Saturday, 29 April 2017

Kite Boarding in the Marshalls

As you may have gathered if following the blog that we have been dabbling with kite boarding since buying gear in New Zealand last year.  The weather did not cooperate and then our instructor got broken in New Zealand so our three lessons were spread over two months.  In Fiji, we took out the kit a few times but not with any consistency.  Part of the rational for selecting Ailuk was it reputation with kiters.  Ailuk has multiple ideal kiting locations - good land/launch areas and kiting area - and the NE trade winds that blow reliably 15-20 kt almost every day.

Liz detailed our progress previously here and below are some photos culled from the hundreds we took.

Although we were the only boat around most of the time we were fortunate to have advice from a few kiters.   Our brief kite in Aur did not have ideal conditions - 20+ kts , current and multiple jellyfish stings - but it did feature some guidance from Matt on SV Cavalo.  Then after a week or so kiting in Ailuk, Bart from SY Tanquilo arrived.  Bart has done a bit of everything from spending months frozen into the ice to kiting and he was a great help.  Last but not least we had the luxury of on-line coaching from possibly the inspiration of our cruising/kiting : Livia and Carol (aka 'TiFou'  and a former squadron mate of mine in 443 (MH) Squadron) formerly from SV Estrellita and now land-locked in Moose Jaw.

Finally kiting !  Note the water depth - a few inches below the board.

Liz cruising along

and few crashes (okay, a lot of crashes).  Tranquilo in the background.

Trying to catch up to a sailing canoe before demonstrating the superman, over the front, wind yourself, crash technique.

Not always sunny.  Keeping a weather eye towards the squalls as it makes things a bit too exciting when the wind goes over 25 kts quickly.

But usually, it looked like this.

Busy day in Ailuk.  Two kiters !  Bart from Tranquilo showing me how it is done.

There is a lot to learn in kiting.  One skill we needed work on was photographing kiting ...

Oops, too close ...

Not a long commute back to Fluenta


Johnathan flying the 6m2 kite.  We later flew Johnathan as he discovered the "power zone".

Victoria flying the 6m2 kite - with me as ballast.
A satellite image of our main kiting location near Enejelar.  We also kiting half way up the atoll and to windward of  Ailuk village

Set up, coconut gathering/providing and cheerleading team ashore

Benjamin did not mind the beach time.  A fort Victoria made from the beach debris.  Note the hard hat even.

Kites also make great tents.

And finally, a chance to have some calm after the excitement of kiting.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ailuk Traditional Sailing Canoes

Ailuk is famous for its handicrafts and its sailing canoes.  Almost all of the transport is still by these sailing canoes whether to go fishing, to gather copra or to visit between the two villages.  The sailing canoes are made on the island and relieve them from the cost and burden of stocking gasoline and engine parts.  The atoll's long axis is close to perpendicular to the prevailing trade winds so the canoes can generally close reach across the length of the atoll.  They are fast and carry a substantial load but to tack the rudder and mast needs to be shipped to the opposite side - i.e. the bow becomes the stern.

We enjoyed riding in the canoes whether as a whole family along with a bunch of other people and supplies for a pretty heavily loaded canoe or, even better, when I went off spearfishing with three local guys in a canoe. In the later case we were able to fly a hull which is pretty interesting when you are the ballast sitting out on the ama.

Liz has written about traveling to a picnic on the canoes here.

Heading back from a day of copra harvesting

Heading to a picnic

Heading out

Full load.

The gentlemen in the background is steering with the tiller.  The rudder/tiller swaps ends when you tack.


This is looking athwartships towards the ama.  With lighter loads or with more wind you can sit out there with the ama out of the water.

Canoe at anchor.  The anchors are usually a big stone with line around it similar to a traditional killick

A regular sight as the fleet commutes home after a day of copra work.

A regular sight as the fleet commutes home after a day of copra work.

A regular sight as the fleet commutes home after a day of copra work (SV Runaway photo)

The kids have nice model sailing canoes they play with in the lagoon

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Enejelar Education Week

Liz has written extensively about our six weeks on Ailuk Atoll.  Our ambition was to spend a long period on one atoll to reduce the churn involved with always moving and spend more quality time in one place.  Exodus recommended Ailuk as did several kiter acquaintances.  We were not disappointed !

This blog post shows some photos from our interaction with the school in the small village of Enejelar in the north of the atoll. There are only seven or eight families in the village but there is a well organised school with the students split into three groups from grades one to eight.  We arrived just in time for "Education Week" across the Marshall Islands and the first person to greet us in Enejelar was a small boat owned by the headmaster of the school and crewed by the head of the PTA inviting us to participate in  Education Week.

Education Week was composed of spelling bees (in English and Marshallese), essays, math and athletics.   I was appointed a judge for the English spelling bee and helped officiate in the athletics. Johnathan and I also participated in the athletics which was amusing.

Later on in our stay we also went to the school to give them some practice in English.



Spelling Bee

Spelling Bee

The judges

Spelling Bee

Running race.

The grounds between the school and some of the houses.

Closing ceremony means more feasting !

and, of course, Victoria made a cake.

Note item 8: We are referred to a "Yachties"

A Yachtie making a speech.  They love speeches here so I came to be prepared to give one at any occasion.  This one was translated as I went.

Dancing while we feast
More feasting ...

and time to play

and time to play


Before school assembly

Classroom time

Johnathan showing our travels

Johnathan showing our travels

The older students

Many of the sounds in Marshallese do not exist in English and visa versa.  Note 'f', 'g', 'h' are missing
and several variations of 'n'
Fluenta anchored off Enejelar village.