Around The World Voyage : Commentary

December 11, 2001

Majuro to Ailinglapalap Atoll, Marshall Islands
December 11, 2001
1200 Majuro Time
Latitude 07'16:977 North
Longitude 168'49:431 East
Course - Anchored
RPMs - None
Speed over ground - Drifting back and forth at about .2 Knots
Distance run - 140 nm
Distance to go - Launch the dingy and head to shore, .3 nm

We left Majuro knowing that there was a slight chance of a Tropical storm developing around the island of Pohnpei. We elected to play it safe and divert and hole up inside of the Ailinglapalap Atoll. This is 140 miles to the West of Majuro and an easy 24-hour run. As so often happens on long trips, it's the short unexpected stops that you remember most, such was the case with Ailinglapalap.

This is a very low laying atoll with a -mile wide unmarked channel with waves breaking on either side. It was an easy approach and with 20 minutes of watching out for shallow spots, we were in. Once inside we found what I had always thought what a Pacific Island was to be like. White sand beaches extending out from thick growth, coconut palms and banana trees. Blue-green waters that were so clear you would swear that you could reach out and touch bottom in 40' feet of water. Light winds, a few high clouds, air 87 water 87, man, this is what it is supposed to be like. Three of us were in the water before the anchor took hold. All around the boat were big towers of coral heads covered in ever color you can imagine. Each coral head stands like a tower or island in itself, some within a foot or two of the surface - all surrounded with 20 different kinds striped, spotted or solid colored fish. Coral fans laying out, fish darting back and forth with reef creatures swaying in the current. If you put your back to a pillar and look out across the sea floor you see 50 or 60 feet of bright white desert sand and then another tower with our boat in between, chain angled down to the anchor laid in the sand. Ours was the only anchor on the seafloor at Ailinglapalap Atoll this day. Islanders later told us that the last boat was a couple in a sailboat over a month ago.

On the beach was about twenty or thirty kids all waving us in, so in we went. We found a place like Gilligan's Island: all green with banana and coconut trees, grass huts amid some wood and tin roofed homes and a bunch of really friendly people. About 300 people live on this island. It was about dusk and you could see and smell the wood fires going with little groups preparing meals outdoors. Dead calm and quiet except for all the kids running and laughing around us.

This is one of those times and places that you will never forget. In the morning we will be gone, off to Pohnpei. The breeze will still settle as the day goes on, the fires still burn in the calm of the evening and the lagoon will sit empty except for the kids playing at its shore.

Then one day another ship will glide through the reef and drop anchor in the cove. Who will be on board?

Here are today's fuel and range calculations:
Fuel remaining on board 831 gallons
Fuel burned last 24 hours 69 gallons
Distance made good last 24 hours 140 nautical miles
Speed made good last 24 hours 5.8 knots
Distance remaining to Pohnpei 625 nautical miles
Remaining range at 1600 2007 nautical miles.

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