November 1

Of course our plans never seem to work out the way we plan them. Here it is November 1st and we are still at Tarawa , 11 days after we arrived here. Kate is really getting fed up with the place, it is a stinking pit of garbage and pollution as everyone warned us it was. The anchorage, which we were also warned about, is not quite as bad as that, but there were a few days where the wind and swell from the West and North made it very rolly and uncomfortable. As of yesterday the wind is back out of the East and the swell has gone so that things are once again peaceful. The few days of rain squalls were actually fun as we got free showers on deck. We were almost completely out of water last week and had to institute a severe water conservation regime which we normally don’t follow, but we were being cautious about running the water maker in this place. Now we are running it two or three hours per day which, along with conservation, gives us enough water to get by.  

Why are we still here? This is a good question and if you are wondering, the answer is not short but I will attempt to summarize. First, the second day after we arrived my back went out almost completely paralyzing me. That lasted about 3 or 4 days during which time we managed to re-fuel the boat with the help of an electric fuel pump we borrowed from “Dirty Dotty”. This allowed me to save my back by pumping the fuel from the 6 gallon jugs in the dingy right into the ship’s tanks rather then having to lift them on deck and then pour the fuel into the tanks which of course requires me to hold the jugs in the air while slowly tipping them to pour out the fuel at a controlled rate. As you can imagine this is not much fun and with a bad back would be murder. With the portable, electric fuel pump it was child’s play. Because of this I am endeavoring now to put together all the parts needed for such a setup so that next time I will have this advantage.  

Once my back was feeling better we had a North West wind come up, which made traveling North a difficult proposition, so we waited. On top of that, reports were that the monthly supply ship would arrive on October 28th and since the island has absolutely no fresh vegetables available (which are almost all imported from Australia ) we were happy to wait a few days so that we could stock up when the ship arrived. Of course, the ship was postponed till November 2nd, which is tomorrow. We could have left when the wind came down to the Southwest, but by then 2 new boats arrived from Fiji (via Tuvalu ) whom we had heard about but never met that had kids aboard. Well, having other kids around not only makes Jonah happy, it makes our lives easier and more fun as well since it means we don’t have to entertain him so much. The sailing vessels “Athinor” with Oliver, age 10 and Rebecca (age 12) and “Infidion” with Jessica, age 7 arrived on the 29th and we immediately made plans for the kids to play together. The parents also turned out to be great people and we had cocktails aboard the Queen Jane on the evening of the 30th while the kids all played below.  

The subject of Halloween then came up and, having seen what was ashore (i.e. nothing) in the way of party locations (they were expecting to find a public park of some kind which would be suitable) they were resigned to postponing the Halloween celebration. Of course, we had given up on the idea completely having only one child and what can you do for Halloween with only one child? Anyway, we offered to host the party aboard the Queen Jane, both of their boats being a bit too cramped for such a gathering and yesterday we did indeed manage a fine celebration. First, Kate decorated the cockpit with streamers and pumpkins which she and Jonah made. She and Jonah made a ferocious mask and along with his Vanuatu spear and a loin cloth which we rigged with a pillowcase, Jonah made a very convincing cannibal. Rick from “Infidion” came by in his dinghy with the other 3 kids aboard (Rebecca was a belly dancer, Oliver was dressed as a woman and Jessica was a witch) and took Jonah “Trick or Treating”.  

There are 6 boats in the anchorage, 5 of them American (“Green Nomad” from Brazil is the sixth) and Patty, Rick’s wife had gone around to the boats earlier in the day passing out candy for them to give to the kids as they were not expecting any visitors. The kids loved it; even though they only visited 4 boats, they came back with bags of candy. We then congregated in the cockpit for various fun and games including prizes for the scariest costume (Jonah), best coconut bra (Oliver), most evil costume (Jessica the witch) and prettiest costume (Rebecca). Bobbing for apples was next, this being Kate’s idea and all the parents thought it was great. The kids loved it and we timed them giving a prize to the fastest kid (Rebecca, 2 seconds) and a booby prize (my idea) to the slowest, Oliver, which was the bucket of water from the apples dumped on his head, which he loved. I saved half of the water and dumped it on my own head, which felt great as the temperature was at its regular 95F.  

Next came the Piñata which Patty and the kids had made in Tuvalu the week before. For those who don’t know, the Piñata is a Mexican thing made of paper maiche and filled with candy. We hung it from the mizzen boom and each kid took turns whacking it with a bat, blindfolded of course, till it burst and all the candy fell out and the kids scrambled to grab as much as they each could. They had a ball at that. After that the kids retreated below to watch a scary video while the parents relaxed with drinks in the cockpit. All in all a fun time and we all felt good that we had given the kids the Halloween experience even though we were all so far from home.  

What to do next? Well, we are anxious to leave, but now that it is November 1st and the supply ship is supposed to arrive tomorrow, we are debating back and forth whether we should wait one more day so we can get some fresh vegetables. Myself, being both obsessed with food and cooking would do almost anything for decent vegetables am for waiting. Kate, who is happy with frozen veggies (which we bought some of the other day and tried some last night and they weren’t bad at all) is all for leaving. But one day is only one day so I think she will see we can manage it. Of course, if the ship really doesn’t come tomorrow we will be kicking ourselves so I am going to attempt to find out today from the Customs office if the ship is really coming or what.  

Meanwhile, during the last few days I have prepared a new web page for the October Photogallery and included pictures from the Halloween party yesterday. Today we are going back into Bairiki (the next ‘town’ over where the internet machines are located) and upload these new photos. So if you are reading this and you have not already done so, take a look at the Photogallery for October and see what all the fun was about. There are also great pictures from the WWII tour including some awesome photos (taken 2 days ago) of the big 8 inch guns the Japanese installed to defend the island from attack. There were so many good photos from October we once again had to split them into 2 pages. This worked out well as the first half are from Vanuatu and include pictures from the Blue Hole on Espirito Santo and the Banks Group in the remote Northern part of Vanuatu . The second half contains photos from our passage to Kiribati , Jonah’s birthday which was on October 20th, and some general shots from Tarawa . A nice crop to be sure.