Weather conditions: Beautiful
We anchored in Fanning on Monday - 5 days ago already. Since then we have been getting Moondance organized and liveable, chasing down some leaks, working on projects, laundry (lots), catching up on our sleep, plus doing some exploring. It has been a fast/busy week!
Fanning is an atoll and we are anchored in the lagoon, which is so many shades of beautiful blue. There was one boat here when we arrived, but they left heading south. Two other boats are anchored on the other side of the channel. Not a lot of cruisers or tourists come here - unless you are a surfer. There is a bit of a current in the anchorage, so we have anchored 3 times. We now have the perfect spot.
There are approximately 2500 people living on this atoll and Gilbertese is the native language, but English is taught at the schools. Kiribati was a British protectorate, but have now formed their own republic. Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, is on the other side of the international date line. Christmas and Fanning recently adjusted their time to be in line with their capital, so the date is one ahead of Hawaii. We thought we arrived on Monday, but it was actually Tuesday local time.
We have been trying to determine the origin of the Fanning people - very different from the Polynesians - but haven't figured it out yet. We have heard Samoa, New Guinea, and Micronesia - it is a mystery. They have been very friendly and everyone knows that we belong to the "yacht" - hah!
Fanning has no electricity, but some have solar and a few have generators. At night, there are only a few lights on. But, recently internet equipment was donated and a business opened. Wifi is $5 US for an hour. Pretty cheap and very busy!
Most people live in palm tree huts with thatched roofs (kia kia's) that are ~2 feet off the ground and moveable. Copra (coconut meat) is their only export. Everyone fishes, of course, plus we see a lot of volleyball, soccer, basketball, and lots of time in the water. Definitely on island time!
Island transportation is mainly by small canoes - some with sails - all very low to the water. It is a big lagoon and the locals use the wind and the currents to help with the crossing, but it looks like a lot of work. There are a few scooters, lots of bikes, and a few flatbed trucks that are used for bussing people and their stuff. And the "free ferry", which is a small metal boat that goes back and forth across the channel. It holds ~40 people standing, plus all of the ones hanging over the sides! The only way to get to Fanning is by boat - no planes.
We tracked down Bruno and his wife Tabeta (sp) who own the A La Belle Etoile guest house. From what we had heard, they were wonderful people and good to the cruisers - everyone was right. They immediately invited us over for dinner, which we accepted. Dinner was fish curry, baked fish, rice, and a salad - very tasty - and all cooked outside on a grill/oven made out of stone and steel. We brought beer, wine, and brownies - everyone was happy. They have three guests - Fred, Mike, and Jeff (surfers from Hawaii) - we enjoyed sharing stories with all. Fred and Mike are also responsible for the fish - they go out almost every day. In fact, they brought us a nice fish by last night. Not sure what kind, but it looks like a great dinner!
Bruno and Tabeta really appreciated the donations from Ko Olina. We have more to deliver to the school and others on Monday. Moondance is definitely getting her water line back!
Life is good here in Fanning. We hope to do some more exploring on Monday - we hear there is a store somewhere and I hear church bells ringing. Our buddy boat Evergreen will be here on Sunday/Monday, plus the supply ship is on its way. Wahoo!
PS: We celebrated our 31st Anniversary on Wednesday. Can't believe we have been together so long - it has gone by so fast and we have had so many wonderful adventures together. More to come!
Summary of our trip - we gave it a B Minus rating and the crew was rusty! We had good wind most of the way and only had to motor 10 hours - mostly through the ITCZ. The waves drove us crazy coming from all different directions and pounding ol' Moondance and keeping the crew wet. We also had lots of rain associated with crossing the ITCZ, plus some lightening - had to drag out our foul weather gear. Squalls were mild - highest winds we saw were gusts to 32 knots. But, we had three great days of sailing with calm seas - just like the pictures! We only saw one boat in our eight day crossing, but lots of birds, stars, and that beautiful moon.
Maybe our next trip will be a B Plus - hope so!
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com