Northern Hemisphere Cruising – Our first Equator Crossing.

Notes on our crossing from Funafuti in Tuvalu to Tarawa in the Kiribati Islands.

26th November to the 2nd of December 2019

Our passage to Tarawa in Kiribati took us 6 days and we sailed 627 nautical miles. We had good conditions for most of the trip, even if the winds were lighter than we would have liked. The last night at sea kicked up a few squalls, as a weather front came over us, but the upside was it turned the wind onto a lovely beam reach for the final 8 hours of the trip. Champagne sailing!

We also crossed the equator for the first time ever on DT. King Neptune showed up and after offering him a gift of our best vodka, we stopped the boat and jumped in for a swim to celebrate. 

We arrived into the Port of Betio, Tarewa on Monday the 2nd of December. We were one of only five other boats that have made the trip here this season.  We dropped anchor and radioed the Port officials to begin our  check in process. 

We were instructed to pick up the officials from  customs, health and quarantine from the dock at 15:30hrs . Three delightful ladies who came onboard  and completed our paperwork in record time. Immigration is done at the local office in Bairiki, so the next morning we took a local minibus and completed the process.  It was here that we  also submitted and picked up permission letters to visit the outer atolls (Abimama, Abaiang and Butaritari). 

Again, really quick and easy and everyone was very friendly. 

After that it was time to get online, so off to the local telecom shop. 4GB of data for $30AUD and 3G speed. Not cheap or fast but better than nothing. 

The next few days were spent with the usual jobs of organising and refilling some diesel and petrol as well as getting some provisions. Fruit and veggies are very limited here. Carrots, onions, apples, oranges and cabbages ( all imported ) is pretty much all the shops have to offer.  And at $8AUD a kilo for cabbage, we decided to do without.  

Even canned veggies are limited to corn and tomatoes. We did however find some Philippine Tanduay rum in one shop. A favourite of Rob’s and at $25 not too bad a buy. The guy in the shop didn’t believe us when we told him it was $2.50 per bottle in the country of origin…

Tasks done, we were keen to move out of the harbour and get to somewhere less busy and with clean water so that we could swim. So on Thursday, we upped anchor and had a wonderful 30nm sail north to Abaiang lagoon.  After a beautiful peaceful night, we waited for a break in the rain,  and went ashore to seek out the local police station, to show them our official permission letter. 

We were met onshore by a gentleman who turned out to be the mayor, and who very kindly walked us down to the correct building. There we met Yuli, the first female police officer to serve in the outer islands. Once officially cleared, we had a quick wander around the village, but the rain returned and eventually drove us back to the boat. 

So, that’s our time here so far. We have lots of exploring to do. The local ‘resort’ rents pushbikes , so we are going to get out and about over the next few days. (Very glad it is extremely low lying….)

The also serve meals if you book ahead, so tonight we are treating ourselves to a meal out – no washing up! Winning !