6th of November 2018, Christmas swap
As usual, Christmas island is the place where most of the standing crew is replaced by fresh sailors. And, as usual, the crew that went to Honolulu on the Kwai, brought back plenty of ‘goodies’ for the family. In this case, also I joined the Kwai here, after flying in from Fiji where I left my sweetheart and sailing boat behind.
While handing over the Engine Room, Captain Evy told me about the engine troubles in Fanning Island (see earlier blog by Carson). Besides this issue, there were no other to be mentioned, and I could only perceive many improvements that have been made on the ship during my 9-month absence. One of the most important changes was the one made on the main engine exhaust. A new muffler was installed in the Engine Room, with an astounding effect. While the hydraulic generator was running, I had difficulties to hear if the main engine was running or not. The silence in the wheel house is much appreciated.
The day of arrival in Christmas Island happened to be a Sunday. This didn’t deter the ship’s crew and stevedores to work like madmen to get all the cargo operations finished. This happened to be a wise decision, because right after closing the hatch the torrential rain set in and didn’t stop until later the next day.
We were planning to sail to Fanning on Monday afternoon, so after a rainy morning, in the afternoon we prepared the ship for departure. As the Moamoa was occupying the jetty, we had to load our 17 passengers by picking them up from the rusty ladder on the jetty with our dinghy. It always amazes me that you don’t hear any complaints from the local passengers. Belie me me when I say that it’s not easy to climb a rickety old steel ladder 20 feet down and board a bobbing dinghy. Young and old, fit and not so fit, they all managed to join us on the Kwai.
Moving the passenger’s luggage is almost an even more challenging operation. Bags of rice, flower, taro and big suitcases had to be lowered down the platform of the jetty by rope. And last but not least, there was the 50-gallon steel drum of fuel that had to be loaded. Our guys lowered the drum in the ocean and towed it behind the dinghy, while Evy swam behind the drum to keep it from turning and twisting.
Just another ordinary day on the Kwai I would say. Until we lifted anchor and started to get underway. We got a call from the Port Authorities that the Customs had just arrived and missed the ship. So, back we went. Lowering the dinghy to pick up the Customs officer from shore.
Around three PM in the afternoon we arrived in Fanning where we had no cargo to be loaded or discharged, only passengers. Both the aluminum Kwai tender and the barge were loaded on the hatch. We are gonna use them both in Washington because a large part of the cargo is pallets of cement, and for landing that cargo you need big boats.
We made landfall in Washington on Wednesday around six in the morning. The weather and the sea is calm. The ITCZ shifted more up north. Let’s get to it!