This early morning, just around breakfast time, we approached the coast of Pukapuka, a.k.a. Wale or Danger Island. The last denomination is a logical one when you take a close look on the map and observe the treacherous submerged reef that sticks out three miles to the West of the major island. Whether you approach from the North or from the South, a strong current will set you on the reef before you know it. There is numerous amount of ship wrecks to pay witness.
On this seven day leg from Fanning to Pukapuka we have been blessed with strong Easterly winds that made us conserve a lot of fossil fuels. In comparison to last year’s situation, where the Kwai had no mizzen mast yet, we achieved a fuel reduction of almost 75%.
Day before arrival the mate scheduled the regular drills that are required on board of our ship. I gladly volunteered as being the Man to jump Over Board. I took off my flip flops, grabbed a life vest and jumped over the side. “Help. Heeelp”, I cried, and soon I saw crew running around the deck to their stations. The MOB pole was quickly deployed but it was towed behind the vanishing ship by the two fishing lines that were hanging from the stern.
The water temperature was fine and I relaxed to wait for my rescue. Within minutes Brad had turned the ship into the wind, backing the sails, and I saw the Kwai approaching me. I took three powerful strokes to not being run over by the impressive bow, and soon I drifted alongside the lee hull. The crew was throwing lines but I pretended to be unconscious. Two Kiribati crew members jumped in to my rescue but even with the aid of two more strong guys they didn’t succeed in hauling me out of the water. Only after a line was fed underneath my armpits, I was pulled up onto the deck.
Today we will be off loading consigned cargo and 24 drums of fuel. Tonight we will sail to Nassau Island to pick up a Tere charter party. The next day we will head back for Pukapuka and organize our famous Kwai Store on the shores of Danger Island. To be continued…