Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kanton - A tour of the warship

The patrol boat arrived on Wednesday. It is Kiribati's only patrol boat. 32
meters. And we got a grand tour. I don't know when the last time that you
got to tour your country's largest/smallest/best war ship, but that is what
happened. The X.O. gave us a tour, and we chatted for a while in the mess
about the ship, the patrol, and the country. He gave us lots of good info on
islands that have a pass into the lagoon and/or good anchorages.

As with all visitors, the community held a feast for the crew. A fabulous
meal was served to thank these men for coming to the island and bringing a
few supplies for them. They will return again, on their way back from
Kirimati (Christmas) Island, and they will stay a few days in order to do
some fishing before their return to Tarawa. Perhaps we will see them again!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kanton - A bouncy anchorage

We've had consistent squally weather since arriving here at Kanton Island.
Our passage was fast with fresh winds, and the winds have continued while we
have been here. Some days we prefer to stay on the boat to be sure that she
doesn't move from her holding. Or simply because a rough and wet dinghy ride
doesn't sound like fun. We've had a few days where the winds have blown over
30 knots and our two boats are bouncing up and down over the swells that
have built up in the lagoon.
Here we are, setting a second anchor
We have set a second anchor, and haven't moved, so we're feeling pretty
confident in the setup. To be sure, Eric dove on both of our anchors to
inspect the connections, and be sure they were well set. Our primary anchor
was buried so deep in the sand, it was almost invisible. At least we now
feel very secure.
Now that we feel better about our anchor, we're contemplating a bit of
windsurfing. Wow.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kanton - Snorkelling

Well, we've had amazing snorkelling on this trip, but I think this place
tops the charts for abundance and size of fish. John, Eric and I snorkelled
near the pass and were amazed by the variety, size, and courageous these
fish were. They had no fear of us, or of the boys' spear guns. Eric was
having a good day with his spear, and shot two parrotfish, plenty for

One of the many dinner fish caught by John and Eric

Unfortunately, during dinner, Eric felt a bit of numbness on his lips. A
symptom of the toxin ciguatera found in some tropical lagoons. Although
Davis assured us that there is no ciguatera in the lagoon, we decided to eat
more pelagic fish in the coming days. No problem. Tuna, barracuda,
wahoo....these are all delightful too!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feasting at Kanton

Kanton welcomed us with a few songs!
Our first day in Kanton was spent chatting with the locals as they prepared
for a funeral feast in honour of Owen's grandmother. Throughout the day, we
watched them bring in a boat load of tuna and eel, some of which were salted
to dry, and others were prepared to be fried for tonight's feast. We also
watched as they brought a pig to the water's edge, where it was killed and
cleaned by Owen and two other men. It took most of the late morning and
early afternoon for the ladies to butcher the pig and prepare it for dinner.

A police boat is expected to come sometime this week, so the families are
all very busy drying various fish to be sent home to their families on the
main island of Tarawa. We're told that fish is difficult to come by at the
busy capital, and can be very expensive to buy. On drying racks throughout
the small community we saw tuna, eel, shark, octopus and wahoo. They told us
that the fish will keep for up to one year when prepared this way.
The evening feast was held in an old, rickety warehouse, whose tin walls
vibrated with the winds, and long strips of roofing threatened to fall at
any moment. This was also used as the schoolhouse, when they are living at
the wharf, instead of their usual village. After short speech giving tribute
to Owen and his grandmother, guests were invited to eat first, along with
the men. After the men had finished eating, the women and children
approached the banquet table.
A long, low, table held dishes prepared by the entire village. The pig was
presented in several ways, as ribs, steaks and other bits and pieces. Many
fish were also prepared - fried in garlic salt, salted, etc. Also the Moray
Eel was available as salted or fresh. I tried the salted, and it was very
delicious! I didn't get to the fresh eel - there were only HUGE pieces, and
our plates were overflowing. Of course, rice, ramen noodles, bread, pumpkin,
and other delights accompanied the meal. Everyone ate meals from simple
plastic plates, with a spoon and our fingers, while sitting on locally made
woven mats.
On Sunday, we arrived in our best outfits for church. Even in this small
village, we had a choice of a Protestant service (in the warehouse) or a
Catholic service (in the teacher's house). After the service, our welcome
feast began. Again, the table was heaped with dishes provided from the
community. John, who seems to be the local leader, and husband of the head
teacher, gave a short welcome speech, and we were gifted with ornate shell
necklaces, made here on the island. Again, we were invited to dine first,
followed by the men, then the women and children. After a meal, which
featured many of the previous day's delights, plus lobster, we had an
opportunity to express our thanks to the villagers, and present a few of the
small gifts we had brought for them. We had bananas, onions, oranges,
eggplant, bic lighters, fabric, fishing hooks and innertube repair kits,
which they seemed pleased to receive, and quickly divided into 7 equal piles
- one for each family. The villagers were also very pleased with the soccer
ball, frisbees, and heaps of movies that Eric provided. After the
formalities, the men quickly dragged the tv, dvd player, and generator over
to the warehouse, and the entire village crowded around to watch Sin City!