By Richard Shipman

Kwadima means star in Dobu, a local language of Milne Province in southeast Papua New Guinea (PNG). Thus, it is fitting that a 15-ton motor vessel that enables the people of Milne Bay to receive God’s Word should bear the name—Kwadima II. It has starred in that role for over 13 years.

Kwadima II’s story began when our partner, SIL PNG, determined they needed a better boat to transport their translation teams to the remote islands where they worked. At that time, their transportation options were limited to the first Kwadima and other small wooden boats that were uncomfortable, unreliable, and marginally safe. In 2005 SIL turned to JAARS for help in acquiring a new boat, and JAARS turned to our faithful donors. With funding in place, SIL contracted with Opal Marine of Australia to custom-build a boat.

Captain Larry Hamilton, a JAARS Maritime volunteer, used his extensive experience sailing in the local waters to help with the project. He consulted with SIL PNG and JAARS Maritime to design the Kwadima II based on desired passenger and cargo capacity, range, and safety features, then monitored progress throughout the build. A year and a half later, a star was born: Kwadima II. Tim McIntosh from JAARS Maritime joined Capt. Larry in Australia for post-construction testing and the ferry trip to Kwadima II’s homeport of Alotau, PNG. SIL formally dedicated Kwadima II in 2008 and loaded her with cases of freshly printed New Testaments in Auhelawa (another local dialect)—the first of many Scripture dedications and distributions that Kwadima II facilitated.

SIL translation teams were thankful to have the new and larger vessel. It had more cargo capacity, improved navigation and safety equipment, better passenger accommodations, and–not insignificantly–a head and shower that provided a place to freshen up during the long voyages. This improved capability helped translation teams make a real impact in the region. Kwadima II also showed God’s love by ferrying food and supplies to devastated islands after Cyclone Guba flooded villages in nearby Oro Province. Kwadima II served faithfully for over 13 years, but eventually the demands of operating a large boat caused SIL to seek alternate arrangements. A team led by Steve Ottaviano and Tim McIntosh traveled to Alotau in late 2019 to assess the condition of the vessel, evaluate what work needed to be done, and search for someone to manage the boat going forward. That someone turned out to be Guy Wilson, an experienced mariner and long-time resident of PNG who was already heading up a ministry called Living Water Mission (LWM). This mission focuses on Christian ministry, humanitarian aid, and maritime training programs for local PNG youths, using its 70-foot schooner.

JAARS and LWM agreed to work together. LWM accomplished the work on Kwadima II that had been identified by Steve and Tim. This involved cleaning out of the boat’s fuel system, improving navigational electronics, updating the V2 tracking/communication system, and installing a forward-looking sonar. Additional cosmetic work brought Kwadima II back to top notch condition.

Refurbished and updated, the Kwadima II supports Bible translation and other ministries in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea

Steve Ottaviano, director of JAARS Field Transportation, summarized the arrangement. “JAARS is now registered in PNG as ‘JAARS Transport.’ We plan to lease Kwadima II to LWM so that service to key Bible translation and Scripture engagement partners can continue. LWM will simultaneously pursue its own ministries of discipleship, Scripture distribution, and teaching maritime skills to young people in both Kwadima II and their sailing schooner.”

This relationship with LWM represents a new approach to how JAARS serves in Bible translation. Besides supplying assets and actively managing them, JAARS is now seeking strategic relationships with local organizations. JAARS will provide financial, technical, and administrative support for the local groups who will conduct the actual programs and projects. “Our vision is to equip and empower Papua New Guineans with the skills [they need] to pursue and support the ministry God has for them,” concludes Ottaviano. This approach may be different, but the goal of sharing God’s Word with people in remote areas of the world remains the same.

To enable Kwadima II and other water-based solutions to serve Bible translation and Scripture teams in this part of the world, give to Maritime Solutions.