Category: Uncategorized
Saying Polaoi (Goodbye for a long time)

Yesterday T’Max, our self-appointed guide and chauffeur picked us up at the appointed time and we made our way to shore to say goodbye, deliver the remaining gifts, and take family photos. Fortunately T’max knows everyone and speaks very good English and was able to explain many things that were happening in the village.

Women were making roofing materials, meticulously forming dried leaves around a single stick and then punching holes in the correct places and then running through skewer-type sticks to hold everything together. As the families return from the outer islands where they have been fishing and gathering sea cucumbers, their in-village replacement roofs were being prepared. Several men were working on outboard engines while other women and children were gathered in a meeting house for bible study. With the end of harvesting sea cucumbers many were relaxing and socializing. A band of children were following us around, giggling and hiding when we turned around to look at them. Gina finally coaxed the over for a photo!

Everyone greeted us warmly as we meandered through the town pathways. Our new friends Walter and Rose offered us fresh coconut water, which is hard to resist as well as far healthier than gatorade. They are so plentiful here; when we tell them we don’t have these where we are from, they can hardly believe it.

Today, we weigh anchor and head to Honiara, Guadalcanal. Our faithful crew member Thom needs to make his way back home to Spokane, Washington. We will meet with some SIL/Wycliffe folks in Honiara to assist with their needs before continuing our journey on to PNG. This leg is about 250 miles and will take around 48 hours to make the journey. We appreciate your continued prayers for safe travels!

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The trade ship arrives

The supply and trade ship arrived, causing lots of activity. It comes on a monthly basis, most of the time.

Ontong Java is an Atoll, meaning the ground is nearly 100% sand and coral. As a result, very limited food or crop type vegetation grows here. The sea provides the majority of sustenance with a few things such as taro, coconuts, and bananas coming from small gardens. Most other foods staples including rice, flour and other fruits and veggies come on the ship.

Thus being the case, the economy has an increasing need for the use of cash. The main export from the area is a variety of sea cucumbers; three kinds actually, which are primarily sold to the Chinese. A sea cucumber is like a large caterpillar which moves slowly along the sandy sea floor, only they have no legs. The kinds here range from 6 to 10 inches at 1 to 2 inch diameter. No one in Ontong Java will eat them.

There is a bit of a crisis looming as the buyers are drastically under paying the community for the value per kilo. After failed negotiations the Solomon Islands government has decided to ban the export due to the imbalance of trade. Thus the crisis as the local community does not know how they will raise cash for goods.

As you can see in the photo, the last shipments to market are being brought to the ship by the shore boats, called canoes, and loaded. Also going on the ship are polished shells and empty petroleum drums, along with local people heading to Honiara for business trips to accompany their goods for trade. Others are heading to the city to reunite with extended family living there for work and education purposes.

A look around the village and you can see plenty of solar panels with batteries powering lights, music players and other small electronic devices. There is an analog cell tower bringing in telephone service, however no fast 3G. A fair number of people have cell phones. Of all the goods, it appears fast food companies are making the best profit as soda, beer, chips and other non-nutritional type prepackaged foods are very popular. This results in wrappings and cans being scattered across the ground everywhere because there is no rubbish removal system.

The distance to Honiara from here is 254 nm, 16 hours or so for the trade ship; 48 hours or so for us. As we wrap up our visit here today and look at weather routing to the capital, our hope is to arrive Thursday or Friday.

Yesterday, Sunday, was fully of rain and wind. Today the cloud cover is waning and the sun returning. Wind forecasts show to be light for Tuesday and building in Wednesday from the SE, moving to the east by early Thursday. Looks like a good time to depart Ontong Java and head to Honiara. Time will tell.

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A record day!

27 Mar 15

If you are looking for the update from March 26th, look no further because we went through the Date Line, effectively advancing beyond that day. Weird to think about that, but it happened just the same.

And if that was not mind boggling enough, we set a new 24-hour mileage record, advancing 171 nautical miles! Our previous record of 151 nms, obtained last June, was literally blown out of the water, thanks to the yesterday’s squalls and heighten winds.

Today finds us with 15 – 20 knots of wind with plenty of sunshine. Just for fun, we deployed the main sail after dousing the orange tri-sail. It’s a beautiful configuration sailing downwind “wing-on-wing”! Our speed is hanging around 6.5 knots with a smoother ride as waves roll up and pass directly under the keel, instead of from the aft quarter. At this pace we believe we will reach Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, Monday morning. This transit time factors out to 16 actual travel days, but 17 calendar days. Don’t think about this too long! We are one day ahead of schedule but actually lost a day. Ouch, my head hurts.

To celebrate this milestone chocolate brownies were baked. Once some school work is complete we will enjoy the mid-afternoon celebration with hopes of another day over 150 nms.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of all; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift from God. I know that everything God does will endure forever nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that all will revere him. Ecc 3: 11-14

 
Lumpy – It’s best that way – the pancake batter, that is.

21 Mar 15

[catalog PNG – here we come!]

Some things must remain, like family traditions. So this morning, Saturday, chocolate chip pancakes were made while underway. Good thing for refrigeration so we could keep the canned whipped cream cold and unspoiled. These things bring out the kid in us – who can resist the temptation to just shoot it straight into your mouth?

With all the changes in our family the past two years there have been a few exceptions to all the old ways being replaced with new experiences. The Saturday morning tradition dates all the way back to when Niki and Colton were toddlers. It is interesting how something going on so long can help keep everything that has changed so fresh, including the kids growing up.

Speaking of fresh, it is also a good thing our stove (propane) stove on the boat is gimbaled. The trade winds “freshened” overnight creating some fast progress while at the same time making for some LUMPY SEAS. As the waves roll under the hull the boat rolls and the stove can swing the opposite direction of the boat keeping it, well, mostly level. As an extra safety feature, pot clamps keep the pots and pans from flipping right off the stove top as the stove itself tilts back and forth.

Thanks to Gina for her top notch planning skills and keeping her balance as the crew was fed this morning; happy tummies and smiles all around.

Today’s sunrise, like yesterdays, was a full complement of pastel colors all blended together making for spectacular sight. Even with the big rollers chasing us downwind it was a breathtaking sight to behold.

The wind “relaxed” soon thereafter to 15-20 kts and the reefed jib sail was doused, the whisker pole attached and then the sheets were pulled bringing the full jib sail back out to whisk us along close to 7 knots. The pole is used to hold the sail open while the swells, still from the SE and some from the NE, roll us around. This motion is known as yawing. The sky is mostly clouding today. There was a small squall that pasted to our south. Later this afternoon will make for 7 days at sea. We are still hoping to break into a few 150 nautical mile days. Yesterday’s 3am to 3am period got us 144nm.

 
What if…the seas were BIG

[catalog PNG – here we come!]

20 March 15

Even if they are not, say we’re simply trying to land a BIG fish. Or go forward to fix a sail sheet (line) which was fraying. Or it is the middle of the night watch and it’s time to do a deck check to look for loosened items, problems, and navigation light outage. All of these things have happened in the past two nights.

Rule number one, wear your life jacket. Not just any kind but an “off shore” PFD which has built in “D” rings like a climbing harness.

Rule number two, clip on your life harness to the “D” rings and use it.

Rule number three, use the harness by clipping on the “jack line” which is yellow and runs fore & aft on both sides of the vessel along the deck. It is attached cleat to cleat and synched tight but allows some stretch like if a climber falls, reducing shock on the line and person being secured to the vessel.

Here is a picture of Richard working on a snatch block to stop a chaffing issue with the furling line. Even though the weather is nice and not stormy, it’s always good to be tethered to the vessel (see the blue shock cord clipped to the jack line).

Now, we are not sure who Jack is but we are quite positive such a line saved him or his valued crew member from being lost to Davie Jones locker.

The trade winds continue following from the NE. We made 149 nautical miles in the 0300 to 0300 period yesterday. Had we not had a sail change due to line chaffing the crew is convinced we’da broke through 150. In any case the crew has decided with fresh wind to hold course on the downwind run with the sail off the starboard side. No jibing up to this point. After a very breezy night with winds gusting over 20kts, today is very sunny wind 3 meter swells chasing us down, frothing white foam and looking …. well …. large! The NE wind is up and down between 14 and 20 knots.

Colton and Richard just landed a 38 inch Mahi Mahi. Looks like fresh fish for dinner tonight.

 
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