An Evening Cruise On MV South Pacific

Yours truly with some of the invited VIPs on board the MV South Pacific, owned and operated by the Bank of South Pacific.

Recently, I was one of the invitees to join the top brass of the Bank of South Pacific on their boat the MV South Pacific for a dinner cruise around Fairfax Harbour, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Fairfax Harbour is probably one of the best natural harbours in the country and in the Pacific Region. I shudder at the thought of more of the seaviews disappearing so fast so we miss out on the harbour views when driving into downtown Port Moresby nowadays. We used to be able to see the sea but slowly construction of many new buildings and the extensions of the port along the waterfront  is obstructing this view that we used to take for granted. It will be gone forever and it is beyond the control of so many ordinary people in Port Moresby who would want to get a glimpse of the harbour on their way downtown or back up towards the hinterland. 

Soon we’d have to go up Port Road or Paga Hill to be able to take in unobstructed views of our beloved Fairfax Harbour.

Getting out of the marina and into the harbour.

The evening started off with heavy rain. It was a little daunting also trying to find Finger B which was where our boat was moored. It took me 15 minutes to finally find it with the help of a couple of helful RPYC security guards. Of course me not been a member of the RPYC made it difficult too. Anyway, I finally found the place and was greeted by two friendly and helpful ladies.

I braved the drizzle walking down the length of the pier to get onboard but what a lovely reward at the end of the walk. Of course climbing up the stairs in rain was a bit of a challenge with the ever-present hazard of falling into the sea should I get a foot wrong going up. But I mustered all the strength and skill recalled from my early years growing up on Kwato Island and the many times we had to get on and off the mission boats come rain and shine got me up the ladder and on to dry deck.

Cheers! we’re off on an evening cruise around Fairfax Harbour.

I met others who were already there and was soon holding on to a cool glass of orange juice. As we sipped our drinks and slowly got to meet the others the rain subsided and it was calm and dry. This was something different – to be on a boat in the harbour sipping a cold drink and meeting new people on a rainy evening. Of all of them, I had met only three (3) people prior to the cruise. I was delighted to join our BSP friends and this small  gathering on board.  

Not long after the rain cleared, it was decided we should cast off.  So we were   going on our evening cruise after all. The rain had not dampened our spirits and expectations to cruise around the harbour this evening.

After a brief explanation on the boat itself and a fine one too, the Captain gave us a safety briefing and then we were off as we slowly edged our way out of the marina. A great sense of freedom, adventure and well-being came over me.

A lone figure at the helm – our able Captain Simeon at the helm of the MV South Pacific, owned and operated by the Bank of South Pacific (BSP).

The sea was calm but a little breeze to remind us we were on a boat and gliding gracefully over the water.

Just outside the RPYC there is a massive contruction site and this is the view from the harbour. Looks different, obviously.

I couldn’t believe the fact that I was seeing Port Moresby by night from the harbour, and rarer still the opportunity to do so this evening. It was just a very nice feeling to be out and about without having to look over my shoulder. I must say the city looked beautiful this evening.

Port Moresby’s waterfront. It would be really nice to have a seafood restaurant along the seafront. Now that would be something.

As the boat moved out into the harbour I was transported back to my childhood days albeit momentarily.  When on school holidays from Cameron High School we would board one of the mission boats – either the Osiri or Labini – one or the other for Samarai, Logea and Kwato.

Part of Port Moresby’s skyline. Could see the towering Grand Papua.

I used to feel rather cheeky arriving at night because no-one knew  which school children have come home to the island for the school holidays until the following morning or at Church.  

The container wharf with the large cranes. Massive. Don’t know whether they can expand anymore with all the shipping activity going on everyday.

The reflection of lights on the water held a certain facination for me. And now I couldn’t help feeling a sense of deja vu.  I decided to stand back and enjoy the views in the cool evening.

One of the delectable dishes served for dinner on board. Yumsko!

Looking back the way we came out of the Royal Papua Yacht Club marina and out in the open I focused my sights and my camera on the lights of Port Moresby.

Well, what do you know the city looked stunning with all the lights and the colourful patterns on the water from the many different coloured lights.

Dinner was served and soon we went downstairs to partake of the tasty morsels laid before us. One of the things I take for granted is that I am not seasick and the food was a welcome sight. After a few words of welcome and updates on BSP from the CEO we tucked in.

Dinner is served!

Later on I went aft to enjoy the sights of Port Moresby from the boat.

Port Moresby looked like a reclining lady in red, yellow and orange sequinns shimmering against a dark sky.

I went past a couple of big ships and then to Napa Napa and Motukea then infront of Tatana on our return to the marina. 

The last time I was on a boat in the harbour was in the ’80s and was a passenger or spectator on one somebody’s boat watching the regatta or some sailing competition. It’s all so hazy now. But anyway, this was the first time I am out in the Harbour at night.

No, I wasn’t trying to sing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ – in fact am facing the wrong way. City lights in the background.

I look out on the harbour from my office day in day out and to be in it myself in the same place that so many container vessels use during the day was an awesome thought.

The city looked like something out of Star Wars or Galactica.

My camera was clicking all the time we were cruising around but the constant movement did not help but I think I managed to get some. I did the best I could but happy that I can actually take photos.

One of the views from the bow of the boat. Fascinating.

Thank you so much Mr Clyne and your managers for giving us the privilege to go on a harbour cruise and to enjoy Port Moresby at night this way.  Thank you Captain Simeon for taking us out on the MV South Pacific and bringing us safely back home.

All too soon our cruise came to an end at about 9.00pm.

We were back at the marina and then it was goodbyes and I took my leave. Driving home, I thought about the cruise, about the MV South Pacific, about BSP and the food we enjoyed and most of all about seeing the lights of Port Moresby this way.

Captain Simeon and I at the end of the cruise. He’s my wantok from the Trobs – kagutoki Captain Simeon for a great cruise.

There ain’t no nicer way to enjoy the night air in Port Moresby than a wonderful cruise in Fairfax Harbour on an evening like this.

Approaching the marina – coming up to berth.

The Albatros In Port Moresby

Absolutely awesome and beautiful...

No, it’s not a bird. It’s a cruise liner called the Albatros.  Looking so awesome in the sunshine. What a beautiful big boat. I wish I could go inside and take a peak.

Anyway, I was personally so happy to see a cruise liner in Port Moresby so soon after some negative reports about a month ago regarding the MS Rhapsody. The reports said it was turned away from calling into Port Moresby because of law and order problems or something to that effect. It was supposed to have called in on 24th February. I’ll never know the truth about that news item. This is not good for visitors to Papua New Guinea or for those of us trying to promote tourism in PNG.

The day the Albatros came to port, there were a few people along one part of Ela Beach displaying arts and crafts for sale and am sure there were similar ones elsewhere in the city. I don’t know whether some of the visitors came on land to experience the sights and sounds of Port Moresby.  It may not be representative of the whole country but it sure has ‘representatives’ from all over Papua New Guinea and it’s 1000 of more different tribes residing here. Such is the cultural diversity of this country.

Wonder how many swimming pools and restaurants are on this cruise liner.

I went up towards Paga Hill to take these shots. On closer inspection, I sighted some PMVs (passenger motor vehicles) at the wharf and even flower pots to beautify the walkway. It seems rather sad though that the passengers are not able to walk up to souvenir shops, tucker shops and some places selling kulau and local fruits. What a pity since cruise ships don’t pay tax, or do they? The place could have been set up to capture some tourist dollars trickling through the visit of the Albatros, albeit a brief one.

PMVs and potted plants but where were the passengers?

The Albatros was built in 1973 (so about 38 years!) in Helsinki, Finland for the Royal Viking Line. It has sailed under a few names, so if you don’t recognise Albatros you may recognise her other names, among others perhaps: Royal Viking Sea, Royal Odyssey, Norwegian Star, Crown and Crown Mare Nostrum. It is operated by Phoenix Reisen based in Germany. I read somewhere that Phoenix Reisen doesn’t own cruise liners, it engages them on long term charters. Well, the Albatros has come a long way to PNG. Danke…

You can see more pictures of the Albatros here.

Looking down towards the jetty and across the cricket pitch. The cricket pitch is barely visible. It is one of the oldest cricket pitches in PNG and one of the first in the country - must be over 100 years old!

The sight of the Albatros reminded me of the Bulolo and Malaita in the 1960s – two cruise liners that regularly berthed at Samarai Island – then District Headquarters of the Milne Bay District (now Milne Bay Province). I remember from Grades 2-4, I was one of the children on Kwato Island who would act as ‘tour guides’ for the tourists and in turn would earn lots of money (shillings and pence in those days) and tips from tourists of all ages – from carrying handbags to selling seashells (cowries, spider shells, etc). We also took down addresses and met a lot of penfriends in Australia that way. I met my first penfriend whose name I can’t readily recall now but she lived on Bowen Street (I think), Victoria, Australia. I got her address from her grandmother who was a tourist on one of the cruise liners that called in at Samarai Island. This was in the early ’60s. That was a long, long time ago.

Well, for the future, I hope we see more of these ships and more passengers visiting our capital city’s attractions such as the National Museum, the Modern History Museum and a whole host of historical landmarks and sites of cultural significance.

I wish the Albatros a safe and pleasant onward journey to other destinations.

Black Smoke Over Fairfax Harbour Yesterday

First time to see something like this!

Yesterday about lunchtime I happened to look across the Harbour from my office and this was what I saw. I had no idea where the smoke was coming from and whether it was a fire or something else. Perhaps one of these days I’ll find out for sure. We kept on guessing what it was and so many different answers. As the lunchtime blues took over, the black smoke was soon forgotten.

Scary...pollutionm another one on our doorstep ...yikes!

I ran across to a neighbouring office and asked my colleagues if I could take a picture of the black smoke coming our way. They looked surprised to see me with my camera and wondered what I was referring to until I pointed out the black smoke wafting its way across the green hills and blue green sea on the other side of the Harbour. One of them exclaimed that they had never seen anything like that before in Port Moresby. Well, it might as well be all of us.

It looked like part of the hill was belching out black smoke

Another colleague remarked that ‘they’ whoever that was were burning oil! I looked at her  and deep in my gut I somehow felt that this beautiful Harbour could one day be a dumping ground for all the stuff we never ever want to see dumped in the sea especially as it is going to spoil the environment and the livelihoods of traditional communities around the Harbour area. The sea would disappear then what?

My thoughts and eyes slowly turned to the peaceful villages across the the reclaimed land – Hanuabada, Elevala and Tatana. I wondered if they are looking at the black smoke too. Have they seen black smoke before or  was it something new they’d have to live with. In fact, all of us downtown Port Moresby residents for that matter – for some during working hours.

Just kept looking at it in disbelief!

Gradually it disappeared just as suddenly as it appeared. I wondered how long before this would become a common sight. I banished the thought from my mind.

It was unbelievable but true nonetheless.

I spotted the speedboat in the foreground and wondered if whoever was in the boat was conscious of the black smoke and whether it bothered them. I wondered how people in the marina at the Royal Papua Yacht Club, on the other side of the container wharf, felt about this black smoke.

Gone are the days of innocence when the environment around the Harbour had open spaces, spectacular views of the sea, the beaches and a clear blue green sea. I recalled the picnics at Idlers Bay and wondered if the recreational area had been affected in terms of broken tranquility of the sandy beaches and a murky sea which was once clean and warm to swim in. Those were the most enjoyable weekends in the early ’80s.

Sinister against the blue sky above

Fairfax Harbour At Dusk…Port Moresby

The view halfway up the Poreporena Freeway

One evening as we left the office,  I was so taken by the sunset and dusk over Fairfax Harbour, I tried taking my shots through the staff bus windows but none of them did justice to the moment. So when we were on the Freeway halfway on our ascent I asked everyone  if we could stop so I could take some shots of the unfolding dusk over the Harbour.  My colleagues readily agreed, so we stopped by the roadside and these were the photos I took of  Fairfax Harbour.

Peaceful and alluring…. 

Another shot from the Freeway
The rock face on the side of the Freeway
My, oh my, how the city has grown this side of town...
Another view of the lights of Port Moresby from this side of the city
As the sunset slowly disappeared...
Traffic on the Freeway...this used to be a mountain!
Could barely make out the lights of Government House

As we piled back into the bus and slowly climbed up the hill and away down towards Hohola, I couldn’t help  thinking how fast Port Moresby is growing. No doubt every nook and cranny and every hill that has a spectacular view of the Harbour will have a house on it one day. Don’t really want to contemplate that, no, not really.

I kind of liked this time of day when the dusk envelops the city and hides the dust-laden rooftops and roadsides. I think this is my escape from the headlines of the day that paint a totally different picture of the city of Port Moresby. How much of its historical significance is lost on us, the residents of Port Moresby – visitors, short term and longtime residents? How much of Port Moresby do we want to change? – hopefully not these views, especially of Fairfax Harbour at dusk.