Hills aroun d har-bour steep a«-\d IneoviIlj "limbered of water around them and in their bays.
Generally speaking this is a beautiful piece of coast well worth seeing, but the boatman is advised to make the hop from Mort Harbour to Salamaua in one. Lae is not recommended as a port of refuge for reasons described under its own heading and those sailing straight across the Huon Gulf from Mort Harbour to Dreger Harbour will find that crossing under its own heading after the description of Lae.
SALAMAUA lies behind Salamaua Peninsula and was a port and trading town when the gold fields inland from this area were discovered after World War I.
Probably the most famous area connected with gold was the Bulolo Valley into which enormous gold dredges were air lifted using Junkers W34s and G31s aircraft. This era was important to aviation as a whole owing to the remarkable feats of the pilots who flew these aircraft. It was also the beginning of aviation as we know it in Papua New Guinea because it showed the viability of using aircraft in a hostile, rugged land. It was the beginning of an air network that would eventually link over 250 airstrips, some of which have no equal in the world in terms of their dangerous positions and history of romance.
When air transport superseded native carriers, who often spent days and sometimes weeks trekking from Salamaua into the Wau and Bulolo Valleys, activities tended to centre more on Lae and Salamaua became something of a backwater. Then it was totally wiped out during World War II, and Lae became the undisputed headquarters and Salamaua never recovered its previous importance. Today it should be looked upon as little more than an excellent anchorage in the winter season and as a safe place to leave the boat should you wish to visit Lae (hitch hiking is the only transport system).
APPROACH from the south east, Salamaua Peninsula (also called Parsee Peninsula) appears as a low detached island which quickly joins up with the mainland as the distance decreases.
There are no serious offshore dangers although deep drafted craft should clear Shepparton Shoal lying four miles south east of Parsee Point and carrying only 4.5 metres of water over it.
A small reef lies immediately offshore from Parsee Point with little more than one metre over it.
ANCHORAGE can be brought up wherever convenient once the swell has diminished. Ideally, it can be had deep inside the bay where indicated on the map.
LAE is rapidly becoming the industrial and commercial distribution centre of Papua New Guinea. It is tipped that it will overtake Port Moresby in this respect very soon. It might also overtake Port Moresby in lawlessness as its rate of crime is increasing.
Lae originated as a township when Guinea Airways, a company formed to service the Bulolo Goldfields, chose the delta area of the Markham River as being a suitable place for an airfield. That Lae should have grown into the town it is today confounds reason because it must be the lousiest harbour in the country and very likely would rank high in the world as the most unlikely place to build a port.
There is no map illustration with this description because the visiting boatman is advised not to consider stopping at Lae. He will find a deep, surging anchorage with no security or comfort whatsoever. If the visitor must go to Lae he is advised to stop somewhere else and fly or motor. For example, he can hitch a lift from Salamaua or he can fly or catch a bus from Madang.
HUON GULF This is the huge bay which strikes into the Papua New Guinea mainland from the east and terminates at the Markham River delta and the city of Lae which has just been described.
The land on both sides is visible from the other side during fair weather despite a distance across the mouth of approximately 50 miles. This is partly because of the height of mountains and partly because the tapering nature of the bay permits the sighting of a mountain range well inland from where the gulf opens into the sea. For this reason it would be foolhardy indeed to steer by landmark unless that landmark is positively identified.
The south east trade wind pushes a short steep sea into the gulf which can be thoroughly unpleasant, but no more dangerous than in other areas. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the Huon Gulf is the likelihood of striking floating debris in the form of huge logs washed out of the Markham River or rivers along the south coast of New Britain. Papua New Guinea's national radio carries shipping warnings to this effect when the danger is extreme.
In Dreger 'inner' harbour, a vessel is best held fore and aft to a slight north east swell which wanders in occassionally. It is a very secure harbour.
Beautiful Dreger Harbour is protected by a number of low islets interconnected by reef. This is a transit into the harbour.
Fuel can be purchased from this establishment in Dreger Harbour, Papua New Guinea mainland.
DREGER HARBOUR If the passage across the Huon Gulf is anything but pleasant and spirits are low, Dreger Harbour will cast its spell and heal all wounds. It is the most beautiful area imaginable with an 'outer' harbour large enough for big ships and an 'inner' harbour suited for small craft. For this reason two full page maps accompany this description.
The harbour is formed by islands and reefs, the former being of uplifted limestone surrounded by clean white beaches. All the islands support a plantation and the mainland's claim to fame is the Dregerhafen High School where education is taken seriously and the result can do nothing but impress the visitor.
A township (Finschafen) lies a few kilometres inland by road where a couple of trade-stores sell basics. Fuel and water can be taken aboard in Dreger Harbour itself where shown on the map. This service was not tested by the author but it is presumed that prices are high.
APPROACH from the north is clear of all dangers with the islands which form the harbour becoming conspicuous when close in. The harbour looks much smaller than the imagination presents it after looking at a chart or map and the navigator should make allowances for this common illusion. It is easy to believe that a shelter for boats could not fit behind the line of islands.
From the south there is a line of underwater reefs which rise at Megin Island lying between Malasigu Point and Cape Cretin. These need be of no concern unless the vessel has been driven in dangerously close to the coast.
All Islands ow wooded ¡fk
All Islands ow wooded ¡fk
As the harbour is entered a middle course should be steered between the mainland and Nussing Island. Alternatively, the navigator will find an excellent natural transit by touching Matura Island on Kumbam Island as shown on the map. This leads a vessel clear into the harbour.
Final entry into the inner harbour must be made on lookout only. It is through a clear deep channel between the mainland and a fringing reef which extends NNW from Simboa Island.
Although it is entirely possible that Dreger Harbour could be entered immediately south of Sagian Saun Island where a depression in the reef appears, the visitor is advised to use the southern entrance only.
ANCHORAGE The best anchorage for small vessels is in the inner harbour behind Simboa Island where a sand bottom at 6.4 metres will be found. The holding is good but swinging room limited by the width of the harbour in which case a stern line can be taken to an old set of piles to the immediate south of the jetty.
At high tide this delightful spot can become animated by a small swell from the north east so it is suggested that the vessel be laid bow up to that direction.
Alternative Anchorage can be found just about anywhere around the harbour but the best spot is in 28 metres behind Matura Island where a slight swell should not cause discomfort.
Schneider Harbour is entered from Dreger Harbour by negotiating a narrow, deep passage hard against the mainland at Nababagdu Point. The anchorage here is not as good as in Dreger Harbour.
FINSCH HARBOUR lies just a few miles north of Dreger Harbour and offers such perfect anchorage that it is a shame that nature could not have put these two excellent centres further apart.
Most yachtsmen making a passage will not stop at Finsch Harbour after anchoring at Dreger. Those with time on their hands will be rewarded by a totally calm and secure anchorage although the mosquitoes can be bad.
There are no worthwhile facilities at Finsch Harbour and the actual town of Finschafen is closer to Dreger Harbour than it is to Finsch Harbour.
APPROACH is by logical choice and is free of any offshore dangers from any direction. I would warn the navigator not to blink, however, because Nugidu Peninsula can be very difficult to virtually separate from the mainland behind.
After rounding Cape Bredow, lay for the eastern tip of Madan Island after first being sure to miss the remains of the two jetties on each side of the harbour. From Madan Island the best handy anchorage will be found in 15 metres near Flaggen Peninsula. Otherwise, snug weatherproof anchorage can be found in Lillum Kapuen in seven metres.
VITIAZ STRAIT lies between the Papua New Guinea Mainland (in the area of Dreger and Finsch Harbours), and New Britain and Umboi Islands. It is renowned as a rough, miserable stretch of water because of wind, sea and current.
The wind funnels through the Vitiaz Strait with gusts more severe than will be found in open waters and pushes a surface current of up to six knots. This rate is more commonly two to three knots but it is nevertheless formidable to a southbound vessel.
The seas, which one would expect to flatten off with wind and current in the same direction, stack up short and steep and can prevent southward passage by even the most powerful of coastal vessels. The north bound boatman has everything except comfort in his favour.
During the summer north west monsoon season, conditions reverse but the current seldom reaches the same rate as it does in winter.
The way in which Vitiaz Strait receives its name is of interest. It started with a side show in Sydney, Australia. The main attraction of this sideshow was a New Guinea native captured from Hoop Iron Bay by an unscrupulous trader of the period.
When Sydneysiders grew tired of this novelty, the trader simply released the poor native onto the city streets where, totally lost and bewildered, he was taken in by a hotelier who gave him lodgings in exchange for general yard duties.
Named Baelala, he was at last noticed by a young Russian, Baron Miklouho Maclay, a nobleman who was about to embark upon a scientific expedition aboard the Russian warship, Vitiaz. Maclay took Baelala along and returned him to his homeland in the vicinity of Vitiaz Strait.
THE COAST THROUGH VITIAZ STRAIT So remarkable is the stretch of coast north of Finsch Harbour, along the mainland of Papua New Guinea, that it has been acclaimed as one of the geological wonders of the world. Some say it is the Eighth Wonder; others are unaware of its significance.
The coast is formed by limestone terraces which are old reefs and each terrace bears proof of a prehistoric sea level. They run for many miles with only occasional vertical breaks with stunted vegetation; otherwise the land is arid, covered only by short, coarse grass.
At the base of the spectacular terraces runs a narrow strip of white beach behind which is a pencil line of natural scrub and coconut palms. It is also one of the few areas in Papua New Guinea where will be seen sand dunes of any size.
SIALUM Too late to safely enter against the sun and unwilling to hove-to offshore in the Vitiaz Strait for the night, I failed to survey this harbour for the reader. It is included here, nevertheless, on the presumption that some knowledge is better than none.
According to what could be seen from the masthead and from information gathered from others, the anchorage is comfortable and it lies off the plantation jetty where shown on the map. Entrance into the harbour is easy using two large
leading beacons situated on the terraced hill, but the approach path, once inside, to the recommended anchorage cannot be commented on here. Let it just be said that local vessels regularly enter Sialum without trouble.
KELANOA HARBOUR Also called Chissi Anchorage, this unlikely little anchorage lies about ten miles east south east of Teliata Point and is only recommended in fair onshore weather or any offshore weather.
Chissi Anchorage was not surveyed by the author, the accompanying sketch map being provided by a fellow yachtsman who claimed the anchorage offers reasonable comfort as long as the visitor snugs well south into the crook of the reef which extends from the mainlaind out to Chissi Islet. Soundings were unobtainable but the depth is certainly adequate for the average large yacht or coastal trader.
The islet is a tiny, barren, treeless lump to the south of Chissi Point. The entrance channel lies between the two.
Beware of entering the anchorage against the sun when a lookout is totally blinded.
Peliata Point supports a light and protects the bay to its west where will be found the seclusion of Sio Anchorage. The light is on Sio Island.
SIO ANCHORAGE is in a snug bay to the south west of Teliata Point, the latter being the northern termination of a headland which consists of low densely wooded land, lagoons and islets with a fairly concentrated native population in a number of villages scattered throughout. There is a major light on Teliata Point visible for 12 miles.
APPROACH from any direction is easy as long as the coastal fringing reef is cleared. In particular, the fringing reef off the western side of Teliata Point juts out half way down as shown on the map. This is easily seen as the sea mostly breaks across it.
ANCHORAGE is available anywhere down the west coast of the headland but, except in perfectly calm conditions, a consistent swell keeps a vessel rolling and surging. The only anchorage worthy of the name is in the tiny inlet at the extreme bottom of the bay where an anchor is shown on the map. This can also suffer slightly from swell during any weather but a vessel can be kept comfortable by the use of anchor and stern line.
The bottom is clean sand and the bay is fringed with reef, white beaches, and palm trees. Fresh water runs into the bay from a creek in the south west corner.
Alternative Anchorage The visitor approaching Teliata Point from the south will note on the eastern side of the headland a small wharf and shed with, quite possibly, a sizeable vessel alongside.
Very little information is available regarding this secure berth except that it is approached through a channel in the fringing reef and that vessels of moderate draft can use it. Those boatmen wishing to enter are advised to first anchor where previously suggested from where precise information about the berth can be gained from the natives.
ASTROLABE BAY From Sio Anchorage, a vessel heading west and north enters Astrolabe Bay which describes the bight in the mainland as far as Isumrud Strait which separates the mainland from Karkar Island. Madang is the major town within the bay having its own superb harbour which extends up the coast for nearly ten miles to Sek Harbour (Alexishafen).
Behind the west coast of the bay stands the Adelbert Range behind which runs the Ramu River. Behind the south coast of the bay stands the Finisterre and Saruwaged Ranges which have peaks rising to 13,500 feet.
From the anchorage point of view, the south coast is rather inhospitable because of its lack of decent harbours and the often lumpy sea which commonly continues westward from the tempestuous Vitiaz Strait (even when the wind is non existent in the bay). There are many rivers along this coast, all of which empty into the bay via low, grassy headlands.
Those anchorages which offer some form of security are described next but the mariner is advised to continue from Sio Anchorage direct to Madang if he is in any hurry.
WASU (Schlangen Harbour) is situated about four miles south west of Vincke Point which itself lies four miles west of Teliata Point. The anchorage is not comfortable, being affected by swell, but the holding is good and a new jetty might be used which has three metres alongside.
Leading beacons are situated ashore and the government station of Kalalo will be found up in the hills behind Schlangen Harbour.
KABUR RIVER ANCHORAGE is for desperates only. The swell always attacks it and the least depth available is 26 metres. It is recommended that those travelling along the coast either remain at sea or make for the next good anchorage which is Sio, going east, or Wab Bay, going west.
SAIDOR is a government station with medical aid post, Catholic Mission and a jetty. It lies on the headland formed by the delta of the Nankina River and is low lying and featureless. An airport capable of handling twin engined planes is established here which was used as a base during World War II.
Under no circumstances can Saidor be considered a safe and comfortable place to stay. The swell always attacks it, causing a vessel to surge against the jetty continually.
WAB BAY If the reader is of the impression that good anchorages are scarce along the south coast of Astrolabe Bay, he is absolutely correct. However, there are the surprises and Wab Bay is one of them. It lies to the west of Helmholtz Point, the headland on which is situated Saidor and despite its rather insignificant appearance on the chart it does, in fact, provide excellent anchorage in the foulest of south east weather. It is, however, quite untenable in north west weather at which time Saidor becomes a proposition.
Maximum comfort is only attained at this anchorage by those prepared to use a stern line to keep the vessel at right-angles to the beach. This holds the vessel
\ do«* (
35 _ 28
KABUR RIVER ANCHORAGE
inside the hook of reef where the swell diminishes to such an extent that animation is scarcely discernible. The anchor must be dropped in 28 to 35 metres of water and it should not drag.
Beware of lying too close to a spur of the fringing reef which juts out to the west as shown. Two local vessels will be seen here and the best spot is close to the south of the southern-most vessel.
MELANUA HARBOUR (Konstantin Harbour) Named Melanua on the land maps and Konstantin on the charts, this pretty little bay to the immediate south of Madang, in the south west corner of Astrolabe Bay, has a nice 'hook' in its headland giving calm water behind. It provides a perfect haven in- good holding at 15 metres in all weather except strong north westerlies.
APPROACH from the north, lay magnetic south from Madang Harbour until a conspicuous house is sighted ahead. The anchorage is to the immediate left (east) of this house. There will also appear to be white beaches visible but these are, in fact, black beaches reflecting the sun.
From the east, Garagassi Point, which is part of the headland protecting the harbour, is obvious close up because of its 'airstrip-like' clearing which is, in fact, a river delta. All the headlands along the south coast of Astrolabe Bay have this feature, the one at Garagassi Point runs towards the east.
ANCHORAGE As stated, this is in good holding mud at 15 metres where suggested on the map off Melamu Village which stands conspicuously on high ground.
HISTORY Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay (1846-1888) whose name is spelt a different way every time one sights reference to him, lived near Garagassi Point, in Konstantine Harbour from September 1871 until December 1872, then again for a six month period in 1876. He carried out important scientific work in the area and became very friendly with the natives, learning their language and following their ways to a certain extent. So well liked by the natives was he that other Europeans in his wake paved their way by mention of his name.
Suggested by one historical account is the possibility that Maclay did not live here entirely for the benefit of science. It has been intimated that he was also there in the hope of being his country's first representative in New Guinea should Russia have tried to annexe the country ahead of Germany.
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