Ninigo Islands, Papua New Guinea

Mal Island and Canoe Racing


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included making a courtesy flag.


was loaded down with supplies.

And Even

MORE supplies!

Carina's Hull

needed a scrub.

And Her

zincs changed.

There Was

some fine sailing underway to Ninigo

But There

seemed to be more nastiness.

Some Squalls

gave us pause. Thankfully this slid behind us.


Who Said?

there wasn't a line at the equator?

And We

crossed under sail for the eleventh time.

After Twelve

days at sea we settled in to anchor at Mal Island in the Ninigo lagoon.

And Were

soon greeted by Michael Tahalam and family.

Ninigo Canoes

are basic transportation. They have unique rectangular sails.

Few Families

have access to "speedies". Thomas Ailas has one but he only uses it for short trips. Thomas and Elizabeth came early to Carina and we gave them many gifts and letters from friends that we had carried with us to Ninigo.


is a boy they adopted. We later learned the whole family shared in solving this puzzle.


is skilled at making the classic western island hats. We had brought dye gifts from friends.

Cosmas and Masian

brought a few of their many beautiful children to visit Carina.

Some of the

supplies we brought immediately began to be shared.


greeted us ashore. She is holding Marvin, her nephew, who she and Michael have adopted.


is three and loved the used basketball found in Palau.


supply we bought were hand held GPS units, valuable to islanders who cross the oceans in open boats at night. Here Michael and Solomon and Augustine work with Philip to get the GPS unit for Mal Island to locate them.


Augustine, Arnold and Michael came to Carina to define and upload a whole series of waypoints that would ensure the islanders' safety.

Arnold and Augustine

spent time with our tablet computers learning the electronic navigation programs.

The Provincial

government of Manus sent one day professionals in their Climate Change Division. A meeting was called and islanders from all over the lagoon attended.


like Philip Ilan, headmaster at the Mal School, asked questions.

Justin Kolpi

a teacher whose name we were given, came to visit. He is Thomas's son in law. Justin's daughters are Sarah and Sharill.

Some Ninigo

canoes are run as ketches, with two sails. The islanders say the canoes are better balanced with this rig configuration.


are hand made, even the sheaves. Special island trees are selected for masts and yards.

Canoes are Used

to transport everything - even plywood that had been imported from Manus Island on a rare visit from a landing craft.

Half of Ninigo Islanders are Catholic

and half follow the SDA church. Neither church has clergy in attendance. This modest building serves are the Catholic church and is on Mal Island. There is a "real" church on Lau Island to the north but it is abandoned except when a priest shows up...which has not happened in years.


church we met Frances, Cecilia and Ryan. Frances is also a teacher at the Mal Island school.


is from Piakahu village on the far eastern end of the island. He was being employed as a carpenter...

For the New Teacher's

home being built at Mal from native lumber. Planks were made with a bush-mill, which was no longer operational when we arrived.

The House

was a pleasant one, and set up to prevent flooding during the rare winter storm.

Many Evenings

while at Mal we had spectacular sunsets.

For One Brief

night we had another yacht in port, Refola.

This is

Ryan again, being goofy. He is only four but well advanced for his age.


rarely are set down and are cared for by the whole extended family.


in his new canoe, Sea Mate, also visited Carina. Oscar and Keren live on Longen Island at the far north of the lagoon. We had brought many greetings for affable Oscar. Oscar was bringing Lalo and his family to the health center on Mal.

Oscar's Sail

material had come from a yacht. It was formerly a spinnaker.


came aboard and kept hugging us. We were all thrilled to have finally met him.


helped us to identify the neediest families to first give our supplies to. The families were those who because of disabilities were needy...not because of neglect. We prepared a bag of clothing and food for each.

Much of

the supplies we brought we donated to keep the sailing races going for expected budget from the national government never arrived. Represented here to pick up the clothing and supplies were the canoe committees and ward councilors from the Mal and Pihon/Longen communities. Michael, Paul, Murry, Kathy & Kiribai.

One of the Donations

was a used sail, to be used for cloth to make a sail for "big wind".


clothing was divided exactly in half and half went to the north end of the lagoon. The Mal half was sold for a few kina each and the money went to the community. Almost 200 kina was raised....about 70 USD. And everyone had fun!


kept a tally of who owed what.




clothing was especially appreciated


is Murry's wife, she was present to help bring the clothing up the lagoon to Pihon.


was interested in this lovely skirt. It fit her well.


was measuring the sail we brought to see if the fabric was sufficient for a sail. It was.

One of the

most valuable prizes were the nails we brought. Copper and stainless steel, which are absolutely required for canoe construction.

The Clothing

bazaar was fun for everyone.


the pretty girls.

This is

Michael who is Philip Ilan's son.

Handsome Augustine

models a muscle shirt that Philip selected for him.

She Did

not need the bib but she had fun.


is a funny little girl...she didn't care as much for the clothing as for the bags.

Lovely Renlyn

helped out by caring for Marvin and some of the other kids.


found a nice pair of shorts.


Benny was please with the donations. He would bring them back to Pihon where a clothing bazaar and more canoe racing would be held using the supplies we donated.

The Festive

atmosphere included the young boys who were playing a form of jax with nuts.

Kelly Lui

was also around - the deputy president of the local level government - and his kids had fun posing for us.

Even last

item of clothing was dispersed amongst the islanders.


finally succumbed to his nap.


and Marianne were having fun. And we were too.

The Next

day an emergency was called. Halokeni had a bone stuck firmly in his espophagus and his neck was swelling. A call to Lorengau on the HF radio, 200 nm away, prompted a medical evacuation.


skiff is just about to depart with the boy, Halokeni. Solomon and Michael and Vincent (unseen at the bow) with Gaele and another mother, and the kids. With one engine and 200 nm to cross on open water...thankfully they had the GPS we had brought for the community.

A Week

later, a happy Halokeni returned on the same boat.

One Young

family we tried to help were Wesley and Mollina. Here is Yvonnie and Finn, their children with Leslie & Mollina. Mollina was suffering from a long term gynecological problem. Thanks to help from the USA, we were able to select some medication from our own supplies to give to Mollina.


is Mollina and Wesley's other child. She was afraid of us, despite the comforting of her mother and her auntie Kathy.


and Lynette serve as the de facto hosts at Mal. Michael is the elected ward councillor and they live in the old copra shed at "the station" where there is a grass airstrip.

One of

the important supplies we brought were a 12V battery, solar panels and a charge controller. The community asked us to install this at the school for greatest benefit. Philip Iland and Philip are working on the installation.


Ilan was carefully drilling a hold in the roof for the wire.


wanted to get involved too.

The Battery

and charge controller were installed in an office out of the rain.

As Soon

as the sun came out, the system began to work and everyone was thrilled.

Wesley and Mollina

live at the far end of Mal Island. Prevailing winds made a dinghy ride difficult, so we decided to walk. It was about 3 nm along the island's only "road".

Before We Got

to Piakahu Village (at the end), we passed through Puhipi Village, where Thomas and Elizabeth and their extended family live. Elizabeth prepared a nice lunch for us. These are cassava rolls stuffed with noodles and veggies. Very good!


village was very very neat.



brother's home. He had just returned from a journey to "town" and had a houseful of his sons and grandchildren. In the foreground is the cooking hut and the background the sleeping hut.


is the youngest of Thomas's grandchildren.


is Neiten's mother. She is Thomas and Elizabeth's youngest daughter.


village had many canoes; this one was being repaired.

We Pushed

onto tiny Piakahu Village.


and Mollina asked us to send this photo to Sarah on the vessel Anui. She had helped them to buy this solar panel. They still needed a charge controller and a new battery, but the panel was treasured.


was building a beautiful house for his family.

And Now

the preparations for the races began in earnest.


is digging out bits of sand from the hull of St. Michael.


was busy perfecting the shape.


explained many aspects of canoes to us. He works with SIL, the group that is helping to preserve the Seimat language by translating books.

One Race

day, the canoe committee was busy.


had many questions.


was the finish line.

A Whole

contingent of canoes - 14 in all - came from neighboring Pataku. Chris Omen is a teacher there; he was formerly the headmaster at Mal.


were anxious.


were checked twice.

The Boys

were ready!

Not Everyone

was racing this day.


were kept in the shade until the order to rig up was given.


sailed to distant Pigilap - 8 nm - and the race began there.


took us in the committee boat to follow some of the outbound boats.


went to Pigilap to oversee the start of the races. He had our handheld VHF.

The Committee

came aboard Carina - at the finish line - and we all waited watching and shooting photos.


conferred with Kiribai concerning boat counts and when the race would begin. Kathy and Paul were responsible for recording the winners in the order they passed Carina.


we waited Nangol and Kathy munched on popcorn and learned to play dama, a game we'd brought from Palau.

Our Binoculars

were popular.

Here they Come!


the six meter was Cosmas and two of his young sons.


Ilan, Sarita and Augustine didn't place but had a great time.


is probably Justin Kolpi in a Puhipi canoe, finishing second.


pushed hard crossing the line, raising the outrigger up.


the movable ballast - the crew - attempts to counter the gust.


racing is a family affair.


races were really very close.

The Seven

meter fleet was also fast.

We Had

been asked to the school on a Friday for noon. At one o'clock those on shore were getting nervous and decided to try to signal Puhipi village. It was then we learned that villagers still use fire and mirrors for signaling!

Mr. Kusan

also tried. The mirror was many times broken and kept together in a plastic sheath.


gathering was lunch for which each child's family contributed what they could. The delay had been to collect the magnificent crayfish (lobster) shown on our table.


and Elizabeth contributed another magnificent hat.

The Children

shared lunch with us and then sang a song of goodbye.


soon our time at Mal would end, though we found it hard to leave.


insisted on an all island gathering at the station.

We Contributed

an MP4 of photos and videos of our stay.

While Gathering

on shore, a boat enroute to Wuvulu, to the west, stopped at the station for a rest. They had come from Manus to attend a funeral.

This Boat

will cross about 300 nm of open ocean.

And We

were sad to go.


while at Pihon, we had a wonderful visit from Michael and his family. It was too short, but it was wonderful. Renlyn, Marianne, Marvin, Lynette and Halokeni.