Monday, May 27, 2013

On Our Way to Bikini Atoll

Well, I kept thinking I'd get time to blog at least one more post about Majuro, and then another one on our trip from Majuro to Kwajalein, and then another one on our short stay at Kwaj Army Base. But... if I wait til I have time to write all those posts to catch up to the present, I'll just get further behind. And we plan to re-visit both Kwajalein and Majuro in the next few months.

Suffice it to say that we enjoyed both Majuro and the Kwaj Base--for short term stays. The base reminds me of a cross between Key West and Kennedy Space Center. Key West because of the island atmosphere and the fact that the primary transportation on island is bicycles--primarily "Keys Cruiser" type bikes--fat tires, big seats, and big handles. KSC because there is a minimal government presence and most of the people work for one contractor or another. More on Kwaj later.

We are currently on passage from Kwajalein Atoll to Bikini Atoll. We are having a very fast ride--a beam reach in 15 knots of wind. We are heavily reefed--2 reefs in the mainsail and only half of the genoa out--and we are still doing about 7 knots. We could go faster, but we just don't need the speed that much and are much more comfortable at 6.5-7 knots than we would be at 8 knots. The total distance from Kwaj Base to Bikini Island is about 225 nm. We left at the crack of dawn yesterday and expect to be in by late afternoon today. This may well be our fastest passage ever.

Though we have the windward side of our excellent cockpit enclosure down, and the cockpit is mostly dry, it's very salty out there from the salt spray getting sucked in on the leeward side of the cockpit. And of course, the occasional huge wave that slaps us and forces water in the cockpit around the enclosure.

So I am down below at the Nav station, eating crackers and cheese (breakfast). Dave is asleep in the salon on the couch--he's strapped in with a "Lee Cloth"--a piece of cloth we use to keep us on the narrow couch when we heel and/or the waves are big.

Our friends on s/v Challenger arrived in Bikini 2 days ago, direct from Majuro, but we haven't had a chance to talk with them by radio yet, other than to confirm they arrived safely (Jerry is terrible with radio skeds).

On this trip from Kwaj, we are sailing in company with s/v Panacea. Rick and Sue from Panacea are cruisers we met last year at the SSCA Gam in Melbourne, and they are currently working on Kwajalein. They sponsored us to allow us to get into the restricted area at Kwajalein. This is a big responsibility, as they are totally responsible for our behavior in the regulated environment of the Kwaj Base. If we violate the rules, the sponsor can lose his job and get kicked off the island. Rick and 2 buddies are taking Panacea for a week's trip to Bikini, while Sue saves her vacation time for their next trip off island.

Our friends on s/v Westward II, who we hadn't planned to see until mid-June, came into Kwajalein unexpectedly a few days ago because one of the blades on their 3-bladed fixed prop sheared off while motoring at sea. Rick from Panacea shook the bushes at the Kwajalein Yacht Club, and managed to find them a 2-bladed propeller to use for the short term, while they wait for a new prop to be shipped in. Even though this prop is too small, and spins the wrong way for their engine, it at least lets them move about a little bit. They just have to use their transmission in reverse. (it is a Hurth, so they can just run in Reverse to go forward).

Steve and Selina from Westward II are Aussies, and don't have an official US Visa for the Marshall Islands, so we can't get them on the Kwaj Base. But they are anchored off Ebeye Island, a few miles from the Base, and within VHF and ferry contact. There is also internet (NTA wifi) and cell phone coverage there, plus a decent grocery store. They are staying put this week while we run off to Bikini with Panacea (we have another trip planned to Bikini in June with Westward II).

Bikini Atoll is THE destination that Dave had in mind when he bought Soggy Paws. At least 15 years of his life has been focused on getting us here. Every time we've been diving anywhere, Dave has said to me "Just wait til we get to Bikini, it will be better there." So we are both very excited about finally reaching Bikini. More later...
At 05/26/2013 10:57 PM (utc) our position was 11°01.09'N 165°50.76'E

1 comment:

  1. Sherry, Glad to have your blog info. I'd love some help with our's when you return. Have a wonderful week! Sue