The night could not have been more serene than our sail from Fanning to Teraina.
Moonlight glittered silver on the wavelets in a broad path towards the horizon. The sky was bright and a fair breeze filled the sails, quietly setting us North West, towards our destination.
The arrival of Kwai in the Line Islands this time was very fortuitous for the stranded passengers and crew of the local aircraft service.
Flights have been operating between the islands for around a year now, however, due to some technical problems the plane was now grounded in Fanning. The arrival of the Kwai was an important opportunity for the aircraft engineers, flying in from Tarawa, to get themselves, and their tools and spare parts to the atoll, so they could work on getting the plane off the ground again.
We also luckily arrived just after the ship bringing cargo from Fiji to Christmas Island, so there was plenty of work for us in the Line Islands. After the fast trip south from Honolulu, we spent a few day in Christmas unloading our cargo, and filling the hold again with food and grain for inter-island transport. We boarded our passengers and set off for a quick round trip to Fanning, returning to Christmas 5 days later to load more cargo, and pick up the aircraft engineers and parts.
When they arrived, we nestled the new propeller they were bringing in the hold, secured to a pallet, and shored it up with bags of rice to protect it from moving with the motion of the ship. Such a delicate and expensive piece of cargo must be treated with the utmost respect! We boarded more passengers, this time many of them were heading to Washington, and set out again for Fanning Island.
Another overnight sail and we were securely fixed to the mooring inside the lagoon off the town of Antenna, Kwai’s favorite resting place. We sent of the parts for the plane, hoping to hear of a speedy return to operations for them, and departed the next day for Washington.
These beautiful night passages between the islands, when we are departing along the long, sandy coastline at sunset, escorted by dolphins, and break into our watch routines after dinner, are a great time for reflection.
On the serene passage to Teraina, after our quick turn around the islands, and the busy scene of loading and unloading, ship filled with stevedores, and passengers getting settled in for their interisland trip, I refected on the value our ship brings to the community.
Its nice to be working on a vessel that is so appreciated. To know that the communities we are servicing look forward to our visits. They appreciate the work we provide for the residents, they rely on us bringing their food and homewares.
Kwai crew get to spend time on shore with friends and family, and for those of us not from Kiribati, to make friends and build relationships. As I stand on the bridge wing on this beautiful night, I hear my friends and some of our passengers singing beautiful, traditional songs on the aft deck, accompanied by ukulele, and I see our passengers putting their children to sleep and preparing to bunk down for the night on the hatch.
This, along with the glittering moonlight, and beauty of the sails, made me feel truly happy and content.
Tiabo from Kiribati, Megan Watt