Farewell Kiribati, Hello Marshall Islands

Well here we are in another new country. We are tied to a mooring ball in Majuro lagoon, Marshall islands. We arrived on Monday after a bouncy three day upwind sail. We had one big squall for about three hours on day two. We were bang in the middle of the convergence zone, so we were expecting it. But it swung the wind onto the nose and picked up to 35 knots and 3 metre seas for a time…We held DT into it and she coped admirably. The rest of the trip was spent as close hauled as we could go, keeping as much easting as we could to offset a 2 knot west-going current, and avoiding Mili and Enajet Islands.

Our last 24 hours was very pleasant, the wind went a little more East and we had a beam reach and full moon!

We were originally heading for the Fordyce channel to the East of Majuro, but could not make the angle work. So we went up the west side of Majuro, giving the NW tip a wide berth due to the wind against tide making it a little bit lumpy.

The check in to Majuro was very easy, with Cary and Karen on Seal helping book the health and immigration staff.

Our last week in Tarawa was lovely. We had the option to sail 100NM north to Butaritari or 100NM south to Abemama. Both are meant to be lovely, but rather than wait for the right weather for an overnight sail, we opted instead to move two hours north across the lagoon to North Tarawa.

It was a great decision. The water was a lot clearer on this side of the lagoon and the low tide revealed miles and miles of gold and pink sand beaches -perfect for exploring and for the locals, a perfect time to go fishing. 

We watched the villagers wading out through the shallows looking for clams. Or using canoes to lay out fishing nets. They would then paddle the canoes up and down and hit the water to move the fish towards the net. Even though we are vegan, this sustainable style of fishing is wonderful to see and a stark contrast to the huge fleet of overseas fishing boats in Betio.

On the ocean side of Nabeina island there is a fish trap which was built at least 200 years ago. It is accessible at mid-to-low tide and consists of a coral wall that goes about 100 metres towards the outer reef. This leads into a heart shaped coral structure, cleverly  designed so that any fish that end up in it at high tide cannot escape when the tide falls. 

The week, however, was not without a drama. We took Darren ashore to capture some footage and after some pretty stunning low level flights, a moment of inattention led to an unscheduled dunking in the shallows. We rescued him pretty swiftly and spent two days trying to resurrect him, but to no avail. It seems that we may have to bite the bullet and replace him. Not easy (or cheap) to do in this part of the world. Watch this space.

A wind shift was due so we moved back over to Bikenibu, where we met up with our friends Mark and Ange on Uno Mas. They had discovered a government run market garden which normally supplied fruit and veggies to the local schools and hospital. Due to school holidays there was a surplus, so we were able to queue up, get a ticket and buy some lovely fresh veggies that are simply not available in the local shops. Fresh sweetcorn, aubergine, radishes and melon, along with local lettuce and cucumbers. All for less than $30. The staff running it were lovely and we had a good chat with some of the locals while we were waiting.

As you know , our schedule is dictated by the weather. We had been casually perusing weather patterns as part of exploring the other Kiribati atolls ,when we saw a good window for us to head north to the Marshall Islands. We had waited the requisite two weeks for our measles booster to take effect and we knew that the Dengue travel ban to the outer islands in the Marshalls had been lifted, so there was nothing stopping us from heading off. We had enjoyed our time in Kiribati; The people are lovely and we enjoyed the time we spent exploring, but it was time to move on. As you know, we are keen divers and we had struggled to find any decent snorkelling, let alone any great dive sites. Knowing that the Marshall islands has some great diving to offer, it wasn’t too hard a choice to up anchor and clear out. We spent Thursday after noon getting the bus around town to complete our immigration and customs clearance and on Friday morning we set sail on the 400nm trip to Majuro.