The legendary Graeme (King) Carson of Nuguria had ordered the construction of what became known simply as The Big Canoe, and it was ready to start work.
"Sorry old chap... This is a bad connection. For a moment there, I thought you said the hull was built from a solid log"
"That's right standard construction material out on the atolls, and very good for boatbuilding."... long silence
"I'll run it past a few brokers and call you back"
He never did !
The Carson Family's Malekolon Plantation was on Anir Island in the Feni Group off the south-eastern coast of New Ireland.
Salat strait, Feni Islands from Malekolon Plantation.
Unlike Nuguria, Anir is a high island with big tropical hardwood trees. One of these was felled to be transformed by canoe-builders from the atolls into one of the largest dugout canoes ever seen there. Two smaller canoes were got from the same big log.
Electric power tools replaced traditional hafted adzes and carefully controlled fire for the initial work on the felled log, but final shaping of the sides and bottom was done with hand-adzes, using the sound made by a tap on the hull with the tool's wooden handle to determine when the correct thickness had been achieved.
The part-finished hull sailed from Anir to Nuguria after a diesel engine turning a three bladed propellor was installed. An outside rudder, a traditional ship's wheel and standard instrumentation including compass and binnacle were then added inside a fully enclosed wheelhouse. giving the helmsman full control from there.
She was completely decked in, with a long covered hatchway, under which copra or general cargo could be kept dry and secure in all weathers.
Never registered or in survey, she served for many years in Nuguria Lagoon as the plantation's main work-boat .The canoe would probably have been seized and impounded had it ever entered Rabaul Harbour or Buka Passage and it never did, but discrete and un-announced open-water voyages were sometimes made from Nuguria to Nissan Atoll and Malekolon.
Graeme Carson, ( right ) .
Frank Darcey Jr. inside the part-finished hull .
The Big Canoe at work. Tekani Island, Nuguria
* The men from Takuu and Nuguria
who built The Big Canoe included :-
Possiri Popi, Apoke Sione, Teloma Mani,
Tumau Fariki,Tepiko Heia, Tonegina,
Tewavia Tehoru, Kipu Sieki, Trakoa