Today turned into a Captain's dream. The Jetty where we need to discharge the copra and interisland cargo is taken up by a container ship discharging materials and equipment for the Christmas Island Airport resurfacing project. It looked like we would have to wait 2 days for the dock to clear. But Nei Matangare, a local Kiribati ship, was also anchored in the roadstead. After discussion with agents and Captains, we arranged to discharge directly to Matangare which is already loading copra for Tarawa. By 0900 we were moored alongside; first lift was soon after using Matangare's 30 ton gear. By lunch time half of the hold was clear, twice as fast as we can discharge at the Jetty. And no need to transport to the Copra shed, transport back to the Jetty and load on Matangare. Leave it to the ships to move cargo and let the landlubbers shuffle paper. Even better its Captain's delight - Sunday! This leaves Monday free to carry on business ashore and load back cargo and bunkers for the Cook Islands. The only hitch is we had to move the 60m3 of Civil Division, Linnix Ministry cargo (truck, bobcat, crates of materials) from on top the copra forward to the cleared aft end of the hold. This cargo is all equipment returning from road building on Tabuaeran. While loading copra in Teraina, Election Day came and went. That evening the victor party attracted all the workers who were to be weighing the copra for shipment, so we left Teraina only ¾ full, which turned out to be just enough space for the Linnix cargo.
After 2 weeks we are back in Christmas. Kwai had her belly full most of that time. As soon as the fuel and general cargo went ashore, copra, general cargo and 134 empty drugs came back aboard. After a bumpy trip from Teraina we stayed 36 hours in Tabuaeran, loading and catching up with missed sales and bits of cargo hiding out. The hatch was full of passengers both return legs including the newly elected MP's heading to the first session of Parliament. Tabuaeran to Kiritimati was slow as the aira (current) came up 2 ½ knots on the nose. Luckily it was light headwinds and a calm sea with the new moon and Venus dancing at sunset. Arrival was at 0430 and the shore boats came out at 0630 to get the passengers ashore. By 0900 we were hosing down the deck sending overboard the detritus of passengers and several tons of taro, breadfruit and bananas that always comes as baggage. As usual there are a few sighs of relief and a quiet afternoon for ships chores as we get her back to ourselves.
Next for Kwai are the Cook Islands. Penrhyn is 5 days away. We discharge Linnix cargo at the Jetty tomorrow after the container ship heads back to New Zealand and load 62 drums of petrol for delivery to the Cooks and head south. Magali de Lala has joined again as Assistant Cook. Temawa from Tabuaeran has been assisting Cookie locally with a full load of passengers to feed. They continue to work wonders from an apartment size 4 burner stove. We can go through 20 lbs. of rice and a 70lb tuna easily in a meal. Two of the crew are dedicated to "crowd control" - on deck steadily, teaching the use of the head, enforcing the no rail sitting rule, delivering food and water forward and making sure everyone has a space to sleep at night. Full of bodies Kwai is one busy world flying (or flailing) across the glorious ocean by day, and on a quiet night a cradle of dreamers, rocked to sleep by her endless energy.
Aloha, Captain Brad