Photo Gallery - October2003
Pictures can be clicked to see a large version of the image.
Motorsailing with the mainsail up. We had great wind on the passage to Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) for the first 3 days then it died to almost nothing and we motored for the next 4 and a half days with only a few hours of sailing here and there. The heat coming from the engine spaces was so incredible we thought the boat would melt.
The Queen Jane crosses the Equator for the second time in 3 years (the first having been in April, 2001 on the passage from Mexico to the Marquesas Islands). In the large version of this photo you can see the latitude on the GPS showing "N 00 00.005" which is about 30ft North of the line (5 thousandths of a minute or nautical mile). At a speed of 5.7k it was just not possible to shoot the photo at exactly "00 00.000".
The skipper hoisting the Kiribati courtesy flag and the yellow "Q" flag. It is customary in foreign countries to fly a small flag of the host country on the starboard side (the boat's home colors fly at the stern or bow). The "Q" flag is an international signal meaning "we have just arrived from overseas and request clearance". Raising a new courtesy and "Q" flag is a ritual which always excites us as it signifies the end of a (sometimes long) passage and the beginning of new adventures in a new land.
LAND HO! Our first view of Tarawa Atoll in Kiribati, Gilbert Islands. One of many true atolls we will be visiting in the coming months, Tarawa is the home of the capital of the Republic of Kiribati and only Port of Entry in the Gilberts group.
The islet of Betio is the commercial center of Tarawa. This the view from the anchorage at high tide. At low tide a huge assortment of wreckage can be seen strewn across the sand flats, some of it artifacts from the invasion of Tarawa by US forces in 1943, one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War.
Jonah's seventh birthday was celebrated at Tarawa the day after we arrived. Interestingly, last year we arrived at Bundaberg Australia on the exact same day, October 19th. Here Jonah is about to blow out the candles on his cake. Please ignore the two feet in the foreground.
Some of the many wrecks attesting to the danger of the reefs surrounding Tarawa. These fishing boats, and many others like it, were victims of a combination of a terribly exposed anchorage and high winds which lash these shores frequently.
The Kiribati Maritime Training Center on Betio. Over 1500 Kiribati men work on ships throughout the world contributing badly needed income to their families. According to one source we spoke with, each Kiribati working overseas supports about 30 family members at home.
The Tarawa lagoon taken from the causeway separating Betio and Bairiki, the next islet to the East of Betio. Tarawa is composed of a dozen or more islets forming the Southern and Eastern edges of the atoll.
Another view of the shore at Betio at mid-tide. Its hard to believe that this was the scene of a virtual bloodbath in 1943. Over 1,000 US Marines died taking this beach from the Japanese when their landing craft faltered on the reef and they were required to wade ashore almost a half mile through a hail of machine gun fire.
Monument on Betio to the servicemen of the US Marines and Navy who gave their lives to free Tarawa from the Japanese occupation. In the background, behind the blue construction barrier, cranes and workers from the People's Republic of China are constructing a sports and recreation complex. The huge complex, completely funded by the Chinese, was part of a massive deal granting the Chinese fishing rights to the massive Kiribati EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone)..
Close up of the Marine monument (the Navy plaques are on the reverse side, see below). Unlike many other occupied Pacific islands which were bypassed by US forces, Tarawa was needed as an airbase to attack the heavily fortified island of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands to the North West. The plaque shows that 1,113 marines were killed and 2.290 were wounded. A high price indeed. There is also a Japanese monument on another part of the island which we do not have a photo of. According to our information over 4,300 Japanese were killed in the invasion of Tarawa and only 13 were taken prisoner.
On the opposite side of the monument, plaques commemorating the sacrifices of the sailors of the US Navy report that 30 sailors were killed and 59 wounded. The lower plaque says that the monument was "sealed" on Nov. 20, 1987 (the 25th anniversary of the invasion) and is to be opened on Nov. 20th, 2143 on the 200th anniversary of the invasion. The inscription below it reads "From our world to yours. Freedom above all!".
A US tank stranded on the sand flats on Red Beach One just off the coast of Betio, Tarawa at low tide. This very beach was littered with the bodies of US Marines during the 3 days of the battle for Tarawa. In this photo 2 kids can be seen on top of the tank's turret relaxing.
This sign explains the provenance of the two 8 inch guns. Basically it says that they guns were purchased from the British Vickers Armstrong company in 1900 and were originally installed on a Japanese battleship.
A view of one of the 8 inch guns from the front. A very imposing angle. These guns must have been very effective when they landed a direct hit. However, since the invasion came from the lagoon side of the island and not the seaward side, it is doubtful they played any decisive role one way or the other.
View of the Betio small boat harbor taken from the dinghy landing. On the right is the start of the huge commercial wharf. On the left is the old wharf which stops before the edge of the reef. Between them they form the channel leading into the basin.
The telecom office on Betio. People who don't have their own phones (most everyone on Betio) come here to place and receive calls. We arranged (via email) with Jordan's mother for her to phone us here one morning.
This section of Betio is made up mostly of old 1940s quonset huts now used as copra (dried coconut meat) wharehouses. Copra is the only export other then fish from Kiribati and is used to make soap, perfume and other products.