The crew totals 10 and 2 passengers to Kiribati.
Captain- Evatar Ben Resheph
First Mate- Nubono Tebano
Engineer- Jarren Flack
Head Chef- Leslie Scott
Super Cargo- Frankie Desoutter
Bosun- Tanawai Routake
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!
Robinette Sherman- Who used to work in the office on the Big Island of Hawaii with us and is now living elsewhere. She just happened to be on vacation in Hawaii when she offered to come to the dock and work for 4 days. Thank you over and over again Robinette. You are forever KWAI family.
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 email@example.com
Aloha and good day to you from Mama KWAI ~