Wednesday, April 30, 2008

School and Bees

Today Teuta and Rubis came down and picked us up (the school teachers from the north side). They wanted Trinda to come to the primary school to show the kids about folding paper airplanes, fans and finger puppets. She also made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies and took some of my old line to make jump ropes. Everything was a hit. There are now paper planes all over the school grounds. They knew about jump rope, but usually twist 2 pandanas tree roots together to make a rope. Trinda made them
promise that the ropes would stay at the school and not go to a fisherman! Ha! Rubis locked them up in the school office.

We had given her some seeds and cuttings of sweet potato eyes. She is having the school board build a fence in front of her classroom for a garden. Otherwise the pigs would eat the plants. We also had started an avacado tree from a seed. She has it too, ready for when the garden fence is finished and some more dirt is brought in. She had a melon, she called a watermelon, that was almost ripe. Trinda showed her how to tell. She picked one and gave it to us. It is a cross between a cantaloupe and
a honey dew. It was really sweet.

They made lunch for us. Rubis has trained her chickens to come when she calls. She beats an old coffee can on the porch then feeds them a little rice. She caught one and boiled it special for us. It was again tough, but tasty. She also had rice, fried bread fruit, boiled pumpkin (a sort of local squash) and they opened a cold can of corned beef. We ate and smiled.

There was a large tree leaning over the teacher cottages and the end of the soccer field. The teachers wanted it cut down. It also had a large bee hive high up in it. So they cut it down yesterday. Teuta tried to get the bees in the Top Bar Hive last night. He was unsuccessful. The kids were throwing rocks at the bees, so they weren't calm. They asked for my help. "I know nothing about bees!", I said, but went along anyway. We lite some coconut husks for smoke and went close to look. After the kids
got back the bees calmed down some. The hive was broken up some. We sat the hive box close to the hive and started trying to get parts of it in. That made the bees mad! About the third try they really took after Teuta. They got in his hair and stung him several times on the head. It didn't seem to phase him much though. Finally we leaned the box over and I got a long branch. I pulled and poked the hive till it was sorta in the box as we up righted it. They were mad again. This time one stung me on
the forearm. I was holding a burning coconut husk (it had quit smoking so it wasn't doing any good). The only thing I could think of was to brush off the bee with it. Black arm! No burn, just charcoal all down my arm. I put a little mud on it and it didn't swell much. We had about half of the hive in the box. We let the bees settle down again, then I started putting the bars on top. I finally got all but 8 inches of the top closed then put on the top plywood over it and the remaining open part. We
left them alone for an hour or so. I went to the school well and washed off my arm. Just a little sore, not much damage I guess.

It looks like most of the bees are staying in the box. Maybe we succeeded in getting the queen. Only time will tell. I told Teuta to return at sundown. And check if more bees are in the box than out on the old hive. If they are then finish putting the top bars on, close it all the way up then take the have back to his house and put it where he wants it.

I am anxious to see if they stay. I am considering borrowing a bike and peddling the 5 miles out there tomorrow just to see. I forgot to take the camera out of my pocket till the action was all over. I got a few pictures of the box beside the old hive but that's all.

On the way back, his cousin stopped by the end of the old airplane runway and showed us the cannon pointing out to sea left from WWII. I was surprised it was still here. I hadn't realized that the war affected islands this far east.

It was a long day.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Gulliver and National Health Day

Yesterday we went down to Aramari, the village 5 miles South we ride to, to pick up Gulliver the parrot. It was quite a ride for him. Bobby, the NCL island manager, took us in a small flatbed pickup thing. It was really rough on the road. Even we got sore and it was almost too exciting for Gulliver.

Today we delivered him to the Kwai. They are taking him to Christmas Island, where he has one month to be rescued before he is put down. It would really be a shame if nothing can be done. A vet and a gal from the bird rescue place in Arizona are flying to Christmas in two weeks to look at him. They are bringing a scanner to see if he has a chip implanted. If so it will be a free ride. If not, his future is questionable. He is quite the bird. He says "Hello" frequently.

Then we went to the central maniaba where they were celebrating National Health Day. Each village gave a contribution to the Minister of Health representative, or head nurse. The Kwai brought a Mr Carlton Smith who has been securing medical donations and delivering them to the Line Islands for the past 5 years. He's a Rotarian from Southern California and has been doing this mostly on his own. He has started a web site, It is a non-profit organization to help this
needy group of islands. He hopes some ay to get a light plane stationed in Christmas that could fly emergency missions to Fanning and Washington islands and also bring volunteer doctors here.

At the maniaba, the gave speeches in Kiribati, so we couldn't understand. Some folks translated a little to us. Then they had music and dancing. Here the women ask the guys to dance. Guess what, as the only odd ball white guy there I had to dance every dance. Trinda got pictures, but not in time to send to Eldon, so it'll be a while before ya'll get to laugh at me. Trinda danced a couple of times too. The music was all 60's and 70's rock, some of it was translated to Kiribati, but most was English.
Trinda twisted, but I just kinda rocked back and forth. Some of the old folks really got down! One of our past guests, Moscikatake, ask me to dance and another lady cut in. She turned around a clotted her on the head!, But I think they were friends. Both asked me to dance again later.

Ruby and Touta said they are stopping by the boat later today. we'll see. Trinda is giving her the avocado plants she started in Hawaii.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Octopus Salad

Things are going well. The rain is still lighter than the first week or two. We have been snorkeling in the pass regularly and have caught an octopus or two, They make a wonderful salad, with a little olive oil, olives, shredded cabbage, onion and such. We have hardly gotten into the freezer.

The ice box is doing well, although it is using a fair amount of electricity. We have eaten all the fresh vegatables out of it so there is some empty air space trhat I am blaming it on.

We have done very little boat work. We have been visiting too much. We borrowed bikes and pedaled down to the South end to visit the ladies Trinda was weaving with. It was a nice day, although a long ride.

It is still hard to believe the conditions these people live in. They have no electricity, except for a few have 10 watt solar panels and a car battery for a light or two at night. They have no stoves to cook in. I see a few two-burner kerosene stove parts but few of them have the fuel for them so they are rusting in the corner. they cook on open fires on the ground of coconut husks with bars over them to balance a pot on. No running water, they depend on catching rain water or a few shallow wells
full of mosquitoes and such. Most don't know to boil the water even. The restroom is the nearest beach, if they make it, but they keep pigs moored in the yard, so it all smells the same. Moored in that they tie a string to a back foot and to a palm tree. The pig is free to walk in a 6 foot circle. There are dogs wandering all around too.

Since no electricity, no refrigeration either. Any food left over is put in a cabinet with fine wire mesh for sides to try to keep the flies and ants out. Mostly they eat or share all of a fish the day they catch it, or take a chance on it the next day. Most families have young people to fish and get coconuts or dig taro or pick bread fruit in season.

Trinda's friend has 5 huts, about 10 feet square. They are palm tree poles with palm tree board to hold a raised floor (about 3 feet off the ground) with thatched roofs and mostly no walls. Cloth curtains or woven palm fronds make dividers. One is her bedroom, one for the young boys (6 & 9), one for the older one at home (25) one for storage and one is the kitchen cabinet and roof for the cooking fire. The beds are woven mats, maybe 1/8 inch thick lying on the floor. I have not seen a chair yet.
Her husband is one of the Island Councilmen, and doesn't seem to work much beyond that. The 25 year old fishes for the family, gathers and dries seaweed for Norwegian export at .65/lb and gathers, smokes and dries sea cucumbers for Oriental export at $8.50/kilo. It takes a lot of them to make a pound.

But, there is more laughter here than any place else we have been. They are very happy in their ignorance.

You have more than likely heard of the sailboat that wrecked here last Dec. and left a dog and a parrot stranded here as they made their escape to California. The dog, Snickers, was rescued through the efforts of our friends on Southern Cross, by NCL and an airline that took him to Los Angles. Today Robby and I built a bird cage for the parrot, Gulliver, a large blue and red Macaw, to ride the local freighter from Hawaii, back to Christmas Island where there are weekly flights. It is still not decided
if the parrot can go back to the states. He has no papers (they sank with the sailboat) and the owners are not responsive about trying to prove he was legitimate. If he is not rescued in some way from Christmas, he will be killed as an illegal immigrant in 30 days. Robby has been writing to all kinds of people and rescue societies to try to save him.

Tomorrow we are all going down to the South end of the island to put him in his new cage so he can ride the Kwai to Christmas on Saturday.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Rain Stopped

It has been raining for the past week and blowing 20-30 all time. This morning the sun is out and only a 4 knot breeze. It is beautiful in paradise today. Every thing is WET! We got nearly all the leaks fixed, but when it blows that hard and rains that much water finds its way in every hatch that is even a little open.

Trinda got most of the laundry done. Washed in ammonia and fresh water then hung out in the rain for the rinse. Then some hung inside to dry. Today I hope to get the rest dry.

We went over to Southern Cross for leftovers the other day, wine, cheese, popcorn, sweet potatoes, pumpkin (squash) and octopus salad. Very good evening. Trinda took the "Bop-It" and Pourou really had fun with it. He is a young Kiribati that they have made friends with. They are even considering taking him as crew fro a year or two, to New Zealand and Tarawa maybe.

We cooked up our octopus last night. It was nearly as good as Lorraine's.

Not much boat work done. I don't do well in high winds. We did collect lots of rain water. We filled one tank and the other is still 3/4 full. So we should make it til Bold Spirit gets here with the new membrane. It is in Hawaii at their dentist's office already. YEA! I was worried they would have to wait for it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fanning Update

Things have been really busy here.

We moved from the first anchorage to the same place we stayed here when we were here before, by the old sunken barge. Robby and Lorraine on Southern Cross are still here. We brought supplies for them and their mail. They were thrilled and shared some of the supplies (wine) with us! Bold Spirit is still in Hawaii.

The school teachers that wanted the bee hive came and brought a huge fish. They shared it with all of us. Then we had a picnic on the dock. We made plans to deliver the bee hive later.

Trinda's friends from the village south of town came and spent the day with us on the boat. We feed them some of the fish, rice and pancakes. They loved the pancakes and wanted to know how to buy them. Only in Hawaii we said.

Then the School teachers, Teetu and Ruby, came back and we put the be hive together. I took pictures, but who knows when we'll get them posted. It was a nice busy day. I'm not sure they have any idea about how to get the bees inside. They liked the books. Maybe when they read them they will figure it out!

It has been raining almost all time since we arrived. Good thing too. My watermaker died! I guess I rinsed it with chlorine water from the dock in Honolulu. It seems to have eaten a hole in the membrane and ruined it. I spent 3 frantic days trying to e-mail to find out how to get a replacement. Finally, Aquamarine Inc. is Fed Ex'ing a new one to Bold Spirit who will bring it down here, to arrive in about 2 weeks. They weren't sure which island they were going to first but decided to help us. Thanks
to them! We have been trying to collect rainwater each time it rains. Trouble is, the wind usually blows over 20 knots while it rains and blows the tarps up, spilling the water. We have collected about 25 gallons and have shifted to washing every thing, even the dishes, in salt water.

Trinda has been swimming with Lorraine almost every day. One day we snorkeled in the pass during the tide change and caught 4 octopus. Lorraine showed us how to beat and cook them. It was really good. We saw a large manta rey while we were getting them. Of course I forgot that I had a water proof camera, so there are no pictures of that on the way!

Chuck on Touroi, the guy we met in Christmas Island, is here now with a charter group of surfers and photographers. There is also a 25 year old girl sailing by herself on a 40 footer, Liz on Swell. She is a surfer too, so we haven't seem much of her. Hanging out with the young charter surfers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bee Hive Delivered

Today was a busy day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fanning - Arrival

7:30 AM we are anchored just inside the pass at Fanning. It was kind of an windy day. We arrived 8 miles off the north side of the atoll about 1 AM. The wind had just come up to 30 to 35 knots. We had been going slow most of the day in order to not arrive in the dark. The pass here is not necessarily small or dangerous, but I didn't remember it well enough to attempt in the dark, especially since our experience approaching Hawaii. (We came within 200 feet of hitting the reef, because of being tired
and making poor decisions.)

We couldn't slow the boat slower than 6 knots just by changing the sails. So we sailed on up to 4 miles from the atol doing 7.5 knots with just the staysail and doubled reefed main, then put down the sails and motored the 6 remaining miles, keeping 3 miles off, until we were on the SW side adjacent the pass, then turned directly for the pass. This was all in the total darkness, as the almost new moon had either set or was obscured by the clouds. Sunrise was to be at 6:33. We had motored so slowly
that we arrived 1/2 mile off at 6:15. The pass looked calm so I started toward it. I quickly noticed the current was going to be over 2.5 knots, os I chickened out and swang around. By then it was after 7, so we radioed for "Anyone awake on Fanning?". Our friends on Southern Cross, Robby and Loraine answered and gave us a visual report on the pass and confirmed the high tide time of 7:52. So we turned around again and headed for the pass. At 7:20, the current of a minor tide (0.6 ft change) was about
1.5 knots. We scooted through with plenty of visibility and anchored.

Customs and Immigration checked us in with a "$20 Australian anchorage fee". The will allow us a few days to get some money changed to pay it.

Then we took a nap! I had gotten only about 1 1/2 hours sleep and Trinda less than 2 during the whole afternoon and night.

The last NCL cruise to Fanning arrives tomorrow. We made it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hawaii to Fanning - Day 7

126 miles, 177 to go. 6 40N x 158 44W

After a long day of 15 knot winds, just after dark we had a 35 knot sustained gust for about 30 minutes. It caught us by surprise, but no damage. We had just one reef in the main and the staysail up. After it finally died back to 20 or so, I put the second reef back in the main. It blew like that till about 6AM this morning, when it slowed back to 15 again.

We must be in the ITCZ or doldrums or whatever. There are threatening rain clouds all around, but we have gotten very little rain. It just started sprinkling again. Maybe it will finally wash the salt off the rigging and sails. Around each little rain squall is a set of winds blowing harder or softer, so we have to keep the sails reduced and go a little slower than we'd like. It is too nerve racking to have a 35 knot gust threaten to rip the sails.

We bought a boneless leg of lamb roast and sliced it into steaks. Last night we tried it for supper. Coming from the ranch, I realize it is sacrilege, but it was very good. We just pan broiled it with a little salt and pepper.

Trinda got out a fishing pole. No bites yet.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hawaii to Fanning - Day 5 & 6

Too lazy to mail yesterday ....
116 and 130 miles each, 300 miles to go. the GPS says day after tomorrow at night. Arg. I was hoping we could get there in the day light so we could go on in instead of waiting outside all night. But it may change as the weather changes.

The weather calmed significantly. We mostly have 15 to 20 on or just aft the beam, but this is not a wind that the windvane does well with. I still have not learned to balance the sails in this tack. We have been running with one reef in the main and the staysail and sometimes the big jib doing around 5 knots. If I could balance the sails with them all up we could be doing more than 7 knots. It would be more uncomfortable though.

I have been listening the the books on tape I downloaded an Wyndi's. I have finished several of Heinlein's and an Asimov. The little mp3 player I got is working OK, but it goes through batteries at an alarming rate. The Zune player Guy gave Trinda also does not keep a charge long and has to be recharges through the computer. At least it is not using up disposable batteries!

Still not fishing. Trinda saw some dolphins last night, the first we have noticed since leaving Hawaii. I was surprised to see birds almost every day. Just a few, but they are here 500 miles from land.

We talked to Bold Spirit last night on the HAM radio. They are planning on heading our way next week I think. Also talked to Southern Cross, our friends still at Fanning. They are looking forward to our arrival and their care packages we have for them.

Trinda started some potted plants while at the dock, 2 tomatoes and 3 avacados. They are not getting enough light in the shower, where they can't get any salt water spray, so today she has them hanging in the cockpit to get a little light.

The fridge seems to be keeping the food better than the old one, so even it it doesn't use less electricity, it will at least spoil less food.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hawaii to Fanning - Day 4

125 miles - half way today
But I'm late sending it (6:00PM, almost day 5).

Charged the batteries again today.

All's well. The wind is lighter today. We cooked some, pasta salad for supper and eggs for breakfast.

Got to check in to the Seafarers Net.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hawaii to Fanning - Day 3

133 miles today, but that was at 10:30
Is 3PM now. 14 31N 157 56W we are going nearly straight south in order to be a little up wind of Fanning when we get closer. Still 650 miles to go.
Lots of wind still. It is still too rough to cook. I'm still glad we have the ham. I hope I'll still like it in a few more days.

We did have a salad for lunch. The fridge is working good. I don't have a feel for the electricity it uses yet, but I think it is less.

Yesterday I charged the batteries and made some water. the water maker had been pickled since Nov, but it cleaned up ok.

We heard a fishing boat on the radio, but he didn't tell us where he was, just "southwest".

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hawaii to Fanning - Day 2

10:30 AM 133 miles - 17 01N 158 01W
but it is 4PM now. The wind piped up to around 30 knots all day. We took in the big jib which we left up way too long, and are sailing with the staysail and double reefed main. Still doing 6 knots most of the time. The waves are confused but not all that big, maybe 10 feet on the beam and 6 on the stern quarter, so it makes for a fairly uncomfortable ride. We are both still a little queasy.

The radio and computer are too far forward, so it is hard to muster the courage to come up here and write, knowing I'll be queasier by the time I get this sent.

Trinda bought a cooked, sliced ham and if not for that we would probably be hungry. too rough to cook much.

Nobody feels like fishing!

The deck doesn't leak, but the open hatches and some of the ports I didn't get new gaskets in still drip a little. We occasionally get a splash in the cockpit from the bouncy sea or the top of a wave blown in. So we are still wet, but everything in the cabinets seems dry.