Archive for June 20th, 2011

A Few Marshallese Reef Dwellers

Monday, June 20th, 2011

We took two days to visit an island in the Majuro lagoon where awesome free moorings had been set up by Cary and Karen on Seal as part of a UNDP-GEF small grant.

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Time was short but  we saw several new and long lost specimens.

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The feather worms were long and slender.

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Strangely finned dart fish darted above the bottom.

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Bizarre rock moving wrasses spy-hopped from behind corals to evaluate our intentions.

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The much maligned crown of thorns starfish is still arguably one of the most beautiful starfish we see.

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Tiny inch-long trigger fish were lurking above tiny holes.

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Their elders peeked at us over brain corals.

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A rare juvenile yellowtailed coris engaged in a little synchronized grazing with one of its wrasse cousin.

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There was yet another flavor of spotted damsel.

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We finally found colonies of the special three-banded clownfish that live only in the Marshalls.  They were very brave and swam right up to us to tell us to get lost.

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Then S found a pair of octopods.

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K used his octopus whispering skills for a close up portrait.  They did’n’t seem to mind.

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07°07.70’N 171°18.42’E 21-June-11 22:30 UTC

Republic Of the Marshall Islands

Monday, June 20th, 2011

After a glorious sunny day of sailing between 5 and 7 degrees north, the ITCZ caught up with us again as we were closing in on Majuro.  By the time we got through Calalin Channel we’d had near about enough of squalls. S was considering a change of hobby.

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The final straw was 35 kt haymaker just inside the atoll, 2 nm from the anchorage. We were making 0.4 kts with the engine maxed out and the bow submarined more times than we could count in the short choppy breakers.  We’ve had so much rain that it has changed our daily routine. Need a drink? Just hold your cup outside. Got a drip on your head? Deploy the blue bucket.

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It was so wet on this passage that the flying fish couldn’t tell if they were in the water or in the boat. We found one mummified specimen tucked under some gear where he had been for several days. The fact that we never smelled him made us realize how funky things must’ve gotten in the cabin.

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It took us over three hours to cover the final ten miles from the pass to the mooring field in blinding rain and hull-pounding chop. But we were warmly welcomed by the resident yachtie fleet.  John of Hawkeye had answered our call asking about conditions in the channel, Patrick of Brick House came out in the rain to help us tie to a mooring, and Cary of Seal made an appointment for us with Customs and Immigration that afternoon and even came to pick us up in his dinghy so we didn’t have to moblilize ours.

That evening we met several other yachties at the Mieco Beach Yacht Club’s Quiz Night.  We turned out to be pretty good guessers and wound up winning the prize – the honor of making up next month’s quiz questions.

With this passage we traded our parting images of Tuvalu…

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for the the industrial tuna fishing harbor of  Majuro,

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and a busy urban setting with all the trappings of American culture, plus both modern indoor and traditional outdoor plumbing.

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It didn’t take long to make friends.

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And we even got to watch a footrace.

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We met up with some Tuvaluan friends, recipients of the first and last Khamseen mail service for the Funafuti-Majuro searoute.

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The girls exchanged email addresses, and we hope to keep in touch.

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Along with meeting a bunch of new friends, we were delighted to find our old friends Leigh and Richard of Before, who were literally our next door neighbors back in Shilshole.   Leigh, Richard, and their schnauzer Koziko (terror of all bow-perching noddies) joined us aboard Jody and Bruce’s Ca Va for a delicious going-away pizza dinner, complete with wine-tasting.

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Majuro was a good stop, a great place to meet terrific people, reprovision, and get ready for our big hop home.

07°06.50’N 171°22.64’E 20-June-11 22:30 UTC