16th of March 2015, FAN, CXI and homeward bound
The trip from WAS to FAN was inspiring. The wind came true NE and we could sail the whole way. Usually this leg is a slog.
In Fanning the ongoing operation took us one day work and half a day off. The preparations for departure on Sunday evening went slow due to the fact that we had hardly trained crew on board. The old timers had stepped off on their islands to spend some time with the family.
The only thing going on in Christmas Island (CXI) was the swell. The four meter high waves originated from a Typhoon thousands of miles to the North West, on the other side of the Date Line. The surge would be strong enough to smash our hull and rigging to smithereens. On arrival, at 20:00h on Tuesday night, Brad decided to off load the passengers on the jetty at Christmas Island and found the local crane driver cooperative. Because of the swell this was a tricky but wise decision because during the night the swell rose to 6m and the next morning we found the Jetty impossible to dock for the following three days.
I went home for two days and spent time running after officials of Customs and other local departments to get the obligatory papers to take my cargo off the Kwai and finally start “Big Ben Cinema” in my home town London, Christmas. On my last day I managed to do a trial of the equipment sharing ice cream with helpful neighbors. On my return in June the opening of the movie theater will be official.
The Kwai sat on anchor all through the weekend. On Monday Brad decided we had waited long enough and went alongside the big Chinese Quinghe to get rid of our cargo. We strung tires on a breadfruit log (brought as cargo from Washington to make a canoe outrigger) to make a “camel” fender and strong some other tires together aft. Over a hundred and twenty tons of copra were taken from one hold into the other using the mothership´s widow maker. This 20 Ton rated cargo hook had to be controlled from swinging by human force using two bull ropes. It was like taming a wild bull with the weight of a small locomotive. By noon time this proved too dangerous and we discharged the bulk of the cargo with Kwai’s crane, just tall enough to swing the one ton lifts on to the Chinese hatch. There the stevedores “bled” each bag and dumped the loose copra into the huge hold. Anyway, we got it done (of course) within not even one day so you could say this was another Captain Brad Ives success; wits combined with experience topped with a layer of balls…
And now we are back where we belong: on the deep blue open with our trusted old gang of Kiribati and Imatang crew. It’s like playing a game in the ball park after a successful match.
Bengineer (edited by Brad for accuracy)