December 19, 2008
Merry Christmas. We are celebrating ours in Majuro. The Marshallese have a lot of Christmas spirit, which we appreciate.
Our Mieco Beach Yacht Club is very active and hosted their first race of the season a couple of weeks ago. Eleven boats participated, including a genuine Marshallese sailing canoe. There is usally brisk wind here, but on the day of the race, there was hardly a breeze. Anyway, we did good – 2nd across the finish line – and corrected out at 2nd place too. Prizes are drawn from a hat – the winner of the race only gets bragging rights. The big prize is a 55-gallon drum of diesel. Katie picked its number – so we’re fat with diesel fuel. The next race is January 4th and we’re looking forward to it.
Majuro is treating us well; good selection of food stuffs and hardware, free internet access at a couple of resorts, very friendly locals, NFL games available to view at various places and frequent yachtie get-togethers. We will be spending Christmas day sharing a pot luck dinner and gift exchange with fellow yachties. A weekly cruiser dinner get-together every Tuesday features "Tuesday Tales", at which a local Marshallese or resident yachtie shares information on Marshallese history and customs.
We need to get busy and get our paperwork in, so we can visit some of the outer atolls after the Holidays.
Ken and Katie
November 29, 2008
Monday morning/24th we got underway from our weekend lay-over spot and beat up the lagoon towards D.U.D. We had a beautiful sail in 10 knots of breeze and flat water. When we arrived we had a big welcoming committee from the local cruisers – they showed us to a vacant mooring. Check-in with the officials was easy and no fees. We got our first foreign country stamps in our passports.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with the other cruisers and some locals at one of the resorts. It was a great feed with turkey, ham and all of the trimmings. We especially appreceated the bountiful salads. We are starting to learn our way around the little municipalities. The local people are very friendly. English is their second language, so it is easy to communicate with them. Today we off loaded the bicycles we brought with us from Hawaii. They will allow us to get around and do some distant exploring on the motus. The weather has been great; sunny with puffy clouds, breezy and rain frequent enough to keep a supply of water in our tanks. The lagoon is crystal clear, water temperature is warm and perfect for swimming. We think we are going to like this place and are in no hurry to move on. Later on, we plan on exploring a few of the other atolls in the Marshall Islands.
November 21, 2008
Position: 00722N17213E 11/21/08 Friday evening We’re almost there, only 70 miles to go! The passage has been a pretty good one. We had wind practically the whole way, except for one day (the seas were still there to rock and roll us though). We continue to learn ours and Sand Dollars capabilities. We experienced some pretty viscous squalls, but came through them OK. We had a full moon during a lot of our passage, so when it wasn’t disturbed by squalls, we had scenic nights. Fishing was productive and kept us stocked up on tasty protein. We don’t bother eating the anchovy size flying fish that we frequently find on deck though. Today we were accompanied by a school of dolphin. Since we will be arriving during the weekend, we will hang out on a out of town mooring until Monday. This way we can avoid the weekend check-in overtime fees. No problem though, we have plenty to do to get Sand Dollar in harbor order. Will provide an update after we get settled in at Majuro. Hope everybody has a happy Thanksgiving. 2040 miles sailed. 70 miles to go.
November 16, 2008
Position: 12550N17740W 11/15/08 1430L UTC -11 We’re five days out of Johnston Atoll. The trip has been going fairly well. We caught a 4 foot Wahoo on the second day out and have been enjoying many meals from it since. The weather has been a mixed bag. The day time has been pretty good, but night time has brought squalls. Some of which have lasted for a long time, causing the Captain and crew to tend to the boat and lose a lot of sleep. We keep hoping that we will finally experience a night without them, but it doesn’t look like today is the day, because there are a lot of threatening clouds on the horizon. Our buddy boat, Shambala with their crew of four, is a couple hundred miles ahead of us. They departed Johnston Island one day before us, due to Katie coming down with a stomach bug (we suspect it was caused by eating a too green coconut). We’ve had one equipment failure so far – a fairly serious one. The roller furler for our headsail won’t furl anymore. If we try to force it, the head stay wire furls along with it – not a good thing, because twisting the head stay wire could cause it to break, which would result in the mast falling down. In the mean time, we can’t reef our headsail. But we would like to be able to do so, especially during squalls. We’ll just have to work around it and press on (sailing in the squalls is very sporty). We will sort it out when we get to Majuro. The windy, squally weather has had a couple of benefits, we’ve been making good mileage toward our destination. Yesterday we had our best daily run yet – 146 miles, averaging 6.1 knots. Not bad for only a 22’ waterline. It has been windy enough to keep our wind generator spinning, which allows us to keep the frig running and make ice from our Popsicle molds. The ice is much appreciated for our daily ration of grog. Our two solar panels are also contributing a good deal of energy. We participate each evening on the local Majuro radio net and it appears that many other cruisers are headed up from the south pacific to spend the holidays at Majuro. It will be nice to have fellow cruisers to celebrate with. 1335 miles sailed. 743 miles to go.
November 04, 2008
Position Day 1 started out a little hectic. We discovered a problem with the prop shaft rubbing against a bilge pump hose – after the usual contortions and sweat, it was fixed. Then after leaving the dock, we discovered there wasn’t any engine cooling water coming out of the exhaust. We drifted to a vacate side tie and again fixed the problem fairly quickly. In hind sight, sea trials would have been a good idea. At last we were underway and moderate wind and seas were waiting for us outside. It was nice to ease back into it after being harbor bound for the last two months. USN Warship 90 cruised passed closed by doing 27 knots. They were on their way home to Bellingham – wow, what a sight. In the wee hours of day 2, we were hailed on the vhf radio to alter course away from a "sensitive" vessel on the horizon. We did as requested, but wonder what it was all about – some kind of spook ship perhaps. We caught a nice size mahi mahi today. The wind and seas have picked up considerably and we’re rocking and rolling. Days 3,4,5 and 6 were uneventful. We lost a couple of fishing lures and caught another mahi mahi on day 6. The seas continued to push us around, but the wind was fair and Sand Dollar was in her element. Our trusty NAVIK windvane steered an excellent downwind course with our reefed wing and wing sail rig. We hardly made any sail adjustments and occasionally would alter our course a few degrees to get us back on track. All in all, it was a good fast passage. The morning of Day 7 found us at the channel entrance of Johnston Atoll. We were tied to a dock in the small boat harbor by 1000. It’s wonderful to be in sheltered waters and not rock and roll for a change. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast and completed a few boat chores, then went for a refreshing swim. Johnston Atoll is off the beaten path, 700 miles WSW of Hawaii, and about a third of the way to the Marshall Islands. It was a U.S. military installation until 2004. Now it is deserted, but still off limits to the public. We plan on spending a few days here. We will post some photos when we get to Majuro.
October 27, 2008
Monday evening. It has been hectic the last couple of days! We thought we had everything under control and on track for departing tomorrow, but it was close. Ken got violantly sick Thursday night through Friday (a stomach thing) and then it rained heavy Saturday and Sunday morning. The rain uncovered a leak in one of our windows, so part of Monday was spent rebedding it. After that was done, it was rush to Customs for a port clearance, and to the grocery store for last minute supplies. Then we had to get Sand Dollar into "sea" mode. We made it, but we are tired puppies. We should be on our way by 0900 tomorrow. The weather forecast looks good, light winds the first day out and then gradually building into more moderate 15-20 knot fair winds. We’re excited!
October 18, 2008
After spending two wonderful months in Honolulu, we’re getting ready to shove off for Majuro Atoll Marshall Islands – 2100 miles SW of Hawaii. We have enjoyed our four months of cruising the Hawaiin Islands very much. Especially the fine weather, bug free environment, friendly people, water activities, and scenery. We expect to get underway October 28th.