December 3, 2004

Today is Friday and we have been here about 5 days now. Our first day here was uneventful as all we did was clear in with the officials at the commercial dock and then anchor in the boat harbor and sleep. Monday we did an exploration of town, walking the entire length of the town and then back partway before getting in a cab. We visited a video store where we rented a bunch of movies on DVD, then to the internet café where we looked up info on sail makers in New Zealand and Australia.

We visited Customs and Immigration offices to pick up our cruising permit and pay fees which we didn’t pay on Sunday. Then we walked to the other side of the town and went to the True Value hardware store and then to Ace Hardware, the latter had what we wanted – a small blue poly tarp and some 1” clear hose to use as a rain catcher. The water in the boat harbor is brown and silty and this is a problem for our desalinator (water maker) which would just rip through filters 3 a week I suspect. So now we are catching rainwater which is really no big deal here since it rains every 3 or 4 hours.

At some point we asked someone about how to get a taxi and we were told that you just hail one, though you can phone (most are radio controlled). After that we started noticing that half the cars on the road had stickers on their sides and were taxis. A taxi is $1 per person and kids with their parents appear to be free.

Yesterday we had a lovely lunch at the hotel restaurant which overlooks the anchorage. Everything on Pohnape appears to be way up on a hillside and the shore is fairly steep. Both options for dinghy landing lead from a parking lot to a road which climbs a massive hill. One leads to the main road right at the Oceanview Hotel, which doesn’t view the ocean but rather the small boat harbor. The other leads to the Kapingamarangi village – the neighborhood populated by people from the island of Kapingamarangi which is situated about 400 miles to the Southwest and is part of the State of Pohnape. The Kapinga village is densely populated with huts close together. There is a carving house where I saw a half dozen or more older men sitting on benches carving things and hanging from the rafters were dozens of pieces, some finished some still in progress. They carved things like sharks, canoes, fish, etc., all beautifully finished and polished with incredible detail. They say they sell many of them to the people on Kwajalein in the Marshalls where the US missile testing base is. Some also go to gift shops in Hawaii and Guam.

This morning, after agonizing for several days about what to do (one option being to use contact cement to glue a new piece of cloth over the damaged areas) we finally took down the mainsail and packed it up. It folded surprisingly well and in the end came out much smaller then we had anticipated. The size was about 3 1/2 ft by 2ft by 1ft. We took it (in a taxi of course) to a store which we scoped out yesterday that had some old boxes and found one exactly the right size. We taped it up with like a whole role of packing tape and put it in another taxi and took it to the airport. Done. Federal Express to Auckland, NZ – cost? Let’s just say it was not quite $500. The cost to Hawaii was about $50 less, but then we would pay US$ and US prices to have the sail repaired! In NZ we will pay NZ prices and get 2:1 for our US money when converted to Kiwi dollars. The plane goes out tomorrow afternoon. They predict 4-5 days for delivery to Auckland.

Meanwhile, we are now free to move about the country! Our plan is to move the boat to the anchorage on the Eastern side of the island near the ancient ruined city of Nan Madol which was built about 1500 years ago by the Saudaleaurs, the clan which ruled Pohnape and the surrounding islands for hundreds of years. Nan Madol is like a ruin of Venice where buildings are separated by canals. We will explore the ruins by dinghy at high tide and take lots of photos!

After that we will go to nearby Ant atoll which lies about 8 miles SW of Pohnape but takes about 22 miles of sailing to reach from where we are anchored (more from Nan Madol in fact since they are on opposite sides of the island). That should keep us busy till the sail comes back from NZ.