Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wotje Atoll

After a week of hanging with friends and reprovisioning in Majuro, we set
off through the pass and headed north. We sailed 175 miles to the atoll of
Wotje, which has 75 islands circling the atoll, a total area of 8 km2, and a
peak elevation of 3 meters.

We are anchored in 15 feet of crystal blue water, with a crumbling flying
boat ramp on our north side, and a crumbling pier on the south of us. We're
nicely sheltered in one of the calmest anchorages we've seen!

This island was another major Japanese base during WWII, and our guidebook
tells us that it is covered 'end-to-end' with war bunkers and artifacts.
We've read that 3000 Japanese military were heavily bombed by the Americans
here and many of those who didn't die in the attacks starved to death. Only
1200 survived.

After two days of wandering around, we've seen remains of some bunkers, pill
boxes, a radio tower, torpedo racks and barracks. There does not seem to be
as much here as Maloelap, but we still have some exploring to do. This
morning, we plan to snorkel a sunken ship and plane wreck not far from our
These racks held the torpedos for the flying boats and planes

Wotje is also the location of the regional high school for northern islands,
so there are lots of students here. It also seems to be more wealthy than
the other two local islands we've visited so far. Most homes are made of
cement block and almost all are painted in cheery colours, a luxury that we
rarely saw on Aur or Maloelap. There are even a couple vehicles here - we've
seen three trucks so far. There is a large generating station providing
power to most homes. It is a pretty unusual sight to see a local home built
of simple materials with a power meter mounted to the outside wall.
This old Japanese ammunition bunker is now being used as a home, and you can see the power meter mounted on the side.

After a couple months of both local planes being away for repairs, the local
airline had one plane running for the last month or so. But now it is back
in the repair hanger. This is a common theme in the islands. It is well
known that if you fly "Air Maybe" there is a good chance that you might not
be able to return as planned. There are currently a few people here on Wotje
that are looking for a ride to Majuro - we've been asked to take four people
so far, and we've heard that there are more. Our plans aren't firm yet,
we're waiting to hear when we need to be back in town, so we haven't yet
committed to the passengers. In any case, looks like we're in for an
interesting ride...


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