For the second time in a row, many of the standing Kwai crew members spent Christmas on the high seas. Without the usual overwhelming abundance of food and ‘stuff’ like we find on the mainland, I think it is a privilege to celebrate Christmas with the supply limited to what we carry on board.

The ceelebration started off with a speech by our crew elder Banu who asked everyone to gather in a circle for singing. The obligatory “Silent Night” took off too slow and too low, threatening the mood to turn moody-blue. Luckily Brad saved the anthem by throwing some ‘Baptist Rap’ in: “Praise the Lord!”. “Rudolph the red nose reindeer” didn’t save the evening, so we turned to powerful Kiribati carols. “E bungiaki, nakoira…. Hareeruuuiaaa”. (He is born for us, halleluiah).

Some days ago, our mate Megan came up with the idea of organizing ‘secret santa’, where everybody had to create a present for someone else. For days the crew had been working up to the limits of creativity, using whatever materials on board that they could get their hands on. In the evening presents were opened one by one, and the most interesting gifts were displayed. Besides some cargo shorts, headphones and a hair clipper, there was the personalized calendar with funny drawings for Brad, a hand-sculpted fish hook amulet, the ‘fools-golden’ pendant with Jesus figure, several condoms and a obscene coconut. This is Christmas Kiritibati-style!

The cooks Tokaniman and Arina did a great job in preparing a modest and special dinner with: smoked ham, mashed potatoes, rice, fish, and a roasted free-range pig that we received as a gift from a friend in Rakahanga. To top off the meal, we had chocolate cake with frosting and special decorations, made out of colorful Skittles, Jaw Breakers and lettering from hand-molded Starburst chewy bits. Haha!

It is almost a week ago that we departed from Pukapuka in the Cook Islands, heading North-East. Against all odds, a calm breeze from the West set us in the right direction for the first two days. Slowly the wind started backing to the North (mind you, we were still in the Southern Hemisphere), so we had to adjust our course more to the East. By the time we had almost reached the Christmas Island meridian, Brad gave the order to change to Starboard tack. This meant that all able hands were busy for one hour to get the sails over to the other side of the vessel . After this, the ship could steer straight for Christmas, close hauled.

And now, while we are crossing the Equator, the ship ran out of toilet paper! A cargo ship without toilet paper due to a slight miscalculation of whoever is in charge. No worries, we’ll survive this leg by using Baby Wipes instead!