Salt Water and Spear Tips is a travelogue from Danish adventurer Thor Jensen who sailed around the island of New Guinea with three local sailors in a traditional wooden canoe between 2016 and 2017, while setting a new world record. The journey took 13 months and 21 days and Thor and his team covered 6300 kilometres.
The journey began and finished in Milne Bay which is situated on the south east coast. New Guinea is the second largest island in the world after Greenland; the island is split into Papua New Guinea and West Papua. Thor and three local master sailors faced fierce seasonal winds, high seas, crocodile infested swamps, pirates, mud flats, dangerous outflows from rivers and more. But they also met lots of people who were mostly friendly and generous and who helped them throughout their challenge. Another delight was their experience of nature at its best and its worst: volcanic islands, luminescent plankton, sea turtles, mud crabs, living coral reefs, idyllic beaches, violent electric storms, huge waves and tranquil seas.
I knew very little about New Guinea before I began reading and this book was a delight. The narrative was interspersed with hand drawn maps and illustrations as well as extracts from the ‘Captain’s Log’. The journey highlighted the vast differences between the two halves of the island. I was interested in the snippets about the culture, economics, politics and social diversity across the island as well as both Thor and his sailor’s differing views on their experiences.
Overall, a really fascinating true story about the highs and lows of pushing the limits of men and a canoe and being part of great personal achievements.
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A Danish filmmaker, under the apprenticeship of three Papua New Guinean master sailors, set off from Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, on the 30th of August 2016 on a world-record circumnavigation of the island of New Guinea in a traditional sailing canoe called the Tawali Pasana. Over the course of 13 months and 21 days – and some 6300 km of high adventure – what became known as ‘the fellowship of the Tawali Pasana’ created a modern-day odyssey (on a shoestring budget) battling relentless monsoon winds, dangerous seas, pirates and crocodiles. Prevailing against all the odds, the voyage generated enormous media coverage and inspired the young people of New Guinea to celebrate their extraordinary seafaring culture.