Directions

Our latest entry always comes up first...

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning of our trip from
South Carolina (where we bought the boat) to Lake Ontario Click this link:

If you want to see the story of our 2 1/2 year project getting
Blowin' Bubbles ready for our life on board click here:
FIRST "REFIT" BLOG ENTRY - March 2011

If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP - July 2014
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Maleolap, Rongarik, & Wotje.... Paradise in the Marshall Islands.

In just under 8 weeks, Shelley and I have traveled some 800 nautical miles, and visited more than 20 islands in 3 beautiful Marshall Island atolls.   


We departed from Majuro just after New Years and have not had internet since then! Yes, there are places in the world where being connected is still a long way off!

Our first overnight passage took us to the Maleolap Atoll. When we arrived the weather was such that checking in in the main village of Tarawa (not the Tarawa from a few posts ago).  We did anchor off the shore of Kumar Island. Safe from the high winds and big surfs, we encountered our first "alone" time.  While there may be dozens of islands in an Atoll, usually around here only a very few of them are inhabited.



We spent almost a week here exploring the islands within dinghy distance.  It was here also we found our first GLASS FISHING BALL.  These hand blown glass balls have not been used by the fishing industry for at least 50 years, yet, from time to time they safely wash up on a beach after drifting in the open ocean of many years.  As almost every island has a rocky reef (exposed at low tide) on the windward side, the chances of one of these balls surviving are slim at best.






This makes finding one a rare and lucky experience.  We searched deserted islands almost every day for the last 2 months and found eleven of these rare treats! The largest one we found was 15" in diameter and the smallest was 2". Our research says they are not worth very much monetarily, but they are really beautiful to look at...

We will find a way to replace the netting that normally surrounds them....

We also found lots of other interesting stuff on the beaches...


When we weren't beach combing, we spent time snorkeling, diving and socializing with a few other cruisers we met along the way.

While on Maleolap we had a chance for the first time in a long time, to share school supplies with the children here in this isolated world... the children and teachers appreciated what we were able to share. 





Maleolap is also one of the places we visited that saw Japanese occupation during WW2. There were many remains and artifacts al out everywhere we explored.

A Japanese "Pill Box"

Everything is found today, just where it was left at the end of WW2.
 

I think people may have been a little shorter....
 


Blown up fuel bunkers....
 


This was the Japanese Headquarters.... just barely standing...

The remains of Japanese ZERO's and other aircraft....
 


A remarkably "in tact" ZERO engine....
 

Shore defense guns.... Frozen in time....
 



Unexploded bombs just laying at the end of the runway....
Treasures found as we explored.... 

We started to make jewelry out of some of the amazing shells we have collected.  It is a long and tedious process, but we hope people will like what we make.  When we come to Canada in June we will be selling them (as cheap as $5!) and using the money for our Right to Write work...











From Maleolap we sailed 2 days north to a completely isolated and uninhabited Atoll called Rongarik.  Here we spent a few weeks COMPLETELY ALONE!  The closest have man being was at least 100 miles away on another Atoll...  what a surreal feeling to be that isolated.  And while it couldn't last forever, we enjoyed it immensely while it lasted.  

Along the way, we had great luck in the fishing department.... We caught Tuna (Yellowfin), Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi....



 
As those of you know who follow us, Shelley is fascinated with birds.  As Rongarik is completely uninhabited by humans, birds here react very differently than in most other places.... While still wary, we were able to approach most birds on the islands.... AMAZING!

Fairy Turn
Baby Boobie Birds
 

Magnificent Frigate Bird
Red Footed Boobie
Juvenile Boobie Bird.

Curlew






This was like no other place we have ever been!

A few days before we left, Motor Vessel, Reel Dreams arrived and we met Bud and his crew, Janice and Andrew. Life on a long distance motor boat is very different from our life on a sailboat, but they were great people and we were glad to share a meal with them.

We travelled from Rongarik to Wotje Atoll over 1 1/2 days on what might have been one of our worst sails in a long time... sailing very close to the wind, we were heeled way over in big seas hour after hour banging our way South.  We finally arrived at the north pass of the Wotje Atoll just before sunset and got our anchor down moments before it was dark....  The next morning we motored 22 nm to meet back up with our friends, Lanny and Ginger (SV Swiftsure)...  Wotje was the location of another Japanese occupation during WW2, and again, the relics were everywhere... Almost undisturbed for 70 years!


Japanese Sea Plane in the lagoon...
 

We added a "hazard" buoy to the wreck, to stop unsuspecting yachties from dragging their boat anchors over the wreck...
 




The remains of a Japanese kitchen.  Huge woks were placed in the holes on the top and wood fires burned underneath.
The US military just emptied this shore bunker last year of a few tons of live ordinances!
The mayor (chief) OD Wotje is getting the villagers to make themselves a park!  It looks great!
 


 Again, everywhere we went, we found artifacts and relics from a time gone by.....



Lanny found some old rifle barrels....



We collected more than 20 fishing clips on our travels.....


Every windward shore is a junk collectors paradise!
 

Everywhere we found people, we found generosity!  People here were never looking for "handouts", but were always willing to barter for things the needed....


The main road!
The road home....
This was made for Shelley by the Queen of Maleolap! We were honored to receive this gift...
 


Copra (Coconuts) is he main source of revenue for most of the people of the Marshall Islands.  You can always tell when a supply ship may be coming soon, there is a flurry of activity in the village getting the copra ready for market.



After all this time, our food supplies were getting low, so we set sail back to Majuro where we have a few days to re-supply before we set out on our next adventure!

More soon!