Around The World Voyage : Commentary

December 10, 2001

Hi everyone,

We're back online! Today is Monday (your Sunday) on the Atoll of Majuro.

What can I say about our time here? We have experienced nothing but generosity and kindness from the people of this beautiful and fascinating atoll from the moment we first made contact. As we approached our anchorage, we were met by Ben Chutaro, a local who couldn't have been nicer. Ben had heard from someone in Hawaii that we were coming to his island and went beyond the call of duty to make our stay as hospitable as possible. He started by bringing Dave ashore to help clear customs with a rep from the Port Authority. Since it was pouring rain, the group handled the paperwork from the comfort of Ben's car. Twenty minutes later, the group had finished and Dave was back on board. (From previous experience, clearing customs can take up to half a day!) From there, Ben acted as our tour guide, chauffeur and activities director. A native of Majuro, (who was schooled in the States), Ben is very active in trying to develop the tourist trade on Majuro and the outer atolls. It's a beautiful, interesting place - a stop I recommend to anyone…but don't expect to find something like Hawaii. Instead, you'll find Majuro is a locale in its natural state with natives who are true to the island life.

Right now Ben is focusing on building a small Marina with moorings and slipways and accommodations for the yacht owners to work on their boats. His company, B.C.I., also does custom charters to the outer atolls (email address is bako@ntamar.com). Yesterday Ben stopped by and presented Nordhavn with a "Current and Wave Stick Chart" which is made out of bamboo and sea shells. He told us that long ago, all the local villages would designate a navigator and that person made up their own chart. Now we have our own piece of the Majuro culture to share with everyone back in California.

At I write this, Ben is helping Dave check out. Ben, I would like to say thank you from all of us at PAE for sharing yourself, your knowledge and your love of Majuro. It's people like you who make cruising an unforgettable experience. If anyone is planning on heading out this way, contact Ben on his e-mail. He'd love to hear from you.

So many more tales about our encounters with the locals…One day we were pulled up the quay and as we loaded up on fuel, Nordhavn caught the interest of a couple of fellows named Scott Howe and Will Haworth. We invited them aboard and showed them around. Most gracious for the tour, they invited us to throw back a few beers. Being the good guys that we are and dutifully representing the U.S., we agreed… and then it was down hill from there. That cooler seemed to have a never-ending supply of beer and we made the mistake of trying to keep pace with Scott and Will. (Never and I mean never try to keep up with a Kiwi.) It was really too much fun.

Later that afternoon Ben stopped by to take us ashore and watch the weigh-in for the local fish tournament. You can't believe the fishing here. A couple of the fish - one a Yellow Fin tuna, one a Marlin - were over a hundred pounds! While there, we happened upon Will and Scott…and it started all over again (just kidding.) Both of these Kiwi's are very involved with the Sportfishing Club and they also run a company called "Billfish Chartering". Anyone looking to do some "real" fishing and enjoy the company of two of the funniest people you want to meet, should email them at haworth@ntamar.com. From the crew of the Nordhavn thanks for the Billfish polo shirts, but especially for your friendship and the lessons on beer drinking - you two are still the masters!

The list of fabulous people we encountered during our stay is so numerous, but I especially wanted to mention Bren Morris, the Minister of Public Works, Liz Rodick & Richard Belcher aboard the yacht ISIS and Gerry Smith who makes custom fishing lures called Nuclear Warheads which he promises will "catch a 100 lb. Marlin." They, like all the people of Majuro, had a smile on their face and a cheerful hello or good morning wherever we'd walk. Even the children would wave or utter a timid hi. These people do not have very much but they are always happy. Their values are worth more than all the gold in the world.

Despite the natural state and laid back ways of the atoll, Majuro is not without its hustle and bustle - and yes, there is a rushour here. There is an approximately 20-mile two-lane road that runs from one end of the atoll to the other and serves as the major thoroughfare. The center of town is clogged mostly with taxi cabs which the locals use extensively. They charge only 50 cents US for a ride that goes as far as you would like.

We all left feeling the town reminded us of what you might see around any of the coastal towns of Mexico. There were Coconut trees, a few Banana trees and lots of Breadfruit trees (which make a great type of potato chip). And lots of different flowers. The atoll is long and narrow - to walk from one end of Majuro to the other and back would take around 4 hours; to walk from side to side, maybe 15 minutes.

We were scheduled to shove off on Dec. 8 (UCT) but we were held up with obtaining clearance papers, so decided to anchor out at one of the outer atolls. Upon Ben's recommendation, we anchored at Anemwanot Atoll about an hour and a half from town. This was truly a beautiful location. We anchored in 38ft of crystal clear water. I put on the mask and fins and dove in to check on the anchor. All was well. I turned to head back up and right before my eyes was a DC 3 aircraft minus its wings and tail. You could still see the writing on it which said "Sea Star Airlines". It was amazing! I wished I could have taken a picture.

Later we took the dinghy to go beach exploring. We learned that this one atoll is used by all the people on Sunday for get-togethers and volleyball. Dave got all of us into looking for coral and sea shells which he was going to mail back to his daughter's class - whose school project is to keep track of us via e-mail. Through various questions, they learn about geography, math, science and culture. (You can check it out on the Forums section.) Dave is also working on getting one of the local kid's classes to email back and forth with his daughter's class. We hope to get this up on the web site also as it should really be something to read.

Our last day there, we wanted to celebrate in grand style. It was our first successfully foreign port of call and also just happened to be our editorial guest from Motorboating Magazine, John Wooldridge's birthday. We barbecued lamb chops, had stuffing, green beans and Tom made a terrific upside down birthday cake. It was a genuinely fun, relaxing good time for all. John said he would never forget this birthday.


As I write this we just cleared the pass of Majuro Atoll and on our way to Pohnpei Island
Ships information follows.

The date is 12/10/2001 and the time is 0230UCT and 2:20PM local time.
Our position is N 07*14'180 / E 171*05.218".
Our speed is 6knts @ 1575rpm.
The barometer is at 1006mb and falling.
The temp. is 89 degrees F
.The wind is off our stern at 20knts. our land fall (Phonpei) is 726nm distant. Crew is settling in.


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