February 25, 2005

Yesterday we arrived at Nukuoro at about noon after a 2 day trip from Pohnpei. We had a nice sail the first 12 hours or so but after that the wind died and our course took us more downwind and we had to motor. Our chief concern now is getting to Papua New Guinea (PNG) without running out of fuel. From here we have 175 miles to Kapingamarangi (another Polynesian atoll to our South) and from there to Kaviang in PNG another 300 miles. We have about 145 gallons remaining (we used about 50 gallons getting here) and the area between here and PNG is renowned for having little or no wind. Of course we burn fuel daily to power our home.

Our generator uses about a ½ gallon each day. We plan to spend 3 weeks here and a month at Kapinga for a total of 52 days or roughly 26 gallons of fuel leaving us 95 gallons for actual motoring. The total distance to Kaviang (including the leg to Kapinga) is 495 miles. Assuming we burn about 1.5 gallons per hour, we can motor for about 63 hours. At a speed of 6k that gives us a range under power of only 378 miles, about 100 miles short of our goal. So, we must sail at least 100 miles of the distance between here and Kaviang. This would normally be no problem except for the lack of wind in this area of the Pacific. On the other hand, if we have light wind in a favorable direction we can motor sail and use far less fuel, perhaps as little as half.

Meanwhile, from the moment we arrived yesterday till sunset people came by in canoes and outboards to give us food. We have had so much fruit offered to us we have been forced to refuse some of it. We have gotten many bunches of bananas including a massive cluster of huge cooking bananas which we are really not keen on. We have a dozen or so drinking nuts (coconuts for drinking – only nuts of a certain age are drinkable, older nuts have bitter juice and are for other uses) 3 or 4 papayas, a huge basket of maybe 50 lemons, and one coconut crab, pre-cooked! The crab will make a nice lunch today with lemon and cocktail sauce.

In the afternoon some kids paddled out to the boat floating on driftwood or something and Jonah jumped in to swim with them. He took his boogie board (mini-surf board) and they splashed around then swam to shore where they played for hours on the sand and jumping into the water from a huge tree which overhangs the water. He came back at about 6pm – he had a huge red blotch on the right side of his face where he had been hit in the face with a soccer ball.

Today we have a lot to do today. First we have to set up our inflatable dinghy and put up the big awning. We put up the cockpit awning yesterday as the heat was just overwhelming. We are only about 4 degrees North of the equator here, or about 240 miles. The difference between here and Pohnpei is dramatic, though it is only about 250 miles North of here. Pohnpei’s mountains and cloudiness keeps things nice and cool there, at least compared to here! After that we are going to visit the village which is very picturesque from here.

One feature of this community is the use of over-water latrines. These structures dot the shore from one end of the island to the other (Nukuoro Island is the largest motu or islet in the lagoon and the home of the only village on the atoll) every couple of hundred feet or so. We are not sure if they are communal or if each family has their own, but we will find out today. The latrines are made of wood and palm fronds and have no windows. Each appears to have a ladder and/or ramp leading up from the beach to it as it is perched about 15-20ft above the water (and about 15-20ft out away from the beach).