Thursday, April 24, 2014

In the News

He's a "Page Two" guy. Michael's photo appeared today in the Marshall Islands Journal newspaper and he wasn't even arrested! The newspaper ran our story about the "message in a bottle" we found on Ailuk and ran two photos with the piece. This is the second piece we've had printed in the newspaper – the first being an article and photo from Liberation Day in Ailuk that we submitted. Now that we are known – we better get out of town! And that's what we're getting ready to do.

This week, we've been getting the boat prepped for the next long passage. We've done some provisioning, laundry, fueling, mailing, engine checking, cleaning and organizing. That's in between some entertaining and being entertained with pizza night, cards, and dinners aboard and at other boats. It's always hard saying good-bye to friends we've had now for more than a few years. Some folks are staying here, some heading north and others heading south – but to various locations – Fiji, Solomons, Australia. A few, like us, are heading towards Vanuatu (with a stop in Tuvalu).

Weather looks like it might be settling a bit early next week – so by mid week, we're thinking we can clear out of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and start our 1000 mile trek south. In the meantime, we'll enjoy the company of our friends and get all our internet, mailing and shopping done while we're in the last "city" for awhile. We still also have to get in the water and clean the bottom and check the prop...perhaps we'll head to the island a few hours away to get that done because the water is much cleaner.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

No Pigs. No Copra.

Those were the two rules for taking cargo aboard the good ship Astarte. As we prepared to depart the Ailuk Atoll group and head back to Majuro, we were asked by several of the folks on the island to take "a few" things back to Majuro for them. We delivered about twelve boxes up, so we figured we could also take some stuff back. However, we did say - "No pigs or no copra!" There were lots of pigs and piglets on the island and we could imagine someone asking us to take one or two to Majuro! Also, bags and bags of copra were piling up on the island (it is there cash crop) and we didn't want to take a simple rule. We are now adding fish! One of the boxes we took contained dried flying fish and we were told "It's dried, it won't smell." Right!

On Tuesday, an open fiberglass boat (the mayor's boat), came out to Astarte with twelve packages to take. We already had the large heavy box of flying fish aboard from Anious. Most of the packages were "handicrafts." These are the beautiful woven-straw goods they make. They really are some of the nicest crafts we've seen – baskets, ornaments, wall hangings, jewelry. We had one large plastic bin filled with beautiful objects, four large odd shaped wrapped large packages filled with goods and two huge baskets filled with other baskets and handicrafts. The baskets were so large – they wouldn't fit through the doorways below on Astarte – we had to drop them through the top hatch into the V-berth for transport.

Once loaded with our cargo, we headed back for a last night in Uliga – our private island. But before we did – we got a few more lobsters from the local fishermen. We had gotten three the day before and they were giant! They cost $10 for the three large lobsters. These lobsters are incredible creatures with longs striped legs, very hard shells, large bodies and hearty antennae. They are almost blue in color (until cooked!). The bodies and legs have lots of meat as does the huge tail. No front claws like the Maine variety – but very sweet meat. We cooked up the three the day before and got the meat out. We froze that and would eat the two fresh lobs that night. So we are in our beautiful private spot, packing the boat for passage and having a lobster feast! Life is good.

We left on Wednesday around noon, sailing across the Ailuk lagoon like the many local craft. We made it through a VERY narrow passage that was quite shallow (13 feet) and through the reef. This was probably the smallest cut we've gone through so far. This south pass saved us a good 20 miles on our trip, as opposed to the pass we entered. The trip to Majuro was about 200 miles once outside the lagoon. Seas were a bit confused once outside the protection of the Ailuk atoll and we were hard on the wind. The wind was not as northeast as predicted and had too much east for a nice reach which we had hoped for. But our new head sail performed much better and we could point much higher – so we sailed on, making good time. The boat was heeled over pretty well so life below was at a slant. Sleeping was difficult at best. But we trucked on with squalls every so often – but not a bad trip.

It was a full moon. Though cloudy, we still had pretty bright nights. Didn't see another boat the entire way as we made our way past other atolls – Wotje, Maloelap and Aur. The protection from the eastern ones knocked the seas down making the ride more comfortable. The last nine hours was incredible sailing as we approached Majuro. We had boat speeds over 7 knots with reefed sails! We entered the Majuro cut around 0900 and made our way down the lagoon. As we approached our mooring – another boat was on it – but luckily, they scooted off as we approached.

Upon arrival, we started calling our cargo recipients to arrange pick-ups (wanting to get the stinky stuff off the boat as quickly as possible!). Luckily, most could pick up that afternoon at four so we took a few dinghy loads to shore and met some new folks! The mayor will pick up her goods on Saturday morning. It was funny when we called her, she obviously had our number in her phone and answered "Hello, Michael and Barbara!"

Our trip to Ailuk was event-filled and we enjoyed our time away from Majuro. On Monday night, Anious, Emily and their daughter Mila came to the boat for dinner. It was nice to reciprocate their hospitality. The hit of the night was dessert. We made chocolate ice cream and you would have thought we gave them a million dollars! Emily said, "I feel like I'm in Majuro eating ice cream. I'm going to tell everyone we went to Majuro last night!" Emily also brought along the crafts we traded for the lights bulbs we bought for them. The baskets she made us were incredible. Then she gifted us with a few more items and best of all – a farewell speech and song!

When we returned, we heard we didn't miss much – it did nothing but rain for two solid weeks here – so our timing was great. Barbara's article for the local Marshall Islands Journal newspaper appeared (haven't seen it yet). Now, we get the boat back in order. Today's agenda – post office to see if our two packages arrived; last (hopefully) of our cargo pick-ups; a few errands to get some small parts and bits; and, more organizing. Then, get ready for the big trip south...the weather watch begins!

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Monday, April 14, 2014


Palm Sunday was a busy one. It is a big holiday on Ailuk and that means an opportunity for a gathering. Rev. "Pumpkin" Anious and Emily invited us to their church celebration. It started at 10:30. Bells are rung (actually emptied and sawed-off propane/scuba tanks that are hung from a tree and are struck with a hammer) to get people there "on time." There are three different sets of ringing – the first is the warning bell (at 10); the next is the get moving bell (10:15) and the last is the "be there" bell. (10:30) We arrived and were again given a fresh flower head wreath (Barbara) and flower lei (Michael) and escorted to the church by Anious. Luckily we weren't put in the front of the church. At these churches, the men sit on one side and the women on the other. The children usually sit up front (separated by sex). So Barbara was the only woman on the "man's side" of the aisle.

The service was all in Marshallese – with the occasional welcome and greeting to us. It seems each of the ministers/speakers made a point of speaking to us in English. There was a keyboard player and many songs during the service. It was a long affair lasting until 12:30. Then there was the special program for the day. It started with the little kids singing a few songs in a very unorganized way. It was quite funny to watch with the little ones more interested in the quarters they each held rather than in their singing. There were about 30 of them. After that, they all walked by a basket and dropped the quarters into it.

The next group was the youth group (13 to 25 year olds) and separated by sexes on stage. This group of about 20 sang some songs as well. They then walked off the stage, by the basket and each dropped in what looked like dish soap, bars of soap and other cleaning things. The youth were followed by the women's group who took to the stage (Emily included) and sang their hearts out, After a few tunes the 12 or so women walked by the basket and each dropped off a handicraft – mostly the beautiful turtles they are known for on this island.

Every so often during the program, a woman would toss out hand fulls of candy to the children who would run wild trying to get their piece of gum or candy. We saw the same thing on Liberation Day, so it must be a common ritual here.

The women were followed by the men's group – about 12 as well – spread out over the stage in a very casual, cool manner. One of their group acted as conductor and they gave us a few tunes. They left the stage and walked by the basket and Emily told me that they had donated a "pig."

The final performance was a mixed group of men, women and youth groups and sang in Marshallese "If you're happy clap your hands" and it was quite fun and animated. They walked by the basket on their exit and dropped off some cash.

This event and the various "donations" in the basket all go to support the pastor (Anious and Emily) and is quite heartfelt. You realize these people give what they can, and we were glad the pig didn't get brought in (either dead or alive!) Now it was about 2:30 and after words of prayer and thanks from Emily and Anious, the program was over. We were also invited to join the congregation for the meal that would follow. Barbara made a two cakes to donate to the festivities.

The meal, about 4 pm, had been worked on since the night before. A pig was roasted in an underground oven; men went out fishing and returned in the early morning to clean and prepare the fish; chicken were prepared and roasted in the oven; special rice and coconut milk "balls" were made (these are wrapped in intricately woven palm baskets; donuts were cooked; pans and pans of rice were cooked and a pandanus/flour concoction that is wrapped in leaves and baked in the underground oven are made. We were again seated at a place of honor at a table with Emily and Anious and served our food in beautiful traditional palm baskets. Our plates again were overloaded. The rest of the congregation, after we are served, then line up with big bowls or containers and get their food and the bowl is used to feed their family who all sit around it and dig in. A few speeches were made and Michael gave a thank you from us (translated by Emily).

We finally got back to the boat around 6 pm – it was a long day of church and socializing...but a very nice day.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Back to the Village

After our private and secluded time off the island of Uliga, we headed the few miles back to the main village on Ailuk. It was hard leaving such a peaceful and lovely spot – but "Pumpkin" kept asking when we were returning. So we anchored amongst the "bommies" and headed to shore. As usual, our entourage of kids immediately started to follow us. After a visit with Anious (Pumpkin) and Emily, we promised to be back on Saturday morning to meet the woman for whom we delivered several boxes from Majuro. We also wanted to walk to the other side of the island (to the airport) and see more of the village.

Saturday had us back in the village by 9:30 am and after some freshly baked donuts at Emily's house, we made our way to Mira's home to meet her. Here we were gifted with many beautiful handcrafts as a thank you for delivering her boxes. We also learned more about how they make a few items. It is hard work and everywhere we looked we saw women working on handicrafts as they sat on the floor, leaning against walls. Then we stopped by another house of someone who wanted Michael to look at computer power cord to see if Michael could fix it. After our errands were done we walked around the island – carrying our handicrafts. The airstrip is just that – a strip of treeless land that is also used as a baseball field and volleyball court – though it was all empty when we traversed it. Upon our return to our starting point at Pumkin and Emily's home, we were given a bag of homemade bread and more donuts!

There was much sadness in the village when we arrived on Friday. It illustrated to us the very difficult life these folks have out here. A young woman had died the night before delivering a baby. The baby survived, but the young mother didn't. Emily was helping the midwife throughout the night. The sadness was etched in Emily's tired face. Anious when he told us, was also very sad. The week before, during the Liberation Day celebration, a two-day old baby had also died and the infant's body was being watched over by Emily while the mother waited to tell the father when he returned on his canoe. As we walked by the cemetary today, we saw a tiny newly covered plot and cross knowing it was for that small baby. The woman's funeral and burial were today (Saturday) and we heard the bells ringing for the service this afternoon.

It makes you see that the day to day survival of these hard-working, good people is something that isn't easy. When it doesn't rain, they run out of water (though the island does have a small watermaker that makes about 8 gallons an hour!). When a ship doesn't arrive, they can't get needed supplies or send off their handicrafts and copra – they way they make money. Kids must travel to other islands to go to school beyond primary grades and live away from their family. If they get sick, they hope for the best. And yet, they are the most generous, kind and gracious folks who have certainly welcomed us into their community.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is Palm Sunday and we have been invited to attend Anious' church (he actually is Rev. Anious – not Rev. Pumpkin!) followed by some singing and then lunch. We know, yet again, we will be treated specially.

Sorry for the sadness of this entry...but that is also part of what is happening out here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Exploring Uliga

We remain in the Ailuk Atoll near the island of Uliga, about five islands north of the main village island. We are the only "yacht" left in the atoll as Mariposa and Off Tempo have moved on to other atolls north of here. It is a very special place and we've enjoyed our secluded time here. Everyday, several of the traditional canoes sail by carrying people, cargo or copra or a combination. They really use these boats here and they usually sail quite close to us to check things out.

Michael is back up to speed – so we've done some island exploring. On the first day out, we rowed in to shore and walked around part of the island towards the windward side where the waves were crashing making a thunderous roar. Along the way, Michael was collecting floats – these are the large fiberglass, plastic or styrofoam balls that the fishing boats use to keep their nets afloat. There were at least 40 on the island in various states of repair. Some were near perfect and others had big holes in them. Watching the waves crash on the rocky shore, its amazing that anything would be in the sand that survived at all. He managed quite a collection and then had to decide which ones he wanted to keep. We use these floats to keep our anchor chain off coral "bommies" to keep the corals unharmed and our chain from getting caught. We lost a few in a storm in Tonga's Ha'aipai group two seasons ago, so we needed a few more and it was like "Floats 'R Us" ashore.

We also discovered an unbroken bottle with a message inside. When we got back to the boat, Michael plotted where the message was sent from (it had a latitude and longitude). It was dropped off a group of islands off the Mexican coast on February 13, 2013 and managed to float and land in Uliga. It didn't look like it was ashore very long as the bottle was still sitting close to the water and not buried in the sand. We pried the cork out, read the note and took a few photos to send along to the person who sent the message. It is interesting because not long ago, the Marshall Islands was in the news internationally. A fisherman from off the coast of Mexico ended up ashore on Ebon, one of the Marshall Islands after drifting at sea for 13-months in his open fiberglass boat. That's about the same amount of time it took this bottle to get here...interesting!

The next day, we actually walked around the entire island. There are several beautiful and fragrant trees ashore – the frangipani and another that had the flowers that were used in our head wreaths at the celebration. There is a small house ashore as well. We enjoyed looking in the tide pools and ashore for more treasures. There was the remnants of what looked like some carbon fiber material – perhaps from a helicopter or plane – big pieces of the stuff. There was a compressor unit still attached to one end of a refrigerated container and so many shoes and flip flops you could open a store. The world is going to be buried in plastic!

The snorkeling around the boat is also quite wonderful – but we don't have an underwater camera anymore – so sorry – no pictures. Of course, because we have no water camera – this is the clearest water we've had to date. And there are lots of new and interesting fish and critters. Oh well!

We wrote an article for the Marshall Islands Journal, the Majuro newspaper and it got published. It was about the Liberation Day festivities here in Ailuk – so that was fun. Michael even sent a photo via the hf radio and winlink, so we'll have to see how that came out because it had to be sent very low resolution. Will also probably write another one when we get back about the bottle discovered because of the connection with the fisherman.

Today, we'll probably head back to the village and anchor. We want to have "Pumpkin" (Aneous) and Emily to the boat for dinner before we run out of food! Plus, we have traded some led light bulbs they wanted from Majuro, for some handicrafts and we'll see what progress has been made on those. We have been asked by the mayor to bring some stuff back to Majuro – as well as for Tempo (one of the island elders) and Aneous and Emily – so it sounds like we'll go back as loaded with cargo as when we arrived!

For now, we are enjoying the peace and tranquility of this lovely place. We hear on the net that Majuro has had nothing but rain and squally weather for weeks- so we feel that we picked a great time to get out of there. Now though, we are starting to look for a good weather window to head back to the city. We have food for at least another few weeks at least. We are still hoping to also score some lobsters from the locals – but they say we have to wait until the full moon at that is still awhile away!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Treated Like Royalty

After Friday's full day of sailing canoe races, tug of wars (known locally as "pull the rope"), face painting for hours and watching women compete in dresses, we called it a day and came home with some large flying fish from Anious (Pumpkin) and Emily. Michael was beat as he was still needing some recuperation from his bout with vertigo. We (all the visiting yachties) had been publicly invited to the closing celebration that would be held on Saturday at 3 pm.
We had invited Anious and Emily to the boat for dinner on Saturday but had to juggle that because of the change by the "Liberation Day Committee" in the date of the closing ceremony. It had been changed from Friday to Saturday at the last minute. So we decided to do at least an early "coffee and cake" with them Unfortunately we had to cancel that as well. The boat was way to rocking and rolling in the anchorage and we thought it would be very uncomfortable, plus it would be a very wet ride out to the boat in the dinghy.

That morning however was not without some activity. Our friends from SVV Off Tempo, Brian and Terry had arranged to go out on one of the sailing canoes. They traded a rigging knife and some fishing line for their adventure. But they sure got more than they traded for! We watched the boat leave the beach at 0830 and by 0900 they were upside down in the water! A gust, a sail move, and a young man steering, all collided and created a flip. The wind was blowing a steady 20k with heavier gusts. Michael had to get dressed and get our dinghy fueled up to get way out there to help rescue. Luckily SV Mariposa also finally saw it and got into their dinghy, which is a much more powerful and bigger launch. The boat managed to flip itself back over by doing it end over end – quite an accomplishment. Michael brought Terry back to her boat and Mariposa (also Michael) towed the canoe and four people back to the beach. Terry got a few pretty good bumps on her head and arm from the boat and was quite stiff that night and the next day.

After the rescue, we got ready for the afternoon's dinner. We had been warned that 3 pm was probably gonna be more like 5 pm - "Marshall Island Time." We got to the site at the sound of the first bells. We (meaning all the yachties) were the only ones there along with the set up crew and our entourage of about 30 kids! We have groupies! So we sat around and listened to them set up the music. Most times we go to get entertained by the locals – but while waiting Terry and Brian danced to the music to the delight of the children with us.

About 6 pm we were invited to sit down – we were given seats at a "head table" and the men got flower leis and the women got flower head wreaths. The ladies' wreaths did get changed a few times, each time with a more beautiful and fragrant wreath – but it was quite funny. We got our fresh drinking coconuts and the event committee really waited on us and made us feel very important. Other people at this point also started to arrive – but it was slow. About 7:30 pm the flag ceremony took place and the speeches got started. It was all in Marshallese except the occasional welcome to the yachties in English. Many speeches continued and at around 0830 women brought out these incredible handmade frond baskets filled with a variety of local foods. They gave one to each of us though there was enough food to feed four in one basket! But we couldn't eat this food until more speeches happened and so we stared at wonderful and exotic looking food getting cold! Finally, we were given the okay to start and tasted a sampling of very traditional food – some of it we will most likely never get the chance to eat again(because of the endangered species laws!) There was chicken, pork, octopus, fish prepared in a variety of ways, rice, an orange fruit or veggie thing wrapped in a pandanus leave; breadfruit and a sweet coconut treat.

We were asked to speak and Barbara was elected by the group to say a few words with the help of a translator. We listened to the two church choirs sing and then the evening was over. There are two churches on the island and it seems they are quite competitive. One has 56 parishioners and one has 54 – and at events they sit in separate areas, provide their own choirs and it was interesting to watch the two ministers react (or not react) to each other.
The challenge was to return in the dark night to the boat in our dinghy through shallow coral reefs and bommies. It was challenging but luckily tide was a little higher so we could safely make it back. We got aboard at 2300 (11 pm)...well past cruisers' midnight.

We did feel quite honored and special that night. On Sunday we moved the boat back to Uliga and a more calm anchorage – though it is still really windy in the low 20s, there is a little less roll here.

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Liberation Day

That headline has two meanings aboard Astarte. First, the boat has stopped doing 360 degree turns for Michael and he is just about "liberated" from his experience with vertigo. The boat was in an anchorage that was quite rocking and rolling – so that didn't help his balance. But today (Sunday) he feels better than the last five days. It was our first really scary experience with one of us being that debilitated. It simply took time and patience.

On Thursday, we moved the boat from Uliga back to the village of Ailuk though Michael was still feeling pretty rocky. Unfortunately, we had a tough time finding a bommie-free spot and had to re-anchor three times. Luckily Brian, a fellow boater from "Off Tempo," was in the water checking his anchor and he helped us scope out a good spot and make sure our anchor was well set – then Michael called it a day.

Barbara went into to town to check out what was on the agenda for the local "Liberation Day" holiday. In 1945, the US troops came in and liberated the islanders from the Japanese and April 4th is celebrated annually here in Ailuk Atoll. The festivities center around sporting activities with islanders from various villages and islands within the atoll participating. On Thursday, there was a men's basketball competition, men's and women's volleyball and baseball tournaments, some track and field events. We missed most of those as we were busy moving the boat and didn't get into the village until they were all over.

On Friday, the "main" event takes place which is the traditional sailing canoe race. This atoll is known as "The Island of Sails" so the sailing canoe is not only a daily workhorse here, it is also the islands' pride. We went in for that and it was something to see. Ten boats in three different sizes (classes) participated. Class A was the largest sailing canoe with four person crews. The Class B was a mid-size canoe with a crew of three and the smallest was the two-person Class C Each of these boats serve a different purpose in real life. The Class A can go offshore (a wet ride) and we've seen these plying the lagoon from village to village with ten to twelve people on board plus cargo! The mid size seem to be the most popular and are used to haul copra, fish or transport people. On Thursday, we watched on shore as many of the canoes were increasing their sail size – sewing on extra "fabric". The sails are everything from the plastic wrap that home insulation is shipped in to large tarps. Many have lots of bits sewn together to make the single large sails on these outriggers. Masts were extended as well to make room for the larger sails. It was blowing 20-24 knots on race day which meant for some wild rides with the outriggers flying out of the water – quite a sight! The Class B's started first from the beach, followed by the larger Class A craft. These boats did two rounds around a long course – one end was out of sight far up the lagoon. They came back and had to "tack" around a mark. Tacking these boats entails moving the entire sailing rig from one end of the boat to the other(not mention moving the rudder end to end). The boat doesn't turn – it can go in either direction after the sail is moved. This is a tricky maneuver on the boats and amazing to watch the skill of these sailors. Three boats were damaged in the race and didn't finish. One even had to be towed back to the beach. One was disqualified for not "following the rules." It was a wonderful opportunity to watch these skilled boatsmen and the beautiful craft.
After boat races there were a few more on the water events including a two-women canoe paddle (the same boats as the small Class C boats). The women were hilarious – rowing in the traditional "mumu" dresses (they play volleyball, baseball and run in them as well). One boat was unable to steer a straight course and managed to get going the wrong way and flipping!

The best part of the boat races was the crowd on the beach watching and yelling for their favorites. It was mostly kids (and there are a lot of them!). At one point, a woman (in a mumu of course), came running out to the beach with a whistle and banging a drum and suddenly all the kids went running to her – she was the "candy lady" and tossed out handful of sweets to the kids chasing her! Barbara and Terry (from "Off Tempo") set up a "face painting" table and painted kids hands and a few faces. They were swarmed with kids after a slow start. That made them lots of young friends and we are now like the pied piper in town with a trail off kids following us everywhere we go.

Tomorrow...the Liberation Day event continues with the closing ceremonies!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Don't know what it is about these outer islands of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It seems we should earn some good karma points for delivering people or cargo and fixing things on shore while out here. But on both occasions, one or both of us have gotten something while out here. On Aur we got the flu. Here in Ailuk, Michael has vertigo. Perhaps US citizens are being punished by the island ghosts for the nuclear bombing tests 60 years ago!
Being dizzy on a rolling yacht is not much fun. Special thanks to Dr. Graham and Sandy C. for their help in figuring out what was going on here. We are really in the middle of nowhere – no phones, no internet and only our SSB radio with modem for communication. So when Michael awoke on Monday morning terribly dizzy – and it lasted all day long, we were starting to think about how to safely get him out of here in case it was serious. A few e-mail pleas for info were quickly answered and we were relieved it was something that should go away in a few days (hopefully). Today he seems a little better – but still a bit wobbly. We are in a safe anchorage near Uliga – a beautiful white sandy island with hundreds of coconut palms. The holding is good which is comforting because it is blowing about 15 to 20 knots and with Michael's head spinning we don't want an anchor drill.

We left the village anchorage on Sunday afternoon when the visibility improved so we could see any bommies along the way. We were going less than two miles to a recommended anchoring spot near Uliga – a very pretty spot with crystal clear turquoise water and pretty islands in front.

On Monday, we met Patrick, who was fishing in his canoe nearby. He came aboard for a cup of coffee (pre-vertigo). He owns the island we are anchored near as well as several others nearby. He told us we were welcome to go ashore and take anything we wanted and he corrected our charts with the right names (it's Uliga not Uriga as our charts all say). He gave us lots of information and we helped him with his English a bit. He was baffled by the "ph" letter combo and why it sounds like an "f." Try to answer that one! We did some trading with him. He wanted a new hat and we scored some limes out of the deal. He also wanted his flashlight fixed and could get us some bananas. This morning, he brought by the limes, the bananas and the flashlight – which we did fix (it was simply corroded inside). He also has invited us to his home on Ailuk to meet his family and look at his wife's handicrafts.

On Monday afternoon, we took a great swim and snorkel all around the boat. The water is some of the clearest we've seen to date and there were lots of patches of coral all around. Lots of groupers who have obviously been scared by a lot of fishermen as they swim away very fast when they see you. Saw a very tame turtle who let Barbara swim with him for a long time. It was great to get in the water that was perfect temperature and good clarity.
The next few days were vertigo quiet time.

Because Friday is a holiday here on Ailuk, Liberation Day, it is fun to watch all the canoes coming down from the other village which is about eight miles north of here. They are the larger style local canoes and loaded with people and cargo. Tonight, there was just about a canoe traffic jam – at least five loaded canoes went by in the late afternoon. They all wave and yell as they come very close to the boat. Friday festivities in town should be fun including basketball, baseball, volleyball, tug of war, canoe races and hopefully some singing and dancing. We are counting on Michael to stop spinning by then! We have a few days to go.

We haven't been sick much all year except for our outer island experiences! What's up with that?

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