Journey to the Sinking Lands

A witness to the world's first evacuation of an entire people due to climate change

Peace of mind

I’ve gone for British Mountaineering Council travel insurance, because they have a seriously good reputation for putting in the hard yards to get people out of remote places, fast.

That doesn’t translate into complete peace of mind, however. In fact, the process of applying has driven home just how remote the Carteret Islands are. I called up the BMC offices in Manchester to check what would happen if I did get into a scrape and needed to be evacuated. I had kind of assumed that if I needed it someone would be able to send a helicopter, or a boat, or something. Right?

Wrong. According to the gruff bloke on the end of the line, if you get stuck in Papua New Guinea, you’re on your own. On the bright side, they will foot the bill for you doing so, up to a total of £100,000, which does buy a lot of reassurance.

More amusingly, as part of the medical screening I had to fess up to having seen a consultant last week for a long-term problem with my right calf, which he traced to one of the disks in my back. It’s no big deal but insurers are understandably edgy about offering medical cover to anyone with a pre-existing condition. After a little bit of negotiation, we agreed a deal. I have been given the OK to take out insurance, exept for my right leg, which is exempt from the deal and will be flying out to PNG without any kind of cover at all.


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