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The Saga of Ursa Minor
getting more stuff fixed!
06/21/2009, back at Vuda Point Marina

We've been back at Vuda Point Marina for a few days now, getting various things fixed. Originally came back from Malolo to meet up with Chuck Handy on Deviant who was arriving from the Marshalls with a package for us. The night before we sprung a leak in our fresh water system under the floorboards in the galley. A temporary patch didn't hold and we drained what was left in our water tanks. Our water maker isn't working right now, awaiting a new membrane. We had a beautiful sail back to Lautoka port where we had originally cleared in, using the old foresail we'd had recut as a "blade" and all was going fine except that the auto pilot wouldn't work, and the GPS would fail every time we turned on the second alternator. Oh, and the salt water cooling pump on the engine has been leaking ever since it was changed out a few weeks ago. Had a great dinner with Chuck at a chinese restaurant in Lautoka, then the next morning Bryan's computer wouldn't turn on at all.
So, now the computer is in the shop in Lautoka being emptied and re-filled, we're at Vuda Point Marina about 5 miles from Lautoka getting the salt water pump changed out, the GPS and electrical system checked out (they haven't found the glitch yet), and Bryan was able to get the hardware to properly fix the freshwater leak.
Yesterday there was a great live band at the Yacht Club here and we greatly enjoyed the sunny afternoon listening, dancing and drinking Fiji beer with Chuck and our friends Tom and Colleen of Mokisha whom we met in French Polynesia.
I spent much of the weekend on the internet (one great thing here is the high speed access) making reservations to fly to Michigan next month when my Dad is going to have surgery to remove a tumor on his kidney. I wanted to use frequent flyer miles for part of the journey, but finally decided it was too risky when the only airline flying to the US out of Fiji said that if they didn't get me to LAX in time for my next flight, I'd be on my own. With tourism way down here, the airline has been doing some re-arranging lately, and the chances of a delay are too great to take a chance.
I'll be in Michigan July 14-August 16, and hope to catch up with any old friends in the area, as well as my huge family. Bryan will stay at Musket Cove on the boat while I'm gone, a very congenial place to hang out for awhile.

New photo albums in gallery
05/15/2009, Fiji

I just added some new photo albums of our passage from the Marshalls to Fiji, our brief stay in Denerau Marina, and the beginning of our haulout at Vuda Point Marina. Check out the gallery!

lots and lots of new pictures!!
04/09/2009, Majuro, Marshall Islands

Please check out the photo gallery for lots of new pictures of our stay in Majuro!

Getting ready to depart & saying goodbye!
04/09/2009, 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.

Life goes on in Majuro
02/05/2009, Majuro

Unbelievably, we're still here, over a year after we arrived. Keeping busy doing things like volunteering with the 4th grade class at Majuro Co-op School, playing cards with the ladies on Thursdays, drinking with the boys on Friday night (that's Bryan, not Judy), racing in yacht races, and doing lots of reading. There was lots of excitement here about the election, and a big group came ashore at 4:30 am to watch the inauguration on CNN. (Can't get TV on the boat.)

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Ursa Minor's Crew
Who: Captains Bryan Lane (callsign NP2NH) and Judy Knape
Port: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
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