Well, since there are no bloggers on the ship on Voyage 43, I will make up some stories for you.  Kwai departs today from Fanning on the return voyage to Hawaii.  Voyage 43 has been busy and successful.  Kwai arrived Christmas (CXI) on Monday 19 February after an uneventful sail from Honolulu.  They just had a window of NE winds between several weeks of southerly so it was an opportune time to depart.  We loaded her full once again, about 500m3 of cargo crammed in every corner of the hold and as usual 6 feet high on the cargo hatch.  Lumber, tires, copra bags, and plastic containers filled the waterways and main deck with our passengers awning other tarps covered the general cargo and bales of second hand clothes on the hatch.  April and I sat in Kewalo Beach Park and watched the sails go up and our fine ship and crew drop over the horizon.

Our latest policy in CXI is to rebuild most of the split pallets before discharging.  We break (“split” is more PC) about 30% of the pallets loaded in Honolulu, either to fill the empty space between pallets or because we cannot stack more pallets on top without damaging the cargo.  Loose cargo on discharge is a real headache for everyone.  These days we require a complete list of each pallet form the shipper and we reconstruct pallets before they go off.  This way all cargo can be released from Kiribati Port Authority by pallet number and not by individual cartons.  This has basically added a day to our work in CXI, but has cut down on complaints and claims.  There is a fine line between accuracy and speed.  No ship wants to stay in port, but customer service is right up there in importance with efficiency.

Supercargo Chrissy Shyne is on her 7th voyage and third straight this year and not to be messed with.  She knows her work and along with her crew gets it done in every port.  Captain Evy has been around a while, sailing on his 19th voyage on Kwai, keeps the systems and crew running smoothly throughout the voyage.

In CXI Kwai loaded another 125m3 of dry cargo and fuel in drums for Fanning and Washington.  This is a downwind run of 160 miles and they were hanging on our mooring in Fanning Lagoon 21 hours after departure.  The 36 deck passengers went ashore directly, and local stevedores and Fanning based crew swarmed aboard to get the cargo gear up and local cargo off, loaded in to out 2 aluminum boats to be run into the beach and distributed to the consignees.  Meanwhile the customers come to the table under the big Tamani tree to collect paperwork and pay for Chrissy or Teraititi, our local, Supercargo in training, for the Hawaii cargoes.  The Customs Officer sits next door to collect the VAT and any duty on the orders.  By Saturday, 24th of February all cargo was off and the easy going Captain gave all hands (except himself) the Sunday off until 1700 departure for Washington.

Teraina (Washington) presented her usual challenge.  The swell was not bad in the pass but the ENE to ESE winds of 20 knots keep the working anchorage choppy.  The first day the anchor was reset 3 times as the steep coral drop-off outside the pass won’t hold an anchor in any wind.  Only when the wind comes more SE and onshore will the anchor hold while pulling up the slope.  And then the stern is swinging in toward the reef.  Business is carried out while the ship rolls in the anchorage.  A watch officer is always on the bridge and the winchman once again show his prowess to safely get off 60 drums of fuel and 50 tons of cargo.  Captain Evy took the ship off to a safe anchorage ½ mile off the western end of the island on the 2 mile bank that stretches to the WSW.  Reports from ships anchored here for weeks to load copra gave Teraina the reputation as one of the most difficult islands in the Pacific to work cargo.  With care Kwai can anchor close in to the pass and we load copra much faster up to 80 tons in a day in clam weather.  And that’s what she did this trip.  Teraina produces the copra and Kwai moves it.

Kwai then returned to Fanning and loaded 20 tons of dried seaweed for CXI.  This is the same product we use to carry to Honolulu where it was stuffed in containers for China, until the cost of Hawaii stevedoring priced it out of the market there.    The seaweed is farmed in the Fanning lagoon dried and compressed there for shipment.  It is a source of carrageenan used in food and cosmetic trades.  Another 35 passengers and a 30’ Ecuadorean fiberglass boat, rescued from the Fanning reef and repaired there rode on Kwai’s hatch reaching CXI on Monday evening.  It took 2 days to discharge the seaweed and copra and load back another 20m3 of cargo for Fanning.  Another quick hop there preceded 4 days of maintenance.  Then and now underway the lazerette has been emptied for chipping and painting.  In Honolulu Evy and Ethan with local help will install a 10m3 freezer.  6” of insulation will be blown in the corners of the lazerette and covered with cement wash.  The compressor and condenser will be installed in the engine room with a blower in the freezer.  The freighter plane no longer flies to CXI and the weekly Fiji Air flight cannot handle the demand for air cargo, much of it frozen food.  We hope to tap this market and to freeze fish for a return market in Hawaii.

Sail on fair Kwai, running across the trade winds as you love to do, carrying your family to the next adventure.

Captain Brad, at home in Hawaii, and contemplating swallowing the anchor next year