Friday 28 October 2022

From On Board: Heritage Expeditions in Melanesia - Tsoilik, New Ireland

#expeditioncruising .

Idyllic Tsoilik village from photographer Fiona Watrdle's drone

Today was a vivid example of how flexible and versatile expedition cruising needs to be.

With reports of inter-clan 'unrest' on New Hanover in the New Ireland Group, expedition leader Nathan Russ, quickly pivoted to locate a new landing site which turned out to be the tiny island of Tsoilik known amongst the scuba diving community for its excellent coral and fish species as well as some wartime wrecks.

Our Zodiac landing was a minor challenge as our beachhead was quite shallow, the sandy bottom and the few coral bommies easy to see in the crystal clear water.

Our hastily recruited dancers did not disappoint (RE)

In an act of near magic, our hosts produced a band with an electric guitar and PA system as well as a troupe of costumed dancers that kept us entertained and dancing for an hour before we embarked on some ad hoc activities that included a village walk, outrigger canoe paddling and a shell jewellery workshop.

Snorkelers reported an abundance of reef fish and the intrepid birders, led as ever by guide Mike Sylvia, returned with a swag of some two dozens sightings including some rarer species that delighted the twitchers.

My history sensors were buzzing at the sight of a large reinforced concrete slab next to the guesthouse, now hopelessly broken, that had all the telltale signs of a former military building. This was further confirmed when even the oldest members of the village had no knowledge of its former purpose. A coastwatcher station perhaps? I'd like to think so. Stay tuned.

Those same history sensors will be in overload as we head for Rabaul tomorrow. 

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