We made landfall on Thursday night and stayed adrift till daybreak. Early in the morning the ship moved closer to the shores of Tukao where a tender came to pick up the consigned cargo. On the same tender, Super Cargo Crissy was the first to go ashore. NB. Our Kiribati crew has difficulties with the name Crissy, so messages and lunch packs carry the name: Christy, Kiristi or Gristi.

After the usual operations of consigned cargo and Kwai store on shore, Brad allowed the crew to go and check out the island. Manihiki is known for its Black Pearl farms. People live in relative luxury: nice (tsunami proof) houses, motorbikes, solar plant, clinic, and even a council run hydroponics installation. Some people are involved  in black pearl farming, others are contracted by the government, while the majority has some kind of subsistence funding like child support or a pension.

In the evening we moved to the other side of the island where we would repeat a similar operation the next day. And what a magical day that was to be. Instead of  my usual job as engineer, I helped out with the Kwai store on shore and met some dear friends who live here. Like Jean Marie. A massive middle aged man of mixed race. He is a healer and ‘see-er’. He has a extended history of curing people from maladies, ranging from skin infections to paralysis and psychiatric delirium.

We had a DIY bike-trailer for sale in the Kwai store. I brought my tools out and assembled the chariot, after which it was soon sold. We also supplied the materials for a custom-design trailer to my friend Papo. Later, his wife Metua gave me a X-mas present. Fifteen beautiful black pearl in all kind of luster and colors. “Hope you and your family will love the beauty of the cook island Manihiki black pearl”.

To one of the elders, Papa Maakita, I offered a bottle of gin in trade for a rito hat, this carefully woven hat can compete with the Panama hat. Alas, because a shift in wind direction and -speed, the Kwai had to leave in a hurry, and the old guy didn’t manage to get to me in time. o well…I’ll be back next year.

Before returning to the ship, I managed to buy free range eggs and fresh veggies from the councils hydroponic installation. So dinner that night was a feast! And the next day another one with marlin steak for dinner, because within 15 minutes after departure, the bell on the aft deck went berserk. It took our guys half an hour to get the 120lb marlin on board. And then the most amazing happened. Tetaake, our most experienced fisherman, took the monstrous fish by its beak, got a grip on it, and snapped its neck. What a weird wrestling match, and what a brave guy. Aware of the danger of the enormous marlin spike, he was totally in control, and the animal was out of its misery.

To top off this wonderful day, Tokaniman presented us with fresh baked oatmeal and macadamia cookies. I showed her how to deal with the fact that there was no baking powder on board… just chuck in a spoonful of cake mix, haha. Maybe that’s the secret to the success, because the cookies were rapidly devoured!

Bengineer