25th of December 2019, The spirit of Christmas
In a prelude to the festivities we have been working our asses off during 12 hour workdays to get the cargo hold organized for the voyage back to Christmas Island and Honolulu. The efforts were rewarded because Kwai handed out Christmas bonuses is the shape of bags of flour, sugar and rice. These bonuses were well received because most of the crew already spent their earnings on shopping in our own Kwai-store and on kava-nights in Fanning. What used to cost seven dollars for a whole night of kava drinking, nowadays means at least twenty dollars in expenses per night. Add some snacks and local cigarettes and no money is left to take home to the wife.
Christmas morning was spent sleeping off last-night’s home-brew delirium or, in my case, doing laundry. At three o’clock in the afternoon the crew presented themselves on board in more-or-less reasonable state of presence and we started preparing the ship to receive our passengers. At Five in the afternoon we sailed through Fanning pass on leaving tide. On board we carried 30 passengers and 13 scrawny puppies. Anika added to our list of watch-duties: checking on puppies and dealing with pee and poo on the deck.
For what I am about to tell you now, I need you to open-up to happenings beyond what the mind can comprehend. As I wrote in earlier blogs, our Foc’sle holds the tangible presence of our deceased friend Tetaake.
During my night-watch I decided to do a sceance to contact his spirit. It so happened that I was on watch with Raerang, Tetaakes younger brother. Bruno Delala was one of our passengers. As a friend and dedicated sailor, I asked him to take the wheel for an hour so that we could do the ceremony in the Foc’sle. We spread a pandanus mat on the sole with a burning candle (the Light), a rosary (Faith) and beer (the Spirits). During a half hour ceremony I asked Tetaake to come out of the Dark and into the Light. Jean-Marie, the healer form Manihiki told me to extinguish the candle in the beer and bring it to the deck to put it overboard. While Tetaakes spirit was set free, a breaking wave, full of phosphorescence lit up the ocean.
For hours afterwards, a big white bird with one long tail feather was circling the vessel. It hit its wing on the gaff, high up in the sky. This species of bird in Kiribati is known as Tetaake. I choose to believe that this is more than a mere coincidence.