Settling into Fanning Island

Mowri from Fanning!

We have weathered the storm and are now enjoying clear sunny skies with puffy tradewind clouds highlighted with turquoise reflected off the lagoon. It’s beautiful here.

We have officially found a Polynesian atoll that has yet to be overtaken by the western world. The locals still get around in dugout canoes and some have the old style Polynesian triangle sails – such an awesome sight! There is no industry on the island. There is no electricity. There is no internet or phones. The 3,000 inhabitants (I know, that a lot of people for an 8 mile-long atoll right?) subsist off fishing, pandanus and coconuts. They live in traditional open palm-thatch dwellings. The supply ship only visits three times per year and then only to bring some medical supplies, a few cans of spam and to pick up the copra (dried coconut) and seaweed that the islanders export. What a privilege to be able to visit such an unspoiled native population of friendly people. We can’t wait to explore the island and meet more of the locals – they can’t seem to stop smiling every time they come near the boat, such a wonderful welcome.

Yesterday we cleared customs, immigration and … there was a third guy but I think he may have been along for the coca-cola and chips we served them. We tried to radio customs in the morning but were told that they don’t have a VHF anymore. When friends from another boat went into the village they informed customs we were here and would like to clear in. A couple of hours later we were informed they had been standing on the dock waiting for a ride out to our boat! Oops, didn’t know we were suppose to pick them up – they don’t have a boat! Our friend Donni from the schooner SHOSTROM picked them up in his big tender – the three huge guys probably would have sunk our little dinghy! They came aboard and were very friendly and extremely gracious. They were enamored by the ice in their glasses – they got all excited and kept showing each other the ice. That pretty much tells you how very remote this island is. They stamped our passports and we pushed papers back and forth for about 45 minutes while chatting and sharing some tortilla chips and jalapeno dip, which they were also very excited about. We asked them what they do for fun on the island and they said, “We drink Kava at the Kava bar, but only Friday nights, it’s karaoke and you should come.” We most certainly will. We also asked how many boats visit this island per year and they said, “five”, we looked around and counted five boats and asked, “the five that are here?”, they said, “yes, and they all came in the past week.” haha They don’t see many yachts in this remote island. After the formalities were complete we raised the flag of Kiribati and were officially cleared into the country.

We spent the rest of yesterday cleaning up the boat, doing laundry and searching for where the water had been coming in during the passage. It was coming from a poorly bed (my half-ass fault) deck fitting for the holding tank pump out. I pulled the fitting, cleaned it all up, sanded the non-skid flat, dug out moist balsa from the core of the deck, epoxied the gaps and screw holes and then re-bed the whole fitting with polysulfide sealant. When I was squeezing the sealant the bottom blew open and the white sealant got all over my nice shorts – Lyss was pissed that I ruined yet another pair of shorts. But the fitting is now sealed properly and shouldn’t leak anymore.

After a long day of hard labor we invited our friends over for a beer. Both LEVANA and SHOSTROM came over and were so impressed by how good and refreshing the amber draft beer was that they couldn’t believe we brewed it ourselves and were adamant that we must have bought it in Honolulu. They were very appreciative to be enjoying a craft amber draft beer in a place that you can’t buy a beer if you had a million dollars to spend on it. [Interestingly, alcohol is banned on the island and locals can be jailed for being caught with any. They ferment sap from the coconut tree to make a type of alcohol.] We chatted the evening away with our friends and enjoyed a magnificent sunset. Alyssa made a toast to being back in the cruising mode. We certainly are 🙂

This morning Alyssa joined three other women from the other cruising boats and headed into the village. They are headed to the middle school to teach the students yoga. One of the cruisers teaches yoga and the school teacher thought it would be a great cultural experience for the children to learn yoga from the foreigners. She is taking pictures and GoPro so whenever we find internet we’ll have to upload some footage.

It’s really hot here and without a breeze you start to sweat profusely. Luckily the SE trades have been blowing through the boat to keep things livable. The water temp is finally warm enough for the “Princess and the Pea” to enjoy swimming…we only had to come to the equator to make that happen!

We’ll update you again in a couple of days. We have much to explore. I bought LED solar lawn lights at COSTCO before departing and we plan to gift them to families we meet. We think they will be a huge hit since they don’t have electricity here.

Aloha from Fanning Island,
Lewis & Alyssa

May 5, 2015 (May 6 here in Kiribati)

03 51.555 N
159 21.491 W

1 Comment

  1. Bob Pearson's Gravatar Bob Pearson
    May 8, 2015    

    What a great series of blogs! We’ve been excited and exhilirated by your current
    experiences and marvel at the contrast between the centuries old customs of the
    Fanning inhabitants and their culture and your solar powered gifts of light.

    The onboard brewery on Ellie will soon be the talk of the South Pacific! And it
    may be very difficult to leave these wonderful people behind.

    Keep up the great “work

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