It was slow going from Bougainville to Honiara in the Solomon Islands, no wind! The exact opposite of the Fiji to Vanuatu leg. A good ol seafaring voyage. A new ETA is sometime early to mid October. For now, kick back and enjoy:
By Kate Logan
Our initial arrival into Bougainville’s Buka town was a buzz with the excited trill of circling speedboats and curious locals all pleased to see us. After clearing customs we sailed down to Tinputz where we were lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins en route.
The welcome ceremony at Tinputz was mind blowing – and not just from the beetle nut. Our crew received a traditional welcome with sing sing and dancing, as well as a foot bathing ritual for safe passage on arrival. To reciprocate, members of our Fijian crew performed a kava ceremony for the chiefs of the village as well as an energetic Bole that was enjoyed greatly by all the locals.
There were many speeches made by local cocoa growers and members of the community about the importance of sustainable agriculture in Bougainville. Gabe Davidson from the Wellington Chocolate Factory spoke about the purpose of our voyage in transporting locally sourced cocoa beans back to Wellington, and how he hopes it will be the first of many future transactions to take place with cocoa growers in the region.
The Wellington Chocolate Factory team went and visited James Rutana at his cocoa farm and were able to see first hand the drying machine for which this project had raised money for. It was especially great for Mandie, one of our NZ voyagers, to be able to see this as she was one of the main sponsors towards this project.
Eventually the tonne of cocoa beans purchased from James’s farm were brought down to the wharf in Tinputz and with much sweat and gusto 16 sacks were loaded into both hulls of the Vaka. The local kids and adults who had been curiously watching the Vaka from shore were invited on board for a tour by Skipper Angelo. All in all it was a great spectacle and an enjoyable occasion for all involved.
Sadly for me now my time on this voyage has come to an end, as I have to get back to my land bound reality in Aotearoa. It has been an adventure of a life time and one I will cherish forever. It was a pleasure getting to know and document such and lovely bunch of individuals and I feel honoured to have been accepted in as part of the crew – vinaka vakalevu!
The Uto ni Yalo has now set sail for Honiara where they will stop briefly before continuing on into the wintery south pacific. I look forward to meeting them in Wellington and jumping back on board to document the arrival. Safe sailing till then crew. It’s been a blast. Moce.
By Sera Price
The team have made it to Bougainville!! They could not believe their eyes or ears with the warm welcome from hundreds of people at Tinputz District. The singing as they sailed into the bay was amazing!!
They were hosted by the lovely and inspirational Ursula Rakova of Tulele Peisa, a local NGO “striving for strength and action” for the people of the Carteret Islands whose land is badly affected by climate change and subduction. Have a look at their website here. Ursula has been doing all kinds of good things for the people of the Carteret Islands. Thank you so much Ursula for your warmth, kindness and generosity.
The team spent time with James on his plantation, seeing and learning how he does things and hearing about the positive changes the upgraded dryer has made. The work is easier and the quality of the beans has improved remarkably, fantastic! Rochelle’s done herself a deal to come back and help out with a harvest, she’s truly bean to bar.
Since Bougainville is quite a big place (in island terms) with significant diversity and history the team had a bit of a look around. They visited the Panguna Mine to get a better understanding of the Bougainville Crisis and stayed over in a village. Thank you Bosco of Bougainville Tours for orgnising that, it was an unforgettable experience, they loved it.
The team met up with Robert Critchley of Sankamap Exports who did an excellent job getting the beans export ready. The beans were well taken care of, they were in excellent condition and expertly packaged ready for the journey. He even made special smaller sacks so they could be carried and maneuvered around the boat easier. Excellent service!
The trip wasn’t without its challenges but we had great local support. These people truly made the trip, thank you for your support and assistance! In particular, Raymond Moworu of the Division of Commerce, ABG and Paul Bedggood who organsised this warm and spectacular visit. James and Gary for growing excellent cocoa and sharing your passion with us. Robert for your professionalism, advice, and patience. Ursula for your warmth and generosity in hosting our team and organising a truly spectacular welcome. Gabe is still lost for words.
I have taken the initiative to make a start on the thank you’s, no doubt there will be many many more when the team return. They have just left Bougainville and are on route to Wellington via Honiara, Solomon Islands. Watch this space.
By Sera Price
Well done Wellington Chocolate Factory and master chocolate maker Rochelle Harrison for a) creating the amazing Salted Brittle Caramel Bar, and b) walking the talk of ethnical trade. Soon to be sailing the talk!! Even better 🙂
The Wellington Chocolate Factory took out runner up to the Supreme Winner of the 2015 Cuisine Artisan Awards with their Salted Brittle Caramel Bar! Have a read of the article here which also highlights the achievements of the Wellington Chocolate Voyage, so exciting!! Planning and prepping is making good progress. Hopefully I’ll have some photos and the boat’s story that I can put up soon.