Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dive At the Pass

Dive at the Pass
The day after riding on the sailing canoes, there was a group of cruisers heading out for a dive at the pass. Linda asked if she could join the group and within a few minutes, she and her dive equipment were onboard SAUVAGE, a boat built in Brazil by a French couple. The boat is used for chartering all over the world. They are known especially for their charters in Alaska and around Cape Horn.
There were six of us diving and the plan was to anchor inside the pass behind a small island and take the dinghy through the pass at low tide and ride the incoming tide. It all worked out as planned and was a wonderful dive.

The visibility has to be well over 100 feet as you can see by some of the pictures. Dedea held the dinghy on a long painter and we drifted with the dinghy. There were lots of table coral from the surface to over 100 feet down and we could look up and see the dinghy on the surface. We were visited by a few black tipped sharks and saw some giant clams, a school of rainbow runners and some large and very colorful clown or anemone fish.

After the dive, we went back onboard SAUVAGE for a wonderful lunch of salad, stir-fry and B-B-Q tuna cooked in champagne. Dedea and Sophie are great hosts and very entertaining. After our meal, we decided to jump into the ocean for a swim to cool off and to try Sophie’s paddleboard. She makes it look so easy! The women had better luck than the men but it is very much a balancing act that requires lots of concentration.
We returned to the anchorage sunburned, well fed and with smiles on our faces after a perfect day!

"Beer Can Races"

On November 15, 2009, the Mieco Beach Yacht Club kicked off the racing season with a "Beer Can Race". The actual boats were made out of beer or soda cans made by the nonprofit organization Waan Aelon in Majel (Canoes of the Marshall Islands). This organization consists of a group of young people, who for one reason or another, were not able to finish high school and are learning the art of building the traditional sailing canoes of the Marshall Islands. To make some money, they made up the can boats for us for $3 each and we, in turn, sold them for $5 for the event.

Linda's boat sank before completion of her heat. John managed to keep his afloat but didn't win his heat.

The boats were raced in four different heats with the final winner, Eugene, a 15 year old local boy. Eugene's prize was a $25 dinner at the resort.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Interaction with the Waan Aelon in Majel (Canoes of theMarshall Islands)

Since we arrived in the Marshall Islands and saw the sailing canoes in the lagoon, we have been interested in taking a ride on one. That opportunity finally arrived! Linda had been visiting the building where the teachings of troubled youths, through a government funded organization, are given another chance. In this program, they learn the mechanical skills in the building of ancient sailing canoes. There is lots of math involved and the students are learning in a “work” atmosphere. They are expected to report on time each day as if it were a job. They learn how to operate tools and take care of them. Many of these students have had problems with alcohol, beetle nut, teen pregnancy and other issues that had caused them to drop out of regular school.
An idea took form that we could take them on our boats and show them what it is like to live on a sailboat and maybe even do a little sailing. They, in return, would take us sailing on the canoes. We met at an anchorage close by and dinghed the kids out to the three boats that volunteered. There were very light winds so HAWKEYE was the only boat that could actually sail. The other
boats ended up giving tours showing how things worked on their boats. The students were impressed with the fact that we are self contained in that we make our own electricity and water. The tasting of the water was popular as they were very surprised that it wasn’t salty.
Aboard HAWKEYE, we had three young men who had lots of questions and were very inquisitive as to how we could cook on the stove when the boat was healed over and how we navigated. Once we had answered all their questions and shown them around, we went out for a sail having them raise the sails and do the work as we explained what to do. They all had a turn on the helm, navigating, and working the sails.
Part of their education was also being able to feed themselves at a remote location. So, that night we could see their flashlights on shore as they gathered crabs. The next day at low tide, they were seen on the reef gathering several kinds of shells which they cooked and later extracted the meat. On land, there was the gathering of breadfruit and coconut as well as leaves and palm fronds to be used in the cooking. We were invited to their umu (they build a fire, and heat rocks, bury all the food prepared and bake in underground for several hours) that night but it was way too late for us cruisers to be eating dinner.

The next day at high tide, we were invited for a ride on thesailing canoes. What an e-ticket ride! We sat on a raised portion between the two amas and the two guys sailed the boats. The boats only hold 3 people so John and I were on different boats. One of the guys uses a large oar that steers the boat and gently skulls the canoe out to where the wind can be caught. Once the wind is in the sail, it accelerates rapidly and away we went. There is very little free board on these boats andperiod. It is a wild very little room and wet ride. Tacking is done by taking the mast from one end of the boat to the other and must be done quickly or the boat goes head to wind and in irons. John’s boat lost the mast overboard and they were dead in the water for quite a while but there was a crash boat that came to their rescue. The fellows on the boat Linda was on managed to tack but with great difficulty and managed to get back safely to shore unassisted. It was a wonderful experience we won’t soon forget.

This little guy was about 4 years old and was already into spearfishing!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Haulout

Life on the hard IS hard! HAWKEYE hauled out a week ago last Wednesday to do some work on the keel, replace the bearings on the rudder, reglass the rudder and paint the bottom as well as some usual haul out maintenance. We had been watching a crack in the fiberglass where the keel is attached to the bottom of the boat for the last two years and decided that now was the time to haul out and see what was causing the problem.
I have attached some pictures of the haul out that Dave on IRISH MELODY took. It was supposed to be Linda’s job to do but she ended up in the water placing and checking the large straps that went under the boat in order to life HAWKEYE correctly out of the water. A large crane is used with large straps that go under the bottom of the boat on either side of the keel. Hauling out is always a stressful experience as there is always the fear that the boat will be dropped. All those horror stories come to mind at these times…
Anyway, all went relatively well. We had help from several cruising friends Dave on IRISH MELODY, Larry on KATIE LEE, Spike on HALUKI, Cary on SEAL, and Lee, our hired hand. Every jerking movement, made HAWKEYE shake and a sigh of relief went out as stands were placed under her to support her while on the hard.
We had originally checked with our friends of the boat PANACEA to see if we could stay on their boat which they said was fine; but, decided to stay on HAWKEYE instead, as it is easier to start work earlier and work longer in the day if we are on the boat. It would have been much more comfortable to stay on PANACEA as we can’t use the head, have to go up and down the ladder numerous times a day and have to contend with mosquitoes which are quite numerous on land.
The work has gone pretty good so far and with luck, we should be back in the water Saturday. The fellow we hired, Lee, is an expat. who has lived in Majuro for 15 years and is very knowledgeable in boat repair. Cary made all the arrangements for the yard and crane, getting the machined work done, etc. Without him, it wouldn’t have happened as he has all the contacts and makes everything come together. He also has all the tools needed to do the jobs-a great guy to do business with and a good friend.
Internet access has been quite limited for the last month so it is difficult to accomplish anything on the internet. It is up and down several times a day and always goes down when you are right in the middle of something. So, please excuse us for not responding to emails in a timely manner but we will try to get to it as soon as they have the system fixed. Fiber optic cable is supposed to be laid to the Marshall Islands by next May so until then, they just try to patch the internet system which is very frustrating.
One thing about life on the hard in Majuro is the spectacular view we get from the boat. We are on the lagoon side but just across the road is the open ocean. So you can get a better idea of just how narrow the land of an atoll can be. It just so happened that we are hauled out during the full moon which brings the highest and lowest tides. At high tide, it sure makes a believer of you that global warming is, unfortunately, happening.

Enamanet Anchorage

Since returning to HAWKEYE mid September, we have had the opportunity to go out to Enamanet Anchorage and spend a few days. It is a beautiful anchorage, or more appropriately, mooring area. The Mieco Beach Yacht Club put in 7 moorings last year. It was done to protect the beautiful reefs so that boats would not be dropping anchors on the reefs and destroying them. On shore, there is a picnic area and a nice palm covered area in case of rain or to get out of the sun. The beach on the lagoon side is very protected from wind and waves and the snorkeling is very good. There is also a small dock, a raft with diving board and slide for the kids. Kayaks are kept up from the tide line and can be used by anyone visiting the park.
We love the peace and beauty of the place. Also, there is good diving with a wrecked boat and airplane that can be seen from the surface in the clear, warm water and, of course, beautiful tropical fish abound as well as lobster, rays, and some of the pelagic fish have been seen also.
Some evenings the cruisers get together for potlucks and music or just socializing which is great fun.