12th of December 2018, Rakahanga island

A two-day sail brought us from Penrhyn to the shores of Rakahanga. The Kwai stayed adrift along the coast while the local barge tendered our cargo between ship and shore.

It was great to see a few new inhabitants, in addition to so many familiar faces. Rakahanga locals showed great willingness to help out with manhandling cargo, and that makes our job a pleasure. Two barge-loads of cargo were put on shore and transported to the community house on this tiny island. There, the Kwai crew fenced off and area to create what we call Kwai-store on shore. Super-cargo Chrissy unintendedly created a frenzy by taking her time in organizing the layout of the store, while half of the population was already lining up to start shopping. I heard one of the local women say: “man, it looks like Christmas came early this year”. Haha.

There were many happy faces. I saw a 6-year old girl gaze in awe at a brown-colored Barbie doll. After several “NO’s” from the mother, she got her way with the auntie. The 12-year old Benji (who is an excellent spear-fisherman already) had his eyes on a casting rod. The grand mother saw him pondering over the purchase, went home, and gave the boy the 50 NZD that he needed. I’m sure he will bring home plenty of fish to his grannie.

Today we saved thousands of poor fishes’ lives by picking up a FAD that we found adrift between Rakahanga and Manihiki. This device was a hazard to navigation and to all living creatures in the open ocean. These drifting FADs are randomly deployed in the high seas outside national waters. It consists of a bamboo-raft, the size of a pallet, wrapped in netting with old gill-nets hanging underneath it. Tied to it is a iridium-transponder so that the owner can track the FAD down. Small fish will hide underneath the raft, attracting bigger predators. Eventually fishes, sharks, turtles and other marine creatures get trapped in the gill nets. Our raft had already lost its gill netting, but we found a dead shark in the remaining netting anyway.

Evy and crew disassembled the raft to make use of the netting. I disassembled the iridium transponder, so that it stops transmitting. It fills me with joy, that Evy was willing to lift the ocean from such menacing garbage. He could easily have sailed on, but hey, this is Kwai. We love doing shit like this.

Bengineer