22 August 2012
We arrived in Fanning this morning around 7am after a long 206 nautical mile sail from Palmyra. We left Palmyra Monday afternoon, at around 4, trimmed the sails in, and began making our way southeast towards Fanning Island, an atoll that is part of Kiribati. Although 206 miles isn't that long, compared to earlier passages, this passage felt long. We were pounding into a sea and close hauled, and ended up having to beat. We both felt ill. And I was ill. I guess we lost our sea legs being at such a calm anchorage in Palmyra for 7 days! It also appears that this leg took place in the ITCZ, or intertropical convergence zone. This is where the southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere trades meet and create all sorts of unsteadiness - mainly in the form squalls and thunderstorms - and mainly, apparently, at night! I am done with ITCZ sailing! I don't want to sail through thunderstorms with 30 knot gusts and torrential rain and lightning at night anymore. I say we wait here until the ITCZ moves north of us, and then we sail SOUTH. Needless to say, we were excited to see Fanning Island on the horizon shortly before 6 this morning - that was 38 hours after we left Palmyra, but we discovered after arriving here that in Kiribati, it is Thursday the 23rd! We didn't cross the International Date Line, but because other parts of the nation of Kiribati actually lie much further west, we're still a day ahead. So we took an extra 24 hours to get here I guess. Fanning is beautiful. As we motored through the pass in the soft early morning light, a few fishermen on shore waved at us. Once into the lagoon, we turned right out of the dark blue water of the river of current and into the pale blue shallow water to anchor, off the main settlement. We anchored in 16 feet (!), had some toast and coffee, put the dinghy together, and went ashore to look for customs etc. to clear in. Michael, our neighbor at anchor, advised us that customs doesn't open until 9. (He also kindly advised us on lots of other things). Customs, immigration, and quarantine were all very nice and clearing in was no problem. We had the officials on board and it was quite relaxed and actually sort of fun. This is our first landfall in a foreign country (not counting Canada, of course) and it's pretty exciting. It's fun to see new people! Kiribati is a very pretty language and I asked the quarantine official how to say a few things. Shortly afterwards, we went for a quick dinghy ride and shore excursion. The people all seem very friendly and say hello, although sometimes it felt like we were walking through their backyards Â... we examined some of the local boats - outrigger sailing canoes - really cool! Made me wish we had kept those spinnakers in Hawaii to give to these people who would have made good use of them. We saw pigs and chickens, papaya trees, breadfruit, and people fishing in all sorts of ways. There is no electricity, no phones, no internet. We are excited to spend some time exploring and getting to know a bit of this island.