April 25

When I last wrote in these pages on the 22nd, three days ago, we were deep into preparations for departing the Marshalls for Fiji. Only yesterday we decided we are not leaving the Marshalls. After deep reflection and consideration we have concluded that we are very happy here in the Marshalls and no longer feel the need to leave. Several factors have contributed to this decision, not the last of which is our desire to see more of these amazing atolls. Our time here has been wonderful, but, we have not been able to see as much as we had hoped nor dive as much as we had expected due to the strong winds which occur during the winter months (Dec-April). And, while I was aware that we would be visiting the Marshalls during the season of strong Trade Winds, they affected our ability to explore more then we knew they would.

Of course, all of the really great diving outside of the reefs has been difficult to reach due to the weather. The summer months are the best time to dive in the Marshalls as the winds remain light affording easy access by dinghy of all of the fabulous outer reefs. Several boats which spent last summer here reported that conditions were phenomenal during the summer and there are several boats whom we have become friendly with who have also decided to stay this summer ("Dancer" with Jim and Jeannette, "Wind Runner" with Martin and Christy and "Roxanne" with Lynn and Tom and their two boys Jack and Tristan).

In addition, the laziness factor also played a part - why move, its nice here! And though I jest somewhat, the "move" in question is no mere day sail but a 1500 mile passage. Further, next January when we finally do leave the Marshalls (which we will) we can visit the islands of Kosrae, Pohnpei, Nukuoro and Kapingamarengi which are all fascinating and beautiful and which very few people get to see due to their utter remoteness. Kapingamarengi and Nukuoro especially are reported to beautiful atolls inhabited by Polynesians (though they lie in Micronesia) who are incredibly friendly, and are as remote compared to Majuro as Majuro is compared to Catalina Island (near Los Angeles in case you don't know about it). These islands are in the natural path one takes heading South West toward the Torres Straits between Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia which is the natural gateway to SE Asia (though there are other ways to get there).

Next was our lack of enthusiasm for spending another cyclone season in Australia, which would be the natural move after the season ends in the South Pacific (i.e. after Fiji). We loved Australia when we visited last year, but we are not really interested right now in another 5 months of civilization, especially considering the cost of marinas. I am excited though about visiting Australia again (on our way to SE Asia) and seeing some of the fabulous natural wonders and beauty of the Northern Territories which will be within easy reach when we are in Darwin.

Of course, we also considered returning the Marshall Islands next November at the end of the S. Pacific season and then continuing on Westward and Southward from here to visit the islands I mentioned above on our way to the Torres Straits (Darwin) and SE Asia. But then we thought, why sail all the way down to Fiji and all the way back 6 months later?

Finally, skipping Australia and Fiji leaves us a long stretch of time in the Marshalls which was a bit daunting at first, till we discovered the solution. A six week vacation in the USA this summer! Of course, this has the added benefit of allowing us to visit our families, some of whom we have not seen in 2 years and others who we will not see for the next 2 years. So, today we went to the internet café and checked out some of the flight schedules and fares and tomorrow I will check with the local travel agents and see what can be done. Our plan now is to fly home around July 15th and return at the end of August.

So there you are. Now today was an exciting and busy day for us. The 4th Meico Beach Yacht Club race was held today, Sunday, and we all had a blast. The Queen Jane did not race today, mostly due to laziness, so instead we all sailed with "Windswept" and had a fabulous time. The sailing vessel "Windswept" is a custom built tri-maran of 60ft and feels like a floating city block. It is almost as beamy as it is long and has huge expansive decks. We took third on corrected time, though we were second across the finish line (behind, of course, "Roxanne" the 65' Wylie designed sloop). After the race was a party with an award ceremony (fairly informal you could say) and drinks and dinner (for several of us) at the hotel restaurant where the party was held.

Our plans now call for another few days in Majuro and then 8 weeks out at the atolls doing our thing before we return here to get the boat and us ready for the big trip home in mid July). We have a mooring now and we can leave the boat here while we visit the US with a friend on another boat keeping an eye out for her (and airing her out when possible). We are thinking we will visit Alinglaplap (an atoll about 153 miles due West of Majuro) and then Likiep (about 145 miles due North of Alinglaplap) though we may visit one other atoll on the way back as well.

When we return from the US we will make a second foray to the outer islands and visit Wojte, Erikub and Aur which are only 125 miles or so NW of Majuro. By the end of October we will back in Majuro getting ready for our final sortie to the outer islands which will take in the atolls of Namu and Kwajalein and perhaps also Jaluit. The last island we visit, in late December, will almost certainly be Kwajalein after which we will depart the Marshall Islands for good and make for Kosrae to the West.