Three Papua New Guineans and a Dane Complete an Extreme World Record
Recently, 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
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