Alotau, PNG 05.11.2017
Three Papua New Guineans and a Dane Complete an Extreme World Record
Today, Danish Filmmaker Thor F. Jensen and three Papua New Guinean master canoe sailors were honoured for their completion of ‘The World’s First Circumnavigation of the Island of New Guinea in a Traditional Sailing Canoe.’
This was an incredible voyage of 6300kms, that took the crew through roaring waves, dangerous currents and crocodile infested creeks.
Trouble from day one.
“On the first day of the expedition our sail ripped and an hour later we almost sank.”
This is how Thor F. Jensen begins his account of the epic voyage that set out on the 30th of August 2017 from Tawali Resort, Milne Bay.
New Guinea is the second largest island in the world. It consists of Papua New Guinea and Indonesian Papua. The Dane had scheduled the voyage to take half a year, but delays and bad weather meant that the ‘Fellowship of the Tawali Pasana’ ended up spending 14 months of at sea.
“It has been a huge challenge; we have been sailing against the wind most of the voyage; we had to sleep amongst saltwater crocodiles and experienced several near capsizes. Pirates were a big concern and in certain areas we had to sail in the cover of the night to avoid attention. But on the other hand, we experienced great hospitality from local tribes and have had a wonderful journey through some very remote and beautiful areas.” Thor added.
A desperate lack of funding has been a constant concern and the sailors have had to rely on subsistence foraging to sustain themselves. The four sailors received great support from the people they encountered en route – from tribal chiefs to the Indonesian Navy – but what kept the crew ‘afloat’ financially were donations from a growing band of loyal Facebook followers from all over the world.
Awarded at the National Canoe Festival
The celebration took place during the annual canoe festival in Alotau, Papua New Guinea, where the ‘Tawali Pasana’ sailed into the festival and the history books, escorted by an armada of boats to the beat of kundu drums and the songs of warriors ashore.
On a grand stage thatched by palm leaves, Thor. F. Jensen, and master sailors Justin John, Sanakoli John and Job Siyae were awarded medals in recognition of their historical expedition, that has not only set a world record but also promoted the island internationally and inspired the youth of PNG to preserve their cultural heritage.
The future looks bright
The prospects for the companions look very bright. The PNG sailors have been offered jobs in tourism, running sailing canoe tours.
Thor F. Jensen will be taking a vacation in Sydney before returning home to Denmark with material for a book and a documentary film.
“We took a huge risk, followed our passion and now we can enjoy our achievements. We have also generated a number of opportunities for the Papua New Guinean Government through the international attention this historic quest has received”, Thor F. Jensen finally added.
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Port Moresby PNG 16.06.2017
The ‘Fellowship of the Tawali Pasana’ are home again
– safe on PNG soil
After five months of navigating the coast of Indonesian Papua, the Tawali Pasana and her interpret crew have crossed the PNG border into Western Province from where they have 1500km left to complete – ‘The World’s First Circumnavigation of the Island of New Guinea in a Traditional Sailing Canoe’.
The trio – brothers Sanakoli and Justin John and Danish explorer Thor F. Jensen, have been sailing the waters of Papua during the least favourable time of year, first up the exposed north coast against the might of the monsoon and its great Pacific swells – and after that, rounding Sorong, where saltwater crocodiles became a serious threat.
A desperate lack of funding has been a constant concern and the trio have had to rely on subsistence foraging to sustain themselves. The people encountered en route – from tribal chiefs to the Indonesian Navy – have shown the three sailors great kindness, but, in the absence of promised funding from the Sanduan Provincial Government, what has made continuation of the record attempt possible were donations from loyal Facebook followers, thus ensuring that permits were secured, insurances paid and broken equipment replaced.
As the canoe came closer to the border with PNG the headwinds became stronger; the last 120km of Indonesian Papua involved extreme sailing. The sturdy Tawali Pasana’s sail ripped twice as the trio battled the relentless South-East Trade Winds. But after six days and nights of hammering enormous seas and dangerous currents Sanakoli, Justin and Thor successfully crossed into PNG on a calm, moonless night.
The canoe is now on land in Bula, the first coastal village in PNG’s Western Province. Although they only have 1500km to the finishline, the trio will take a break from the expedition as June and July is the most dangerous time for sailing the exposed coastline of the Gulf of Papua.
Master sailors, Justin and Sanakoli, who have shown incredible perseverance and outstanding sailing skills, will be going home to Milne Bay to see their families for the first time in five months.
Expedition leader Thor F. Jensen will be returning to Bula village to look after the Tawali Pasana and learn some traditional survival skills from the local people. But first Thor must find funding to complete – The World’s First Circumnavigation of the Island of New Guinea by Traditional Sailing Canoe.
Justin and Sanakoli and Thor will be travelling to Port Moresby on Friday the 16th of July and will be available for interviews during the weekend of the 17th and 18th of July.
Thor F. Jensen
Newsletter: Message in a Bottle
Follow the adventure: facebook.com/actionthor
Phone PNG: +675 79222648
Phone IDN: +62 812 40820459
-Detailed pre-prepared briefing material is available on request-