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P-MAN VII Update
20 February 2005

Sunday 20 February

Have you heard the saying, "Third time's a charm?" Ain't always true. Today was the third day so far that someone with information has failed to show up. The difference is that this person had a completely valid reason. But he told Joe roughly where the site is that he wanted to show us.

Roughly.

So we went roughly there (John Chatterton joined us for the day on the boat), and spent a fair amount of time cruising dead slow along the east side of an island, seeing nothing that would justfiy jumping in the water. After awhile it seemed clear that we should wait until our resource gentleman can accompany us to the location and point out the exact spot.

We then followed up a lead given to us by someone a couple of days ago. It turned out to be a location that the team has visited and logged before.

We swung by an already-logged Avenger crash site, and wanted to snorkel it - but decided to do something else first: we moved essentially around the corner to what we've been calling the "smoke on the ridge" site, where a year or so ago we found some photographs suggesting the possibility of a crash on a narrow ridge. We had scouted access to this site last year, but never made the climb all the way up to the top of the hill on the ridge where we believe we saw a big fire in that photograph. It's a pretty steep island, although once you get up to the ridge line, the going is a little easier at least part of the way. There are places where several people moving through the dry leaves, sharp crumbling coral, tall, sharp-edged plants and giant sticky vines sounds like a herd of elephants laying waste to a basket-and-glassware factory. We definitely made it to the top of the intended hill, which represented a fairly small total surface area. Absolutely no sign of any wreckage. Pat, Mark, and John Chatterton descended the steep hillside almost to the cliff, and worked their way back at that level; Flip and Reid stayed up close to the ridge line for awhile, then gradually angled down the slope and met up with the others right at the boat. Steep climbing, pretty dense jungle, relatively few scrapes and bruises, and nothing found. But we can now check this site off the list, and it was a beautiful day--so it was definitely a success.

Not only that, but we then returned directly to the Avenger site and did some snorkeling there. It felt really good to jump in the water. We were all pretty much soaked after our jungle hike.


The Jenkins Avenger wing. Photo © Reid Joyce 2005

On the way back we cruised dead slow along most of the south shore of Ngeruktabel, the long island that forms the southern half of the claw that defines Malakal harbor. Again, nothing found. But it was a beautiful, breezy, sunny day, and the scenery was breathtaking, so all in all it was a real success.

We still had enough time to do an Internet-cafe visit and some grocery shopping, and capped off the day with a visit to an outstanding Indian restaurant.

- Reid