21 October 2018
Well so much for the joy of watching the spray come off the back of the waves in Teraina. Today we are watching the 12’ waves build up and crash on the south shore, closing out the pass and making cargo work in possible. We arrived on a Kiribati Friday and worked for a few hours before the boatmen declared it too dangerous to continue. The swell not only breaks right across the pass, but the beach becomes a maelstrom of current and froth as the boatmen standing in the water try to hold the boat secure for the stevedores to discharge or load the bucking boat.
In Fanning 3 days ago we discharged 97 drums of Jet-A, 60 drums of unleaded petrol, 10 drums of diesel fuel and about 80m3 of grains (rice, flour, sugar) and other foods. Our mooring inside the lagoon affords a safe place to work and the swell does not come inside at all. The Jet A fuel is for the 16 seater prop plane, now operating steadily between Christmas , Fanning and Washington Islands. Fuel must be stock piled in Fanning so they can load full of passengers in Christmas. The plane has opened the Outer Islands for fisherman, surfers and other tourists and made easy access for government officials and the local population. Kwai has lost some passenger business, but we do get the overflow and the business travelers who want to accompany their cargo.
We had waited a week in Christmas as a swell there slowed down the discharge of the PDL container ship from Fiji at the jetty. Usually they can be in and out in 3 days, but this time they were 8. Kwai did sneak in one morning so we could discharge passengers and baggage and get rid of the 116 empty fuel drums, a few tons of copra which were on deck. Then the onshore wind and heavy swell made the Jetty dangerous for us and we stood of to anchor and 5 days of deck work, chipping painting, and caulking once again.
Today, with or without the remaining cargo on the ship and the copra on the beach we will depart for Fanning and Christmas. It is time to get our Supercargo on the plane back to Honolulu to prepare for V47.
We never did get the copra off the Teraina beach. During the high tide at night the swell washed our boat into the trees. NO damage but the passage remained too rough all Sunday to get much done. We landed the remaining cargo, except for a pallet of cement and 80 bags of “floating” rice. Floating cargo comes on the ship without a consignee, but with floaters, salesmen who take orders on the beach and sell there. The rice was sold but could not be landed and went back to Fanning where it went ashore. In the end it became a tense battle to safely get the passengers aboard in Teraina. As usual there were the 40 sacks of taro as baggage for passengers and crew. Finally at 1700 we collected our Supercargoes and boat and got underway for Fanning.
The breeze was in the south and luckily we could make good time motorsailing to arrive at Fanning at 0700. There was another 50 tons of copra and empty drums to load and another deadline to get away. Inventory had to get done on the 40 totes going ashore for storage until V47 and the Supercargoes hopped to it. After another long day for all, the mooring was slipped at 1700 and off we went to Christmas Island.
The breeze was still in the SSE 10-15 knots. Kwai beat her way back to Christmas, tacking in the morning of the second day with a squally, lucky shift to E wind that put her on the port tack. We almost fetched Christmas, dropping the sails at 2200 to motor the last 25 miles, arriving at 0200, with 2 hours to spare before Anika and Myra had to depart for the airport.
More delay followed that Wednesday as the Port Authority crane that usually discharges our copra was broke down 20 miles away. The swell was light and we got straight to work with our own cargo gear to land the 80 tons of copra. This is a a challenge as the Jetty is 9m high and our boom can barely land a cargo net full of copra at that height. We could only use a small net as our big nets are too tall. Instead of building a big pile with the shore crane, the stevedores had to carry the copra way from the landing spot. KPA finally came with their big forklift and flat rack. Tetaake could land a few nets of copra on it and then they drove it over to the building pile further down the jetty. What should have been done in 6 hours took 1.5 days. Thursday we finished the last of the copra, loaded 14 pallets of crushed aluminum cans and sailed at 1500 for Hawaii.
Free of the land Kwai settled into what she does best – eat up the miles of ocean. The breeze was fair in the SSE all the way to 9N with only a few squalls as we past the ITCZ and sheeted in for the NE wind, coming ENE and today E’ly. We’ve been motorsailing the last 3 days as the breeze is light, but forecast is for SE 15 and we should be under sail only by tomorrow. ETA Honolulu is All Saints Day with no known berth yet for Customs and Agriculture inspection and the next day USCG Port State Control.
Aloha, Brad 14N 157W