Trading - What? Why? How?
For most communities in the Louisiades, a visit to the local store entails a one or two day journey in a sailing canoe, crossing the Coral Sea to reach Misima or even mainland PNG. When you further consider that the islanders have little opportunity to earn kina, it becomes quite clear why trading or bartering is such an important part of daily life. For yachties, trading is an excellent opportunity to meet the locals, and to obtain fresh fruit and vegetables. For the locals, trading with yacthies is an excellent opportunity to obtain items they need, or to earn a little kina to help with expenses such as school fees.
The Ritual of Trade
We found trading would follow a fairly consistent ritual throughout the islands:
Soon after anchoring, locals would paddle out in their canoes and wait to catch our attention. After saying "hello", they would usually show us what they had to offer and place it on our side deck. We would then ask if there is something they need, or offer them things we thought they might like. It was fairly easy to tell if they were happy with the trade by simply asking if it was OK.
General Trade Suggestions
The following is a list of some of the most common items locals asked us for. Please keep in mind that these people are generally quite satisfied to trade for second-hand tools and clothing. We suggest you raid your wardrobe for clothes you no longer need, especially clothes for children and babies. Also take a look through your tool shed for some of those old things that are too good to throw out, but that you'll probably never use again...
- T-shirts and light shirts
- clothes for babies and children
- soccer boots (soccer is by far the most popular pastime for boys)
- soccer balls
- fish hooks and fishing line (suitable for fishing with handlines)
- exercise books
- pens, pencils
- hats, caps
- laundry detergent
- hand tools: hacksaws, handsaws, drills, chisels, planes, files, axes, adzes, etc
- nails (for building huts)
- copper nails / rivets (for building sailing canoes)
- poly-tarps or old sails (for making sails for canoes)