Getting ready to depart & saying goodbye!
09 April 2009 | Majuro, Marshall Islands
Finally, after almost 1-1/2 years we're getting ready to depart Majuro. We've had a wonderful time here, made many great new friends and had lots of rewarding experiences. Somehow, since it didn't really seem like "cruising" since we were settled in, I got out of the habit of adding entries to this blog. Now that we'll be travelling again, I'll try to be better.
The past few weeks have been chock-a-block full of fun times saying goodbye to everyone. Last Sunday was our last race of the season with the Mieco Beach Yacht Club. The race was followed by a season-end party at Marshall Islands Resort with a big buffet and an opportunity to say goodbye to many friends. Notably, it was our last evening with Liz Rodick who sailed here years ago from the Virgin Islands. We didn't know her there but had good friends in common. She settled in here and has been helping to run one of the local stores, but she is now entering a new phase with a new man in Maui so she'll be flitting back and forth, as well as spending several months each year in Sicily where she is restoring an old house.
We didn't place very high in the race on Sunday, but had a super time anyway. Our prize was a night's stay at a local resort, which we passed on to our super crew, a group of volunteer teachers from Dartmouth (Maggie and Kiersten, both of whom know my nephew Chris) and Oklahoma State (engaged couple Jim and Taleri), who were joined for the last race with a really nice young Fijian named Julian. I'm glad we won't be around to see the hotel management the day after they use the free night! I'm adding some photos of our crew and the races to the gallery. The day before the race we took our crew out for the day to Enemanet, one of the small islands in the atoll, for a day of snorkeling, eating, and cleaning the water line in hopes of making Ursa Minor sail a bit faster.
Other memorable goodbye events included a fabulous party at Wallaby Downs, the Australian compound populated by three Aussie navy men and their families. They have been great friends to all the cruisers here and we will sadly miss them. Several other boats are leaving along with us, heading off in various directions, and so the Aussies had a big potluck for us last weekend. The compound is the ideal party place with a really nice party house and deck on the shoreline of the lagoon. As usual the food was to die for. We'll especially miss Commander Mitch and his wife Robyn. He's been a great friend to Bryan and regular companion on Friday nights at the bar, and she's been a great friend of mine
Last week we went to our dear old friends' Kathy Stratte and Jim Plasman's for a wonderful dinner. I met Jim and Kathy 30 years ago when they arrived on Majuro a little after I came here. Jim worked for the Public Defender and Kathy worked in Special Ed. They've left and returned to Majuro a few years in the ensuing years, but were living in Wisconsin when Bryan and I got married so they were able to come to our wedding in Michigan. Jim is now a judge on the High Court and Kathy is the principal of the Majuro Co-operative School.
Wednesday the 4th grade of the Majuro Co-operative School gave us a nice sendoff complete with pizza, cake, lots of nice handicrafts and some delightful songs accompanied by their teacher, Mr. Savu, on the guitar. We also got some delightful farewell notes from the students. We have been taking turns volunteering in their classroom for an hour or two a day for several months, and have come to know and love them all very much. Helping in their class has greatly enriched our Majuro experience. They have been penpals with my sister's class in Michigan, so it has been an opportunity for them to expand their horizons as well.
Last Thursday Mr. Savu had us out to his house for dinner with his family and a kava ceremony. He is Fijiian, and the kava ceremony is an important part of Fiji culture. When we visit villages in Fiji we will be expected to present kava to the chief, and often to sit through a ceremony of making and drinking it, so it has been a real help to have good instruction ahead of time. Kava is drink made from the dried and powdered root of a pepper plant, and it acts as a mild narcotic. It is not particularly delicious tasting, but the experience is a very special and heart-warming one.
Today (Thursday) was my last chance at my weekly, card-playing with the ladies at the Tide Table Restaurant. I was creamed in the first game by Linda of Hawkeye, but managed to pull out a win in the second. We play Baja Rummy, for about 4 hours every Thursday, with an ever-changing group that includes many regulars who I will miss greatly. Kathy on Po I'm likely to see again as we're both heading south to Fiji, but it's hard saying goodbye to Robyn and Rhondi from Australia, Linda from the yacht Hawkeye, and Trinda from the yacht Katie Lee. Our men all came in early for a last night of drinking with the boys, and it's been another festive evening.
Tomorrow we'll take several of the teacher volunteers, including our race crew, out to one of the small islands in the lagoon where they will camp overnight while we luxuriate in the ambiance of our floating home. It promises to be some heavy partying, I just hope we can keep up. We'll bring them back to town on Saturday in time for one last dinner with Jim and Kathy before we take off for a celebration on Aur, one of the outer atolls we visited last year. (See photo gallery for pictures from last year's visit.) From Aur we hope to depart direct to Fiji, a journey at sea of 2-3 weeks if we don't stop. It means going somewhat easterly so will probably be hard against the wind most of the way - not our favorite point of sail, and certainly not our fastest.
Another special event this past week has been the presence in the lagoon of a very friendly whale. She has let several of us get very close and follow her around (or be followed by her). We're not sure of her identification, but think she's a ginko-toothed beaked whale or a longman's beaked whale.
I know I'm missing some of the goodbye events of the past few weeks, but it's been such a hectic muddle I'm surprised I remembered as much as I did.