leaving Bora Bora and before leaving for the Line islands we ducked in
Maupiti (we needed to scrub the bottom and remeasure the anchor chain).
We left Bora Bora enroute to Hawaii with a novice crew. The trip was
planned to be about a month in duration. The Line Islands are small dots
of land between French Polynesia and Hawaii. They belong to the Kiribati
Nation. The Kiribati have their own government, culture and language.
English speaking and writing is taught in school. We were hoping to stop
at a few of these islands but we knew that charts of the area are only
approximate. Therefore, we planned to arrive in daylight from the
southwest, prevailing winds being from the east/northeast. This is a
view of Maupiti, our stepping off spot for the nearly month long trip
north. The description of the entrance to Maupiti said to enter at mid
day which we did. However it was still a harrowing entrance - very
narrow with rollers on either side of the boat, threatening to dash us
onto the coral at the first misstep. I was on the bow to direct Scott -
the best instruction I could give him was to power as fast as possible
through the swells to the calm water.
took the dinghy to explore around the island at Maupiti. Traveling
around the island inside the lagoon was impossible with the big boat
because of the shallow water. Besides, after our harrowing entrance into
the lagoon I was NOT in the mood to move the boat, now that she was
safely anchored. Scott takes us around the island in his sure and steady
first "driveby" was Caroline Island. Here Ariel, Colin and Dan look
longingly at land. Our initial thought was that we'd find a "pass" into
a central lagoon where we might safely anchor the boat. Barring that, we
thought perhaps we'd find a shallow ledge on the west side of the island
and then go ashore to explore. As we progressed up the west coast of
Caroline Island we found no pass and no reasonable anchorage. The entire
island seemed to be surrounded by a pretty good surf line - not good for
landing a dinghy with three novices. We decided that this was a recipe
for disaster - easy to flip the dinghy and risk injuring someone.
So...we drove by without sighting any dwellings or human life - lots of
a comparison of our electronic chart vs. our real location. This is a
visual of where our pass was supposed to be. You can also see that the
electronic chart shows us traveling north on top of the island. This is
why a midday approach is best in these circumstances! We looked
longingly at Caroline Island, but it'd only been five days since leaving
Maupiti in French Polynesia - so we headed off for Starbuck Island.
she is folks - Starbuck Island! Where's the latte? With the dark blue
water (read: too deep to anchor) and the pounding surf, getting ashore
doesn't look promising. In fact, at eight days out, this looks like
another drive by! Now we're thinking that perhaps Malden Island would be
another possibility. But as we try to head east against the prevailing
winds our better judgment and desire for a more comfortable ride
overpower us and we head for Christmas Island! At least with Christmas
Island we're promised some real live people and perhaps a port for
docking or anchoring.
is a partial answer to those who ask, "What do you do out there all day
long?" Besides fishing, navigating and doing laundry, we eat, sleep and
stand our watches! Hopefully you have as pleasant and helpful a crew as
we did. And life goes on...
know a chocolate layer cake is not the traditional celebration for
crossing the equator! However, it was still enjoyed by everyone on
were happy to find a safe anchorage off the church in 30 feet of water
on the west side of Christmas Island.. As we approached Christmas Island
we made many attempts to contact "Radio Christmas Island." Finally
another cruiser (mainly, "Belair") informed us that not only is there no
"Radio Christmas Island," but there is no enclosed anchorage. There is
no reliable or island-wide electricity on the island and the lagoon
silted up in the last hurricane. Our visit ashore brought memories that
will last a lifetime.
is another view of our anchorage from the shore. You can see Belair on
the left and Quest on the right. The wind is typically from the east and
we're anchored on the west side. I think the shallow area is caused by
the effluent from the lagoon slightly to the south of us.
is a view of the lagoon at Christmas Island. The island is an atoll, or
ring around a central lagoon. There's an interesting geologic history to
these islands. They are originally formed by volcanic action and built
up by coral growth. You can see the very light aqua color of the water.
This indicates that there isn't depth for our boat. Also it's amazing
how much wave action occurs across this lagoon. The distance is called
fetch. The higher the winds and the greater the fetch the higher the
waves become. This is one reason we anchor on the west side of the
island when the prevailing wind is from the east. Also, there's more
likely to be a shallow shelf built up on the west from the easterly wind
blowing the sand off the island and depositing it on the west shore.
were happy to go ashore and walk around. It's been about two weeks
since leaving Bora Bora. We're walking around to see the sights. We need
to check in at immigration. Dan wants to go diving; and Scott & I
thought we'd seek out the local priest who runs a youth hostel, has
translated the Bible into the Kiribati language and has the best post
cards on the island. Amazingly, we also find a little restaurant that
serves a delicious fish in a coconut sauce served over rice. What a
treat to have someone wait on us and no cleanup afterward.
is the typical construction methods of the government buildings.
bank had an outdoor hallway and a public phone.
are several construction methods on the island. But, These methods are
dictated by the availability of materials and the cost to import other
building materials. A number of the structures are left over from
WWII presence on the island. This especially accounts for the roads
around the island.
another photo of other living structures.
is collected from rain using the roof as a catchment device. And storing
the water in a concrete tank. The condition of stored water is of great
concern to local authorities.
dive shop generated electricity by using a wind generator.
dive shop had built a pretty impressive facility using locally available
sure way to meet the locals is to make friends with their children!
Little gestures of friendship go a long way with kids! This little girl
looks like she's gone to get water for her family. The only water on the
island is rain water. People collect rainwater and store it in tanks.
and Colin decide to catch a cab! The back of a pickup truck is a normal
way of getting around. It's very difficult to get vehicles ashore on
this island. Gas and parts are limited or unavailable.
Millennium came first to the Kiribati Islands! People who wished to be
the first to greet the new millennium traveled here to celebrate! This
marker commemorates that event and all around are structures that housed
the festivities. People came by cruise ship for this purpose.
people on Christmas Island are rightfully proud of this beautiful
church. When you consider the remoteness of this location - the lack of
building supplies and equipment - it's a testament to the Kiribati
people that they have such an impressive structure.
next day we went to visit the new high school. This picture is of the
staff and a few students. Parents have built this school at night with
the use of diesel generators for light - this is after working hard in
the copra plantation by day. The school was very impressive, consisting
of two classroom wings of four to five rooms each, a science/library
building and modest dwellings for staff. We were all impressed with the
parents' desire to educate their children. We were also impressed by the
demeanor and appearance of the students.
we were preparing to leave we picked up several letters and packages to
deliver to Fanning Island, our next stop. There's no direct mail service
between Christmas and Fanning Islands. Normally mail may take weeks or
months to get between islands, so visiting cruisers are a practical way
to communicate with friends. Here Fr. Bermond gives us a letter to
deliver to a friend on Fanning Is.
on and off the island requires a certain strategy! First, it's important
to select an area of the beach that seems to have the lowest surf. Time
of day can also be important as the winds vary during the day. It's also
a good idea to secure the dinghy to something solid (like a palm tree).
You can see in the distance where the waves have built up as the water
leaves the lagoon through a break in the atoll.
I tell you about the heavy winds that hit us during our approach to
Christmas Island? Well, here we are replacing our furling line. When the
heavy winds hit us the furling line jammed and broke before we could get
the mainsail all the way down. Fortunately with boom furling we were
able to drop the main completely, flake it over the boom and tie it
securely before anchoring.
met Bruno on Fanning Island. Here he is building a coral home! He had
devised some pretty interesting methods of creating a comfortable abode
including solar energy and a hand pump to access underground water!
is a more typical home - built with palm fronds. It was very interesting
to observe that almost every house had laundry hanging outside. These
people are very clean. Living in the tropics with no 911 or hospital
means that infections could be deadly.
now our crew are getting anxious to reach Hawaii. Tomorrow we hope to
come into Hawaii. The trip from Fanning to Hawaii has been a close reach
- trying to gain easterly ground against an easterly wind. It's been an
upwind trip and we're talking 25 days total! Our crew has worked hard to
make this a successful voyage. WOW!