03 February 2009 | North Pacific
We slept in today. The anchorage was lovely and we had a nice relaxing breakfast with a beautiful view of the lush green islands inside the Chuuk Lagoon. We talked to Whistler on the VHF and told him that we would try to get over to the port to clear in by 14:00.
Shortly thereafter I noticed four teenage boys hanging off of our stowed dinghy. I went outside to greet them and see what they were up to. They had four coconuts they wanted to give us. I told them we were under quarantine and had plenty of coconuts, but thanks. The leader said, "I give you one". Trying to be nice I said, "ok thanks". Then he said, "now you give me something". I could see where this was going. I asked what he wanted. The four guys had a little huddle then one came back and said, "champagne". There was obviously a language barrier here but I got the drift. I gave them back their coconut and told them we were under quarantine and they had to go. I'm pretty sure they understood the go part if nothing else.
I turned to go back inside and it started raining. They didn't leave. I went back out and they said they wanted to wait for the rain. They were sort of sheltered by our swim platform so against my better judgment I said ok. Back inside the boat with the sliding door closed I could clearly see them but they could not see me. I watched as the lead punk, as I will refer to him from this point on, reached over the edge of our dinghy and began to lift our paddles. I burst back outside and yelled at him to drop the paddle and get away from my boat. That worked.
Sad to say that everyone we have talked to around here today confirms that there is a very high rate of petty theft in Chuuk. Even the guy who was putting up the money for a little league project was getting all of his gloves and balls stolen. As a tourist in a secure hotel room you have nothing to worry about, but when you have your entire home with you it is a little more troubling. Certainly restricts your interest in leaving the boat unattended. Once again we are happy to have Roq aboard. He is the most harmless animal ever to walk the earth, but island folks are generally pretty scared of him.
After setting out for the port, it was a tough slog up the lagoon around the weather side of Dublon. Fairly similar to yesterday actually. Once we turned down wind things mellowed out and we had a nice trip around Weno in protected water to the port on the west side of the island. We hailed port control an hour out and they asked us to tie up to the main quay. The quay is a big ship dock with huge rubber stand offs. They do go from the top of the quay to the water at low tide though so you can work out a horizontal fender arrangement that will do a fair job of protecting the topsides.
A Dutch freighter was just leaving for Pohnpei as we arrived. The quay is huge, and once the m/v Islander had gone, it was empty. I think they get about one ship a week but the quay looks like it belongs in the port of Long Beach. Very nice. Too open to swell and chop for yachts though and it is the only place to tie up in Chuuk that we know of.
John from the port came by to clear us in and go over the fees with us. It was $25 a night to stay on the quay (something we would like to do for as short a period as possible), $25 for the first two nights anchored out, and $10 per night thereafter. Pretty expensive as islands in the middle of no where with no real services to speak of go. Next we saw customs. A copy of the ships docs, a list of previous and next ports, and a crew list sorted him out. Then quarantine, $25 and the "I usually confiscate all of the food on board but you can keep yours just don't bring it ashore" speech. They have no incinerator so we could not take out our trash (ug). Immigration showed up at 5:30PM, to ensure overtime payment which totaled $57.50. They were the ones interested in our cruising permit, oddly. We had to print them a copy of the application we sent to Pohnpei. They took off with our passports until further notice. Hopefully we'll get the cruising permit tomorrow at 11AM when she promised to come back.
The weather has been much the same all day with squalls continuously running by. The port is pretty sheltered from the east wind though and the swell is not too bad in our berth. The locals seem to have no concept of how unpleasant it is to have someone blast by your yacht when you're up against a concrete quay. One guy came by 6 feet off for a good look, under full throttle. We'll fuel up and be out of here shortly after, immigration allowing.
In the evening all three boats headed to the Hard Wreck Cafe at the Truk Stop hotel for dinner. This is a nice place right on the water with a casual, kind of southern USA motel, atmosphere. They are just down the road from the port and have a nice dinghy (really dive boat) dock too. The food was good and so were the prices. The owner, Bill, is an American and a very friendly guy. They have a dive shop and seem to be pretty popular with the dive tourists. It was wonderful to eat in a real restaurant. I think our last "real" restaurant was Honiara.
We had a quiet walk back to the port past the two big grocery stores, a hardware store and some other shops. We are looking forward to some shopping and exploring tomorrow.