Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tigiroy! (pronounced sig-E-roy meaning good luck or cheers)

We have been quite busy out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean since we last posted! As always, so much to do and see and learn and experience. We've only got a few main projects on tap; sew a mast water catchment skirt/funnel and re-bed the chainplates, but there has been so much fun social stuff that we haven't chosen to spend our time on the projects yet. We are enjoying our more isolated anchorage, but it hasn't kept us from visiting the other side. It has been very exciting to sail across together in Fatty- wet with big standing waves when the tide is flooding in and the wind is howling out, but fun! It is almost comical, going over to someone's boat for sundowners or appetizers usually the biggest challenge is not getting anything wet or spilling any of our food. Now, not only do we have to package the food for spill proofing in a rough ride, but we have to take a set of dry clothes in a dry bag, change, and then be off again by sunset so we can get across the river and back to our boat before dark.

One of our early adventures was short tacking Fatty upwind through a bunch of reefs to the other quite inaccessible and beautiful coconut laden east side of the atoll while Chris (Jahn) and Andreas from s/v Privateer paddled their sit on top kayak. It was quite an adventure. We have figured out a method to roll-reef Fatty's sail because it has been super windy nearly every day so far (18-20-knots). We have spent a couple mornings doing yoga with the 6 other cruisers in the anchorage from Privateer, Quixotic, and Fianna. When Shawn led class, there were not only 8 cruisers, but a large Kiribati children audience, and even a few daring young participants. Another morning we helped Arania, the local police officer, repair his VHF radio in exchange for an entire stalk of bananas, 4 drinking coconuts, and a Chivas Regal bottle filled with Kamaimai (syrup from a coconut tree). Once we had a working speaker attached, a very authoritative, "Tao, this is the Police, Tao, this is the Police" is how they hailed us. The whole anchorage was wondering what we'd done wrong :). We also made a kang kang (delicious) pumpkin coconut curry for a potluck on s/v Quixotic, after which we sailed Fatty home across the channel, in the light of the quarter moon. Yesterday, we were invited to visit the north shore of the island by a nice local, Beeto, who showed all four of our boats around his village, husked at least 30 coconuts for us (Shawn miserably failed to get even one opened let alone husked without breaking a sweat), and organized a volleyball game against the locals, which we valiantly lost. He also walked us to the only other charted anchorage on Fanning, "Whaler Anchorage," which suggests that Fanning Island may have been commonly used as a whaler stopover during the whaling days. The location also sports a beautiful right wave peak, which becomes a world class surf spot with any swell from the north. Beeto explained that winds tend to stay offshore in this anchorage, which is surprising considering its location and the prevailing ENE winds. We have been taking tons of photos, but who knows when we'll next get internet, probably American Samoa.

The locals here are really nice and very giving- even though they have comparatively little. I do wish that we had more of an idea what the people here really needed before we came. We brought things like tooth brushes and combs, but what they actually need are books, single prong fish hooks, thread, glass bottles, and clothes (not to mention any sort of medical supplies or expertise as there is just one nurse that lives on the island). They are forever awaiting te baas (the boat) to bring them more sugar and flour, pick up the island's cleaned and dried seaweed (their sole money-making export), and transport anyone to any other islands. There are approximately 2,000 people on the atoll spread among 6 main villages; 4 on the south island and 2 on the north island. When we made our way to the east island, we saw huts and people who apparently pay $30/month to be there and harvest as many coconuts as they want for copra (dried coconut meat primarily used to make coconut oil). The island's original money making export, copra has now fallen in demand from this particular atoll (apparently, nearby Washington Island controls the local market now) and we hear that paper "chits," pieces of paper with only a promise of genuine coin, are exchanged among the islanders as payment for goods. Many people don't speak a word of English, but most speak at least a few, learned early on in school, and there are a few, usually from Kiribati's capital, Tarawa (located among the island nation's primary island group some 1,500 miles to the west), who speak fairly fluent English. Still we try and we are very slowly learning the basics. The Kiribati language is quite difficult with intonations unlike anything in English although many of the locals purport the words are just like English. We will continue to do our best. In terms of fresh produce squash, bananas, coconuts, papayas, and fish/lobster abound. We'll also try to find some eggs and green leafy stuff when we provision next.

The swell has been small since we got here, so Chris has only gone surfing a handful of times, but a south is forecast to roll in here the 4th and 5th bringing a sizable bump in wave height, so we're trying to get projects done before that.


  1. Sounds almost magical! Maybe you should write a book! What a wonderful adventure ;-)

    Mum and Griz

  2. Ditto Judy - The spirit in this post was intensely enjoyable. Could feel the exchange of 'gifts' from all groups, even though you felt ill prepared. JOY...Ken...