14th of December 2019, Christmas Island
It has been almost two months since the Kwai left Honolulu on her current voyage. I can tell because by this time the last of the shriveled potatoes in the almost empty provisions-net start drooling their fluids in my fresh cup of tea. It is now that we must not forget to show our gratitude.
Gratitude for the sound of the engine purring through the calm seas with hardly any wind to keep the sails full. Gratitude for the sweet smell of baby diapers and the additional sound of many happy (or not so happy) infants on the hatch. Gratitude for the fact that we are a vital link in the lives of so many island people.
We have on board 31 passengers. A lot of them are students on holiday-leave. I spoke to one of the boys with a two month-old baby on his arm. He told me that he and his wife (a student still) were moving from Christmas to Washington Island, where cutting copra is a known way of making money. For a young father, without schooling or special skills, this is the only way to provide for his young family.
Our visit to Christmas Island was uneventful. I was down with a severe case of food-poisoning, and so was the dock-crane. There was hardly any swell along the jetty, so we used our own crane to offload 20 tons of Fanning copra. After lunch we loaded consigned cargo and closed the hatch around 6pm. It took us the best part of the next day to load 120 drums of fuel and re-load our outer-island cargo that was stored in three containers on shore.
One day of sick-bay, with activated charcoal and anti-histamine tablets got me back on my feet. It turned out that many people on both Fanning and Christmas had fallen ill with the same symptoms.
While I was busy bunkering 7000 liters of diesel, Carson came running back from the Engine Room to tell me that the belt on the Cummins had snapped. We use the Cummins generator for all our cargo-operations, including the loading of passengers. Passengers were already arriving on the Jetty, so I needed to hurry-up and fix the damn generator. Sadly enough, it was not the belt that broke. The whole pulley had managed to work its way loose from the alternator. I found the pulley on the other side of the Engine Room, but the vital conical-insert was missing. Without further ado, I opened a few floor-plates and dove into the bilge. And guess what? Within minutes I felt the missing piece submerged in 5 inches of bilge-water. Assisted by our faithful second-engineer Natan (he is an excellent island carver) we had the generator back running within half ‘n hour.
Not long after the passengers were loaded did we cast off the dock-lines for our trip to Fanning where we will arrive today around 6pm.