Kwai has loaded 155 tons of dried seaweed in rough conditions in the
lagoon. The anchorage is on the lee side of the lagoon and when it blows
squally NE winds a considerable chop sets up. Capt Kim has rigged a
mooring line on the anchor chain at the hawse then eased out another shackle of
scope so the ship lies broadside to the wind and creates a lee where the loaded
barge and boat can discharge. Work stops and the scaramouche gets set
frequently in the rain squalls, but slowly the ship is loaded. Six tons
will be loaded on deck as we need 161 tons to fill 7 containers. The
nasty weather is caused by the ITCZ moving south over the island in the last few
days. Before that the ship enjoyed fine weather to discharge and for
loading copra in Teraina, The wind was calm enough to stay anchored off
the pass on the SW side. A big NW swell was running the usual anchorage
on the north side untenable, so the crew was very fortunate to be able to lie
where they load. Thirty tons of grain and other foods went off smoothly
and 120 tons of copra came back aboard in 2 days. A quick stop in
Tabueran to drop passengers and the boat we rent from the Island Council and
Kwai was off to Christmas Island. Again good conditions prevailed with
light wind and little of the nasty NW set that can run at 3 knots.
Aloha and good day,
Kwai reached Kiritimati (Christmas) Island in the early hours of January 2nd after a slow trip form Penrhyn, Cook Islands. The wind held steadily in the NNE with a strong head current all the way. Speed was down to 3 knots and the engine revved up to 1700 RPM. Usually this is a fast comfortable leg, but you never know what the wind and sea will do. There was not much cargo to discharge on Christmas, but the island was just getting back to business gear after Christmas holidays so we didn't get many orders for the northbound trip from Rarotonga this time. Eighty empty drums went ashore and were filled with petrol for the Outer Islands of Kiribati.
Two Kiribati ships, Nokaraoi and Moa Moa were in port just before us and they took all the local cargo and passengers, so Kwai had only the fuel and 2 passengers. She had a quick trip up to Fanning and lay there 2 days discharging fuel and grain from New Zealand, loaded in Rarotonga. Washington was next and Kwai spent 3 days there, discharging the same cargoes and loading back 120 tons of copra for Christmas. She finished up loading and headed back to Fanning on Tuesday evening. The weather was good with calm and little south swell. Captain Kim was able to keep her safely anchored off the pass the whole time and the only delays were because of rain squalls. Next up is a stop at Fanning to leave the boat we rent for loading copra and pick up Kabriera. Maybe even a day or two of down time. Then back to Christmas to discharge the copra and back to Fanning once again to load 160 tons of dried seaweed which we will bring back to Honolulu and trans ship to China where it will be sold as an ingredient to thicken cosmetics.
Report from the ship is that all is well with the crew.
I will update again as soon as I get more news from the ship.
Thank you for checking in with us. Have a wonderful weekend. This is Mama KWAI~ signing off for now.
Having spent entirely enough time ashore, it worked out that my inestimable skills were needed yet again on the intrepid Kwai. This time I had to fly from Halifax Nova Scotia to Avatiu Rarotonga. A trip so far you almost can't get there from here. The first flight from Halifax was socked in and to re-connect required that I be re-routed through an entire other continent called Australia. I was delayed again in Sydney and ended up travelling for three days. As I am clearing customs in Rarotonga at 0030 on the fourth day the customs officer asked if I had heard what happened to the ship. She didn't have time to fill me in and I had two bags of oatmeal to explain in my checked bags so I didn't get the story. As I was leaving the airport a couple of greeters asked about my accommodations and when I said the Kwai they laughed and said she sank. Frankie the supercargo and Gabe the super deckhand were there to meet me and when I asked what happened they wouldn't tell me and said I had to see for myself. My first thought and I'm not proud of it was that I would have to get back on that blasted airplane. What had actually happened is now a Kwai legend and you have seen the pics. Rail all buckled. Hatch coaming bent 16 inches out of place. Stanchions ripped from the deck and a full cargo and 40 passengers to get to Penryn for Christmas.
Two metal artists from Rarotonga metal works came to do the repairs. We estimated it would take a week. It took two and a half days to have it repaired and painted. We loaded cargo by hand while the repair was being done and did it as fast as the crane could have. Captain Brad stayed to supervise the repairs and the loading and we managed to depart on Dec 15.
The last possible day that would get us to Penryn on time. No pressure. We did our passenger safety demonstration and slipped our lines at 1800 and immediately set sail. We have a group of passengers related to William Marsters who made his fortune in the California gold rush. took three wives with him from Penryn to Palmerston Island in the Cooks and proceeded to procreate in a very rapid fashion. These descendants were born and raised on Penryn and are taking their children and their children's children back to Penryn so they can see where they came from and meet their kin still living there. They live now in New Zealand and Australia and have a modern lifestyle far removed from the old ways. Their culture is still very much intact and they sing the most stirring hymns every sunrise and sunset. They have a church service at both times and everyone participates. Large men gesticulate wildly and speak loudly in an obscure island dialect. Kind of like an old time revival meeting complete with tent. They are great to have onboard and help out with the sail handling and the galley chores. The children,(16 of them) are delightful and have discovered that I am an easy touch. They crowd the bridge and follow me around on deck and ask endless questions. I'm going to miss them. We arrived at the mouth of Taruia passage at 0400 and waited for Rio the Pilot. The lagoon is a maze of coral heads.
The main channels are marked sporadically with sticks most of which are missing and it still takes a person on the masthead to pick out the odd patches of un-marked coral. Sometimes both the pilot and myself are aloft conning the ship by radio to the bridge. There is a compass on the top of monkey island for that purpose. If the sun is at the wrong angle navigation is impossible because the patches can't be seen. We had 25 kts of wind blowing on the dock when we got to Omoka, the main village of the island so docking was a tricky split second affair. The passengers were immediately whisked away and we were all invited to a morning feast. There was a big hall packed with islanders at table and in full song when the crew arrived. We ate fish and rice with our hands and drank cool coconut water from big brown nuts. The large men began talking loudly and gesticulating again so I went back to the ship for a nap. At 1000 the feast was over.
The passengers began arriving back at the ship. We still had 2 hrs of lagoon piloting to do before the passengers arrived at their final destination.
They are provisioned for five months and will stay until we return to take them back to Rarotonga. We arrived on the north side of the lagoon at 1205 and the passengers went ashore for another feast which took two hrs. It is the day before Christmas eve and we have two more batches of cargo to discharge before the fat man comes down the chimney. This insessant feasting is getting in the way. We finished discharging as the sun set and settled down for a long quiet nights rest. We got underway to cross the Lagoon again at 0830 Christmas eve day. We were finishad discharging at 1530 and had the hatch closed and the deck washed by 1600. It was a nice break from the constant 12 hr days we had been logging. Cookie managed to make a bunch of bananas look like a Christmas tree complete with a star on top.
Thank-you duct tape. We all turned in with visions of sugar plums. By some mysterious avenue, leis had appeared on our bunks and some gifts had been deposited under the banana tree. We had two magnificent Christmas dinners.
One at the home of Local bakers Alex and Christina Maretapu where they were our substitute family and kept us from missing our own so much. We brought a whole roast turkey. It was the first time the Maretapus had ever had one.
Their table was full of fish and chicken and pork, breadfruit, pumpkin, rice, bread and a wonderful banana/custard/cake pudding. Back at the ship cookie had prepared another feast with another turkey, potatoes pumpkin, yams, strudel and pumpkin pie. Yahoooo! The next day we prepared for sea. Some last minute cargoes were discharged, water tanks were filled, goodbyes were said and at 1300 local time Alex Maretapu piloted us between the coral heads and out through the rushing waters of Taruia passage. We are now 4 days away from Kiritimati island and having another fine passage. Close hauled with all plain sail set, the ship is getting some routine maintenance chores caught up. The repair job from the falling crane is getting another coat of paint. It now looks better than the rest of the ship.
Fair winds and clean fuel filters
Captain Kim reported a fine trip from Rarotonga to Manihiki and the successful discharge of cargo there in one day. The 37 passengers were hosted ashore in Tauhunu Village while the ship discharged at Tauhunu and Tukao. The passengers reboarded in the evening and slept on the ship for a 0300 departure to Rakahanga. The crossing is only 21 miles and at dawn Kwai was off the pass there ready to discharge. The fuel tanks, gas cylinders, and pallets of food went off smoothly in the calm under the island and by noon she was underway for Penrhyn. This is a 190 mile passage often upwind. This time the wind did not come up until the last 40 miles, slowing the ship to 4 knots. After daylight, Rio Teika came out to greet his family and pilot the ship to the dock.
Departure for Christmas Island was set for noon on the 26th of December. The ship is still loaded with rice, flour, sugar, cement and roofing iron, all loaded in Rarotonga and consigned to Tabuaeran and Teraina.
The officers were changed in Rarotonga, Kim Smith as Captain
and Nubono Tebano as First Mate. Kim is
well known to us, sailing on his 5th or 6th voyage
now. Nubono is an I-Kiribati usually
employed with Taio Shipping in Rarotonga.
We have met him many times in the islands of the Northern Group as
Master of Mana Nui and Te Komaru. Taio Shipping’s
new vessel is still under repair in Norway so we have borrowed Nubono for up to
6 months. He is keen to learn the sails
and to visit family in Kiritimati. Like
many I-Kiribati he is quiet and thoughtful and we are happy to have him
aboard. The rest of the crew remains
steady. Only Frankie is on her first
voyage and she is an old hand already.
Her Supercargo position is one of the most important on the vessel and
she has made a good impression on our more demanding customers. She’s tough but listens to their needs. Cookie (Leslie) continues her excellent work
taking care of passengers and crew, with Magali from Kiribati as her assistant. Magali has grown into her role, learning from
Cookie, the rigors of meal preparation and provisioning. Once the meal is out she’s usually playing
the ukulele and singing in Kiribati, Maori, English or Puka Pukan. Tetaake is also on his first voyage, but he
has made several already around the Line Islands. We borrowed him from KPA in Kiritimati after watching him work
his magic as steverdore foreman. He has
fit right in the Kwai family and is never afraid to show his stuff on the dance
floor or off the Kwai swing. Mr
Steady is Kabriera. He don’t say much but he knows how Kwai works
and under the direction of the Mate or the Bosun is always where he should
be. You probably know the Bosun, Tanawai
by now. He runs the winch and the deck like the pro
he is. He’s done it for years on the
German ships, but we like to think he smiles more on Kwai. Gabriel is a seasoned veteran by now too. Seems his happiest place is in the bosun’s
chair high above the fanfare on deck, sewing the mainsail or serving the
rigging. And down below our resident bilge
rat, Jarren, Chief Engineer keeps the systems
humming. He actually likes it in the
Engine Room with his machines whirring beside him, and we all appreciate this
astute Englishman for all he does.
April, Mama Kwai, holds it all together in the KWAI Corporate
Headquarters. She serves as Operations
Manager and Ship’s Agent , now with the help of Wharf Wench Wendy. Our business has grown in the last few years
and the two of them work full time.
Captain Kim arrived in Rarotonga and took over command of the ship as Captain Brad was due back in Hawaii to begin setting up for the building of the masts on the Big Island. Much more on this later.
Captain Kim has sailed as Captain for the KWAI for 4 previous voyages including bringing the KWAI from Panama to Hawaii for the first time in 2006. We are so happy to have you back Captain!
First Mate Christopher had to depart the ship in Rarotonga due to family emergencies (thank you for everything Christopher!) and was replaced by Nubono Tebano from Kiribati. Nubono will be with us for several months before he goes back to his Captain job on another ship out of Rarotonga. Ko rabwa Nubono!
KWAI is scheduled to arrive to Manihiki on schedule tomorrow morning @ 07:00. They have had fine weather with light Easterly winds since leaving Rarotonga.
Their current position as of 20:00 hours is 11:27 S and 160"52 W.
Kwai has 37 Island passengers including 6 infants on board. going to Tautua, Penrhyn . They are a "Tere party" (reunion in Maori) of the Nikao family. They will be staying for 2 to 4 months depending on what ship arrives to take them back to Rarotonga. KWAI is carrying about 160 cubic meters of cargo bound for the Northern group and Kiribati.
Super Cargo Frankie is again "presiding".
More soon. Thank you for checking in,
This is Mama KWAI wishing you very Happy Holidays.
Kwai arrived safely in Rarotonga on schedule on Wednesday, 7 December. The trip form Palmerston was delightedly uneventful. A light breeze held in the North and we had sails up when there was enough wind to keep them full. Five passengers joined in Palmerston and despite a few heavy showers all were comfortable on the passage. We had surfing and a swim call on the second day. One of the children found a hardhat floating in the ocean. We rarely see flotsam here yet somehow in the big ocean we had stopped right next to some.
While loading freezers of frozen fish in Palmerston, we got an onshore NW squall. The wind was only 25 knots and we managed to stay anchored while loading. A mini waterspout out of the squall line passed just next to the ship. It was just forming and not yet connected to the cloud. The circulation about 5 meters across was picking up sea water. A picture will be on the website. We continued loading in the drizzle as it didn't look like it would stop, and the passengers came out a bit wet. The Puka Puka and Nassau passengers were treated to lunch and a soggy island tour by Bill and Metua Marsters. By 1630 we were underway again.
Wednesday afternoon in Raro we were discharging freezers
when the Bedford driving our haydraulic crane abruptly stopped. This is always a problem as the cargo gear
is aloft and can now not be lowered.
Problem turned out to be the fuel injection pump which is not a quick
fix. We have sent for another one from
New Zealand. which should be arriving tomorrow.
Thursday morning disaster struck. The 50 ton crane returned to discharge the heavy lifts of construction materials which went smoothly. I decided to have the crane continue with the loading of the ship so we could keep moving. As it was within the capacity of the crane I had them lift the 23 ton container of rice an flour we ordered form New Zealand into the ship where the crew would devan it. While doing this the crane toppled over on to the ship. The container landed safely in the cargo hold, but the crane boom smashed in to the port bulwarks and landed on the hatch coaming. The crane itself ending up standing on its head on the wharf next to the ship leaning ominously over the wheelhouse. The ship lay over at a heavy angle, but was not making any water. The crew and all port personnel were stunned. The driver came out through the smashed windshield but landed in the only safe place he could - the water between the ship and the wharf. He walked away and was released later form the hospital. No one else was hurt.
Over the course of the day the crane was extracted from the ship. With the big container forklifts, and eventually the 60 ton crane doing harbor construction, the body was brought down on the wharf with no damage to Kwai and the whole crane dragged sideways off the ship. Unfortunately the boom caught on the coming as it came off and bent it inboard 50cm tearing the stanchions out of the deck. The big crane then picked up the boom while the forklifts dragged and no further damage occurred.
Kwai moved out of that berth by 1700 and we went up in to
the corner of the harbor to heal.
Saturday we busted out the concrete around the stanchions to assess the
damage. The bulwarks was
straightforward. The old steel Kwai is
built of tore in a neat swath and accordioned up to make a soft landing. There was no damage to the deck or deck edge
and the damage did not carry out beyond a 3m strip. The coaming was more serious as we could now not close the hatch or seal the
ship. The crane owners brought in Raro
Welding on Friday the same day to assess and on Monday morning they showed up with several capable
The healing of Kwai comes about with a big outpouring of support from many sides in Rarotonga. Thanks to the Port Authority, Mac Dow, General Transport, Raro Welding and all our extended family who rallied to help out.
We have the Tere party , the Nikao family reunion, headed to Tautua breathing down our necks to get them to Penrhyn by Christmas, so there is no time to dawdle. The crew is back in good spirits and we hope to be back at sea by Thursday evening.
We are making good time toward Palmerston and Rarotonga. Weather is gray and rainy, but the wind is northerly which is a good break as we could be punching 20 knots of SE. ETA Palmerston is tomorrow morning. Raro Thursday 0800. Passengers are all tucked up under the awning and staying dry. Yesterday in the calm weather we had some surfing by the crew and an unplanned MOB exercise. On his first try, Tetaake fell off and let go of the swing. We quickly stopped and picked him up in Love Me Tender. Swim call followed with crew and passengers cooling off. Swings were going off both sides of the ship and much jumping out of the rigging. The crew set up a salt water shower with the fire hose for those who didn't want to swim and the kids whose moms wouldn't let them go in.
The weather in Puka Puka was somewhat unsettled with a heavy squall just as we arrived and NE and NW winds while we were there. We did manage to tie up to the reef with our 600' of polypro line for some of the time, but each night we had to drift. On the first night, in the dark of the moon, the light wind switched from NE to NW - onshore. The watch woke me with the reef half a boat length to port all alive with phosphorescence. The GM sprang to life and Kwai quickly moved away. We love our 12-71 push button wheelhouse start.
We sailed from Puka Puka on Thursday night after 3 days discharging 120m3 and loading back another 50m3 of returning construction equipment, hardwood logs, uto (sprouted coconuts) local brooms and 5 freezers full of fish for the Raro market. Friday we discharged more cargo at Nassau. While the 28 passengers to Raro went ashore for lunch, we worked cargo in the lee on the SW side. On the trip north the big red trailer could not be discharged as it was too big for the shore boat to carry. We took it to Puka Puka where the island engineer stripped it down to parts that could be carried in the Nassau boat. The weather held long enough to get everything off and load back more uto and freezers, but the heavens opened before the blessing and good byes could be sung ashore and we stood by until a short break gave just enough time to get all back aboard. As we headed off, we again got the traditional Nassau send off - half hip hip hurray and half Moari chant full of energy and aloha for the friends and relatives leaving home and even for we Kwai crew, now part of another family.
Small rain delay, luckily held off until we had finished unloading and loading cargo at the SW corner of the island, to avoid the wind and swells now all 29 passengers are settled on the hatch, or the aft deck awaiting one of Magali's marvelous dinners, which tonight is ..guess...FISH...as we saw huge schools of flying fish jumping on the surface at arrival this morning, obviously chased by something bigger, and the locals quickly came by with about 10 tuna of various denominations, then later they filled baskets with 30 lobster/crayfish they caught last night, and cooked, and a huge amount of taro to cook, and a bunch of drinking coconuts I got some V23 orders, sold a few last minute items and went ashore to "kai-kai" and swelter in the heat...before the rain...now Numa and Tetaake have switched...Tetaake will be galley assitant..running food back and forth to the hatch, making sure the guests are comfortable and see if they need anything, keeping toilet paper in the head...doing the dishes, etc, etc...and Numa will stand watch with the Mate to learn "sailing"
Kwai store went very sweetly yesterday thanks to the lovely assistance of Tetaake, who usually acts as guard, but was selling, dealing and being eagle eye...hilarious...and Numa who just really got into the swing of things and loved the energy, and THEN proceeded to actually organize the left overs...something only ever done before by working passenger Deborah...much to my delight and happiness Over 10K was taken, transferred back to Loko and Rapu to take to the bank and I ended the day by jumping in the water in the pass to float out like a fish, and see a baby turtle and the biggest Papio I've ever seen at the entrance dropped off 19 passengers, picked up 1.
Aloha from Super Cargo Frankie.
KWAI has finished discharging her cargo in Puka Puka yesterday and in Nassau this morning.
KWAI will be steaming to Palmerston this afternoon to discharge more cargo and then be on her way back to Rarotonga.
Check out some new pictures of crew and the Islands in the slideshow on our Home page.
Aloha and blessings from Mama KWAI~
South Easterly winds are providing us with a following sea out of Rarotonga on our way NW to Palmerston Island. The mainsail is set, with a little over 10 knot wind keeping her full, but the wind too aft to fill the foresails. Captain described our beloved Kwai as a duck when the seas are aft enough; and so our rolling is limited. Our hold is full of the usual food stuffs like corned beef and twisties that one cannot live without on an outer island; special Christmas gifts and construction materials; and a big red wagon trailer which we will drop off on Nassau. Fuel drums and propane tanks line the decks and freezers fill the back of the hatch. Twenty four passengers have spent the last 24 hours snoozing on the hatch to the soft rocking. Passenger Metua Marsters got to work before we left the dock mixing banana bread to use up all the gifted bananas that were going ripe at the same time. Magnificent chef Magali barbequed some delicious lamb chops for dinner.
Kwai crew would like to thank our extended island ohana
in Rarotonga for all their aloha. After
two days of unloading and reloading upon arrival, our Rakahanga passengers
treated us to a barbeque at their family Rarotonga home; then volunteered to be
the designated drivers, taxi and tour guides out to the local club to listen to
family members play local music and danced the night away. The following night, our Penrhyn extended
family of the Maretapu clan treated us to birthday party in honour of Gertrude. And then our Rakahanga family kidnapped us
for another night on the town...at least for those that still had energy for
it. Sunday, ten of us did the Rarotonga
over the island hike, up to the needle and down to the waterfall on the other
side, to find out that we arrived too late for the last bus. No fear, we ran into the Manihiki policeman,
and Kwai customer, who graciously loaded all of us in his pick up and drove us
back to the ship on the other side of the island. Manihiki passenger Tereapao came by sometimes
three times a day with bags, buckets and boxes full of Rarotonga fruit bounty:
like bananas, mangos, oranges and papaya/pawpaw. Being treated so well made our busy, hard
working schedule all worth it.
Super cargo Frankie