Kwai is swinging at anchor in Christmas Island with 75 tons of copra still in her belly. The last week we made a quick trip to Fanning and Washington under charter to the Education Ministry to repatriate students between the islands at the end of the school year. Christmas and Fanning both have secondary schools with students form each of the islands to get home. We departed CXI with a full load of students and Education officials on Saturday 28th of November and reached back 6 days later. Each leg was full with students and a few extras. The great thing about students is they can sleep like sardines and over 60 can fit on the hatch. So when it rains as it did profusely on each leg they can all stay dry. The wind held in the NE for the whole round trip between 5 and 20 knots with rain squalls throughout. This wind is great for sailing both ways as courses are NW and SE. From Washington the wind backed to NNE and we flew back to Fanning at 7-8 knots. From Fanning we made Christmas in 24 hours. At times with SE wind and NW current this leg has taken 44 hours. So we have been very lucky with wind and fuel consumption has been minimal. The passengers have not been quite so lucky. Over booking by Education left a few passengers huddled by the Engine Room door during the worst squalls. People often sleep on the aft deck which mostly stays dry but heavy squalls from a beam sweep the whole deck and everyone has to scurry for other shelter. Besides the passengers we carried 75m3 of cargo for Fanning and Washington, mostly rice and foodstuffs and came back with 75 tons of copra, half from each island. Washington loading was a challenge. The swell was down but rain in the afternoon made it difficult and finally we had to cut off loading copra and get the passengers aboard.
And still there is more demand for inter-island passage and freight. Southern Phoenix, the Pacific Direct Lines ship which can lift about 200 20ft containers is at the Jetty and we are waiting for tran-shipped cargo off her before making one more trip to the Outer Islands on this V33. The workers on Fanning who have been building new schools will be happy to see us again. Twice now we have had to refuse them boarding despite having paid their fares as we had reached our passenger limit. Political disturbances about who gets to travel have plagued the boarding process several times on this trip. The new Supercargo, Chrissy, has had her hands full, but with the assistance of the Mate,Taobe, and once the Captain’s intervention, all has come out as best it can.
Kwai is an important part of the social dynamic of the Line Islands and we do our best to keep people happy and serve everyone.
We should be back in Hawaii for Christmas! Aloha, Captain Brad