October 27, 2004

October is almost over and I have written nothing in these pages all month. It has been a bust month nonetheless. When began October at Wotje Atoll about 160 miles NNW of Majuro. We sailed back to Majuro on October 10th and since then we have accomplished several important tasks and sunk our boat deeper in the water by adding hundreds of pounds of provisions to her cupboards. We still have quite a bit of stocking up to do before we can be ready to depart the Marshall Islands.

The first thing we did when we arrived in Majuro was to download the ballot for the upcoming election which was sent to our land-based email address. We printed these out, filled them in (with number 2 pencil) and mailed the back to Clay County, Florida. I must say that both Kate and I were blown away by the service and attention shown to us by the Clay County Commissioner or Elections, a woman named Linda Jolly. During the last 6 months we have communicated with Linda via email to arrange to vote absentee in the election as we are residents of Clay County. She was incredibly helpful and always replied to our queries promptly. She even sent us an email confirming that they have received our ballots in the mail and that they were in order, so we couldn’t be happier knowing that our votes will indeed by counted.

On the 16th of October we hosted a birthday party for Jonah at Majuro Bowl, the local bowling alley. There were 8 kids including Jonah and we served birthday cake (store bought) and soda. The kids loved the bowling and Jonah pronounced it was the best birthday party he’s ever had. Four days later, on his actual birthday (Oct. 20) we had another party in his honor at the Marshall Islands Resort (formerly the Outrigger). The same gang of kids were there plus parents (Steve and Renee and Allison whose husband Paul was out of town at the time). It was just pizza and ice cream for desert but the kids had a blast and Jonah again pronounced it the best birthday he has ever had.

Sometime around the 20th the generator stopped making electricity. The engine was running fine but no power was coming out. It took me 4 days to finally fix it, but in the end I did get it working. I almost quit twice and seriously considered just ordering a new one (the generator part not the engine part of course). In the final analysis, the problem was a broken terminal on a choke and a dead AVR (voltage regulator). Whether the former caused the later is open for speculation, but the AVR was replaced only 9 months ago and it seems unlikely it would go bad without encouragement.

Our list remains long however and we have a lot of work to do in the coming days. Today, my plan is to purchase and load a new 8D battery in the forward cabin. This battery, which is separate from the main ‘house’ bank of batteries, provides power to the anchor windlass and bow thruster. It is charged from a dedicated alternator on the main engine (we only use that equipment when the engine is running). The battery went dead about 6 weeks ago and we have been using the main battery bank to power that equipment in the meantime. The battery is about 2ft by 1ft in dimension and weighs about 140lbs. I have a friend from another boat that is going to help me load it (and dump the old one).

In the coming days, we have to change the oil in the main engine and in the generator engine, change the transmission fluid in the transmission (which we do annually), check and adjust the tiller arm for the autopilot (which comes lose over time somehow). We have to replace the float switch for the bilge pump which stopped working 2 months ago (we have 2 pumps with 2 separate floats and the other is working fine). We have to purchase and load meat, butter, rice and other staples which we are still short of and we have to take on about 150 gallons of diesel fuel. We need to buy more motor oil and outboard oil. I am also in the process of putting together a package of documents and application forms for a cruising permit to Indonesia which I will send of to a fellow at the Bali Marina who will assist in securing permits for cruisers.

Our biggest and most daunting job will involve the genoa (the big sail at the front of the boat). The sail has a blue canvas strip on one side which acts as a UV guard when the sail is rolled up. This material is in tatters along a 25ft section of the sail and needs to be trimmed and some new material sewn on. Ugh. This will take us at least a full day, perhaps 2 days.

Of course, we still don’t have charts for Indonesia (or Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand for that matter) and I must order these using the internet and have them sent to Pohnpei where we will collect them in December. I have about a half dozen other jobs but I am running out of steam so I will not mention them now.

As of right now, our plan is to leave sometime around November 10th and make a stop either at Likiep again or at Namu, an atoll 200 miles due West of here, just South of Kwajalein. Sometime around December 1st we will push off for Kosrae (Kosh-Ray) in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). By Christmas-time we will be in Pohnape, the capital of the FSM. After Pohnpei we will make stops at one or more of the little atolls to the West including Satawan, Puluwat, Lamotrek and Wolei. We may spend a week at each or just a few days. We will reach Yap after that and hope to spend at least two weeks there before pushing for Palau, the Westernmost island in the Caroline Island chain (of which Kosrae is the Easternmost island).

After Palau we will head South into Indonesia. We are not sure where we will be able to stop in Indonesia, but we will head for Rinca and Komodo Islands before arriving at Bali where we plan to spend several weeks relaxing and sight seeing. We may also haul the boat at Bali for a bottom job (this means paint in case you don’t know).