Running back to Christmas
Shortly after daybreak on Saturday I got the honor of bringing the ship up to the mooring in Fanning Island. Because of our experienced crew the maneuver ran like clockwork. While crossing the pass to the lagoon the rigid inflatable tender was deployed with Ieie and Arioka on board. I steamed up close to the mooring buoy where Liz dropped the mooring line in the tender. Then it only took Ieie a minute to shackle the mooring line to the bottom of the buoy. I remember the days that we had to drop the starboard anchor on the sandy bottom of the lagoon. Thanks to the mooring, now we need only half the time to get started with our operation. However we sail on islands where time is hardly an issue, the Kwai schedule doesn’t allow delays, other than caused by nasty weather.
Our visit to Fanning was short and snappy. On the same day we had to take down the boom tent, set up the cargo gear, bring passengers ashore, transfer cargo, and prepare the ship for receiving a full load of passengers for our trip to Christmas. By the time we were ready to leave it was time for my watch, so no time to rest yet. With the luxury of having seventeen crew members on board at least some of them could catch a whole night’s rest.
The leg from Fanning to Christmas took us 30 hours, meaning that we managed to average five knots against South-Easterly winds and (weak) current. Because of the direction of the wind we could not use the sails and our fuel consumption went up to 1:10,6 (miles to liters of diesel), instead of the usual 1:4 when motor sailing. Sails do really make a difference, especially on these long runs.
Just after midnight on Monday morning we anchored off the KPA jetty in Christmas. Brad decided to have the passengers pass the night on board. Not that many of them were able to sleep because of the excitement being so close to home. In the morning the aft deck looked like a giant ashtray with nervous passengers smoking.
At eight o’clock sharp we hoisted anchor and tied to the jetty where the crane was waiting to fly our passengers to shore in the cargo net. As usual the passengers carried one cubic meter of luggage each in the form of fresh produce: taro, bananas and breadfruit. Christmas Island welcomes these items as there is no fresh water lens and it is very hard to grow any food.
Besides food items, quite a few passengers brought dog puppies to Christmas. Because only male dogs are allowed on this island, the population depends on the outer islands of Teraina and Tabueran for their new pets. When I asked a lady how here pitch black puppy was called she said: “arana uatiban” (his name is husband), haha!