Honolulu to Marshall Islands

N 09° 49' E 169° 18'

Likiep Atoll, Marshall Islands

May 27, 2009

Likiep is unique in that it was purchased from the High Chief jointly by Portuguese (DeBrum) and German (Capelle) families in the 1800’s. Therefore, it had a lot of European influence and the English language is more widely spoken than other RMI atolls. There is a hotel on the main island, Likiep Plantation Haus, owned and run by Joe DeBrum. When we arrived, we anchored a right off of LPH and Joe gave us a very warm welcome, taking our hands & saying, “Welcome to your home!”. The anchorage is in a small bay; beautiful, calm and well protected. As usual, we were the only yacht in the atoll.

The sandy bottom shelves quickly offshore, dropping off to 40 or more feet, so we were anchored quite close to the beach, all the better to admire the beautiful village scene. Likiep’s early residents planted a lot of very large shade trees, which the locals call lukwej, to serve as protection for the homes & land from the waves & winds of big storms. These trees line the village shore all the way around the lagoon, and they make a charming view from the water, as well as providing welcome shade from the tropical sun.


The island next to the isle of Likiep is Lado, and offers spectacular snorkeling; we saw an exceptional number of reef fish in shades of blue, green, purple, yellow, & turquoise.. The variety is seemingly endless, with fish striped like tigers, spotted like leopards, and some decorated like race cars in bright colors accented with neon blazes & lightning bolts. We were even fortunate enough to encounter a sea turtle, which I believe was a hawksbill; she had a lovely shell pattern, & swam with surprising speed.

In our Likiep anchorage, the aquatic life centered around a huge school of sardines, which hung around just off the beach, relocating occasionally a few yards left or right. Fishermen with cast nets & small boys with fishing poles would easily nab these little guys & use them for bait to catch bigger fish. A couple of the bigger fish ended up in Joe’s skillet as part of a tasty dinner he fixed for us! Seen from underwater, the sardine school was an astonishing sight, appearing as a solid wall of fish, from the water’s surface to as far down as the eye could see.

Joe was the perfect host, taking us for a scenic tour in his little pick-up truck and stopping at intervals to point out items of local interest. With the two of us facing backward perched on lawn chairs in the bed of the truck, our heads were higher than the cab, & Joe would call out from time to time to warn of low-hanging branches.

Joe has a seemingly endless supply of local stories & entertaining anecdotes. We spent some very enjoyable times with him either on the hotel porch or under the shade of one of the big lukwej trees by the beach, gazing out at the tranquil turquoise lagoon while a mother hen & her baby chicks peeped around our feet. Tough life!

As hard as it was to say farewell to this tropical paradise, weather dictates much of our agenda, and when a favorable weather window appeared on our 8th day, we reluctantly took our leave. We couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful visit, and we’ll never forget Joe and our Likiep island home.

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