Instead of our regular port of departure, being Christmas Island, we departed further to the West from Fanning Island. Instead of our regular port of entry, being Honolulu, we are heading further to the East, towards Hilo. In total we need to gain about 270 nautical miles more Easterly than usual. In line with the good fortune that we had during this voyage, the weather has been very favorable. From the start of this last leg, the wind has been in the South-East. Even the zone of Equatorial Counter Current has been almost double the usual width, so we are being driven to the East up to now that we reached 09 degrees North.
For the last 12 hours however, the wind has been too light to carry any sails, so we are motoring along at a speed of 5 knots. The advantage of the light weather is that we find ourselves at the end of the day playing with the longboard, which is tied to a boom on the port side of the Kwai. It is great fun, skurfing on the high seas, and at the same time it is a test of our physical abilities as seaman. In the end, working on the Kwai requires a good physical health (not to speak of the social aspect of life on Kwai). In this case, our compliments go out to our first time Super Cargo Inna for her determination in skurfing.
Last night I was woken up 20 minutes before my midnight watch, and when I came to the deck it looked like our vessel had taken to outer space. Because of the lack of wind and a glassy ocean, the stars were reflected in the deep dark surface of the ocean, and it seemed like we were actually surrounded by millions of stars. The light show of phosphorescence in the bow waves made the scene even more surreal.
This trip we haven’t had many encounters with marine wildlife, but yesterday we were rewarded with a pod of four transient Orcas in the middle of nowhere. Bad marketing gave the name ‘killer whales’ to these beautiful predators of the ocean. We were able to observe three female and one bull with a two meter high dorsal fin. It was great to see them purpoising and exhaling in sync, showing a conspicuous straight 1,5m high blow. It is a rare phenomenon to see orcas out here on the high seas. Actually, never before in 14 years of sailing the Kwai on this transect have orcas been observed. Maybe there is a link between this encounter and bigger issues like El Ninho, La Ninha or global warming, or whatever change in the cosmos is already manifesting itself.
While half of the crew is involved in turning watches on the wheel, the other half is busy doing day work. One team is repairing cargo nets on the hatch, while another team is chipping and painting the scuppers of the aft deck. At night, the old-timers of our local crew usually start playing the ukulele, which moves the younger ones to come topside and join in the singing of traditional Kiribati songs. Occasionally we start singing the “Aloha Deck” song, in tribute to the composer and our former cook Taua who died suddenly last year. Although he is missed, he continues to be part of the crew through his legacy and song.
Although we are not even half way through this passage, and weather permitting, we hope to arrive in Hilo harbor on the 1st of September. We will keep you posted on the latest news through this website.