Sunday, November 10, 2013

Atoll Lesson

The Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) is one of four all atoll nations. Tuvalu, Kiribati and Maldives are the other three. The total land area of the Marshalls is only 70 square miles (171 sq. km) but spreads out over a sea area of 750,000 square miles (1.2 million sq. km). The mean height of the land is only 7 feet above sea level – so these are really low lying islands.

There are two chains of islands that make up the Marshalls – the Ratak Chain (means "sunrise") is the Eastern chain and Ralik (means "sunset) is the Western chain. Each chain is approximately 800 miles long. These atoll and island chains run almost parallel to each other (about 150 miles apart) in a north-south pattern just north of the equator starting at 4 degrees and up through 19 degrees. With a population of around 60,000 Marshallese, many of the islands and islets are unpopulated. Because they cover such a vast area of ocean and are so spread out, it will be certainly challenging to see many of the outer islands – especially because the rules here make it so you have to check in and out of Majuro atoll.

Like all atolls, these are volcanic in origin. The volcanoes erupt, then through the course of 40 million years, they sink back into the ocean and subside leaving the lagoons surrounded by islets. Darwin's theory proved correct!
We are here in what is considered the rainiest season for Majuro – (it ends in November) and the average rainfall is 14 inches a month – and we can attest to that! It has been wet and squally here. The other day we had a squall come through with in excess of 40 mile an hour winds. The mooring we are on held – we were grateful and now confident that it is a good holding mooring. We've been able to collect a lot of rainwater which is also good.
The temperature averages around 81 degrees F annually – so it is a bit toasty here. But most times we have a nice trade wind that keeps things bearable.

Hope this will help you trivia players who might get an atoll question!

For us, we are settling into life on the mooring in Majuro. There is quite the social scene here because of the cruising boats. A small yacht club, the Mieco Beach Yacht Club has been established (which we joined) and gives you discounts at many of the shops in town and offers an event each Tuesday night. It is held at one of three different restaurants each week. This week, we are excited because a boat, Westward Two will do a presentation on the outer atolls of the Marshalls. They have spent a lot of time here and been to almost every atoll in the group.
On Saturday night, we went to a local place where there was some music (including a few cruisers who got up to play and croon). We continue to meet more folks and of course, are trying to also get some boat projects completed.

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