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Majuro, Marshall Islands

August 25, 2011

It’s a long way back home. Yes, we now feel like we’re cruising.

Navigating through the atoll to the anchorage

We’re now ‘on the hook’ – sailors language for being at anchor. We now have to be self-sufficient; at least self-sufficient in terms of electricity, water and making repairs. Water and electricity are the biggest items on the list. We’re trying to collect enough water to sustain ourselves but it means waiting for the rainfall which is hit and miss at this time of the year. We wait for conditions to change and for the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) to bend northwards from the equator and hope they bring moisture laden clouds from the south to drop here in Majuro. It’s a hit and miss proposition. We’ve only managed to collect 1 X 20 litre container so far and that’s not really enough. Today it’s threatening enough but having waited all morning expecting rain we’ve got nothing. So, what do I do? Head to shore and find the desalination plant, buy 2 X 20 litre containers of water and head back out in the dinghy to the boat to fill up. What do other boats do? Well, most of them seem to have water makers i.e. desalinators onboard so they start their engines and crank out the fresh water. How lucky for them! Ah well, we decided to go without one and we’re doing OK.

The other challenge is electricity. How do I run the computer? Yes, off our battery bank. However, there are other demands as well i.e. the fridge, entertainment radio, navigation lights (at anchor an anchor light), and fans to try to keep us cool. On a normal day we use about 50 amps and right now and the average sunny day we manage to produce about 65 amps. This way we keep ahead of the demand but we have to watch all the time so recording both consumption and production is important. Today we probably won’t manage to produce enough seeing as it’s mostly cloudy and we only have 3 solar panels. We just consider ourselves lucky to have refrigeration. I think that’s the biggest luxury onboard since we were out sailing in the 1980s.

So what’s Majuro like?

One very pretty anchorage

It’s an average sized atoll running at about 25 miles long and about 5 miles across. There’s 35 miles of road on which a constant stream of taxis runs along. To hail a taxi hold up the number of people in your party, the taxi stops, climb in and go up to 5 miles for .75 cents/person. A great system – there are so many of them you never have to wait more that 30 seconds and you’re off. Of course, with an island population of only 40,000 people there’s a not a lot here. There’s only the one road as the widest land is only about 200 metres from the outside edges to the inside lagoon! Yes, compact and the town itself runs along an 8 mile ribbon of land with the town of Laura at the western end which is about 20 miles away. The shoreline is a ramshackle collection of tin roofed buildings perched out over the

Majuro anchorage shoreline

water, derelict ships and deserted wrecks. Once out-of-town though the scenery improves with the occasional sandy beach with lots of coral for snorkelling around.

The harbour has only about 15 sailboats anchored in it of which 12 of them are people who live and work here. There’s one cruising boat which was just sold by their owners and the new owners came in a few days ago and are heading off on a nonstop trip through to Singapore, a trip of approximately 2,900 nautical miles. Also in the harbour are cargo ships from Taiwan, China, the U.S. and Japan. They’re loading up with tuna caught by 100 metre long fishing boats that are scouring the local seas for whatever tuna remains. It’s a wonder how much longer the seas are going to continue to produce this quantity of tuna.

Loading the mother ship – tuna, tuna, tuna

For today this is it. Our internet access is limited to the shore. I only take the computer ashore a few times a week so communications are a little slower than I like but at least we can pick up e-mail. The United States postal service does work here and mail from here to the U.S. takes about 6 days – not bad.

Today it’s hot and humid once again.  However, the sun is finally out after 2 days of intense ITCZ
activity.  That means squalls with winds up to 50 knots, rain hurtling down and filling the water tanks, everything inside damp from the rain and humidity.  Doesn’t paint a very nice picture but this morning the sun is shining and thank god a breeze  blowing.  As long as there is a breeze is bearable.  Without a  breeze the humidity kills us and we head for the bar and the wi-fi!

Expensive wi-fi here – $10 for 80 minutes.  Means we don’t often head to shore with the computer! Can hardly wait till the Philippines when we can get an internet stick and compute from the boat and have access to communications and information
24/7.  Onshore there’s not a hell of a lot going on other than the island trading boats coming and going.  People are friendly enough but certainly not gregarious.  I think it’s the tropical lassitude that is the predominant characteristic.  Slop around in flip-flops, sit under a tree and if you feel like a little variety in the diet then perhaps a trip to the reef for some fishing or head to the store for turkey tails.  Yes, turkey tails – haven’t seen those since Pago Pago in the 1980s!  What you do with them I have no idea.  Perhaps we should ask a famous chef to come down here for a competition and see what they can do with the diet on offer here!  Interested? Fill in the following application form and we’ll see you here.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Barrie permalink
    August 28, 2011 18:44

    Thx for the update. We leave Victoria at the end of Sept and will be back on Passat II by mid-Oct. Looking forward to sailing again. Wishing you fair winds and calm seas. TTFN

  2. Debi Upton permalink
    August 29, 2011 01:28

    You asked for it….


  3. Admiral Wayno happily stuck in the tropics... permalink
    August 29, 2011 06:00

    Congratulations you lucky couple of barnacles…. you can have all my turkey tails!

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