VSKC Expedition Viewer - Sandy Robson - Stage 4 & 5
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Team Leader: Sandy Robson
Location: Germany to Australia Stage 4 & 5
Start Date: 05 November 2014
Grade: 0
Map Centre : -8.5, 148.2
Zoom Level: 7
Inset Map: Set
Connector Lines: No
Expedition Description
Sandy Robson (WA) paddles West Bengal, Bangladesh and beyond. Follow her progress all the way to the finish line in Australia. This is stage 4 and 5 of the journey.
Expedition Members
No Members, Just Sandy
On this Expedition...
Expedition Stats...
Total Distance: 11284 km
Paddling Legs: 357
Average/Day: 31.61 km/day
Expedition / Trip Chart Expedition / Trip Stats / Members
Paddling Distances Over The Last 14 Legs...
Leg Details
July 28, 2016 Oro Bay, (-08.897550 , +148.492600) 0km
  -28-07-2016:- Oro Bay
Rest day
July 27, 2016 Oro Bay, (-08.897550 , +148.492600) 13km
  -27-07-2016:- Oro Bay
July 26, 2016 Rave point, (-08.794190 , +148.474790) 47km
  -26-07-2016:- Rave point
July 25, 2016 Urugari village, (-08.511270 , +148.218980) 31km
  -25-07-2016:- Urugari village
July 24, 2016 Ambasi, (-08.269100 , +148.192320) 16km
  -24-07-2016:- Ambasi
Hosted by the health centre folks. Enjoyed a cup of tea with the kids, meeting the pet cuscus and fresh tuna dinner. I have been paddling quite conservatively the last few days and stopping early as the strong winds come in at 3.30pm to 5.30pm. I don't want to get stuck bashing into it too often. Tomorrow I hope to get down to Holnicote bay. Sandy.
July 23, 2016 Iwaia, (-08.153440 , +148.143140) 30km
  -23-07-2016:- Iwaia
This was not a great stop for me, wished I paddled past it. Definitively not a good place for female adventurers.
July 22, 2016 Mambututu, (-08.071280 , +147.988070) 12km
  -22-07-2016:- Mambututu
This was made very special for me by the Waide family. Fabulous sing sing and super hosts.
July 21, 2016 Gugumi, (-07.991640 , +147.938030) 30km
  -21-07-2016:- Gugumi
Emergency landing to stay at a camp by the river with simple poor people in ragged dirty clothes, my support crew seemed uncomfortable, I enjoyed the adventure there. The change over support boat from Oro didn't show up. Have to look for them tomorrow.
July 20, 2016 Bau Isl, (-07.884120 , +147.709760) 24km
  -20-07-2016:- Bau Isl
Got away a tad late after some delays from my support crew. The winds were not as favourable today and I arrived later than expected to Bau Isl. Mountains seem further inland now so the view was not as magical, but this is a dream island with only 2 people living here. Nelly and Sam are lovely people. I could easily stay 2 weeks, alas, just overnight and on to cross into Oro province tomorrow. Sandy
July 19, 2016 Morobe, (-07.768430 , +147.592190) 17km
  -19-07-2016:- Popsys guest house at Morobe station
Just a half day paddle today and then relax in the afternoon. Saw very large dolphin or very small whale today! Support boat motor is a bit "buggerup" as they say here, but they got a part in a village and fixed it. Heading to Bau tomorrow. Might make it further-on if wind is OK. Getting Oro province support boat at Eia. Sandy
July 18, 2016 Hosken Isl, (-07.642930 , +147.529800) 22km
  -18-07-2016:- Hosken Isl
July 17, 2016 Payawa Isl, (-07.510180 , +147.396610) 48km
  -17-07-2016:- Payawa Isl
July 16, 2016 Lababia Isl, (-07.245010 , +147.153370) 36km
  -16-07-2016:- Lababia Isl
July 15, 2016 Salamaua, (-07.055680 , +147.048550) 36km
  -15-07-2016:- Salamaua
July 5, 2016 Lae__, (-06.724460 , +146.993480) 0km
  -05-07-2016:- Lae
2 & 3 July Portaging to Lae On-board South Sea Lines Tug Boat overnight x 2 nights. The captain, Josh kindly gave me his cabin and he slept uncomfortably with the men down below. It's very rolly down there and noisy from the engine. The tug is pulling a freight barge slowly around to Lae from Wasu. The barge is towed 200m behind the Tugboat. The sea is pretty rolly as we power into the big swell in the Vitziag strait. My kayak is safely tied to the railings outside the wheel house up on the top level of the tug. The deck below is awash with water as we crash through the waves. They wanted to put my kayak on the freight barge but I begged to be allowed to have it on the tug with me because on their trip around to Wasu the barge was robbed by thieves who tied their dinghy up to it during the night and stole all sorts of supplies from cartons as well as a lot of beer. On the return trip there is much less risk of sea piracy as they mostly carry copra and cacao from the village to the city. I feel much more comfortable though that I can check on my kayak regularly and know it is safe. On the second day we pass the cape and the sea returns to calm. We go to Salamaua overnight because it is not safe for me to arrive at Lae in the middle of the night. In the morning we will get in to Lae port. Huge thanks to South Sea Lines for allowing me the safe passage around to Lae. Huge thanks to Consort Shipping for fast forwarding my Lae arrival arrangements and for wonderful support of my journey around from Madang to Lae. 4 July Arrive to Lae and hosted by Consort Shipping.
July 1, 2016 Wasu_, (-05.959550 , +147.196690) 36km
  -01-07-2016:- Wasu
it's 6.15am Belden is looking dejected. He's just realised the theives in Yaimas also stole his fishing rod. I feel bad for this loss. I wonder how much one costs to buy. Fishing is a part of hi livelihood and his passion. Thieves are dirty dogs. After stressing yesterday about the weather and the sea I found out that the coast from Singorakai to Wasu is sheltered by Reiss Pt and Vincke Point so the large South-Easterly swells don't seem to get in too much. We went around the large reef off Singorakai and aimed straight for Reiss Pt, then after that I cut in closer to shore as I approached Peschel Point and Schlangen Harbour. Wasu has two tall white navigational marker posts at the entrance to the harbour and they can be seen from a long way out. Earlier in the day we saw a young marlin leap out of the water 5 or 6 times. Spectacular! Grace and Belden were fishing along the way with hand lines, and at one point Grace called out excitedly that they had got one fish, maybe a big tuna, but then they lost it off the line as Belden reeled it in. On arrival in Wasu I got the feeling that lots of people come and go from the harbour and that the beach there was a bit unsafe. Grace helped me find a local lady Clara who said she would host me overnight. We were also speaking with several locals about the next section of coast. It came time for some tough decision making as we were informed of the strong currents and swells currently in the Vitziag strait. Apparently of the three dinghies that came from the Lae side today, one was sunk and lost after capsize, one capsized and was able to recover and continue, and the third made it through safe. I did not want my friends Grace and Belden to lose their precious boat on my account. The currents, wind and swells would no doubt make travel slow for me, requiring short days and more stays in local villages, but the locals considered several places completely unsafe for me as the people had been engaged in hold ups and sea piracy recently. If I had a local person who knew people to come along I might be able to get through, but it was still very risky. I went to my hosts home which was only half built (it was kind of like camping). Clara and Steven kept me safe there and several locals who had seen my news on the paper came by. Clara and Steven used to have a house on the beach, but it got burnt down last year by drunk rascals and they were lucky to get out alive. They lost everything and had to start over. This made me feel very humbled at their generosity in giving me a bit of roof over my head when they hardly have one over themselves and their 4 children. Steven cannot yet afford all of the corrugated iron and nails to complete the roof. Later in the afternoon I went back to talk over the trip predicament with Grace and Belden. Belden said he listens to his instincts and he had a bad feeling about it, so they had decided to go home to Madang tomorrow. I was also troubled with how to proceed safely. I did not wish to get held up and looted or worse. I couldn't ask a boat to accompany me either because they would be risking everything. It was not a good place either to sit around waiting on good weather. Grace suggested that I ask the tug boat who were docked there if I might get a ride around to Lae so I could skip that section. She knew the captain and he was Fijian. So we went off together and met Captain Josh with a Bulla welcome. We spoke on the phone to his kiwi boss and the OK was given for me to travel with them. I felt a little bit unhappy to have to skip a section of coast, I was sure I could paddle it had the circumstance in the onshore villages had more of a safe story, but in this instance all of the locals felt it was too risky in that regard, so I heeded the good advice given to me and gratefully accepted the solution. I had never been on a tug boat, so it would be an adventure. Sometimes things fall into place just how they should. In the night I heard a ruckus at the beach and I later found out that some boys made an attempt to steal Belden and Grace's boat, so my friends made a run for it out of that place and back to Singorakai in the darkness. I had thought I heard a speeding boat. It was so sad we never even got to say goodbye and get a final photo together or give a gift of thanks. I am also glad they escaped safely and that I was safe there with my new friends. The tugboat engineer said he had feared for my safety onshore.
June 30, 2016 The point before Singorakai, (-05.863480 , +146.907230) 34km
  -30-06-2016:- The point before Singorakai
It was a warm send off from Malalamai where the 3 widowed sisters and their family had hosted Grace, Belden and I overnight. We had been drinking tea together in the morning. They shared steamed green bananas for breakfast and I had my power cereal that my sister sent me with various protein powder, chia seeds, and greens veggie powder added. Then we took loads of morning photos. They wanted pictures to remember my visit. A boy helped Grace and Belden get their boat over the reef on a falling tide. They have a beautifully carved, long, wooden paddle to push the boat out over the reef until the engine can be safely tilted into the water. I followed, paddling over the lovely coral formations and marvelled at the clear morning view of the backdrop of huge mountains. Stunningly scenic. It was a relatively easy paddle around to Roinji Cove where the Madang Province ends and we crossed the imaginary line on the sea into Morobe Province. As I paddled toward Singorakai the swell picked up alarmingly and I was climbing swells of up to 5m plus high at times. Some were breaking a little on top and I was on the lookout to avoid those. My heart was racing on some as I climbed up up up the face, all the while thinking, 'if this breaks....'. I was glad to be a day ahead on program as it would have been a disaster to be here in these swells in yesterday's afternoon squall. The current seemed to be driving hard against the prevailing swell and causing this huge sea state. I was sometimes doing 7 to 9 km per hour which surprised me as I was against a light wind. Grace was very scared in these swells in their dinghy (they call them banana boats here). One time Belden took a slightly wrong angle and water sprayed over them. Grace went forward to fetch their life jackets after that as she feared they could be capsized. I was sometimes laughing as I saw the air under their boat and then they came crashing down again. Belden seemed a bit amused by the sea too. They came in close to me at times and I explained that we would paddle in to the point which was behind a big reef, actually between 2 reefs and thus sheltered. Getting in there was a big relief and the place was ideal for sheltered landing. Still a strong current ran along the shore as water pushed in by the surf breaking on the reef made it's way back out of the bay powerfully. I now had due respect for Vitziag strait where I was told conditions would be much worse. I was concerned for tomorrow and reassured Grace that we would turn back and await a calmer day if it got bad tomorrow. Where we stayed there was no phone signal to get weather forecasts and Grace had heard of 20-30knot winds further along in the strait, so we were all a bit worried. We had got in at 2.30pm and Belden sat around in the shade looking a bit unhappy. Grace confided that they had realised that afternoon that their boat had been robbed when we overnighted at Yaimas. Locals had hosted them there and said the boat was safe on the sea, but food, fishing lures and clothes had been taken. We were all a bit disappointed after that. I had my own troubles as I noticed today a small crack in my rudder mount. I had to use some epoxy glue to strengthen it up. I think it is going to break before I get around PNG and I am hoping I can get a new one sent in from my friends in Raja Ampat where it was fitted. Just before sunset Grace and I walked one kilometre through the jungle and along the beach to send sms asking for updated forecasts to receive in the early morning. We found out safe landing sites prior to Wasu - just in case - and planned to depart earlier to capitalize on the calm morning time to make good progress. I felt the burden of not only looking after myself but also of making sure I was not pushing Grace and Belden too far out of their comfort zone. We still had a long way to go to reach Lae and I had only known them for 5 days. Once again kind people took us in overnight. I was hosted by a young woman called Monica and was amazed by her skill in dishing out dinners to an army of hungry family members. I think she fed 10 people. I shared my dinner out amongst them and gave some chocolate biscuits as a dessert treat. I am getting a bit of flavour fatigue on the back-country meals now after eating them a lot in the past 3-4months. I am looking forward to getting a bit more variety in my next food purchases in Lae.
June 29, 2016 Malalamai, (-05.762890 , +146.648030) 34km
  -29-06-2016:- Malalamai
Day 4 with Belden and Grace. Belden has no cans of coke left. He drank 24 cans in 3 days. I told him I will buy him one coke in Finnschaffen. He has an addictive personality for these things, but he his a sweet, kind man. We had our first squall since leaving Madang. I was keeping an eye on Grace n Belden as I paddled. It is tough for them to support me as a dinghy would normally just speed through this weather to shelter in 15mins time on a quiet shore, but now they must travel slowly through the oncoming wind driven sea, smashing over the crests and crashing down in the boat as they wait wait wait for me pushing into the wind in the kayak slowly. I had stowed away my sun hat because the wind kept whipping it off my head. Now the strong rain was stinging at my face as I pulled stroke after stroke into it for over 2 hours until finally the weather passed over and calm resumed. Belden told me after that he thought I was a good kayaker. I told him that wasn't such a strong wind. I have experienced much worse. The current was helping me I think. I was still pulling 3-4km per hour into that wind. We were all glad to reach the sheltered waters off Malalamai. Some boys in a canoe paddled out and kindly helped us. They guided Belden and Grace in around the reef and found me a home for the night. A lovely lady who met me on shore told me they had been following my story in the news and she said "we are not like those Sissano people". They welcomed me very well and I walked with some pickanninys (kids) a kilometre to wash in the river. I asked the young girl guiding me "is there any crocodiles in this river?". She replied, "no, they killed them all, well there is one, we see it swimming there sometimes (pointing at the sea near the river mouth), but mostly it just hides in the mangroves". There were 3 or 4 people washing there. One lady was also washing dishes. I had a quick wash in the cold river water and my mind observed that it was hard to get out quickly as your feet sunk down in sliding steep sand on the bank. Crocodile thoughts ay! You become kind of blase about crocs after a lot of time living in their territory. You know they are there, but you are no longer driven by fear. I assessed the risk as mild without knowing any real stats. I have to get the salt water off my skin as it is causing me itching and irritation and the cold river is rejuvenating and re-energising, although washing with all these people around is not a great wash as I must keep my clothing on and try to soap up underneath it all! I think this is just a white woman issue. They are all used to washing without privacy here. This young girl guiding me pointed out the broken cross of her fathers grave on the way past. It looked like somebody had kicked it in half. She told me her father was murdered at 35yo. This is shocking for me but maybe not that uncommon here. They have had their own troubled times, but they reach out to shelter me kindly and make me feel welcome. I sleep in the 9yo girls room beneath a photo of her father that reads below it "stronger than your dad" - a daily reminder to be strong and move forward. She seems a keen student. She tells me, "I have read about people like you in magazines". I wonder where she will be in 20years time in this volatile world.
June 28, 2016 Yaimas, (-05.612850 , +146.417450) 33km
  -28-06-2016:- Yaimas
Each place I can take away a memory. At Yaimas an old lady hosted me. I will always remember how happy she seemed walking off to the river with her string bag hanging off the back of her head. She seemed almost dancing down the path with the gifts I gave her. Just a little soap, shampoo and conditioner swinging in her bag. She usually shared a bar of soap with her daughters. Having some to herself gave her such a happy smile as she went to 'wash wash'. Speaking of smiles, she didn't have many teeth left. She couldn't chew buai (bettlenut) anymore. So she smashed it up in a small wooden cup before placing it in her mouth to suck on. They gave me a mat made from a palm tree to sit on around the fire while I made my dinner. "We don't have any chairs", they explain. I liked it much better than any chair. I made pasta with Roo Bolognaise sent over from Australia, some pasta sauce bought in Madang and dried mushrooms that Anne Woollard sent me. I made extra and shared it with my hosts and their children. They were excited to try something new and complimented the taste. I told them it is Italian style food. I'm not sure if they know where Italy is. After dinner, a lady wanted to wash my dishes for me. I wanted to help. She got water and then disappeared a moment. When she returned she had a bunch of grass in her hand. "we av no sponge, we use Kunai grass", she explained as she scrubbed the bowl with much love and care. "Do you av Kunai grass we're you're from?", she asked. "No, but sometimes when I am camping I use beach sand to scrub my dishes", I replied. I like the Kunai grass idea. I never ventured to describe the concept of a dishwasher! I've never owned one anyway. My mum always said she didn't need a dishwasher, she already had 2 (me n my sister). I got brought up well I think. I heard that in Morobe Province Kunai Grass is bountiful and they use it to thatch the house roof, whereas here they use the sago palm leaves. These people have a great bond with nature. Nature gives where economics does not - if you know how.
June 27, 2016 Mindre village, (-05.534070 , +146.150670) 46km
  -27-06-2016:- Mindre village
We all agreed not to camp out like yesterday. We had a long way to go and needed to get good rest. Today I paddled much further than I thought. Winds and currents were great. I was hosted out on the point by a really amazing family. They made me feel very happy and safe. I could see their lives torn and twisted, impacted by the Nickel and Cobalt mine across the bay. The mine are letting toxic tailings pollute the surrounding waters. My hosts said they have to buy fish in the market now because they can't catch fish like they used to and children who swim in the sea get strange lumps in their skin that burst open in sores - they think it is from the water toxins. This was not happening before the mine. The mine has been operating since 2011 and not one payment has been made to the local communities as per the agreements made for the land use. They were supposed to get water and electricity in their village but they only got intermittent water supply and no electricity. Yet the Chinese company reap the reward of the mine. On the other hand, many of the people here are working in the mine and earning their living from this. There are rumours it might all shut down soon. Where is the emergency stop button. Nature is being destroyed irreparably.
June 26, 2016 Male_, (-05.491530 , +145.781980) 34km
  -26-06-2016:- Male
My first day out from Madang with Grace n Belden supporting me. I learned a lot about them. They are a lovely couple from Manus Island but have lived in Madang a long time now. I think they are a bit like sea gypsies who would like to come with me all the way round. My first selected possible landing they thought too rough, so I let them choose a place. Getting their heavy boat out of the sea was a mission of men pulling on ropes and people pushing and unloading heavy fuel and more grunting and pulling in unison. It has 200L of fuel on board minus whatever we used today. Plus water, food etc for 2 weeks. Grace jumped out and found a bunch of locals to help. We were not right in a village. Kind of on the edge of one village and another was further down the beach. There was an open sided hut there with a low roof. I pitched my tent on the beach. Grace and I went to a river to 'wash wash'. It was nice to have female company. Grace taught me a lot about travelling in PNG. They have 24 x 1kg packets of rice with them. They don't really like rice that much. They gave one packet to a lady who then returned in the evening with yams cooked in coconut milk which Grace had for dinner and breakfast the next day. They gave 2 more packets of rice and some cans of bully beef to some guys on the beach who then cooked up a storm and fed about 15 guys, including Belden. I made pasta with pesto on a fire the guys built for me. I shared some to each of the 15 plates of food that was served and ate the rest myself. My tent got surrounded by hoards of people. It was uncomfortable. I was tired. People talked outside the tent til 2.15am. Belden stayed awake all night. Partly because he had drunk about 8 cans of coke today and partly on watch for security. Grace slept on the beach.
June 24, 2016 Madang, (-05.207920 , +145.811140) 0km
  -24-06-2016:- Madang
June 22, 2016 Madang, (-05.207920 , +145.811140) 6km
  -22-06-2016:- Madang
June 21, 2016 Jais Aben Resort, (-05.155400 , +145.802220) 39km
  -21-06-2016:- Jais Aben Resort
June 20, 2016 Vidari Island, (-04.825320 , +145.778050) 28km
  -20-06-2016:- Vidari Island
The crowd at my intended landing was too intense - I had imagined Kubugam as a sleepy little place! Not. So I was glad when the nice kayaking policeman Adam allowed me and my Tupira Surf Club support team to camp on nearby Vidari island. The boys caught a trevally today and I enjoyed seeing how they use natural materials to smoke it. Delicious!!! I am feeling happy on this island.
June 19, 2016 Dibar Beach, (-04.674410 , +145.596730) 32km
  -19-06-2016:- Dibar Beach
The village was a way in through the jungle so I camped on the beach with the Tupira support Crew.
June 18, 2016 Tupira Surf Club, (-04.490950 , +145.428440) 0km
  -18-06-2016:- Tupira Surf Club in Ulingan Bay
Rest day
June 17, 2016 Tupira Surf Club, (-04.490950 , +145.428440) 32km
  -17-06-2016:- Tupira Surf Club in Ulingan Bay
I was woken up at 4.30am when another car load of people from Bogia arrived. A child burst into the room and stared at me through my tent mesh. I was unimpressed. It turned out to be my hosts daughter who had been brought in from where she goes to school. The Tupira boat met me at the beach at 6.30am and I was excited to be on my way to Ulingan Bay. Along the route many crowds gathered at villages to wave to me. Some places people came out in canoes to shake my hand and lots of people swum out and made handshake lines at sea, treading water and shaking my hand as I paddled by. Some people in canoes capsized and at least one mobile phone got drowned (sorry!). The Tupira guys joined me on the water by SUP and paddling on a surf rescue board, then arriving to Tupira Surf Club a corridor of surfers was in the sea, each with wreaths of flowers on their heads. At the beach I was dressed in a colourful grass skirt and a crown and given a cold coconut to refresh me. Then there was a procession to the club house where flowers were thrown before me. I was adorned with many gifts, shook hands of the school children and felt like a princess. This is such a special place to remember on my journey.
June 16, 2016 Daigul, (-04.396400 , +145.208900) 32km
  -16-06-2016:- Daigul
Lots of people gathered at Bogia to see me off and Derek (my hosts son) and 3 other guys crewed the Bogia support boat. Paul Akuram was there too - he had donated the fuel and wanted to follow us around the coast a bit to get photos. After giving Ruth a big hug I was on my way to Daigul. The Tupira surf club boat came out and met us along the way too, keen to ensure everything was ok. I was paddling strongly after the rest day, but still the cold that I had was hanging around, so I was glad to reach Daigul early and was hoping to get some rest in the afternoon. The wind was strong by midday, so starting early had been good. A huge crowd was on the beach to meet me. Rachael from Tupira presented me with a wreath of frangipani on my head and flowers were thrown over me. Then the guys helped me get my kayak up to Grace's home where I was hosted overnight. It was hard to get rest because many crowds kept coming to look at me, lots of people came from around Bogia. I was exhausted. Some of the locals helped me maintain my sense of humour, telling me to pull out my cassowary bone when the next lot arrives. They call it bun muruk. We laughed about it a lot. Thanks for the place to stay n delicious food xxx
June 15, 2016 Bogia, (-04.272720 , +144.973590) 0km
  -15-06-2016:- Bogia
Rest day. I have a bit of a cold and have been pushing my body hard in the last few days, so a rest day is just what I needed. Relaxing and catching up on my emails at Ruth's place. I've started looking for my next support boat from Madang to Lae.