Saturday, March 3, 2012

From Aur to Maloelap

We woke on departure day to grey clouds and rain. Not the ideal conditions
when traveling across bommie (coral head)-filled lagoons and squeezing
between reefs to enter a new lagoon.

We need bright sunlight for the best visibility through the water in these
areas where coral grows up from the depths in random patterns and with no
warning. These coral heads are also not marked on our charts.
So...with the decline in weather, we decide to stay put and collect water

Within half an hour, blue appears through the clouds, and the sun is
visible. We change our minds again, and start the labourous chore of hauling
our rusty and heavy chain and anchor. We both comment several times on how
we can't wait to get rid of this chain. Give me nylon rode any day.

The wind is a good 25+ knots and we make our way across the lagoon and out
into the open ocean. The next atoll, Maloelap, is close. Only 30 miles. So a
day trip. But the winds shift, and we find that we are beating into the
strong winds. We end up motor sailing through the frequent squalls that
leave John drenched for most of the day!

We make it through the pass into Maloelap's lagoon early in the afternoon.
They waypoints we'd been given were perfect. It is slow going to cross the
lagoon and we finally make it to our anchorage at 5 pm, during a rain squall
of course.

At Anchor in Maloelap. Photo by SY Jennifer
There is one other boat here, a local fish supply boat, Ms Timur. They will take the fish caught by locals to Majuro for sale and export. From our location, we can see several war relics all around us. A couple of masts
from a wrecked Japanese schooner loom out of the water just south of us. There are guns and bunkers to the North.
This gun is visible from our anchorage
We can see rusted hulks of who-knows-what all over the beach. Looks like lots of exploring to do here.
If you check our position on google earth, you'll see 6 yachts were anchored at this location when the image was taken. Today, it is just us and a local boat. Our position is: 08 42N, 171 13E.

Tabal - Aur

Not sure if I can adequately describe what an amazing time we had at
Tabal-Aur. This is a small island on the north east corner of Aur Atoll. If
you are looking at Google Earth, you can enter our coordinates: 08 18N, 171

We stayed a week, and we have plans to return. In our short week, we've met
many of the locals and the children have taken to following us around on our
"jambos" (walks). I spent a day in Kendra's classroom, teaching the older
kids about Canada and discussing our trip, and reading Dr. Suess to the
younger kids. It was a hoot. We left all the kids with Canada pencils to
remember us by!

We had Kendra out to the boat to share a meal of pork chops, a rarity around
here, and she took advantage of the opportunity to send an email to her
family. Normally, the mail system is unpredictable, and letters can take
months to reach her.

The kids are very interested in the boat, and some were brave enough to ask
that they see the boat. We were unsure how to answer. How can we make it
fair? How do we get the kids to the boat? What about their parents? Is it
safe? In the end, they solved our dilemma for us. The braver kids swam out
to Renova! First, four of the older girls came out on a foam raft with
Kendra. We gave them a tour and some fruit slices.
Then four boys swam out...all clutching to an old deflated fishing float. They made it, and were
treated to some cold juice and apple slices.

As always, we must move on. Upon leaving, we were gifted with some wonderful handicrafts made by our new friends. We look forward to returning here next month for their Liberation Day celebrations.

Monday, February 27, 2012

An Eight Coconut Day

Upon our arrival James, the local medical officer here at Tabal, asked John
to look at his outboard engine. No one works on a Sunday, so on Monday John
spent the day with James to troubleshoot the Honda 15hp. John's fiddled with
lots of outboards, and he kept our little Johnston running well past it's
prime. He replaced the carb in our Yamaha, adjusted the points, and now it
runs beautifully, even for me. He's got a gift.

It took all day, but he managed to get that honda running. It had not run in
2 years. James thought it was just a broken impeller, and he had a spare, so
we thought it would be a quick job. But it turned out to need its carb
cleaned, throttle rebuilt, sparks cleaned, coils cleaned, and so on. The new
spark plugs and impeller he had were not suited to the engine. So, even
though it ran, it still needs a new impeller.

He was thanked with a gift of 8 drinking coconuts. YUM. There are two in the
fridge as I write.