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The Sailing Adventures of Dave & Joanne on "Pied A Mer"
Ifalik to Paluwat
Joanne
09/22/2011, East of Mortlock Islands, Micronesia

Ifalik to Puluwat We finally left Ifalik on Sunday 4th September, having the previous morning watched all the men in the village lift the roof up of “The Men's House” to increase the height from the ground as well as put in two new beams - quite a feat when the Men's house is 12m b y 11m and the big beam to go in is in one piece and all done by manual labour. They were also lifting the height in order for a bigger boat to go in. They all seem to keep their canoes under cover when not in use. As well as repairing the village boat Both Dave's were asked to try and repair of fix anything from small DVD players, clocks, torches, MP3 players and or charge them up for them! From Ifalik we did a 106 mile trip to Toas Atoll and we had a mixture of good sailing, motor sailing and then no wind and motoring under bare poles with sails all down arriving at 10.45 the next morning. It was a pleasant stop as there were no people on this atoll, although the anchorage was a wee bit roly. We were up and away the next morning at 845 for a 195 mile trip to Puluwat Atoll which included two overnighters. We had a mixture of sailing and motor sailing mixed in with a few storms and heavy rain with 35 knot winds but fortunately they are of short duration but are not very pleasant at all. We finally dropped anchor at Puluwat on Thursday 8th September and what a beautiful anchorage it was. We had a visit from one of the canoes telling us what was expected of us and as soon as we could we all went straight to bed to catch up on some sleep. Great having Fran & Dave to buddy boat with, especially as we are hand steering. We keep pretty close to each other most of the way and do much the same speed, although on the way to Paluwat they did get 11 miles ahead of us but we eventually caught up. Will make these updates for the blog smaller as sometimes we are having great difficulty getting through on Sailmail.

Ifalik to Puluwat We finally left Ifalik on Sunday 4th September, having the previous morning watched all the men in the village lift the roof up of “The Men's House” to increase the height from the ground as well as put in two new beams - quite a feat when the Men's house is 12m b y 11m and the big beam to go in is in one piece and all done by manual labour. They were also lifting the height in order for a bigger boat to go in. They all seem to keep their canoes under cover when not in use. As well as repairing the village boat Both Dave's were asked to try and repair of fix anything from small DVD players, clocks, torches, MP3 players and or charge them up for them! From Ifalik we did a 106 mile trip to Toas Atoll and we had a mixture of good sailing, motor sailing and then no wind and motoring under bare poles with sails all down arriving at 10.45 the next morning. It was a pleasant stop as there were no people on this atoll, although the anchorage was a wee bit roly. We were up and away the next morning at 845 for a 195 mile trip to Puluwat Atoll which included two overnighters. We had a mixture of sailing and motor sailing mixed in with a few storms and heavy rain with 35 knot winds but fortunately they are of short duration but are not very pleasant at all. We finally dropped anchor at Puluwat on Thursday 8th September and what a beautiful anchorage it was. We had a visit from one of the canoes telling us what was expected of us and as soon as we could we all went straight to bed to catch up on some sleep. Great having Fran & Dave to buddy boat with, especially as we are hand steering. We keep pretty close to each other most of the way and do much the same speed, although on the way to Paluwat they did get 11 miles ahead of us but we eventually caught up. Will make these updates for the blog smaller as sometimes we are having great difficulty getting through on Sailmail.

Ifalik
Joanne
09/02/2011, Ifalik

Last Tuesday morning (23 Aug) Mannu came over and then took us to the meet the other Chief, Steve and while there Dave was asked if there was anyway he could fix one of their three village boats which had a crack in the hull. As we had the fiberglass repair stuff on board it was something he could do so the next few days he spent a bit of time ashore fibre glassing the crack which is a foot long. Mannu comes over every morning for coffee and honks through the sugar in it so have cut him down as we have less than 2kgs left - I have made a joke about it! He even asked one day if we had whiskey, Dave said no we only drink beer so then he asked if he could have one, so on Thursday afternoon just after 5pm he arrived for a beer and then after he had finished asked if he could have another one. Dave said we only have one beer, once a week so our supplies will last!! We have to watch him as he would be over here every night for one or more and we have not got a huge supply on board, in fact it will be lucky to last us until Fiji. Every day he asks us for things and we feel awful but we have lots of other islands we need to have stuff for. We gave Chief Steve 2 packets of cigarettes and a lot of the local men were sitting with us at the meeting and he gave all the men a cigarette, including Mannu who accepted which we thought was a bit on the nose as he had already managed to get 2 packets from us and we know he keeps everything for himself. He has been educated in the US and went to University in Oregon so speaks good English but at times we do find him hard to understand. All very interesting. He has banned alcohol on the island but he is not averse to drinking himself, as long as the other locals don't see him. Friday he asked if he could have some bananas and took one of the bunches which had about 30 bananas on it, and then the next day he came back and asked for more - didn't mind as we had heaps (several hundred) and they are all ripe but ironical that we are at a tropical island and we supply him with bananas!! He says he has only one tree and it is no good. He arrived for coffee every morning between 9.30am and 10am and one morning even asked if it was beer time and could he have some!! We have become friendly with one of the Chief's nephews, Jensen, and last Thursday he bought us a huge yellowfin tuna. Unfortunately before I had a chance to say what I wanted with it Dave had cut it up and put it in brine for smoking so on Friday he smoked it and it was lovely, so gave some to Jensen. Friday morning Jensen picked Dave up at 5am to go fishing in his local canoe with a sail but unfortunately they had no joy, did get one and then lost it. Also went out again the next morning but there was not enough wind for the boats to go fast enough to catch them, in fact Dave got transferred on to a bigger boat which had 12 on board. All very interesting and their canoes really move when there is enough wind. They use the sails to steer them as they have no tiller and they have an outrigger on one side which the mast is attached to. When they change tack the whole sail is swung to the stern end and that becomes the bow. The sails are made from fibre glass Portland cement bags sewn together. Throughout Micronesia the men seem to only wear loin cloths and the women are mostly topless and here they wear lava-lava's which they make themselves out of banana leaves to get the thread and then they weave the fabric - I now have four of them and they will certainly make good table runners. At Woleai they told me that all women were expected to go topless here but when we arrived I asked and was told it was up to me, so naturally have not gone topless, but they are not allowed to show the leg above the knee!! When a couple gets married here they go to the women's village to live. It is very much a class society and if you marry down you go down. We have spent time ashore with Jenson and his wife Maxine and they have a six year old daughter, Precious and are expecting another one in January. The island really is beautiful with everything so clean and tidy with no rubbish lying around at all. The paths are all swept with shrubs planted on each side. Maxine had made both of us a beautiful lae to wear on our heads made out of tropical flowers. We had them for dinner on Sunday night along with a niece and a nephew who they seem to have adopted and Maxine had done a local dish as well as a contribution. Jenson had made himself a stove which is virtually like a home made smoker so Dave has shown him how to smoke fish in it the way we do it so he is delighted. Dave also made him a gaff as it is jolly hard pulling tuna into their canoes with hands!! All in all an experience at these atolls that money cannot buy. Fran and Dave on Melric 11 had been having a good run once they got in to the Philippine Sea but then about 200 odd miles from here the wind died and they were struggling as well as worrying about fuel, however on Tuesday the wind did pick up and they arrived here at 5pm yesterday. It was so good to see them as it was December 2009 when we last saw them. They have been inundated with the locals visiting and trying to trade etc. and last night I had them for dinner and they had a good nights sleep as they had been sailing for 18 days from Borneo to here. It will be great to have another boat to travel with and it looks like we will be virtually travelling together all the way back to New Zealand. We will leave here on or Sunday and head for Taos which is just over 100 miles from here so will be an overnight passage but as we are both concerned about our fuel supplies we have decided to detour a bit and go into Chuuk (Truk) to replenish our diesel supplies. Chuuk is about 450 miles from here but we have a couple of stops en route.

Woleai to Ifalik
Joanne
08/22/2011, Ifalik

The remainder of our time in Woleai was relaxing and enjoyable and the locals were very friendly and generous with what ever local produce etc. they had and as hard it seems to be they seemed to have a busy life, with a lot revolving around their Church, being Roman Catholics. In fact the last weekend we were there, a number of them were on a retreat which was held in the school. Their Priest is in Yap so he only comes to Woleai when the supply boat comes in so it appears that Tony (school teacher) is the Lay Preacher and he sure is a very busy man. Unfortunately, through a lack of communication and our misunderstanding we missed seeing the locals all making their special medicine out of coconut. However a couple of days later we had a very interesting day. A boat from the next island came to us and talked and said the mackerel were jumping and they were going to put the nets out. They stayed and stayed and then another boat load came over as well and they started joining up the nets. Gradually more and more boats arrived with nets and cane basket things which we later realized were fish traps. Eventually all the nets which were huge went out right across the bay in a half circle, about 3/4 mile and there were guys with snorkels and masks pulling out the nets etc. Eventually 100 people were involved and people on shore were pulling the long rope and walking towards each other to form the nets in a big U. Once they had the nets in place we went over in the dinghy and helped hold the net up to stop the fish jumping over the net as they were panicking. There were just tens of thousands of fish jumping and by pulling the nets together all the fish headed for the centre of the U where the traps were. We acquired a lot of fish as well which we had for a very late lunch, dinner and smoked some which we gave to some of the locals. They are very small and bony so we didn't want to keep too many. It was quite an amazing sight watching it all happen right in front of our boat and in all took about four hours. All the neighbouring islands join in so they can combine the nets and the labour as they need lots of people - a real community thing, great for bonding. On Sunday evening two of the local guys whom we got to know came over to say farewell and gave us three huge bunches of bananas, local oranges and a branch with about 15 coconuts on it. They did not want anything in return but I gave them rice and sugar. We were a bit overwhelmed. We left Woleai on Monday (22nd) at 7.30am and once we had cleared the lagoon and reefs had a good sail for about 2 ½ hours and then the wind died so ended up motoring the remainder of the trip to Ifalik which was 35 miles from Woleai. Dropped anchor at 5.15pm and then were inundated with locals coming up to the boat and welcoming us etc. One of the local Chief's (Mannu) was also there to welcome us and asked if he could come on board which we obliged once anchored. He finally left us at 7pm after scoring rice, sugar and cigarettes and having drunk about 6 cups of coffee! The people here are very friendly but for the first couple of days were inundated with locals wanting to trade coconuts and lava-lava for supplies but mainly coffee which we only have enough of to get us to Fiji. Some even had the cheek to ask if we had whiskey!! So different from Woleai where they never asked for anything and as the saying goes if you give you receive and I was probably a bit too generous there as our supplies to give away have certainly dwindled and each island we go to we have to have something for the Chief.

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