Cast off her lines and set sail from Honolulu, Hawaii Wednesday June 2, 2010
KWAI arrived into Honolulu and pulled alongside the dock at 09:30 where they were promptly boarded by all the officials necessary to clear the vessel into the country. Last phone check wtih the Captain, all was going well and they should be cleared shortly-
So this marks the end of Voyage 18! Woohooo................
We will begin accepting cargo for Voyage 19 as soon as this next Monday 20 September.
Thank you all for checking into this website.
For the next voyage I will have more help so the updates will most definitely be more regular.
Aloha from Mama KWAI~ Over and clear.
Aloha and Greetings~
Sorry for no updates of late but I'm doing several jobs at the moment so this website has unfortunately been back-logged. My sincere apologies to all who follow this blog on a regular basis.
KWAI cast off from KIritimati yesterday (Tuesday) at 16:30 hours with a nice East wind and all sails set.
They had a beautiful night sailing with an ESE wind with an average speed of 6 knots. Heading NE. Position is 3:45 N and 157:32 W.
On the news side, Evy our First Mate got sick and as a precaution we flew him to Honolulu from Kiritimati for medical care.
A note to his family who may be reading this in Isreal- Evy is under very good care and tests are being run today to determine what the source of his symptoms are. At this point they believe it involves his liver/gallbladder. I haven't spoken to him directly but I have gotten word that he is doing much better now and he will be in touch with you very soon.
The rest of the crew is doing well and are blazing North to Honolulu as fast as the wind can carry them. Eta Honolulu is still September 15.
I have sent out an email to all our past customers that we will be accepting cargo at Pier 31 in Honolulu from September 20 to the 27th and from 08:00 to 17:00 (5 pm).If you need to make special date/time arrangements, please call us as soon as you know so that we can try and meet your needs.
As those of you may know, we have to operate on a first come, first serve basis and I am expecting a very full ship this next voyage. We don't like to trun anyone away as we had to do last trip, so please try and bring your cargo early on.
If you are bringing cargo directly to the dock, please call us in advance so that we can meet you at the security gate with an escort. This is a requirement by US Border Protection/Homeland security and it is not negotiable. If you arrive at the gate without calling us in advance, you may have to wait there until we have an escort available.
If you have never shipped with us before, contact me through this website with a good way to get in touch with you and so I can tell you the process.
If you are planning to ship a vehicle to any of the Islands please contact me right away so that I can begin the paperwork process which now takes a couple of weeks to complete. I will send you a form to fill out with everything you will need.
I will make every attempt to keep this website updated until the ship arrives in Honolulu.
Thank you and Aloha, this is Mama KWAI clear for today.
MUSINGS OF AN ENGINEER
Two voyages in, we are on the return trip to Hawaii and I
finally sit down to write a passage for the website. About time you might say,
Well, here's a bit from a man who spends eight to ten
hours a day in a room filled with noise, smells, and a lot of heat. With
engines loud enough that you have to wear hearing protection the whole time, I
spend a lot of time in my own head. Add in all the fumes, an overactive
imagination, and more then a couple days of mindless cleaning in the bilge. I
get some fun musings.
Each of the engines has been given a name, a personality,
and it is perfectly normal to have a conversation with one. (They sometimes
even talk back.) The Lister, our generator has been given the name Jenny, she
talks with an English accent, and always seems to have just had a cup of
coffee. She is always running at operational speed, no idling for her. My
mental image is of Rosie the riveter, arm flexed for whatever needs doing, red
shock of hair barely tamed by a handkerchief. She's saucy and doesn't break
Our Hydraulic engine is a 6 cylinder Bedford. This is
probably the first engine that I have ever imagined as male. Sir Hydrus Bedford
is a prim and proper English gentleman, complete with monocle and top hat. He
performs with aplomb and dignity. He enjoys a bit of a warm up, but like a boy
scout is always prepared.
The Main engine is Emmy, a distance runner if every I saw
one, she likes to build up a good sweat, heating up the whole engine room to a
balmy 42 degrees C, that would be around 108 degrees F for Americans.
On to the clothes of an engineer. You know you've done a
good job as an engineer when your shorts become a work of art. The daily grind
in the engine room covers you in all manner of grease, oil, paint, chemicals,
and rusty bilge goo. The weeks work can be catalogued on each pair of work
shorts I own, and on the Kwai, if you wear it, they become work shorts. A swan
song for two of my shorts has occurred just recently. The first pair inherited
already well loved have survived four tall ships, but now, pierced by hard
work, held together more by goo then thread, they are giving up the ghost. The
other pair have been sacrificed to the slow cleaning of the bilge. One of the
magical tools I use is called purple wonder, nothing breaks down the long
standing grease and oily bilge goo like it. However it also has a sticker
saying "corrosive" all over it. Apparently a little got on the seat
of my pants. The next day purple wonder had done its job, and any contact
turned the seat of my pants to dust, thus is the hard life of an engineers
Have you ever heard of the Greek play Lysistrata? I once
recited a monologue from it for a theatre class, but in general it is about a
trio of women, that dress up as men, that dress up as women. It's very Greek, I
think they are trying to get into the senate and make changes for womens rights
if I remember right. The thing I remember most about it though was in the
actual play all the actors were wearing those elongated emotional masks, they
are like two feet long, big sobbing eyes and mouth stretched way out of
proportion. One day after many hours in the engine room I brought in the
Lysistrata women to the engine room and had them bustling around helping me
with the duties I was performing that day. Showing big happy faces to tell me
the stern tube isn't leaking. A big sad face because the alternator belt was
slipping a bit, a slightly panicked face pointing at mission control to let me
know that the big freezers had kicked off the power again. After writing this
story down it seems like more a hallucination then a fun imagination making the
work more enjoyable. Perhaps I need to drink more water.
Aloha- Jessup Horn
Another beautiful night at sea. The full moon rose out of
the sea as we left Fanning Island headed for Washington. Wind is a gentle 15 knots right over the
stern and the sea is slight. We have 2-3
knots of current with us so we are making 7.5 knots, with the mainsail wung out
to port and the main engine just ticking over at 1200RPM. The scaramouche is rigged over the main hatch
with 34 passengers sleeping under and around it, or singing at the table on the
aft deck. We can enjoy this fine weather
and fair current now, for we will have to punch it on the way back to
After a quick passage up from Penrhyn we stayed only 36
hours in Christmas. Just long enough to
discharge 40 tons of grains and cement, and load back 69 drums of fuel and 37
passengers. This trip we are carrying,
Census workers, Fisheries personnel, several private passengers, and the Bishop
of Kiribati. The Census workers will do
their counting, the Fisheries personnel will locate up to 15 points on the
island as part of a UN program to accurately fix the 200 mile limits of each
country. In this area of few resources,
regulation of the vast ocean areas is critical to the island nations. The Bishop and his entourage have come to
bless the new Catholic Church on Fanning Island. He received a huge welcome in the Council
maneaba and blessing will take place on Saturday. We are headed for Washington to take
advantage of the fine weather and load copra while we can. So the Bishop will not visit Teraina, but the
father priest from Christmas is with us in his place.
Our flour, rice and sugar loaded in Rarotonga has been
well received as there is still a shortage throughout the Line Islands. We have had to ration to make sure we land
some on each island. This has been a
trial run with grains transhipped through Rarotonga that promises to be a good
return cargo for Kwai. With proper
management we hope to load fullout of Rarotonga next voyage.
So next up is several days of loading copra again, using
the small local boats carrying 600-1000kg at a time through the reef passage and
alongside Kwai. We have rented a strong
aluminum boat and 40HP motor from the Island Council in Fanning to speed things
up. And we are carrying marine plywood
from Raro to patch the local Teraina vessels that have served so well. Last time we were 5 days to load 89
tons. We will try to get 140 tons on in
3 days now. Weather has been good for a
couple of weeks. Kinahora! Stay tuned for the daily counts. Aloha, Cap'n Brad
Tonight Kwai flies across a moonlit sea, riding the foam
from her bow wave alight with phosphorescence.
The sheets are just started for a close reach across the fine trade
wind. We have been sailing her by the
wind this trip, losing some easting to gain speed in the hopes that the wind
will back to ESE as we get closer to Christmas. Mainsail, jib and staysail and main engine
are doing their jobs this leg in 15-25 knots of breeze. Day workers have been painting between rain
squalls and the off duty watches recovering from the rush that is Penrhyn. As
we are a few days behind schedule, there have been no breaks in the Northern
Cooks. Work the cargo and carry on. Penrhyn is always intense as we are alongside
and the customers know what they want and have full access to the ship. Like every island this trip, they were short
of basics this time and luckily we had rice, flour and sugar to land. Monday morning we were alongside the wharf at
Omoka to discharge the orders we brought from Hawaii and the Rarotonga cargoes,
including drums of petrol and cement.
That evening, Alex and Kristine had the whole crew over for a birthday
party for their grandson. Great time as
always, but we were all exhausted and back in bed by 2200. Tuesday morning we finished up the last Omoka
cargo and headed across the lagoon to Te Tautua. We anchored with just 6 feet of water under
the keel close off the village to land more cargo. This is a beautiful spot and we would have
liked to spend a day fishing and diving, but the Captain drove us to secure the
ship for sea and took us out the shallow Takuu Pass into the trade wind swell
meeting the ebb tide. The old girl took
a few heavy rolls before we were clear.
The Mate noted a good tube of water shooting through the hawse hole and
10' high over the deck. Haven't seen
that before. The wheelhouse took the
worst of it with charts and a pile of cargo paperwork all over the sole. Dinner
popped off the stove but landed right side up.
Manihiki and Rakahanga were quick stops this trip as
well. Morning at Tauhunu Village,
afternoon at Tukao, with 30 tons of cargo off loaded at each. A good size swell was running from SW and
with a fickle trade wind, we could not stay at anchor near the villages. Instead we rolled the nights away anchored on
the finger of coral extending from the SW point of the island. At villages the depths are such that we have
to drop the anchor right close to the reef.
If the off shore trade wind eases, we have to pick up and get away as
happened the night we arrived. Sometimes
no anchorage is safe at all and we just drift in the lee of the island.
Rakahanga is much the same. We dropped the hook right in the shallow pass
and use the ebb flow and trade wind to hold Kwai off. As usual they were very quick to come out
with their barge and the cargo was light.
We still had to pick up and get away when the tide turned and brought us
parallel to and close to the reef.
Constant vigilance! is definitely the word. Someone always has the "con" in
these situations. Not tallying cargo, or
directing the winch, just watching where the ship is lying. She is a wonder in
the ocean, driving through the sea with a bone in her teeth, but she cannot
touch the reef. The hungry swell is always
ready to break her in pieces along with much of our lives should she get
Tonight that danger is far away and we sleep in peace.
Aloha Captain Brad-
This update is actually from last night at 21:00 hours.
KWAI left Penrhyn yesterday at 17:30. Sales went very well on the Island including a new commodity of scooped ice cream cones that our crew dished out to eager customers who aren't used to this treat. As I reported in an earlier update the ship has 5 freezers on board that were purchased by some of our customers and filled in Rarotonga with items to sell in the Northern Cooks. We get a % of the sales and everyone is happy. I'm not sure who did the scooping but the overall impression I got was that everyone including the crew had a good time. I hope to get an update from Tara who sometimes writes in with a story or two from the ship when things calm down on the ship. The should be having a mellow time of it for the next few days as this is the first time there are no passengers on board to take care of and most of the cargo has been offloaded and sold.
The weather which had been nice on Penrhyn turned wet and squaly as our sailors cast off and set out once again, this time heading to Kiritimati Island in Kiribati.
At radio time their position was 8:35 South and 158:00 West. Despite the squally weather, all sails with the exception of the new topsail are set and the motor purring along at 1200 rpm.
ETA is Sunday Aug. 22 (USA date) Monday August 23 Kiribati date.
The Captain has just informed me of another short stop to Fanning Island during the roundtrip from Kiritimati to Teraina which I have posted above. A couple of people have expressed interest in booking passage so it was decided to add this stop to pick up passengers wanting to get back to Kiritimati.
That is all the news for today-
Aloha from Mama KWAI~ over and clear.........
KWAI is right on schedule to arrive in Penrhyn tomorrow morning (around 09:00) There is about 20 cubic meters of cargo to discharge there so they should finish doing that tomorrow and be ready to depart for Kiritimati by Tuesday afternoon. The weather is looking stable in the area so the chances of this are good.
With the delay of almost a week that happened in Rarotonga, the KWAI is now racing to get back in time to meet the newly arriving crew in in Honolulu, but there is still much to be done between now and then.
Radio transmission continues to bel very poor between the ship and our base station so our contacts are pretty limited to weather, general conditions and scheduling and then we have the sail mail to back us up with more of the business communications. Brad is thinking that the radio antenna may need to be repositioned, but I will have to wait until he is back to handle that as I'm not much of a tree climber.
They were happily motor sailing tonight and those that are on the night watch are enjoying the meteor shower show that is lighting up the sky this month.
That's all the newsies for now.
Thank you for checking in, this is Mama KWAI wishing you a happy Sunday.
Sails are hauled in tight tonight as we are on the wind
heading NNW in a NE flow of 5-10 knots. The sea is calm. Mercury and the crescent moon are setting in
the West with Venus, Mars and Saturn in a close triangle just above. The new topsail adds luff to the mainsail
making more of the airplane wind foil which pulls the ship up wind. Amazing how much force is generated in the
light wind. It feels more like magic
On the "About the Ship" page and under Sail Plan on this website, you will find a
new sailplan for the ship. In line with
the realities of finances, ease of
construction and our sailing route, we have scaled back the plans for the full
rig. We will not move the mainmast, only
add on 3m to the existing mast. This
will take the form of the doubling for the big topmast. This extension can be built ashore (are you
listening, Garret?) and sent up with a crane without removing the mast. The A frame and cargo gear will all stay the
same. The mizzen sail is redesigned as a
"leg of mutton" or Marconi sail with ample roach (curve to the
leech), perhaps fully battened in the modern tradition.
We spend most of our time running across the wind. In fact, this is the most efficient point of
sail and a strong determinant of our trade.
The near beam winds act to pull and push the ship at the same time and
as we regularly see, even a light wind from the side makes for big gains in
speed and fuel consumption. The new rig
is designed specifically for this. Luff
length is an important part of the wing foil and the huge main topsail and tall
mizzen afford this well. With this rig
Kwai will sail more and use the engine less.
She will operate on about the same budget, but add the ability to get
anywhere in the world with just wind power.
Our present small rig cannot get upwind without engine power.
A breakdown in the main engine would at present mean a tow or change of
destination to a downwind port. With the
new rig we will have the ability to reach our destination under our own sail
power. The rig will not be great for
running downwind. For that only square
sails work well on a vessel of this size but the cost of construction and
maintenance and the added windage aloft of yards and square sails rule out
their use on our present route. The
first sails added to a working ship save the most money in fuel. We are at that stage now, and the new rig
will make Kwai a lean machine, relying on her engine at times, but using sail
power as efficiently as possible in our chosen trade.
This rig can be built in the same manner that we
undertake all capital improvements to the ship - by the ingenuity and hard work
of our family and crew. The bowsprit,
mast extension, topmast, and mizzen with engine exhausts inside can all be
built ashore and added to the ship bit by bit.
The removal of the wheelhouse and construction of a new charthouse and
steering station will take the ship out of service for a few months.
Additional plans are for a built in freezer under the
fo'c'sle. This has always been part of
our plans and the need is clear. Today
we are running 5 freezers in the fo'c'sle and 2 fridges aft. Three of the freezers are for cargo and
belong to shippers. We run them all off
2 inverters and the big 24V alternator on the main engine can keep up, but
these house hold units are inefficient and take up valuable space in the
fo'c'sle. There is a steady demand for
frozen meat, veggies and ice cream
outbound and for fish on the return voyages.
To meet this demand we need a 10 ton unit built into the ship.
So… these are the projects ahead. In Honolulu this time we will finish up the
last of the re-decking. Only the small
main deck between the hatch and the house remains to do and we will probably
renew the steel sole in the adjacent paint locker at the same time.
Meanwhile, we are due in Manihiki tomorrow night. Friday we will discharge at the 2 villages
on the island and Saturday move over the 21 miles to Rakahanga. Sunday will find us punching the weather up
to Penrhyn. Two days there and we will
be off to Christmas Island again.
Carrying on, Capt Brad
Another first for Kwai today. Our first home made sail went up and set
beautifully. Way back in 2008, First
Mate Rebecca Libby cut out a new topsail out of Dacron off cuts from Hawaii
sailmakers. Our Chinese sewing machine
stymied her and it took Dr Ethan to coax it into action. He and Liz Ziegler, who is working her
passage with us back to Hawaii, laid out the sail the empty cargo hold and
sewed it together while we were in Rarotonga.
The sail is bigger and flatter than the old one, built by Hendrik back
in 2006 out of an old yacht mainsail. On
a beam reach today in 15 knots, the new sail pulls well and added half a knot
to Kwai's speed.
We finally departed Rarotonga, Sunday at 10:00 hours with
155m3 of cargo and 3 passengers for Manihiki.
We were delayed 5 days waiting for the Pacific Forum to arrive with one
container of rice, flour and sugar for us to carry to Kiribati and one of farm
equipment for Manihiki pearl farms.
Friday night we stripped the container and palletized the grain. We loaded 14 tons of cement and 8 pallets of
bottled water for Christmas Island. On
Saturday we took on the grain and another 75m3 of general cargo for Manihiki,
Rakahanga and Penrhyn Islands. On deck we have 35 drums of petrol and 40 gas
bottles. This took all day to load and Sunday morning to lash down. All hands agreed 2 weeks is too long in
Rarotonga. One week of partying is
plenty. After that the crew gets too
tired and broke.
On our second day out we are making good progress in a
fair ESE wind. It blew 20-25 the first
day enough to roil some hangovers, but has eased now to 10-15 just behind the
beam. Sheets are started, deck work
going on and life returning its regular sea routine.
This is the first voyage to load New Zealand cargo for
the Line Islands and we hope a good start to a new trading route. We can load the rice, flour and sugar for
about the same price as in Hawaii and Christmas Island has been experiencing
shortages, so we can supply form either direction. The bottled water is a Rarotonga product and
they are looking for export business.
Fiji cement is available at a good price and there is the promise of New
Zealand timber on future voyages. It
will take some coordination, but shipping to Raro from New Zealand is readily
available and transhipping proved simple. Our ship's agent, Hawaii Pacific
Maritime, handle the container cargoes for Pacific Forum Line and can warehouse
the transhipped goods. Cargo is king!
Aloha from Captain Brad