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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wallis Island and Funafuti Part 1

After a few wonderful days finishing up in Fiji we set out course northeast for the French island of Wallis.  This is an island with a population of approximately 8000 people.  Heavily supported by France, there seems to be an easy going life for people here.

We arrived after a very boisterous 3 day sail with the wind ahead of the beam which meant that we were healed over the whole way, but we really did go fast... Being over that far for that long, we discovered a leak in our port fresh water tank.  This leak and the fact that the transfer valve between the starboard and port tanks was broken, meant that we lost almost 900 liters of fresh water...  Fortunately, the trip was relatively short and we had almost 60 liters in our emergency supply.  As soon as we arrived in Wallis we made water and that evening it rained so we were able to completely refill out fresh water supply.  

We have now repaired the transfer valve and still not located the source of the leak on the port tank...  The good news is that we won't loose all our water again...

Checking into Wallis reminded us that we were now officially OFF the Pacific Coconut Run, that is we are now cruising in a part of the world where the vast majority of cruisers never go.  So far, we were one of only a few cruising boats to check in.  Thus, the formalities were fairly lax and disorganized...  Added to the fact most folks here only speak Walasian or French, meant that we struggled a bit, but eventually got checked in and settled.

We had been told about a local Australian woman named Jo, who was willing to help cruisers out.  Married to a local man, Sefo, she and her two children came to the wharf the day after we arrived to help us get oriented.  Wallis has no taxis, so getting around is difficult for people like us.  With Jo's help this problem was solved!

Thank you Jo!

A Tongan Fort....

She took us to the grocery store where we stocked up on lovely French wine and cheese!  What a treat.  While the food in Fiji is OK, the french influence here is very apparent.  Safe to say though, the prices reflected the distance we were from France...  What you see in the picture was $126 CFP ($150 Canadian)...

After a day or two, we moved down to Gahi Bay where we were a little more protected and the scenery was better. With Jo's help we saw some of the island an couldn't help notice the number of HUGE Catholic churches....  There had to be more that a dozen and some rivaled the architecture of churches anywhere in Europe!

Our plan was to stay a few weeks in Wallis, but after just a few days we learned that the weather was going to change and if we didn't take advantage of the widow that was now open, we might not get another one for a month or more!  As Cyclone season officially starts November 1st in this part of the world, we knew we needed to get north of 8 degrees south sooner, rather than later.  

Funafuti, an island in Tuvalu is just at the 8 degree mark, so we made the decision to get going while we still could.

Funafuti is 400 nautical miles from Wallis on a northwest track. We were able to take advantage of the still prevailing east/south east trades which made for a fast, flat few days of sailing.  For about 24 hours we lost all wind an had to motor, but all in all a nice sail.

We arrived in Funafuti to find out we were the 12th boat this year to check in... With a population of a few thousand people this 13 by 1 mile island is a busy place.  With a very protected atoll, many of the large Taiwanese fishing boats stay here.  These are the boats that are literally raping our oceans of fish, but I suppose for the people here, provide much needed infrastructure.  

Yesterday, The Prime Minister of Taiwan arrived in a two jet convoy, to visit the hospital, school, and generating station they built.  I understand the local peoples need, but I hope one day the world can find a better balance between the needs of Island people and the monstrous need to empty the oceans of fish....

The Captain of the Presidents plane took the opportunity to take pictures as well!

All the firetrucks sound their sirens when a plane comes to clear people off the runway!

Tuvalu's Military - All of them!

The woman in black is the President of Taiwan

This is an example of a people who had decided to move from a subsistence lifestyle to one of foreign dependency...  I hope is is all they dream it will be...

We will share more as we get farther north.  Our goal is to be in The Marshall Islands in time for Christmas.  We have requested permission from the Tuvalu government to stop at a few of the more isolated islands as we work our way north, so we can leave some school supplies in some places that never see no tourists...

More soon!