Christmas Island is rapidly evolving, in contrast to the outer islands in the group. The island’s jetty is considered a portal to the rest of the world. Medium sized bulk carriers and containerships can dock here and deliver cargo. This means that the local economy is booming and the standard of living is slowly increasing, year after year, attracting many newcomers from the Western Gilbert Islands. Grow-rates like these though, come with challenges. Local resources are rapidly declining. In the heat of all these changes, entrepreneurship shows a high level of creativity. On our arrival last Saturday night, I noticed bright colored lights on shore, in a spot where there used to be only palm trees. When I mentioned this to Brad, he said: “That looks like a Ferris wheel”. Truly, the next day I went out for a ride on the island and found “Disneyland”, a fairground with seven very basic attractions. “One dollar each ride”, the guard said. That’s another step ahead for the development of this “Least Developed Country”.
New Year’s Eve passed by while we were on our passage from Christmas to Fanning Island. There were no fireworks or big banquets for us this year. We were just doing our job, standing watch over the ship, the cargo and all people on board. We carried 21 local adults of whom two were rehabilitated criminals and 17 kids including one newborn pea-size human being.
Due to the extremely low tide it was hard to pass the entrance to the lagoon. Steaming full speed ahead, we were doing two decimals of a knot over ground. That means that the current must have been around 8 knots, outgoing. Tying the mooring line to our buoy took longer than usual because of the current. In situations like these, we first take a 3/4 inch line double through the upper shackle of the mooring ball. Then we let the ship go astern, and by pulling on the skinny line, the mooring ball tilts 45 degrees, almost exposing the big shackle underneath. This makes it less hard to attach the 3-stranded mooring line to the big shackle. As soon as this has been established, we slip the skinny line and belay the 3-stranded on the bollard on the bow. Banu was the one working in the water. When he climbed back on board, he was exhausted and needed a smoke badly!
After the passengers were brought to shore, most of the crew went to church. After lunch we started working cargo until early afternoon because we were invited by our agent Naan to a Kiribati New Years party, with free range pig from the earth oven, and plenty of fizzy drinks.
On behalf of all the Kwai family members, I wish you: “Mauri, ana ririki ao boo!”
(you can probably guess the meaning…)