Away at Last!
30 May 2015 | Leaving the Marshall Islands
Our last update was written on the way to the Marshall Islands. It's now 6 months later, we've just left, and without adding another blog entry in-between. So ..... this will be a recap of what we've been up to!
Majuro is by far the largest town, and serves as the capital city of the Marshall Islands. Located in the lagoon of the same name, we spent all our time there, with occasional (10), but extended, trips to the nearby Islets of Anemanet and Eneco. There the water was clear and good for swimming,snorkeling and diving (numerous wrecks), and there was no boat traffic from the tuna fishing vessels. Unfortunately, between their bureaucracy and our boat projects and extended time away, we did not get to visit any of the other islands that make up the Marshalls. That was a shame because other cruisers reported both the scenery and locals to be delightful, and we're sure it would more than have offset our memories of the area. Unfortunately those are largely influenced by the town of Majuro itself which is, to be totally honest, a bit of a dump - hence all the time spent on the outlying islets. We made new friends (David & Kate-Snufkin, Pete-French Kiss, Larry-Tribute, Kim-Sylas, Maury & Rhondi-Navigator, Claude & Jacqueline-Celsius and Bruce & Laura-Pacific Highway), and caught up with old friends (Rix & James on Pogeyan, Rob on Changing Spots and Vicky on Inspiration @ Sea). This was the 6th country that our paths have crossed with Changing Spots! We took advantage of the easy US postal shipping rates and completed many projects while in Majuro: ordered cork flooring for upstairs, replaced reefing lines with lightweight but super song Dyneema, added a seat/storage box in front of the helm station and a new shelf in the galley, added line covers to the outside decks, installed a new macerator pump, a new VHF Radio with horn, hailer & AIS ship tracking, new bow nets, and added in-line filters to the rain catchment system.
We spent Christmas with the other cruisers at Anemanet, and much fun was had going caroling by dinghy around the anchorage. We left the boat on the mooring in February for a trip to the US & UK, spending time in Utah with Colin's family and in St Augustine with Susan's. Then it was off to England for a tour of Colin's old school haunts, meeting up with family & friends (niece Katia & Brett - whose NZ wedding we attended last year - in London, college mates in Oxford and London, Maggie in Cambridge, a lovely family reunion organized by sister Sue @ Ma's retirement home near Burford, Mike and Jill in Kirkby Steven with, finally, their daughter Katherine & Ady's delightful wedding as the grand finale. Phew!
When we got back to the boat, projects loomed again - The Fridge would not start, and after a week spent futilely trying to repair it, we had to order another. For another tense week it seemed as if it was lost in transit, but it made a sudden appearance at the post office and all was well. We immediately set about its installation so we could provision & leave. Changing Spots left before us with a number of other boats, but limped back into port after about a week with torn sails, torn bow nets, water in the hull, and new crew member Jan suffering torn shoulder ligaments and a broken tooth as the result of a fall. We helped port out the wet bilges, and while certainly the return to Majuro was a disappointment to Rob & Jan, we enjoyed spending a bit more time in their company. Other boats leaving with Spots also had their share of troubles. Celsius lost a rudder, Tranquility had hydraulic issues with their steering, and Bluebie had an up close and personal encounter with an overly amorous whale looking for a mate. No word yet as to whether or not it was a Humpback!
Which all brings us to today. We are currently on passage to the French Island of Wallis, and from there to Fiji. So far it has been quiet, but very slow. Mostly light, fickle airs. Thankfully we have our screacher (big foresail off the bow sprit) for which we have renewed appreciation, having discovered that by sheeting it in really tight we can point almost as high as the tiny jib, keep pressure on the sails and thus, even in these very light airs, keep the boat moving - where most others would have had to resort to "iron jenny". We've also found that in these light winds the hulls themselves provide enough lateral resistance, even on these tight beats, and are thus able to keep the daggerboards up.... and therefore increase boat speed just a wee bit. Never too old, huh?. Presently making for the convergence point of the equator (0 degrees N/S )& the International Date line ( 180 degrees E/W ) where we hope to take a swim! Currently about 500nm into a 1700nm trip, but already looking forward to French bread & brie!