Category Archives: Fanning Island

Internet?!?! Here?!?! Yup – Here are some pics!!

Unbelievably, this tiny village of 50 people, on a small atoll 800 miles away from what we would call “civilization” has reasonable internet service. I am typing these words from the nav table at anchor! You have to love technology sometimes… I bet a thank you is also in order for the Cook Islands Protectorate, New Zealand. Thanks Kiwi’s! 

And without further ado…pictures!!

The Beautiful Mermaid on the Bow in Honolua Bay, Maui, Hawaii
Just a friendly turtle in Honolua Bay…
The Intrepid Crew Under Way for Fanning Island
The first day and a half out was glorious
The sexy Mermaid filleted it up!
Then conditions deteriorated. Luckily we have a tough salty woman aboard who has the patience to get the monitor set!
She also whips up some mean deviled eggs. I washed those bad boys down with a draft amber ale. For a minute we almost forgot how rough and uncomfortable the conditions had gotten…
Naked sailing…in a squall
Go away squalls!
The 40 knot welcoming party that greeted us upon arrival to Fanning. Look at the angle of the mast on the Island Packet (left). The waves were about 4 feet in the anchorage. It was intense.
The next day we cleared customs and immigration. They were thrilled to have ice and were pleasantly confused by the jalepeno artichoke dip and tortilla chips.

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The town pier in Fanning. Levi from SHOSTROM doing a headstand.
The main road in Fanning Island… The large building is the town meeting hall
Dinner….trying to escape
Ruby was teaching Yoga to the locals. Alyssa second from the left…
Jenny (sv Levana) brought balloons for the kids, which were a hit!
Bruno built a small hut for each of his children; this one for Agnes
The dining table at Bruno’s house. Huge globe over the table. He WAS a sailor you know…
The home he built. Each stone was taken from the windward side of the reef. He did an amazing job.
The interior of Bruno’s home (upstairs). He re-purposed his boat in many creative ways.
Lyss and Ruby toasting their Kava bowls. Tastes like dirt and makes you tired, but apparently the locals are hooked
Ellie resting at anchor on a calm day in Fanning
The locals still get around in traditional sailing craft. Although this guy somehow acquired a few plastic hulls. I bet he would win the island regatta…if they ever had one.
Going out to drift the pass at Fanning
Fanning as seen from seaward
Life enhanced by Maui Jim (a future sponsor maybe??)
Lyss with her new BFF girlfriend, Ruby, from s/v DRINA
An ecstatic Ruby on our evening booze cruises. Sunken tug boat in the background.
This sunken tug has been here a while. I never got the full story…
This is the shot I’ll send Maui Jim with our sponsorship request…
Kiribati sailing canoe. Can you spot the LED lawn light I gave them? Now they can legally operate in US waters….OK probably not.
Ruby gifting one of the lights to a friendly local I-Kiribati man
The man’s humble home. See where he put the light?
The Kiribati Culligan Man… Drinking from wells such as this one is why so many of them are sick.
The inside of a typical humble I-Kiribati dwelling. The woman on the right – the man from the earlier picture’s wife – is pregnant and sick. The kids were very shy and cute. The whole family sleeps in here.
Another family we gifted lights to.
Under way for Penrhyn. Sunset alert!
Another shot for our future sponsors: Maui Jim


Another amazing meal of Wahoo
Does she look ecstatic to be inside the lagoon at Penrhyn or what?


The ladies all dressed up outside the church. Alyssa second from the left. The hats are required attire…
The Reverend and his wife, Mama Tata, invited all the yachties to an after church feast of tuna, lobster, chicken and rice

Fanning Island Adventures and Departure Plan


We have enjoyed some spectacular flat water here at Fanning over the past few days. We have been filling our days with paddle boarding, drifting the incoming tide in the pass, swimming, dinghy exploration, watching the picturesque sailing canoes traverse the lagoon, happy hour get-together’s with the other two boats, and watching the most amazing sunsets we have ever seen. What a dramatic difference from the nasty weather we had here upon arrival.

Today I went to shore and cleared customs and immigration. The offices were in a concrete building with dirt floors and the immigration office was the police station complete with gold rush era jail cells. There was not a computer to be found and after much stamping and paper-pushing we were cleared to leave the country of Kiribati.

I returned to the boat to grab the LED solar lights I brought from Hawaii and then headed off across the three mile lagoon in search of the most remote dwellings on the island to gift them some light. Well it turn out that not one person lives on the other side of the atoll. So I had to traverse a few more very shallow coral patches to reach the south side of the atoll, where people actually lived. The locals were very surprised to see an I-Matang come ashore in such a remote place and were a bit weary of my approach. I admit it must have been very strange to see a sunburnt white man wading to shore holding black metal lanterns with a camera on his head. I gifted the lanterns to a few families who had no more than a dirty well to drink from and some shade to hide under. They were so grateful that they knocked down some drinking coconuts and felt compelled to return the generosity in the only way they could. It was very humbling to see the condition those families are living in. They have so little and there are many animals in the states that live in much better living conditions. We should all be extremely grateful for the comfort we take for granted every day back home. These families are suffering from illness, they lack sanitation and lack the most basic comforts we take for granted. Next time anyone feels like complaining about…well pretty much anything you could complain about in the US…please consider living on a hot stretch of sand, covered in flies, while being bitten by mosquitoes, drinking from a dirty, yellow, parasite-infested well, wondering if you should kill your only mal-nourished pig today or try and catch some fish instead. Our lifestyle back home is not even comparable to how people live here. The contrast is incredible. I’m glad we were able to help in some way, even if it was only to provide a way to see at night. If I knew what I know now I would have brought medicine (for diarrhea or antibiotics for parasites), mosquito nets, food, and a way to sanitize water. For those following in our wake, please take note and bring those types of items.

We plan to leave tomorrow once the wind fills in from the east. Alyssa has been cooking up a storm in preparation for the passage. If we sail direct to Suwarrow it will be over 1,000 miles and 8 days under way. I better check the weather again and make sure the wind will hold. We only have a half tank of diesel…

We’ll write again once under way.


May 15, 2015

Fanning Island, Kiribati

Kickin’ Back in Fanning Island

We finally had a great day in Fanning Island! It’s amazing how closely correlated your well-being becomes with the weather when you’re cruising. The wind was non-existent, the Mermaid was paddle-boarding, we were swimming, the sun was out, the drinks were cold and the sunset gorgeous. A great day in paradise…finally! Now this is what we remember cruising was like!

My boat project yesterday was drilling a hole in the monitor windvane paddle and installing a bolt to lock the paddle in alignment. Three drill bits later the job was done and the paddle shouldn’t give us any more trouble on passage.

It’s pretty funny how complicated simple tasks become while anchored in a third world country. I needed to get rid of the two bags of trash that were stinking up the cockpit and had become a beacon for every fly on the island. So I took the gasoline, a lighter and the two bags of trash to shore. I landed on the dock and the dozen or so locals were just starting at me quizzically wondering what the hell I was up to. I asked in English where I could burn my trash. They looked confused. Great – this is going so well… One guy spoke English and said I could burn it over there near shore. I said thanks but hesitated to burn my plastic right next to the dock in plan view of my audience, who were all laughing and joking at this point, no doubt at my expense. Another guy apparently disagreed with the advice I was given and after some back-and-forth amongst the group, I was asked to follow him to another place. I asked where and he replied, “the office.” I had no desire to go visit the officials with my bags of trash and can of gasoline so I asked why. He said, “to burn trash there.” Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. He motioned for me to get on the back of his Honda moped. I looked at my two huge bags of trash on one hand, a can of gasoline in the other, and wondered just how he thought I would be able to get on his luggage rack and possibly hold on without injury. He was pretty adamant I get on so I put the gas can in the same hand as the garbage, held on tight and off we went zooming through the jungle, making sure that my legs and feet were lashed by every single piece of brush along the way and that no thorn was left behind. When we made it to the Government building he couldn’t find a suitable bin so off we went again on another installment of Jack Ass – Fanning Island Edition. We made it to his house and he instructed me to put the trash bags on top of his pile of trash behind his house. Every dwelling on the island has a pile of trash behind it – it’s pretty gross. It’s mostly leaves and palm fronds topped with some cans and plastic. He doused the trash with my gasoline and almost lost his hair lighting the pile. I thanked him, topped off his scooter with the rest of my gasoline, and we rode back to the dock. I was happy to be back on the dinghy in one piece and without that stinking trash. Oh, and the locals on the dock were still laughing at the silly I-Matang, who walks around with bags of trash and gasoline.

Our friends helped us drain the keg of the last of the Amber beer so yesterday we brewed a Canadian Blonde Ale. We added some extra centennial hops and it smells delicious. It’s proving very difficult to keep the temp in the fermented down though. May be because we are directly under the sun and this may be the hottest place on earth. Hopefully it comes out alright. We are able to get the temp down to 80-83 in the cooler with cold packs. The ideal range is 68-78 so it won’t be the best we have ever brewed but it should be decent. We’ll let you know how it comes out.

Our big project today is making water (it takes a LOT of water to brew beer). The watermaker is going right now. We wait until the current is coming in the pass. It’s pretty clear that an incoming tide is the only safe time to run the watermaker. Did I mention there are no toilets or waste treatment plants on the island of 3,000 humans?

There is one other boat here, DRINA, the others headed south with the storms. We were invited aboard for drinks and apps this evening so that’s our big plan after making water.

Looks like the easterlies will return at the end of the week. If the forecast still looks favorable we will sail south direct for Suwarrow, a 7-8 day sail. In the meantime we’ll be enjoying this flat water and the breathtaking sunsets.

Also – most importantly – a belated Happy Mother’s Day to Danielle and Rina!

Cheers from Fanning Island!

Lewis & Alyssa

May 12, 2015

Fanning Island, Kiribat

Fanning Island – It’s Calm! (and very very hot)

The I-Kiribati people have completely redeemed themselves on the musical front. Karaoke = not so good – church singing in the chapel = excellent. Yesterday we attended the Catholic church services. The melodies were harmonious and beautiful, if a bit loud inside of a concrete building.. The women sat on one side and the men on the other. There are no benches and everyone sits on the ground, then stands to sing, then kneels to pray, then back to sitting on the concrete floor. All the while you are being completely swarmed by carnivorous flies. Apparently the I-Kiribati have learned to come to peace with being covered in flies, unfortunately for me I have yet to reach that zen state of peace with the flies. I was dying. Dripping wet with sweat and covered in flies. Oh ya, such is the good time to be had on this island straddling the equator. Sweat and flies aside, it was nice to see the church services and how passionate these humble people are about their adopted western religion. It’s funny how children are the same everywhere; there was an older woman sitting with the children to keep them quiet and in order. Seems that scene plays out in every church around the world no matter the faith or denomination. Just here you have to sprinkle liberally with man-eating flies.

After church we stopped by Bruno’s house (the Frenchman we mentioned) and bought a couple really cool shark’s tooth daggers. These are made after the traditional island weapons and will make an awesome addition to my native defense collection.

After visiting with Bruno we retreated to the boat to hide from the bugs. I have been dying to have Alyssa cut my hair because when it gets long it’s like wearing a wool helmet that can’t be removed – not so beneficial in the equatorial heat and humidity. She pulled out our fancy hair cutting gear (thanks Pep!!) and she went to work removing my helmet piece by piece. My internal temp must have dropped by 10 degrees because it feels like someone turned on the AC inside my head. Much relieved!

Did I mention that the wind died (like we were wanting after all those storms and waves)? We are now anchored in completely flat water with no wind. That means it feels much, much hotter, and the mold is doing it’s best to take over the wood interior of Ellie, but the tradeoff is worth it. We can jump in the water to cool off. We can attack the mold with bleach. We can’t make the huge waves stop in a storm. So we’ll spend our time moving as little as possible, cooling off in the lagoon, and waiting for the easterlies to return.

Once the easterlies fill in later this week we plan to sail south. Not sure where we’re going yet. We may go Christmas Island, 200 miles SE, to get fuel before heading south. But if the forecast looks good for sailing all the way to Suwarrow then we’ll leave direct.

Hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend. Email us will ya? It’s not like we’re getting any other news or entertainment out here…

Cheers from the hottest island nation on earth,
Lewis & Alyssa

Fanning Island, Kiribati

May 11, 2015