into it. All critical reefs have beacons marking the navigable side and are easily seen from a considerable distance. The final approach into Kimbe Harbour is to either side of, or between, two offshore reefs. Both reefs (shown on approach map) have a light beacon at their eastern end flashing green. There is also a red and a white light marking dangers extending from the coast.
To B<ar»ksi fist Office,
Although depths are not shown on the accompanying map, there is ample depth for any sized vessel to approach and enter the harbour. Large ships call here regularly.
ANCHORAGE is comfortable where shown in 15 metres to the north east of the main wharf. This should be treated only as a temporary anchorage owing to the inconvenience to visiting ships which require the space to manoeuvre. Those wishing to spend more than a few days here are advised to seek anchorage further to the west.
FACILITIES The township was built on the old San Remo Plantation and was begun as recently as 1969 when the potential market for palm oil was recognised. Therefore, everything has a new feeling about it with the many shops able to supply most commodities. To the west of, and one street up from, the Palm Grove Hotel-Motel will be found a number of Chinese owned trade stores where liquor and basic food can be obtained; otherwise there is a larger settlement three kilometres along the sealed road to the west where will be found a golf course, banks, post office, supermarkets, tennis and squash courts, and so on. This road, incidentally, is sealed the full 40 odd kilometres to Hoskins Airport which serves the whole area with regular Fokker flights from Rabaul. STD and ISD phones are available.
Engineering facilities are plain but adequate for minor breakdowns whilst fuel and water are unavailable with any sense of convenience. The visitor may obtain either of these commodities in an emergency but he should not bank on it.
WALINDI PLANTATION is situated immediately south of Kilu Village on the eastern coast of the Willaumez Peninsula not far from Kimbe. Owned by Max Benjamin and managed by Tony Bunting, it produces palm oil, and hopefully, a cruising fund for owner and manager who jointly own the magnificent ferro cement hull lying to a mooring offshore. Called Cannibal this 21 metres ship was built by a German in Madang who electrocuted himself during its construction and whose relatives held up the disposal of his possessions long enough for Cannibal to be in a sorry state by the time Max and Tony purchased her.
If the weather is fair, Walindi Plantation is a pleasant way to kill a few hours and anchorage of a kind can be found behind the offshore reefs in front of Cannibal.
TALASEA lies to the north of Walindi Plantation on the Willaumez Peninsula and is not illustrated here because the author did not visit the harbour. However, as a starter for those keen to see this unique area, Talasea is a government station and has an area of hot water springs which bubble to the surface of the harbour. It is said that a vessel anchored over the centre of this spring can actually bucket pure fresh water aboard.
From the anchorage described above, Walindi Plantation house is seen on the foreshore with the owner's yacht, Cannibal moored offshore. She is being refitted preparatory to cruising.
A ceremonial house at a village on Garove Island. Garove Island is remarkable in that it is an extinct volcano with part of one side missing which admits boats into the flooded crater. The crater is the actual harbour.
This jetty and shed are used by the Catholic Mission on Garove Island. A small trade store is close by with the church sitting on the hill above. This is in Balangori Bay which offers the best anchorage within the crater.
This ceremonial barge found on Garove Island, Vitu Group, is an indication of how versatile native tradition can be. It has the same meaning and importance as the traditional men's houses which, in olden days, were forbidden to women and children.
The spire of the Catholic Church is just visible amongst the trees on the headland to Johann Albrecht Harbour, Garove Island. The best anchorage is under the lee of this headland.
The waterfront in Johann Albrecht Harbour, Garove Island.
The waterfront in Johann Albrecht Harbour, Garove Island.
This intricately decorated 'haus' was found at a village on Garove Island in the Vitu Group.
GAROVE ISLAND (Vitu Group) is a magic place with its anchorage and surrounding countryside straight out of a picture book. The harbour is actually the crater of an extinct volcano with access into the harbour through a break in its side. It is deep and commodious but only the southern part should be considered as an anchorage. Alternatively, a vessel will find perfect shelter around the north east coast in Peter Haven which is described next under its own heading.
The southern part of the harbour is known as Balangori Bay on the shores of which is established a Catholic Mission and a village which look at each other from opposite hilltops.
During strong south east weather the anchorage here can be quite disturbed but comfort will be enjoyed if a stern line is taken to a coconut tree ashore to hold the bow into the slight swell. The bottom is excellent holding mud at about 17 metres.
There is normally only one European Priest stationed here and, being a German Mission, he is invariably from Germany. There are no Nuns but there will in the future, be a native understudy to the Priest, if not a fully ordained native Priest.
A rough dirt road winds its way around the spectacular hills connecting up the many villages and plantations strewn around the rim of the volcano and an airport is situated at Windu on the western side (outside the crater). It is possible to travel by four-wheel-drive vehicle from the anchorage to Peter Haven.
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