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Voyage 23

Super Cargo update

posted Aug 31, 2012, 12:25 PM by April Fountain

Kwai sailed from Rarotonga after lunch on Saturday August 26th, heading North home to Hawaii.  She sailed with a very full load, one that all the crew were very proud of having been able to stow to accommodate all the cargos that kept coming.  This cargo it mostly for the 3 Northern Cook Islands of Manihiki, Rakahanga, and Penrhyn.  We also have grain, cement, roofing and other goodies for Kiribati.

Voyage 23 has been one of timing, or ill-timing as the case actually has been.

Kwai's service to some remote atolls is very much appreciated by the inhabitants.  However, we are not the only cargo ships servicing these islands.  And we have happened to arrive just behind the other cargo ships 80% of our stops on this voyage.

Regardless our customers have been anticipating the goods we bring for them, as because of the voyage time they have to order these things up to 6 months in advance. 

Rarotonga was no exception.  Our timing coincided with the Cook Islands Constitution Celebration.  This festival brings dancers from the outer islands on a special charter boat, and we arrived on the islands Southbound just behind the charter boat that took half of our outer island customers away!  In Rarotonga, the harbour master actually requested us to slow down because this charter boat in the Avatiu Harbor meant that there was no room for the Kwai.  Oh no, so we had to stop and overnight in Palmerston Island!

The Marsters of Palmerston were so accommodating putting up our 15 passengers overnight, and taking a crowd of us over to another atoll called Bird Island for crab collecting and sightseeing; we had an awesome relaxing and fun time.  All except for Captain Evy whose expertise was needed to help fix their island generator which had stopped running the day before!  Like everything Captain Evy does, he didn't give up and pulled out everything he possibly could to get the thing going.  That's what makes him a great Captain, and perfect crew for the Kwai.

When we arrived in Rarotonga after the Celebration charter, Lady Naomi, left, we found that there was loads of cargo and a whole island of dancers that had been left behind all inquiring if we could be the one to take them home.  This meant over 60 passengers to Penrhyn on top of a cargo load that kept mushrooming.  Government officials and Air Rarotonga got into the action, and Air Rarotonga ended up doing 6 special flight charters to Penrhyn to carry all but 5 of the passengers.  And Kwai crew went on about loading over 42 freezers, 70 barrels, numerous crates of construction materials, timber of all shapes and sizes, 11 motorbikes, supplies for the two largest stores on Penrhyn and Manihiki, as well as 23 drums of petrol, 3 of the 1800L boxes of petrol, 4 boxes of air craft fuel, almost 100 propane cylinders of various sizes and all of this was on top of the Kiribati cargo.

We have actually loaded more in Honolulu, but in Honolulu the dock is like a big warehouse where you can stack it all up and go over what you have got to figure out how it will fit.  In Rarotonga the warehouse is very small and full of other cargo for other ships.  There were always a handful of lookers on the dock the last few days, watching with pure amazement as another load came in by truck, got unloaded on to the dock, and then carefully stashed in what seemed to be no space on the ship.  They all had doubts we could get it all on.  Again and again an islander came to me to say, is my "such and such" on, is it going to fit?  Captain Evy did an amazing job of successfully organizing it on board as it came, and kept coming from everywhere to go to everywhere, to make sure that we didn't leave any of it behind.  Because it kept coming we put off departure from Tuesday to Wednesday, then Thursday and when finally done with the cargo on Friday, to Saturday to ensure that it was all very securely lashed.

Kwai is now very happy to have her belly full again.  Our 5 passengers are comfortable in the last remaining bunks below decks, and the crew is recovering from the hard work in loading and playing in Rarotonga.

Thank you to everyone who assisted in making it possible.

A hui hou,


August 31, 2012

posted Aug 31, 2012, 12:24 PM by April Fountain

Kwai is in Manihiki today, discharging cargo at the 2 villages of Tukao and Tauhunu.   This cargo is almost all freight from Rarotonga, booked through our agents, Hawaii Pacific Maritime.  The ship sailed full from Rarotonga despite sailing behind the Lady Naomi, and Maunga Roa II, three weeks before.  The volume of cargo to the Northern Cook Islands is quite substantial.  After Manihiki, Kwai will visit Rakahanga, then make the 180 mile upwind passage to Penrhyn.  Next she will sail back across the Equator to Christmas Island, 650 miles to the north.  We have substantial cargo for the Line Islands, which once again are short of foodstuffs.  The Kiribati ships from Tarawa have experienced some delays making the 1800 mile trip to weather.  The Nei Matangare and Moa Moa are en route and we will probably all reach Christmas Island about the same time.  Luckily for us, these 2 ships discharge with their own ships boats through the shallow pass into town and we will most likely have the Jetty to ourselves.  The turnaround at Christmas should be quick as we the bulk of our cargo is for  Tabuaeran and Teraina.  Kwai will stop only long enough to discharge 20m3 of cargo and load back any freight to the Outer Islands.  Tyrone and his family get dropped back at home on Tabuaeran and Johnny Mote back on Teraina, just in time to gather in any orders for Voyage 24.  These are Kwai’s agents on each island and integral parts of the trading system.  If all goes well we will load 120 tons of copra in Teraina for delivery to Christmas.  As no ships have been around the group recently the hatch will be full of passengers on most legs.  After returning to Christmas, Kwai will once again load 150 tons of dried seaweed in Tabuaeran for delivery to Honolulu, where it will be stuffed in containers and sent to China.  Then we’ll have a couple of weeks to turn her around and do it all again.  Plans for Honolulu this time include the full load line survey of deck, hatches and aft cabin, lifesaving equipment, fire fighting gear and engine room.  This survey is carried out every 5 years with annual updates and promises to entail some work.  We will also renew the wood and steel sole (floor)  in the cargo hold.  Most of the interior of the hull plating and frames have been chipped and painted, so its time to renew the layer of 3” planking and 8mm steel.  We are looking for smooth surface so the pallet jack can roll everywhere with little effort, making stowing the hold less work and more fun!  We’ll see how it all goes.  


August 5, 2012

posted Aug 5, 2012, 2:01 PM by April Fountain

Kwai is in Nassau Island today to discharge cargo and load passengers for Rarotonga.  This small island has only 150 people but always gives Kwai a great welcome.  We have been stopping there for 2 years In the middle of the island are the hand dug taro patches.  Each family maintains their patch and a section of the paths, keeping ss the whole island pristine.   The village is on the north side of the island with a small boat harbor blasted out of the reef.

 Kwai  spent 3 days and 2 nights in Puka Puka landing the consigned cargoes from Hawaii and Rarotonga and marketing the Scope inventory of goods.  Twenty passengers from Raro and 6 more including a patient came from Nassau.  The islanders there hailed Kwai on VHF as she passed heading north and Captain Evy diverted to take the passengers aboard just after sunset.  The full moon shone down on the transfer as the patient came aboard on a cot.  Like all of the Northern Group, Nassau boastd fine boatmen, used to working cargo and passengers in all kinds of weather.  Puka Puka went off well enough.  Internet had been down there for a couple of month’s , so Supercargo Frankie had little confirmation that anyone knew what was coming.  We prefer when everyone knows exactly what is coming so they can be ready to accept and make payments when the ship arrives.  Kwai’s schedule is relaxed compared to bigger cargo vessels, but we like to keep thing moving as efficiently as possible.    After the first day Kwai was able to lie on her floating 200m line tied to the reef.  When the Captain allows, the ship can hang off the reef with the trade wind and concentrate on cargo business, instead of steaming up and down off the pass. 

After Nassau, Palmerston gets their second visit of the Raro Puka-Puka trip.  Freezers full of food were dropped off on the outbound leg and the Marsters are busy catching and processing parrotfish from their reef to sell in Rarotonga, much of it for fish and chips.  Here too Kwai was warmly received.  Each family runs out in their “tinnies”, open aluminum boats and clamor over the side to pick up their freight and pass the time and gossip.  In the Palmerstonian tradition, one of the host family feeds the crew lunch ashore.  If the ship stays long enough, they’ll serve dinner and accommodations for the night as well.  

The new schedule is posted on the home page. 

Thank you for checking in- this is Mama KWAI~ over and clear. 

Update from Leslie on Fanning Island

posted Jul 23, 2012, 11:12 AM by April Fountain

Today July 23, 2012

I went to the other side of the Island and biked around to some of the stores and talked to all the businessmen about placing orders for cargo for Voyage 24. It is a 4 mile bike ride from the docks down a path of coconut trees along the crystal green lagoon.

It rains much more on this side of the island because it is the windward side, so by the time I got to the first village I was splatter with mud from the bike tires. Everyone seemed happy that I even came out to make the effort to come and see them. Some of them even offered up their best snacks ( warm can of soda from Fiji called Cheers and chips)
 I had fun trying to translate what they needed from the Kwai. It took some time to realize when they were making the sound of a two stroke engine and waving their arms around and pointing to the grass that they were asking for a weed whacker. When I knew what they were talking about I asked them what their name for it was and they made the same sound and again. I don't know how to spell it but it sounded like the name is Taa Taa.
 I still giggle when I hear of the name they gave to dogs. The translation for dog is kom hir ( yes it sounds like come here)I guess when the dogs were brought to the island they heard the master calling for their dog come here so the name took.

I didn't  have enough time to talk to every one that I should on that side because we had to rush back to catch the barge to go back, but I will keep trying. Things seem take longer over here and it is never good to rush things when we are taking money because money is so hard to come by here.

One coconut equals .10 cents and a bag of 50lb sugar caost $70 that is 700 coconuts. the best job pays $20 a day here if you can even find a job like that.

I know it might be bad for business,but I encourage them to stick to their own diet; bred fruit, papaya, coconut, pumpkin and fish, because it does not cost money and it is much better for them. (btw- all us KWAI'ites support this concept- Mama KWAI) 

One teacher told me that it was his mothers fault why they craved the sugar and rice. He said when they are baby's their mom breast feeds them and what comes out is rice milk and they just don't feel full and happy without rice in there diet.

I guess I am not the only one that believes our eating habits are formed by what our mom feeds use when we are young. I still love crackers with cheese and pot roast. I guess I am luck that my Mom is such a good cook. 

Cookie- Leslie

July 21, 2012

posted Jul 21, 2012, 7:48 PM by April Fountain   [ updated Jul 21, 2012, 8:03 PM ]

Kwai reached her southernmost port, Rarotonga, at 0900 on Saturday morning July 21 after a quick uneventful 4 and ½ day passage from Manihiki.  Winds were mostly easterly and ESE 10-20 knots with little rain.  Thirty passengers filled the hatch and only occasionally dealt with spray over the side.  The big yellow awning kept everyone dry and cool.  Eskie and Magali kept crew and passengers well fed and entertained with Cook Island, Kiribati and world music heats on the ukulele. 

If you want to see a good Island shot of Rarotonga, go to TRACK THE KWAI on the menu to the right, click on Satellite view, move the screen down until you see the little boat icon and then zoom in using the + sign until you see all the detail. 

Departure from Penrhyn was on July 11, after 3 days of discharging cargo and distributing goods at the dock in Omoka.  Most of the passengers boarded here including 13 from the Nikao family reunion who had been stranded in Penrhyn since Christmas last year when Kwai dropped them off.  The Cook Islands have only one full time ship working the 15 islands – the Maunga Roa II, smaller than Kwai.  She is efficient and steady, but really cannot keep up with demand.  The Lady Naomi, a 200 foot ferry from Western Samoa, just finished her charter through the Northern Group, picking up the dance and singing groups in Puka Puka, Manihiki, Rakahanga and Penrhyn.  Over 200 travel to Rarotonga for Independence Day celebration and the The Maeva Nui competitions.  Kwai crossed paths with Lady Naomi in Manihiki.  The island had been a month without and ship and then both show up on the same day. Go figure.   Busy times to coordinate landing fuel and cargo from both vessels and loading the passengers headed for Rarotonga.  Kwai lost a couple of days but gained a full Sunday off to visit Manihiki, the black pearl capital of the Cooks.
Some of the crew were hosted by Lawrencia Williams on her kawa.  Kawas are the islets inside the lagoon, coral heads really that have attracted sand and coconut trees.  The pearl farmers in Manihiki have built up a number of them with docks, workshops and houses, some fitted with satellite TV and Internet.  Staying there in these castles away from any shore distractions, the farmers can tend their strings of oysters growing the black pearls. A visit to Lawrencia’s palace is always a treat for Kwai crew. 

July 13 was ship day at Rakahanga.  Kwai sailed all the way form Penrhyn with little engine time and worked cargo all day.  Sometime we can anchor in the pass but this time Kwai could only drift in the lee of this small island.  Rakahangans love it when Kwai stays long enough to run the Kwai/Scope store on shore.  Supercargo Frankie loads up the goodies on the island barge, somebody brings a truck and everything is hauled up to the village square for …SHOPPING.  Joyous times for locals and Kwai crew alike.   There are only 60 inhabitants on Rakahanga these days but they still jostle for the best stuff.  Within a couple of hours its all over. Time to pack up the remnants and wander on down to the dock for the ride back to the mother ship.  Some sweet good byes and promises, and .. off to the next island.

Penrhyn was the first stop in the Cooks this year.  Four and a half days out of Christmas, Kwai was picking her way between the coral heads inside the lagoon headed for the dock at Omoka.  Penrhyn had not had any ship for 4 months and food and petrol were in short supply.  Commerce was heavy on the dock for the next couple of days as orders were filled and additional sales mounted up.  Penrhyn was short on cash once again, so the islanders go to the bank and deposit into our account and then shop with the deposit slip.  Frankie gives them change from the small amount of cash she has taken in.  First Mate Nubono, a long time Captain himself out of Rarotonga, works the winch and ship’s crew, lifting off the drums of fuel.  Once enough drums have been discharged, the front half of the hatch can be opened.  A big throng of hungry customers eye the goodies and the fun begins.  Frankie sends out an invoice stamped with OK to release and the crew work feverishly to assemble orders, while the customers shout encouragement or frustration.  Peanut butter and fruit juice are pretty important when you’ve been eating coconut and fish for a few months.
KWAI will be in Rarotonga for about 6 days before heading to Palmerston, Nassau and Puka puka, then back to Rarotonga. The full schedule up to the arrival in Kiribati is on our home page. All schedules are subject to possible changes. 

Brad Ives 

July 10, 2012

posted Jul 12, 2012, 1:42 PM by April Fountain

KWAI departed Penrhyn, Cook Islands yesterday at 16:30 hours with good weather showing ahead of them. We were able to pick up some additional  cargo  to carry including a vehicle as well as passengers bound for Rarotonga while there. 
Next stop Rakahanga. ETA is for tomorrow Friday. At last check there are less then 100 people on Rakahanga so we don't have a lot of cargo orders from there but we have good friends and loyal customers  there  so we like to make it a part of our  regular delivery stops on our journey south. 
The crew worked hard on Penrhyn so other then the Cook and Steward who are still working hard to feed all the passengers, everyone gets a little breather before the next stop. 
That is all for today. Thank you for visiting our site. We wish you a good day. 
Mama KWAI~  

July 5, 2012

posted Jul 5, 2012, 3:28 PM by April Fountain   [ updated Jul 5, 2012, 3:29 PM ]

As I write, Kwai is crossing the Equator with a bone in her teeth (sailor term for a ship with a bow wave).  She is making 6-7 knots under full plain sail.  New mainsail, Staysail, Jib and new Flying Jib pulling well in 12 knots of easterly wind.  The main engine is  ticking over at 1100 RPM on a close reach headed for Penrhyn Island, Cook Islands.  Perfect weather for the new topsail, but it is yet to be cut.  The topsail will produce horsepower.  The 40’ luff will make for a fine airfoil up high where the wind blows. 

 All is well aboard the ship.  The last stop in Christmas Island was a model of efficiency.  KOIL, the local fuel supply company, quickly filled 99 drums with petrol and kerosene and delivered 5000 liters of diesel bunkers for our tanks.  KPA (Kiribati Port Authority) quickly discharged the 100 empty drums and 65 tons of copra in 8 hours.  Two passengers joined for the voyage to Penrhyn, family to the I-Kiribati school teachers in Penrhyn. 

Stops at Teraina and Tabuaeran also went off well.  About 120 tons of Hawaiian and 40 of local cargoes were discharged and the 65 tons of copra loaded back in Teraina.  Two Kwaiians, Leslie and Jarren, are living at our Tabueran agent, Tyrone’s house and will be handling our local business while Kwai visits the Cook Islands and Tyrone and family are in England.  The cargo hatch was full of passengers, on every leg.  We carry everybody from Members of Parliament to patients to policeman and prisoners and many family members and business people visiting the Outer Islands.  I have heard no complaints, so Cooks Eskie and Magali, must be doing their jobs.  Cooking for 49 in our tiny galley is not easy, but they are the rock stars of galley workers. 

Kwai return now to our islands and clients south of the Equator.  We know that Penrhyn has been short of food for a couple of months, so Kwai will be a welcome sight.  There are still 20 members of the Tere party and Nikao family, whom we carried form Rarotonga in December  for a family reunion, trying to get home to New Zealand and Australia. Lucky KWAI is coming around to take them back after all this time.  Manihiki is short of fuel for their fishing boats so we will go there on the way south to Rarotonga. Unfortunately we will not be able to make a stop in Puka-puka on the way south but Instead Kwai will make a run to Palmerston, Nassau, and Puka Puka  on our way north after Rarotonga. 

Aloha -Brad Ives

June 26, 2012

posted Jun 26, 2012, 2:15 PM by April Fountain

Kwai is at Teraina (Washington Island) today discharging the last of the Hawaii and Christmas Island cargoes and loading back copra for delivery to Christmas Island.  She sailed from Christmas on 22 June.  Forty passengers for the Outer Islands sailed on the hatch and we carried some interisland cargoes of fuel in drums and foodstuffs.  One of doctors and 2 nurses from the hospital at Christmas came aboard urgently  to  get to Teraina for an operation.  So Kwai stopped in Tabuaeran (Fanning Island) only briefly to pick up the boat we use to land and take off cargo and sailed on directly to Teraina.  The weather has been good with the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) with its rain and squally weather hanging to the south over Christmas Island.  Tonight they will sail back to Tabuaeran, where it will take a couple of days to discharge the cargoes.  The rerouting to Teraina before Tabuaeran meant some cargo shifting in the hold in order to avoid loading copra ( dried coconut) on top of the Tabuaeran cargo. We like to handle the cargo twice - once in and once out.  Moving 30 tons of grain around the hold can be difficult. But cargo is king, we live for it!   

The Captain reports the crew in good spirits.  The folks on Teraina are always clamoring to move copra as their sheds and storage areas are full.  When this happens the Copra Society will not weigh and purchase any more copra and then there is no cash for the coconut cutters.  As the weather is good, we have to move the copra now.  All cargo arrives and departs Teraina by small boats running through a small pass blasted through the fringing reef. We aren’t sure exactly when this was done. If anyone does, we would love to post the story.
Often the ocean swells break right across the entrance making cargo work dangerous and sometimes impossible as we run small outboard boats through the pass to the ship. We always try to take advantage of calm conditions to move as many goods as possible but sometimes we have had to wait outside until the conditions permit.

That’s all the news for today. Thank you for checking into our website.


June 21, 2012

posted Jun 21, 2012, 12:07 PM by April Fountain   [ updated Jun 26, 2012, 2:18 PM ]

Kwai is currently in Kiritimati or  Christmas Island , having waited for days for a berth at the jetty to discharge her cargo from Honolulu.  The Southern Reef has been there for 2 weeks discharging containers of cargo and loading back the heavy equipment they brought in 5 months ago to resurface the airport.   We have managed to get alongside for a couple of half days when it was too rough for Southern Reef or when they were waiting for their cargo to come down from the airport.  The deck cargo is off and the first tier in the hatch has come out.  

Most of the Kiribati crew are ashore with their families.  The number of bodies aboard is down from 12 to 7, and a few moment of peace reign around the fantail in the peaceful anchorage. 

Magali has re-joined our crew as Stewardess for the voyage south to Rarotonga. Liz and Ethan have stepped off to go do other things in the world but we hope to see them again. Thank you sooo much to Ethan for all your amazing work heading the shore refit team this time around. 

After the return to Honolulu with the flipped over tow, the voyage south was fine.  As the Jetty was tied up in Christmas we sent her first to Tabuaeran, where they managed to discharge some deck cargo and to pick up our agent, Tyrone and his family, to get them to Christmas in time for their flight this week to England.  Kwai’s own Leslie and Jarren will take over Kwai business on Tabuaeran for the next 3 months.  They picked up Magali again to help Eskie with the cooking. 

The new rig proved fully functional with a fair 15-25 knot breeze.  Kwai ran under sail alone for most of the trip, burning only 300 gallons of fuel over the 1000 miles.  She ran under main, staysail and jib for the first half until the breeze eased enough to chance the new flying jib.  Speeds up to 8.5 knots under sail were recorded in squalls.  There are a few leads to work out and chafing gear to be fitted.  Ethan sailed with the ship to Christmas, to test out his handiwork and now Captain Evy and crew are using the down time to make adjustments and catch up on maintenance.  After the bustle of drydock and rerigging in Hawaii there is time now to get more tar and oil on the rig and paint on the ship. 

Supercargo Frankie has her hands full as well delivering the cargo, chasing old debts and explaining new policy to customers. Our regular shippers to Christmas continue with large shipments and our orders from the smaller islands have been growing  each voyage.  We are doing our best to keep up with demand – updating the dedicated database to handle the flow, streamlining cargo operations, and educating the individual customers in the realities of supply and demand.  

We have had to reset the schedule for Voyage 23 as we are running about 2 weeks behind the original plan.  An updated schedule is posted on the home page.  

More news to come soon. 

Aloha from Mama and Papa KWAI~ 

June 5, 2012

posted Jun 5, 2012, 7:05 PM by April Fountain

KWAI has been sailing (no engine) for 2 full days now! Woohooo. Last night she hit 8 knots!
The ITCZ is snaking around where the ship is creating some unstable weather with squalls and  up to 30 knots of wind. KWAI is handling it in stride though, belly full of cargo and a good crew to steer her- she's happy.
The Captain changed the route slightly to make landfall in Fanning Island first and then head over to Kiritimati so if you are waiting for cargo, please check the home page for the new dates. As of this morning the ship was 167 miles from Fanning Island.  All is well aboard. 
Thanks for checking in- This is Mama KWAI~ over and clear. 

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