Back Home and Looking Back
10 November 2017 | Majuro, The Marshall Islands
We completed the final leg from Tarawa to Majuro - a mere 350nm - and within 36 hours I was on a plane, going to windward at 500 knots. Looking back, I have certain regrets. We breezed past at least a dozen atolls that begged to be explored. When will I ever be back here again? Phil would have gladly stopped, but I just didn't have the time. Time (sigh), it is the secret ingredient to successful cruising and so hard to attain.
As for Majuro, The Marshall Islands - it is postively bustling by the standards of Pacific atolls, with multiple supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, hardware stores, moorings and a cruising community of about 10 inhabited boats. They have a daily cruisers net, pizza night at the yacht club... you get the idea. It's not really why a person sails to the Pacific, but it was a thrilling contrast from Tuvalu and Kiribati.
On our last day at sea, the doldrums caught us, so we had to motor into Majuro, an ignominious conclusion to a month of GREAT sailing. We arrived to the anchorage after dark and dropped the hook directly atop a wreck. Oops. Phil donned tanks the next day to sort it all out.
Moon Dancer performed beautifully, sailing close to the wind for days on end. She was so well-balanced, in fact, that we turned off the autopilot and let her steer herself for hours at a time. Next year, she is returning to the US via Japan and Alaska. I wish her and her crew Fair Winds!
I have uploaded pictures, which you can view on the "Gallery" link.
A Battle For Tarawa Past and Present
25 October 2017 | Tarawa Atoll, Kiribati
On November 20, 1943, 1,113 US Marines died on the beaches of Japanese-held Tarawa. We are anchored off that beach.
Phil and I set out to find the remnants of that battle. Over several hours walking in the equatorial heat, we found two rusty guns, several so-called pill-boxes, a decaying landing craft and two war monuments. This was not easy. There are no signs, no trails, no parks, no set-aside areas. The homes, school, churches and stores are simply built up around the decaying battle remnants.
To say the least, the walk is not a idyllic stroll along a Pacific atoll. If only. No, the streets of Tarawa are garbage-strewn cesspools. The smell of decaying animals is overpowering at times, forcing us to move on quickly. Outside a school, a pile of juice boxes line the street, right where the children are taught to throw them. One beach at the causeway is more garbage than sand. Children play there among the plastic and nappies as though garbage has as much right to be there as, say, a seashell.
The people themselves are friendly, and most can speak a little English. The children love to wave and say, "hi." When I return the greeting, they erupt with laughter and amazement. A grinning boy presented me with a traditional red flower, which I placed on the shoulder strap of my backpack. One child greeted me with "howdy." Obviously an over-achiever.
We plan to leave tomorrow. We are hoping to get permission to visit Butaritari, an atoll about 100nm north along our route to Majuro. Unfortunately, protocol requires us to return to Tarawa to clear out - something we obviously cannot do. I have written a letter asking for special permission, and tomorrow we will find out if my writing skills were up to the task.
22 October 2017 | Equator South Pacific
I have not had a cigar in over a week, having saved my last for my equator crossing. I expect to be lighting up in about an hour.
We are on our sixth day out of Funafuti. The Gilbert Islands, now called Kiribati, are to starboard as we approach Tarawa, the capital, about 100nm from here. The passage has gone well, which is to say that nothing has broken and Phil and I are still getting along. We have been hard on the wind the whole way, exhausting, not the way I imagined it would be, but that's just the way the wind and currents happened to set up for us. We have not run the engine in 6 days.
I have seen easily over 200 falling stars, lying flat on my back on the deck at night. I have studied the new constellations and kicked myself for not bringing a book!
Moon Dancer is a power-hungry ship, which means that even though the engine is off, the generator still runs 6 hours per day. The upside of this has been daily hot showers, movies on the TV, and yesterday we even fired up the washer drier to do laundry! I will post again from Tarawa.
07 October 2017 | Port Denarau, Fiji
Preparations went better than expected, so we will soon be underway for The Marshall Islands. Phil and I expect to make Bligh Water by late afternoon, then sail out of Fiji after dark.
Weather looks good, winds a bit light later in the week, but we have a spinnaker. We hope to be in Funafuti by Thursday.
The tracker is on. You can navigate to the map by clicking the link, "Tracking Page" on this site. And here's a cool goodie: From the map it's even possible to send us a message! Just click the word, "Message" in the left column of the map. Give it a try. We'd love to hear from you!
Ready For The Marshalls?
05 October 2017 | Denerau, Fiji
Tammy left yesterday for home, so now Phil and I are busily making lists and crossing things off as we make our final preparations for The Marshalls on Tuesday. The boat is in good shape for the passage, having come from New Zealand just three months earlier. Still, there are the usual pre-passage issues that arise, and we are dispensing with them thanks to good marine services here in Denerau. As usual, the goal is to have the most boring passage in the history of passages.
The Marshall Islands are about 1,800 nm north of here. There are two potential stops, Tuvalu and Kiribati. These are VERY remote Pacific Island countries. I read that Funafuti, the main atoll of Tuvalu, has 150 visitors each year. Period. If conditions allow, we will stop. When will we ever be this way again?
We had a wonderful time this past week with Tammy on board. We loved the decadence of Musket Cove, but the highlight was the island of Waya. We met the tribal chief, and presented him with kava root in a ceremony called sevu-sevu. In this way we gained permission to anchor in his harbor and explore his island. There are some experiences that only a cruising boat can provide. This was one of them.
I have added a new link to the blog's home page called, Tracking Page. It's under "LINKS" at left. Click it, and you can see our position in real time. As always, thanks for watching!
It's Good To Be Back
23 September 2017 | Musket Cove, Fiji
It's good to be back.
It's good to be back.
Tammy and I are in Fiji aboard "Moon Dancer," a Tayana 55 based out of Florida. I met the owner, Dr. Phil Kellett, online. He was looking for crew to sail to The Marshall Islands, a 2,000nm sail across the equator and safely out of the southern hemisphere for cyclone season. We exchanged several emails, and, well, here we are.
Tammy will stay two weeks, just enjoying Fiji and helping out with some of the pre-passage boat chores - a very kind offer of the owner. Thanks, Phil! We have no itinerary for the Fiji cruise. Fiji is an archipelago of some 300 islands, so there's no shortage of possibilities. Yesterday we sailed 10nm from Nadi here to Musket Cove, a delightful anchorage with two beachside resorts. Cabanas on stilts and beach massages. Yes, it's touristy, but who cares? I smoked a cigar beneath a coconut tree while Tammy got a spa treatment. So much for drinking kava with tribal chiefs!
We're both getting our sea legs back and learning our way around Moon Dancer. It'll be a sad day when Tammy leaves. I hope to be in Myrtle Beach in early/mid November.
It's good to be back.