Kwai is now homeward bound, 2 days out of Honolulu, coming home with a big load of nets on the hatch and a belly full of nets and debris in bags.  We are not full and could easily stay out another month to fill up but this is the end of the charter and we are soon bound back to Christmas Island to reach there in time for Kiribati Independence Day. Discharge of the nets and any media events will happen this week while the Honolulu team is accepting cargo at Pier 19 and next week we will be loading for V50!  Voyage number 50 and the beginning of Kwai’s 14th year of operation out of Honolulu.  Something like 200,000 miles covered.  This trip will log 3000 miles in 25 days, when you take into account all the zig and zagging hunting for nets.  The turnaround point was closer to San Francisco than Honolulu and the highest latitude 34N, a record for the Kiribati crew who had never crossed the Tropic of cancer before.  Temperature dipped to 18C or 54F, another record for them.  We had mostly fine weather with only a couple of rainy days when a front stalled over us.    In the end we are coming back with about 100m3 of nets and debris plucked form the ocean. Much of this was found in the 6 tracked nets that we ran down, but over half was just sighted from the mast or the aft deck by the lookouts.  As always, Kwai was up to the task. She covers the distance effortlessly under sail.  Just now we are running at 7.5 knots across the 15 knot trade winds with the apparent wind just where she likes it just aft of the beam.  All sail is set.  We broke out the new topsail form Force 10 Sails in Port Townsend.  The mizzen tore badly during maneuvers to pick up a net in squally weather and we have set the new mizzen staysail in its place.  The mizzen will get stitched up in Honolulu with our big sewing machine.  Throughout the trip Kwai’s gear was suitable to the business.  Small nets and debris could often be hooked with a grapple and hand pulled over the rail, or picked up with the dinghy, darting around the ship at the direction of the lookout or the drone operators.  Medium size nets were best handled with the vang tackles, hanging from the standing gaff.  These are designed to control the gaff, but can quickly be taken off the rail and the lower block dropped over the side to the swimmers who have already got a sling around the net ball.  Hands then heave on the tackle to get the net over the rail and onto the hatch.  The big nets were the most challenging and tested our cargo gear to the max.  In fine weather we could rig the full cargo gear and pick the nets right out of the ocean.  In rough weather we kept the cargo boom stowed and lifted the nets with the topping lift.  This is the strong wire normally used to lift the cargo boom.  For heavy nets this went from the mast directly over the side and hooked on the sling around the net.  Then we heaved up until enough net was in the air that it could be draped over the rail. hand tackles were often required to pull the mass inboard enough that it didn’t return to the sea but stayed on deck when lowered.  The topping lift was then moved to the next sling in turn until the whole ball was on the deck.   The wire runner to the end of the stowed cargo boom could then be used effectively to drag the net ball on to the cargo hatch ready for processing.  Anika as, Chief Scientist, often assisted by drone operator Greg Joder would pull specimens, photograph, bag and label them to send to the freezer.  This work was requested by the Marine Biology Department with whom we also worked to estimate the ocean areas of most debris.  Once cataloged and somewhat dried the crew attacked the pile with hedge clippers, loppers and knives to cut it into pieces that could be fit in the one ton bags.  This processing often took half a day and like the net hauling carried out in high spirits.  This is the Kwai team doing her work.  There was a great contest to spot the most nets big enough to require a tackle and the points hotly contested.  The swimmers were fearless.  Whatever the weather they were ready to jump in and dive the slings around the nets and often came out shivering.  The ship’s boat saw plenty of use rounding up debris on slow days and ranging out to lasso nets when the weather made it difficult to get alongside the net.  This way we could come in and quickly haul the load before it could get under the ship. The 2 drone operators, Greg and Sasha were professional and courteous throughout the trip and did well spotting targets, and catching their machines on a rolly deck.  The officers did a fine job in controlling the ship in maneuvers and we learned quite a bit about handling her, often returning to a target with all sail up. Captain Ethan and First Mate Anika handled the ship and the deck operations admirably and kept good communications with the charters ashore.  With all the activity, not much maintenance got accomplished, but with the mostly fine weather, the only damage was the torn mizzen.  A fine ship and a great crew. This is Kwai.