Fri, 14 Jan 11 17:58
Putiraja Liveaboard departed Sorong for Kaimana on the 15th of October, sailed through the Sele Strait, and Southeast toward Nassaulang Peninsula. When we rounded the peninsula and reached Adi Island it was 04:30 in the morning and still dark. The area is full of small islands, rocks, and shallow places so we anchored until daylight, then continued toward Triton Bay into the town of Kaimana. Forty four hours after leaving Sorong, we arrived in the Kaimana harbor.
We had to pick up two passengers who had already arrived and began searching the town for them. Fortunately, Kaimana is a small town with only a couple of hotels and we were able to locate them quickly. After we finished our paperwork, we began preparing for the trip up river. Several people including the harbor master warned us that there was a very dangerous spot in the river where several ships had been lost, among them was a tugboat and a large barge loaded with logs. It is a deep and narrow bend with a small island in the middle of the bend. The currents get quite severe and cause several whirl pools that can turn a ship over if entered. With that in mind we hired a local experienced ex tugboat captain. He piloted our boat to its final destination of a village called Kokoroba, approximately 48 Nautical Miles up the river.
The second day there we continued 2 hours further up the river and dropped off our guests and local guides at a small village called Wainaga, where they began a four day trek into the mountains. The river to it is very winding through mangroves and swampy land bordered by mountains. The river current can sometimes be very strong, sweeping large logs down the river. There are many crocodiles in that area but you never see them because they submerge when they hear the outboard motor.
The local villagers guided us to an airplane wreck nearby. It was an A20 twin engine bomber shot down during WWII. One of the villagers who was 6 years old at the time told about seeing it come over the mountain with a Japanese fighter shooting at it, and saw it crash. They found someone's arm and removed a ring from its finger but saw no other body parts, apparently burned up or thrown further into the jungle where they didn't look. There had been a local salvage team from Biak who removed almost all of the pieces. However, the engines, some landing gear parts, machine guns and a few smaller items still remain. Reportedly there was another crash in the water nearby but nobody wanted to dive for it because of the crocodiles.
There are many wild nutmeg trees in the area and we gathered a lot of the nutmegs for our own use. The villagers were not aware that the fleshy part of the nutmeg could be prepared and eaten as a dessert. Josephine gave them some she had prepared then explained how to do it. They were surprised but liked the taste and were happy to learn something new.
The river water was very muddy and kept clogging our water maker's filters. We were only getting a couple hours of use from the filters, so we were busy washing and reusing until they could not be used anymore. We managed to conserve our stored fresh water until the day we were scheduled to leave. At that point, we filled our tank with water coming from a mountain spring and it lasted until we returned to Kaimana.
After picking up the trekkers on their return to Wainaga we gathered some Pomelo fruits from the trees, returned to our ship, and began the trip back down the river to Kaimana. Our large boat made it through the whirlpool around the bend okay, but we are very thankful of the advice given by the tug boat captain.
In Kaimana we discharged our guests and three days later boarded Mark Erdman from Conservation International and Gerry Allen, the renowned fish expert for fish in this part of the world. They were accompanied by a group of Indonesian scientists who were to gather and categorize fish specimens from the Arguni Bay area.
While waiting in Kaimana, we had produced enough fresh water to carry us through the next week. We returned up river again to Kokoroba without any problems. From there trips were made to outlying areas by speed boat in search of interesting fish species. Each day new fish specimens were cataloged, photographed, and preserved for the trip back to the laboratory.
We then moved the ship about 10 miles down the river near Faternus island so the scientists could explore the area. Two days later we headed back to Kaimana. Upon arrival, we discharged our guests and began preparing for a trip to the Asmat territory.
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