Wow things have been intense. After a five day sail from Cairns, we arrive at Bramble Haven, a little atoll roughly in the middle of the Louisiades archipelago, east of the PNG mainland. Reaching our destination was a simple matter of four days on the open ocean in a savage washing machine mood, then crossing a major shipping channel with some serious current issues (not to mention the ships) and finally a short zig zag through a few coral heads inside the lagoon. Easy! Most of the crew experienced some version of sea sickness on passage so as the anchor drops next to the little uninhabited island of Punawan, we exhale.
Punawan itself is no more than a raised patch of sand with coconut palms and a few huts used by local fishermen from neighbouring islands. You could easily walk around the island in less than an hour, or walk from one side to the other in 10 minutes. It really is idyllic every way you look. As we enjoy our first sunset in this remote paradise, a sailing canoe appears on the horizon and is tied up to the back of our boat soon after. Five fishermen are onboard, with Livingstone as their English speaking spokesperson. They seem pretty accustomed to visitors like us and after some chit chat about which island everyone is from, we find out they fish around the islands westward from our anchorage. Could we spare a lure? Graham could, so we give them one. You are supposed to trade but as they don’t appear to have much on them, they promise to return with something for us.
From then on, we have a steady stream of fishing canoes visit almost every day. Livingstone’s group returns with a huge bunch of husked coconuts and they squeeze a spare snorkel and mask out of us promising to return with crayfish (they don't ).
Another group led by the friendly Justin comes by to say hello and set up a trade for the next day - would we like some crayfish in exchange for sugar and rice? Yes we would! The next day they return with 4 lobsters. Once Graham got through the fairly traumatic experience of having to kill our food in order to eat it, we enjoy some fresh lobster on the barbie. Things get real in PNG.
The next few days on Punawan are a blur of catching up on sleep, snorkelling, swimming and meeting more fishermen (they were all men). Finally after five days of really not doing much at all but always feeling occupied we sail eastward towards Panasia, the next island on our very loose itinerary and where Justin the lobster man was from.