The cruising rally is enjoying a world-wide surge. The reasons for this are many, but novice and experienced sailors alike seem to be discovering the extra edge gained by travelling in loose company. In the South Pacific, yet another rally is underway to a good start.
The inaugural Louisiades Rally 2008 from Australia to Misima Milne Bay province, has got underway with 26 yachts setting sail from Cairns on Saturday. The journey is expected to take between two and four days, depending on the size and speed of yacht.
The Louisiade Archipelago, the volcanic islands which form the 'tail' of Papua New Guinea, consist of about 100 islands, large and small, spread over nearly 100 nautical miles.
Louisiades Archipelago - satellite image
Papua New Guinea’s Consul-General in Brisbane Paul Nerau was on hand to witness the 26 boats of all sizes and shapes, including 13 catamarans, and a total of 86 crew sail out of Yorkeys Knob marina on a beautiful sunny day.
The Louisiades Rally is a tourism initiative aimed at promoting sustainable tourism in the remote islands off PNG by getting tourists on private yachts to visit the pristine outlying islands of the Louisiade archipelago and spend time with the local communities.
EcoSustainAbility launched the inaugural Louisiades Rally early this year, and the Director of the organisation, Guy Chester has put considerable work into the reception that the yachts will receive. The launch belonging to the local hospital has been chartered, and visits include a skull cave visit, a traditional canoe regatta, sing sings, mumu (inground barbecue), a traditional weapons contest, school and hospital visits and sports days with the local mission school
The cruising yachts in the rally, who hail from all over Australia, are also taking many consumer goods that cannot be obtained on the islands for donations and trading - clothes, school materials, carpentry and gardening tools and even medical supplies, and every effort is being made to minimise the environmental impact of the visit.
Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority's (PNGTPA) corporate services manager William Bando, who was also present at the rally’s launch, said PNGTPA was proud to be associated with a unique sustainable tourism initiative that would benefit the people in the remote islands.
A big welcome ceremony is been planned by local communities in Misima and the Louisiades for the boats’ arrival, and it is hoped this inaugural Rally will become an annual event.