Monday, November 18 was President's Day in the Republic if the Marshall Islands. Because it is a newly independent country, there have not been that many past presidents to honor. The main festivities include a run (in this heat!) war canoe races and a boat parade to show off two new ships.
The canoes were the traditional outrigger canoes with very triangular sails. The Marshall Islands are known to have some of the finest outrigger sailing craft in the Pacific. The Marshallese canoe or "wa" range from small two man craft to massive high speed voyaging canoes fit for travel across ocean waters. Since the early 1800's, Marshallese have been revered and recognized for their technological advances and refinements on these crafts. These include the asymmetric hull, the lee platforms and the pivoting midship mast. The vessels were each designed for where they would be sailed – the smaller lighter ones were for fishing in the lagoon reefs; a medium size was for fishing in nearby waters just off the islands and the larger one was for going across oceans to get to other islands with people and supplies. The ones in the race were the small two man "wa" and they could move. They were flying across the bay with this single large triangular, colorful sail. The old vessels had their sails of woven plant material – much like the sleeping mats.
The boat parade included two new ships that had arrived the day before from Japan. The ships, the "MV Majuro" and the "MV Kwajalein," left Japan in early November after six years of planning, research, design and building. They were built in Japan and a gift to the Marshall Islands from the Japanese government costing $16.2 million. The ships will be used for shipping and carrying passengers and were designed to serve the spread out outer islands of the Marshalls – which often don't see a ship for months. The other great feature of these vessels is the large water making and storage tanks aboard. The RO water makers can be used to supply emergency water in case of drought or natural disasters. The people were excited about these new boats and along with the Marshall's Island Coast Guard/Navy and several small boats and the other Marshall Island shipping boats formed a parade around the lagoon tooting horns and waving flags. We got into it by making a lot of noise with horns from Astarte.
We have enjoyed some time with friends (new and old) here – many are packing up their boats and themselves and leaving for months. The boats will stay at the moorings and one guy here has a good little business of watching and taking care of them while folks are gone. We were aboard "SV Lady Nada" with Sue and Bill the other night, and several other folks to help "clean out their freezer" before they depart.
Hopefully some of the parts we've ordered from the states will start getting here today (the Post Office was closed for President's Day). Michael has already rebuilt the cook stove burners which was a big project. Lots of big and small maintenance projects and cleaning projects are slowly getting done. It is so warm we have to pace ourselves!
Tonight, Tuesday night, is MBYC (Mieco Beach Yacht Club) yachties night. They rotate it through different restaurants for a social night out. The MBYC is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
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