We departed from Green Island just after first light and made our way to Feni Island. It was an easy motor sail and because of our early start we arrived at around 2.30pm.
Feni Island is poorly charted and so we had some trouble finding exactly where to anchor but after lots of local help we were directed to a bay called St Johns Harbour just behind a small islet, What a beautiful bay it was too. Crystal clear water again!! A small village, Nabang, was on the main shore and we had a few visiting canoes but no where near as many as at other locations. The small islet turned out to be a favourite picnic site – with an excellent swimming beach and some nice bombies off shore for snorkelling. Trish had her first real swim since leaving Australia – so that is saying something about how lovely it was.
Feni means ‘giving’ in Feni language and we can honestly say we have never met more generous people. Shortly after arrival we asked to meet with the Chief to pay our respects – people were a little surprised by this, but happy to oblige. So the next day we set out to meet the Chiefs – there are two in that village. One of the chiefs (Vincent) was in his garden, so we met first with Benjamin and his wife Mary.
They are a delightful couple- both self taught in English and both very fluent. We sat for a while with them and shared stories. We had a small ceremony, where we were given a shell necklace symbolising our friendship.
We gave a small gift of cigarettes, matches, flour and noodles. Ben and Mary later gave us the biggest pumpkin and cucumber we have seen. They also gave us a chicken and perfect sweet potatoes and bananas. They repeated how embarrassed they were that they did not have fruit to give us because it was not in season (and the parrots eat all the paw paw). Their generosity was overwhelming.
That night Kevin went diving with some of the local men, organised with Martin from Nabang. We provided batteries for torches. All in all they caught about 17 crayfish and 5 fish. We received the lion’s share of the crayfish – a real treat!!
We spent a few days just relaxing. Mani loved visiting the small island where she was allowed OFF THE LEASH because there was no wildlife around. She spent most of her time running away from Trish, digging sand holes for crabs and rolling in smelly things.
Feni Island is a paradise! Certainly what we saw of it – and it seems that the people are well aware of how lucky they are to live there. It’s a shame we could not stay longer – but the lure of the big city – Kavieng – was calling us – actually, we decided we had to get to telephone range for mother’s day!!!
On our last night at Feni, we sat down and talked with both chiefs on our boat. Again, we found ourselves discussing economic development issues. Feni is more isolated than any of the other islands we have visited (apart from Budi Budi) and is faced with great difficulties in communication and transport. The islands have a wealth of natural resources. They refuse to allow gold mining (good on them!!), and want to look towards tourism development – to which their island is very much suited. Unfortunately, there are a lot of practical barriers to this. We are meeting with Chief Vincent in Kavieng, where we will be giving him some of the example documents we have prepared for Simbo Island to help them along, a little.
We left Feni Island early in the morning (these early starts are getting easier….) and headed for Tanga Islands – another day sail. The passage was fairly easy going, not much wind to speak of, so the motor is getting a work out.
A few Feni words:
Konona Bin Bin – Good Morning Konona ef ef – good afternoon/evening konona panambin – good night Aro (siget) – Thankyou (very much) Mus(h) – hurry Kis – sit kassa – come
The anchorage here can be hard to find. Charts are inaccurate or too vague. Tanga is bounded by deep sea and depth readings start virtually at the beach. Fortunately we had been there before so we anchored exactly where we had last time. Again, we met wonderful, generous people. Those who visited our boat were keen to trade. We visited Augus, brother of Benjamin and he and others sat and shared stories for a morning. The language at Tanga is wontok with Feni – but there are some differences. We were understood when we used our Feni words though!! But we have been working on our pdjin a bit more too and we are slowly making progress – as long as people speak very slowly and carefully. Tanga is closer to the New Ireland and seems to be further developed than Feni. Apparently they will be getting a mobile telephone tower in the near future.
Our passage from Tanga to Kavieng involved another overnight trip. Again, we had a great motor sailing passage – save for around 4 hours when the sea was sloppy and not so comfortable. It was great to put the hook down, off Nusa Lik island. Kavieng is still a great spot to provision and its also wonderful to be able to catch up with our friends from there – especially Dorian, Cara and their latest addition – Vicki, a beautiful little 9 month old. But more on our time in Kavieng later. Its time to sign off for now. So, until next time, love to you all, KTM.