Friday 16 August
Kwai arrived at the SW end of V50. Quietly full moon drifting off the pass at Pukapuka, we await dawn to tie up to the reef and get to work. The fair breeze blew us over from Nassau, slipping past Tema Reef, an isolated coral ring with no land mass that can be seen sparkling in the moonlight. The wind gods have smiled on us this whole swing through the Northern Group. We hit over 10 knots under sail on the way to Manihiki on a broad reach in 20-25 knots of SE, making that passage in just 26 hours. Usually it is 36. A good sea was running, but the reef off Tukao the northern village of Manihiki afforded a fine lee. There too, we could run our 1.1/2″ floating line in and make fast to a coral head. We lay there happily for 3 nights working cargo on Saturday and enjoying a day off on Sunday. Church and great snorkeling on the reef drop off. Monday was spent at Tauhunu with the usual distribution of orders followed by Kwai Store quick visits to homes and pearl farms to watch the oysters receiving the seeds for spinning pearls. Tuesday early morning we sailed the 20 miles to Rakahanga and once again dropped anchor in the pass. This island and Nassau the next stop 250 miles to the West have less than 100 inhabitants, but many are good friends who have shopped for years with us and sailed with on Kwai back and forth to Rarotonga in the days when we made a living there. Banuera is along this trip and he has taught so many Kiribati songs and with the other Kiribati crew learned so many Cook Island ones that they can sit for hours and play, sing and laugh. Song is a part of life here. The ukelele is always within reach and except for the serious shopping time when Kwai Store is open every minute is ripe for singing. Kiribati hymns and love songs, Cook Island tamures and pop karaoke fill our ship and travels. Only the new cell phones and Facebook can silence it briefly, but there is little internet out here.
Tomorrow we head north again, back to the Line Islands and home to Hawaii. The wind will be from the starboard side once again and we’ll be close hauled, hoping for a southerly component to keep us on course for Christmas. But first today and tomorrow, the lively business of Kwai trade will go on at Pukapuka with the largest population of children and babies and adults in our part of the Cooks. They are savvy shoppers looking fro deals at the end of our route. Captain Brad