April 30

Unfortunately we are still here in Majuro. We have been about 6 weeks now since returning from Ailuk and that's about 2 or even 3 weeks longer then we had originally planned. The hold up has been our desire to get a permit for Alinglaplap, an atoll about 150 miles West of here. Three other boats are heading there (one has already left) and it would have been fun to hang with them (dive buddies for one thing) but it now seems that will not happen as Alinglaplap (to which I will refer sometimes as ALap since it is too tiring to type the whole name each time) has raised their permit fee to $150, up from $25 which is what most islands are asking for. We just can't see paying them such a high fee when there are 10 other atolls all wonderful and beautiful just waiting for us that only ask $25 (there are one or two which charge $50 and one, Arno, which asks $125, and of course no one goes to Arno even though it is only 40 miles from Majuro).

Fortunately for the other 3 boats, they got their permits in January before the island council raised the fee! So they will be paying $25 but if we go we will have to pay $150. ALap may not be the best choice for May anyway since it does not have the best protected anchorages in windy conditions. In June the weather should moderate greatly and wind speeds are normally 5-10k from June-October, the summer months.

We will head for Aur (pronounced hour) just North of Majuro and then up to Likiep before coming back to Majuro on July 1st. Aur is reported to be a wonderful atoll and about 10 boats have been there between January and April of this month. None are currently there, though "Windswept" says they are going up there this week also so there will be just us 2 boats there. Of course, the atoll is large with several major islands and dozens of minor ones all spread around the rim of the atoll which is shaped somewhat like a kite and is about 8 miles across and 15 miles from top to bottom).

Likiep is about 140 miles NW of Aur and is a bit larger with a length of about 24 miles and a width of 8miles at its widest. Likiep, unlike Aur, has had only two boats visit this season, "Dancer" and "C'est la Vie". So we should have it all to ourselves (the 3 boats going to ALap all plan to head North to Namu and Kwajalein before reaching Likiep so we may not see any of them before we come back to Majuro).

Meanwhile, we finally got the flight reservations all straightened out for our trip to the US. We'll be leaving Majuro on the 12th, arriving in Honolulu at 2:30am local time and leaving 5 hours later for LAX at 8am. Then we have another interminable layover at LAX lasting 5 more hours - we are spending as much time waiting at airports as we are actually flying from place to place! We may hop a cab at LAX to a restaurant nearby for some R&R before the NY flight. Then we leave LA at 9pm on the 'red eye' and arrive at JFK at 5am. Ugh.

Although Continental does have a direct, nonstop flight from Honolulu to New York (and we are flying Continental to Honolulu from Majuro) the total fare is $1500. By changing to American in Hawaii we can use frequent flyer miles for the Honolulu to LA to NY flights greatly reducing our costs (my mom has gifted us a bunch of miles in addition to the ones we have ourselves which we get by using our Citibank American Airlines visa car since we are NOT frequent flyers). We will return to Majuro on August 22nd . On the way back we arrive in Hawaii at 6pm and leave the next morning at 7am, so we plan to get a hotel room to sleep for the night making the return much easier.

Once we get back we are planning to head way up to Rongelap Atoll which lies about 360 miles to the NW of Majuro, about 140 miles past Likiep. September should be one of the calmest months of the year and Rongelap is supposed to be the hottest dive location in the country.