We're having a monsoon here after a lovely couple of nearly dry weeks. Tonight I raced against the incoming blow, don't know who won, 'cause I'm in here dry and it's still blowing...but we brought our bikes out here to Eneko to ride our little trail we carved out of the bush, "Yiall Non Ainemann" which in Marshallese is Peace Path, dedicated on Nuclear Survivor's Day 2011 by yours truly and the island family, Robert Reimer's Enterprises. It's a wicked little trail on a bike, maybe the only atoll trail in the WPac for all we know?! We need a head cam to film it. Anyways, day 1 riding, Allen made 6 laps (it's a 1km trail)and his seat post broke! I rode 10 yesterday, today I got to 8 in reverse direction b4 the rain. When I parked the bike under a tree and waited for a break in the deluge, the skiff(our new 12' alum) was starting to drag so I went in after it and figured might as well go for it, but it was huge chop, rain, and great gusts so I tied it off to the floating dock line (dogs were in it and ready to go and upset to be told to jump back out into the surf!) When we got a break in the rain and turned around to go back out,I got the dogs back in, held the bouncing skiff and when I climbed in, overboard went Dulce! Didn't think she'd swim to me then but she did and I dragged her in b4 I went onto the reef! There's only a narrow channel to get ashore in and out that makes things dicey if you're not quick! Anyways, great adrenalin boost to finish! Keep in mind, this is the reef on the lagoon's inside, not ocean side! No Way Jose!
The clock is ticking down to departure time again. As it is we are waiting for a weather window around May 1st. The later into summer we wait the less chance of Gale force(30+kts), or Storm force(45+kts) winds. The size, and strength of the endless Low's marching across the Northern Pacific diminishes into Summer. The later the season though the higher chance of light, or calm winds. Not to mention that there is normally quite a bit of fog above 40 N, but also the bulk of the shipping traffic from Asia to the USA travels north of 40 N. I would have no problem with 25-35 kts all day long, as long as it's from behind. Our biggest concern in departing is trying to discern how the effects of the Japanese nuclear reactor fallout could impact us, as we have to make our water from the ocean, and will be directly in the wind's path from there. It's disconcerting.
Our plan will be to depart Majuro and try to make it due North for about 2000nm, or about 12 days sailing time, or around 40 N / 175 E. We will try not to loose too much ground to the West, as we need to go a long way East. The winds for the first leg will most likely be from the East to NE.
Once we get to about 40 N we should have winds from the East driving us towards Seattle. This leg is about 2700nm, and should take in the neighborhood of 17 days. The total trip length of 29-34 days? A long time at sea nonetheless, but faster than a covered wagon!
After being in Seattle from the end of June thru August, it will be a trip down the West coast to the Channel Islands, and then San Diego. we'll hang in SAN the best months of the year, October, November, and then head South to Mexico. Probably Puerto Vallarta for Christmas, then down the gold coast for a few months. Then we have to decide, do we stay in the Sea of Cortez for the summer, or head another direction.
I only have a couple small projects to finish up on Love Song, and she will be ready to go. She has her 30th birthday this year and is in much better shape than many 18 year olds. Put a bone in her teeth! You can check out pix of her new yellow deck at www.flickr.com/photos/sunshinesimis
We are considering Plan B unless we can find some information regarding the fallout from the plant in Japan that makes us believe it is safe. If not we are going to bail on sailing to the USA this year. Unfortunately our route would take us North to abeam Japan, then turn East and go with the winds, and currents from Japan East bound. I can't see putting us all in danger when it comes to Radiation poisoning.
Can some one please help out here. It's really expensive for internet time here so I have limited time to research this. According to the US media via the internet. 1. The disaster level is 7. 2. Most of the release of radio active material into the atmosphere took place in the first couple of days. 3. The atmospheric release has been curtailed by over 90%. We need to know:
How much is still spilling out? How far does it travel? What is a safe level?
If the flow of hot material into the ocean has not been stopped, how far does it go. The Kuro Shio current goes along the coast of Japan and then feeds into the North Pacific currents around Latitude 35 N and travels East and mixes with the Aleutian current before branching out North to Alaska, and South into the California current. We will join that current about 1400nm East of Japan.
Is this material heavier than water? Does it sink into the abyss fairly quickly? How much Radiation will be in the water 2000nm East of Japan? When you get sprayed by the Sea, are you getting doused with high levels of radiation?
We've read some heinous material about the Bravo bomb etc. which happened right here in yours truly, the RMI and it's still a very live topic here, unfortunately.
The alternate plan would have us going South to Fiji again. We will have to fly to SEA for Bill's 90th. We could still do SE Asia later this year!!
That's all I got.
Please mail back in regards to the radiation by starting a new email, PLEASE DO NOT CLICK REPLY.
Thanks, Allen & Crew.
There's a picture of our new yellow deck and red windlass on flickr, among some pix from Eneko's WWII Naval Submariner Camp, a hokey fort we built on the beach with some washed up plywood (which promptly washed away) and the building at Shoreline where Allen did the electrical wiring...
Well the week has drawn to a close in full glory, with the beautiful full moon, super low tides great for beach combing, and the celebration of a girlfriend's birthday. We celebrated with Mary Jane and Mark, the amazing couple who kept Dallas and Dulce for us while we were gone over Christmas, by having a nice dinner ashore last night. The RRE hotel ashore (3 rooms) has a funky old kitchen, reminds me of something in a campground or camp, where we dined on our own sashimi, chicken, rice and broccoli, potato salad, and tres leches cake. It was a very nice ending to a long week here.
We went out on the reef at the low tide today looking for goodies, as yesterday Allen and I came across a bunch of old rusted iron pieces that we thought may be cast offs of some sort from the old WWII Navy submariner camp, and he actually found an old spent bullet cartridge. We find it fascinating to try and figure out what this stuff was, especially of the giant concrete slab ashore where there was actually a quonset hut over it! Mary Jane is the first archaeologist ever brought in by the Dept. of the Interior of the RMI, and she combed the site unoficially with Morgan a couple of weeks ago, and brought Allen some print outs of what the camp actually was. Today we sat on the beach where the last of the 3 posts from an old dock that they had, can you imagine that nearly 60 years later they are still there weathering the wind and water. I try to imagine the skinny little sailor boys out there dropping their fishing lines off a pier, and wondering when they're ever going home again. It makes me want to look for anyone who's still living that has memories from being here and experiencing it. They'd be in their late 80's and early 90's I suppose. It would be interesting to hear their stories for sure.
You gotta love Wyatt too, in that same camp kitchen he crawled up on a huge ice box the other day and went to sleep, and today he found a giant chunk of foam on the high tide line and lay down to sleep on it. I propped a piece of plywood up on one of those old pier posts for shade and he slept there for over an hour while the rest of us had lunch. Even Morgan napped with Wyatt the other day in a giant dug out ditch with the high tide trying to break over the top, the hot sun and sand is too good to resist sometimes, especially when they're feeling puny with this rotten cold/flu that they've had. They've listened to every silly song on every CD and I can't get some of the awful tunes out of my head some days!
We're heading back to town this evening and will reconnect with what constitutes as the real world here, maybe dinner out, internet connection, grocery shopping and laundry.
11/18/2010, Majuro lagoon
We had such an amazing weekend out at Eneko that I just have to write about it. It was the calmest, driest, most beautiful weekend we've ever had there. The only disappointment was that we didn't wake up there Saturday morning after departing town as usual on Friday, since the working man has trouble getting out of work!
Our relatively new friends on S/V Casteele (more Canadians) were there with their two kids, a boy almost 5 and a two year old girl that the boys were happy to have as beach playmates. I had found some monstrous wood panels with windows cut out that I dragged up to the tree we hang out under and propped them together to make a playhouse. The dogs were most appreciative, kids not so much. From there we hiked about 50 feet back into the scrub to search for what we were told was a real leftover US WWII encampment that we had never known was so close by in all our time spent there. It was pretty amazing, some concrete stacks for a radio tower or gun placements or something, with a pretty large footing surrounding the old concrete floor for what must've been barracks and offices. There was still a sidewalk around the back leading to a water trough, which holds an endless supply of freshwater guppies (of which 8 babies were spilled from their jar across the galley counter the other night, slippery tiny little buggers which all survived the mishap!). We found some old metal army jeep parts, a Delco battery box, and some old broken Coke bottle shards. It was pretty cool.
Later when we were playing frisbee golf down the beach, we lost the frisbee in the scrub and Allen pulled out some 2x2 fiberglass/aluminum honeycomb E&E compartment hatch (electronics equipment) from a military aircraft of undetermined age (you could still read the stenciled letters faintly and the fancy toggle buttons still worked!) Bizarre. We gave it to the island owner, who has already quite a collection of relics in a glass case. Really cool.
We spent two days paddling like mad (Allen in between painting sections of the foredeck BRIGHT YELLOW) in the calm lee of the islet, and Sunday the boys went surfing on their boards behind the dinghy. Morgan can easily stand up on his, and Wyatt's just happy to hang on. Although visibility was so clear it was amazing, we didn't think about snorkeling though until Monday morning, Valentine's Day. This was monumental for Wyatt, in his wetsuit with no water wings, to actually snorkel for more than half an hour without complaint (we had trouble keeping up with him actually)! The second we dropped in behind Love Song there were 2 spotted eagle rays beneath us that we were absolutely thrilled to see. We saw a pair of gorgeous yellowmask angelfish swimming with a stately Morish Idol, which I love for its' banner trailing all around its' head like one of those Olympic ribbon twirlers. STELLAR!
So, we had a beautiful time out there, with a wonderful week of activities in town with the locals. We met one of the local artists and Morgan is painting a WWII airplane picture with him while Wyatt and I play frisbee and tag in the grass lawn outside the courthouse and library. There's some turtles in tanks that we stop and see when we go by another place, and Wyatt rode his bike all the way to Coop schoo land back yesterday just to see if he could do it. He did, although it was not without heavy whining and a major crash. We have also had strange weather with little or no wind except for one day when the first westerly we've ever seen blew like stink and put us on a lee shore, very unnatural for this time of year. So, we are back in front of Shoreline with the big boats and the huge wakes of the tuna boat tanks ferrying their men in and out of shore at all hours of the day and night, and now the tides are high with the full moon and they are washing everyone's trash off their walls, beaches, heap piles, as well as the regular junk washed up along the regular shoreline, and it's one giant garbage can. We were terribly distraught to get into our dinghy at the shoreline with a dead dog floating right there. HORRIBLE
No swimming for a few days it appears. But on that note, we are grateful that we are not being eaten alive by the cost of living here, this time putting $ in the pot instead. We seem to be a lot skinnier this round too, without the food donations by the big M/V Bleu de Nimes that was fattening us up last year. I think 2 whole months without refrigeration changed the way I cook as well! So, there you have it, I blogged something, now let's see if anyone reads it!
11/18/2010, Eneko islet, Majuro lagoon
We had the most delectable donation of "mahi mahi" by another sailboat that caught a dorado entering Majuro lagoon today, and it very well may be the first time we've had it (other than in a restaurant?) since Mexico! WOW, it was so delicious. So for the first time in many months, we fired up the BBQ off the stern rail, as we've not been too adept at keeping the propane tank for the BBQ full. We only have 2 eleven pound cans, and the propane is such a rip off here...in order to get propane fills you take your mostly empty bottle too the Marshall Energy Corporation, which is miles away from the propane plant. They look at your bottle's gross weight, and you pay for that amount. Then you take the bottle to the plant, and they attach the big metal nozzle and together the nozzle and the tank are weighed. Then they begin to fill your tank. Most likely it won't take the amount you've paid for, so every time you over pay, and there's no refund. If you have two tanks and one can take the rest, you can make the most of your dime, but most likely you'll have overpaid for that one too. It's USD $23.00 for my 11 pound can. Needless to say, I don't bake anyone happy very often.
After two months of no refrigeration, which was fixed the day before we left for a month of vacation, we have been happily stocking up on lots of fresh goodies (or semi fresh for these parts, or rotten and on sale) but alas, no limes, and no tomatoes, so no ceviche. But we did marinate the "mahi mahi" with Soy Vey, and as I went to slap it on the grill, I re-connected the BBQ hose, which as I was saying hadn't been used in a while.
All of a sudden, the orange hose starts to distort and blow up like a balloon! I quickly turned the nozzle off again and opened the BBQ valve to dispense the gas, and Allen saw it and wasn't pleased as he just installed that hose in June before we left for Fiji. So, we cook the fish. I turned the gas off to let the grill keep the fish warm as the rice finished cooking, and just as I turned to go, POP! the hoses blew. I forgot to turn the gas off at the bottle. OOPS. This is why propane bottles are stored outside.
We finished the lovely evening with some snap, crackle and pops of our own, lighting the last of our IndoFijian Diwali fireworks which we've had onboard just waiting for a nice night. The dogs went beserk and jumped down the companion way, but there was another kid boat in the anchorage that we gave the heads up to watch for the light show and they were really happy with it too!
So, the honey do list just got longer...and did I mention, he's painting the decks bright yellow, and we have 2 kids and 2 dogs onboard?! By the way, the windlass is bright red. Too bad we didn't do this when Morgan was a toddler, it reminds me of a daycare or preschool! I told him since we are still in Majuro, we might as well honor the rainbow, since the Iakwe/Yokwe greeting here means more than just hello, such as "you are a rainbow" or " I love you". We could paint the hull a stripe of every color of the rainbow on it's way up to the deck!