‘We spent an amazing life changing 5 weeks cruising around the islands interacting with the local PNG people.’

These are the words from the Roger Johnston owner/skipper of a Jeanneau Deck Saloon 45, after competing in the Third Louisiade Rally in September 2010.

Engarde, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45DS with 3 crew and Roger, in the company with 25 other yachts and catamarans of various sizes sailed from Cairns on 11th September, 500nm across the Coral sea to the Louisiade Archipelago of Islands 150nm East of mainland New Guinea.

‘After an  easy but rather long 3 1/2 days sail we arrived at Duchateau Island averaging 7.5 -8 knots for the entire trip.’

The rally supports many local villages with clothing, educational supplies and medical equipment. The locals are a happy friendly group, desperately poor and always delighted to interact with yachties carrying goodwill. Some of the islands put on feasts, canoe races and other events that the yachties participated in.

The fishing was out of this world with a constant supply of painted crayfish, Spanish mackerel. giant trevally, sailfish, rainbow runners and a variety of reef fish consumed by one and all.

Fruit and vegetables were traded with the locals for tee shirts, and other goods. Fresh water was caught from the heavens and we were always able to have showers and not worry too much about water shortage.

‘A number of yachties suffered infected coral cuts needing antibiotics. To my knowledge no one suffered from Malaria’

The trip home was interesting, the first two days with no wind at all and the last day with 25 -30 knots and very spirited but enjoyable sailing.

Roger says ‘The Sun Odyssey DS45 is an ideal yacht for this type of cruising, performing well under all conditions. We experienced no breakdowns of any sort on the voyage of some 1500nm. Engarde was fitted with an autopilot, HF radio, solar panels and fans. We carried an inflatable 2.5m dinghy on the forward deck powered by a 5hp Mercury outboard. We used this every day’

Anyone with a sense of adventure, some spare time ,a competent crew and a sound vessel over 34 feet could successfully join this rally if it continues into the future and would be guaranteed of a wonderful experience. Customs and quarantine clearances are arranged by Guy Chester the rally organiser at both ends of the destination and back into Cairns.

Diesel, petrol and supplies are available at Misima one of the larger islands in the archipelago. There are regular flights to Misima from Port Moresby allowing for crew changes if necessary.

‘All in all it was a wonderful and safe experience.’

Roger Johnston, Engarde Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron Melbourne.

Story from Terry Oakley, Melbourne Jeanneau dealer – 38 South Boat Sales