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Rongerik Atoll
12/29/2011, Marshall Islands

Approaching the pass into Rongerik Atoll.

It was a lot of work putting the new mast and rigging in Brick House. Soon, that will be a two part article in Blue Water Sailing. We were eager to depart Majuro. Being October, the southern hemisphere cyclone season was approaching making it impracticable to pick up where we left off and sail southwest to Vanuatu. We decided to see some of the northern "nuked" atolls of the Marshall Islands since Patrick had read a lot about them. The U.S. conducted the first nuclear experiments at Bikini and Anewetak starting in 1946 and continuing into the early 1950s. Then we would go on to Kosrae and Pohnpei, south west of the Marshalls.

So we got our permits and other required paperwork, and set sail northward. It was a quiet sail for about 24 hours, and then the wind died all together. We had diverted temporarily east of our rumb line because a small open power boat was lost at sea, but it was recovered before we even knew the precise area to look. The boat and 6 occupants had drifted to another atoll. When the wind died we drifted for days, sometimes motoring for a few hours looking for a helpful current. The currents in the atolls are not always predictable and can run contrary to what would seem obvious.

When the wind came up, it came on strong and was of course on our nose. We beat to the most accessible atoll which was Rongerik. We were cautioned by those giving us permission to stop at this uninhabited atoll that it was haunted and you could go crazy if you stop there.

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Rongerik Atoll
12/29/2011, Marshall Islands

The lagoon side of the same island.

Rongelap calls itself its sister island since it is situated 30 miles to the west. When we stood on the small island at the southern entrance to the lagoon, Rebecca could hear a murmur of voices, but later heard nothing when we explored the northeastern islands. Patrick is too hard of hearing to notice such things. It would be good to encourage the hauntedness of this atoll. There are conservation laws in the Marshall Islands to protect nesting turtles and other wild life but there is no enforcement. Even in downtown Majuro, the capital, huge turtles were landed and slaughtered as the centerpiece for functions or just for ones own consumption. Three of the four turtles we observed meeting such an end in Majuro were spewing eggs. Obviously they had been taken from a nesting beach. But that is the culture throughout the Pacific. Despite the tremendous amount of money the U.S. and other countries dump into these islands little makes its way to the common people. For them, there is little money. They eat what they can find including neighborhood dogs. If we meet any Marshalleese who think we are a bit odd, we will certainly tell them we had visited Rongerick and no one should go there. Rongerick should remain a haunted nature preserve.

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AT THE END Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a Ride! And I still have my Arizona driver license!! '