March 9, 2012- Captains Log.

posted Mar 9, 2012, 5:53 PM by April Fountain

We are now on our way to Tabuaeran.  We are nearly full with cargo again after discharging  the orders on Kiritimati and filling up the ship with cargo bound for Tabuaeran (Fanning) and Teraina (Washington).   

The cargo is mostly from Punjas Store which is a large supplier  in Fiji  which sells food mostly for the Pacific Islands

We left Kiritimati on a rainy day of weather in the Line Islands (Central Pacific) which is more prone to changing weather in the winter time then other times of year.

For those who are not familiar, close to the equator is an area called  the ITCZ or Inter-tropical Convergence Zone.  This is an area where the Trade winds from the  NE meet up with the winds from the  SE  and what you get is a perpendicular flow of warm moist  air going up into the atmosphere and getting cold by the process. This meeting up of winds makes the two winds unhappy and when air is not happy you get problems usually in the form of rain showers and strong wind squalls.  

By a not so lucky chance we were forced to meet this condition 2 days before reaching landfall in Kiritimati and I never saw such nasty weather in this area. Winds of up to 40 knots and lots of rain.

We broke the Top Mast when it first started to blow and I pointed the ship downwind but not before the back stay wire clamps failed and  the jib went into the water. Five of the crew worked on pulling the jib out working hard in the wind and rain.  Everybody got soaked with rain and sea water and in the end it didn’t make any difference which kind of water it was.  

The jib was saved  from damage and I took the Main sail in for safety . In the afternoon the wind settled down to force 4 and we started to make better speed and have a smoother ride. We set the Main sail only to find out too late that there was a big patch in the sail where it had torn three times before and the sail just ripped apart. It is so sad to see such an important sail ripped as it is. One that has given us such good service for so many voyages and so many miles on our ship.

We are going to see if we can  do any repairs on the sail in Tabuaeran where we can get the man power to do the work.  Hopefully it can be re stitched and that will allow us to make the trip back North to Honolulu  much more efficiently and comfortably then we would be without it.  

We are due to arrive to Tabuaeran tomorrow morning March 10 (Hawaii date).

Once there we will work on getting the Mainsail fixed and discharge our cargo before departing for Teraina .

Captain Evy- 

March 1, 2012

posted Mar 1, 2012, 1:32 PM by April Fountain

Passenger Log: Susan 

 5th day of passage from Honolulu to Christmas, Fanning and Washington Islands.

On the date of our arrival, February 21st, Kwai seemed to be loaded to the gills, but throughout the 22nd, Brad, Supercargo Frankie, Skipper Evy and all the crew continued to stow a further mountain of goods. Thursday the 23rd was tidy up and tighten straps day and then, under the benign eyes of two unusual and picturesque stevedores (required by law) we released our lines at 16:00 and were off. Brad and Ethan, both looking as if they wanted to be on board, waved goodbye from the pilot boat.

It took a little time - 2 1/2  days - to get used to Kwai's swinging hips. Being in the lee of the Big Island for the best part of a day either helped or hindered recovery times, but now discomfort is forgotten in the joy of rolling our way across this beautiful blue ocean. I am sitting at the stern table looking to starboard with the wind at my back, hair in my eyes composing this. Flying fish are leaping up, skimming the water and plopping back into waves pretty much constantly. A booby swoops around occasionally, and one took a rest on the gaff around noon on the third day. At 23:30 last night, what seemed to be a baby booby flopped down in an ungainly heap on the pile of cargo below the bridge. It sat, sheltering behind the Zodiac, bulking confusedly in the deck light which was on while a crew member made the last cargo check of the 8 - 12 watch. The booby stayed the night, only launching away when Evy tried to serve it flying fish for breakfast.

Speaking of food, the smell coming from the galley at this moment is making me feel faint with hunger. The food on Kwai is provided by the cool and  mysterious 'cookie', Leslie. She clatters around in the terribly cramped galley and produces meals like Duck a l'Orange, for goodness sake - accompanied by rice, vegetables and a couple of salads. Lots of food, good food. more than enough for the twelve of us. 

Sorry, got to go. Duty calls. More later.


February 27

posted Feb 27, 2012, 9:43 PM by April Fountain

Ships position at 19:30 tonight is 11:48 North and 157:30 West. Winds are 20 knots out of the East and the average speed is 6 knots. They are just about 1/2 way to Christmas Island tonight.  And 5 more Mahi-mahi fish today filling up the freezers! Nothing exciting to report. This is good! 
Aloha, This is Mama Kwai wishing you a good night. 

February 26, 2012 Captain's Log

posted Feb 27, 2012, 5:49 PM by April Fountain   [ updated Feb 28, 2012, 8:07 PM ]

KWAI  left Honolulu three days ago and we are on our way back to Kiribati waters.

Before we left the three  days of loading cargo in Honolulu went very smoothly.

The magic of cargo is the stowing and nobody stows any better then the Kwai crew. This is primarily due to the crew’s ability to get every inch of the hold  and ship filled with cargo.

It sounds  easy but it’s not. Of hundreds of pallets we are loading, they all contain very different kinds of cargo of all shapes and sizes and almost half of them are being separated out to fit it in the hold. It all needs to fit together like a huge puzzle and of course without damaging anything.

It’s like playing 3d Tetris.  Every crew member on the Kwai is a master of his own stowage and has to use both muscle and brain. It might surprise you but it’s mostly brain to get the best stow in the end.

The cargo hold is full which  can take the better part of two days, then the deck cargo comes next. This is usually lumber, bales of clothes , cars, empty fuel drums and miscellaneous food. The deck cargo is a little different then the cargo in the hold because on deck everything needs to be secured by a web of ratchet straps to keep everything from shifting when the ship is underway and of course tarps that can withstand all the weather and keep everything dry.  

And now we are almost  three days out holding a straight course (rhumb line) bound for Kiritimati, also known as Christmas island.  

The wind is almost due east blowing about 15 knots and the crew is happy to be finally off the dock and underway again. Everyone is getting their sea legs now.

Yesterday we caught  9 Mahi-mahi fish or Dorado depending were you come from. This is a beautiful green fish that looks a little bit like a Chinese dragon.  We are not going to starve since adding four freezers chocked full of food and one refrigerator in the Galley. Cookie is feeding us well.

Aloha and more soon-

Captain Evy

February 23, 2012

posted Feb 26, 2012, 9:42 PM by April Fountain   [ updated May 8, 2014, 5:03 PM ]

KWAI has just sailed out at 16:00 hours from Honolulu harbor under fair conditions. 
The Hawaii Pilot boat escorted them with Stephen "Brad" Ives and Ethan Aspler on board. 
I hope they got some nice pictures to share with you which I will post soon if they did. 

The crew totals 10 and 2 passengers to Kiribati. 

Crew : 

Captain- Evatar Ben Resheph 
First Mate- Nubono Tebano
Engineer- Jarren Flack
Head Chef- Leslie Scott 
Super Cargo- Frankie Desoutter
Bosun- Tanawai Routake
Deckhand-Teitera Turei
Deckhand-Teibitoa Rubeniti
Deckhand-Beeto Areieta
Deckhand-Kabiriera Naan 


Arthur Sager
Susan Venables 

I would also like to give a very honorable mention and kudos to our shore crew who worked so hard for the KWAI in Honolulu. 

Wendy Berry- who came over from the Big Island where she works with me in the office 3-4 days a week, and who stayed on the dock doing tons (literally) of organizational  work with the cargo and on the computers.  Thank you so much Wendy, we really couldn't do this without you. Really! 
Melinda Walker- Our new shopper in Honolulu who did a MAGNIFICENT job filling orders and running all over the Island of Oahu day after long day for well over a month. She was extremely  dedicated on filling the orders and finding the best deals for our customers.
    Being on the subject of shopping, I would like to take a little opportunity to describe this often  underestimated and misunderstood position. 
First of all this job is hugely important to our entire operation. Brad and I used to do it ourselves but as the business has grown this was no longer possible. Wendy and I shop as much as we can from the internet and home office but the bulk of the orders must be purchased in Honolulu directly from the stores. 
More often then not, the stores will have not have the many items we need, or in the amounts we need, or the prices will be very different from the last time and so the shopper often has to go to different stores all over the city or the same stores over and over again, looking to fill hundreds of orders. Different stores will have different prices so if we have 150 cake mixes to buy, that come from 4 different stores, then the Shopper has to  keep track of how many were purchased where and at what price and then try to average the prices out so our customers won't be confused with multiple pricing  She works from large order sheets, sometimes over 40 or 50 pages worth, that have to be kept meticulously organized with all the paid prices noted so we can enter all the information back at the dock from which labels and then invoices and export documents are then generated. 
  Another challenge is that someone may order a box of bic lighters for instance, something that came in a 50 pack last time and was ordered this way,  but is only available in 12 packs or 24 packs and the shopper must calculate the each price over and over again for hundreds of items to make sure she is getting a good price. What about a shampoo that is on sale in a two pack but the customer just ordered one. Does the shopper decide to give the customer 2 or to separate the items into two and then super cargo will have to find another buyer for the second one, which makes more work, or........... does she just not buy the 2 pack sale item opting for the more expensive one. Each of these decisions takes precious time which she often doesn't have. 
Another challenge is  that some of our customers are more familiar with  items from New Zealand for instance, and they are called different things here in the US. For instance if someone orders a Chily-bin this is a Cooler. Or a Torch is a flashlight. Or "Singlets" are tank tops and "Mum" is a woman'
s deoderant. These are just some of the name differences that we have to work with. We also have customers who will order "1 roll of fabric" or "Shoes for my baby girl to go to church in", or "a Plastic Container", or some small electronic part that fits an old piece of equipment that they are trying to repair.  What kind of fabric do they need and how much? What size shoes would fit? What kind of plastic container, to hold what and what size? Wendy and I are try to get answers from our customers who often take weeks to be able to answer us and then sometimes even then it is with  little information that will help us supply the right thing. The Shopper often has to just pick what she feels is good and will be usable to the best of her knowledge. And if the Shopper is new at the job, this can be and IS a hugely difficult job. Melinda has done an absolutely  wonderful job with all these challenges and hey Melinda, if you stay with it, it WILL get easier. This I promise you. And thank you again. 

And now onto other fun topics: 
The ship is again sailing completely full, full, FULL with 451 cubic meters of cargo both in the hold and on deck. 280m3 will be going to  Kiritimati (Christmas) Island and 170m3 for both Tabuaeran and Teraina. Of these we had 875 different items that we shopped for and were loaded! We once again had to turn down cargo for people who arrived to the dock late. We  don't like to turn anyone away but as we only have so much space, we ask our customers to please tell us in advance if they are coming and with how much cargo so we can try to keep the room for them rather then turning them away. 

 And for those who may be reading this for the first time, just to give you an idea of what we take there are 2 personally owned vehicles bound for Christmas Island, 2 tractors that were ordered, 20 bales of used clothing weighing in at around 900 pounds each (we had 40 ordered!!) , food, soda, water, fishing supplies, solar equipment, radio equipment, construction materials, 120 used bicycles,chain saws, electronics, balloons, cosmetics and jewlery for the ladies, you name it, we probably have it! All these things get mapped where they are placed on the ship, and loaded according to which Island we are going to first, keeping in mind that balance on a ship is also very crucial. Brad is an absolute Wizard at stowing the ship with all the above in mind along with trying to eliminate every possible square inch of space between the cargo. We used to think that 200 m3 of cargo was our limit and now we are carrying 450m3! 

 We did have some problems this time around locating certain electronic items that were ordered by our customers. These included Mini computers which we took last time and we had 10 ordered for  them which we were not  able to fill. Unfortunately companies are no longer making these little computers as they have gone to Tablet based technology which is still too expensive and not as suitable for our Island customers, many who do not have access to the internet and even if they do, there is no Wi-fi. 
Also we had many laptop computers ordered that we were able to find on sale last time, and we had 10 orders for them this time. Unfortunately the price went much higher and we didn't want to surprise our customers with computers that were too expensive. So many of these orders also went un-filled.
We also had a very hard time finding all the portable DVD's that were ordered as they have become hugely popular on the Islands. We had 43 of them on our order sheets! Our problem  is that the ones we supply have to be able to play "All Regions" and this is not something that is readily available in the stores. They are available on-line but then it's usually by the "each" unit and they don't come with any usable warranty for our Island customers who can't just pop a defective unit at the post office to send it back. There are no post offices where we go and we can't be carrying a bunch of DVD's back to the US if they don't work. I'm not sure how we are going to handle this in the future but we will keep working on it. 

Ok folks that's all I have for you today. 
I will try to keep the website updated every few days for you and add pictures of the voyage as they become available. 
Thank you so much for checking in and if you should have any questions, please feel free to email me from the contact page or
Aloha and good day to you from  Mama KWAI ~ 

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posted May 21, 2010, 4:15 PM by April Fountain   [ updated Feb 25, 2012, 12:01 PM ]

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