170513, 2230 UTC, Leaving Pohnpei. Soon.,06°58'N / 158°12' E
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Kaselehlie - kas eh LAY lee ah - or "hello" in Pohnpeian. The past months in Pohnpei have slipped blissfully by as we planned for our next journey, worked on projects, and just simply whiled away the days enjoying a gab with the eclectic collection of souls who live here or wash up on shore.
One such inspiring individual was Michael who has a literal floating dental clinic aboard his catamaran. A man of many careers, he ran a profitable dental clinic in Germany before deciding to sell it and use the proceeds to bring dental health care to the world. He and his partner, Birgit, spent nearly a year here in Pohnpei while Michael worked at the public hospital's dental clinic. In January they cast off their lines with 5,000 toothbrushes and ten or twenty pounds of toothpaste and floated downwind, stopping at remote atolls and treating hundreds of patients. For free. But not before Michael worked tirelessly to save the life of a Kapingamarangi girl with a kidney stone that would kill her within weeks. The local government used every possible deterrent to prevent her from obtaining care, but Michael would not give up. Records were "lost", promises made were forgotten, monies allocated dried up, but still he persisted, unearthed resources, made arrangements, and then personally put her on the plane to the US and followed her progress from afar. Happily, the young girl had the surgery on both kidneys and is now doing well. Michael and Birgit are an unusual couple - generous not only with their medical skills but with their culinary skills and we enjoyed many fine days on their boat sampling some great food and sharing a good laugh.
At Christmas a small race boat showed up packed with ebullient Italians. (We wondered where they all slept!) Passionate about pasta, they fretted over their offering at Christmas, calling everyone to start eating pronto because it was perfecto even though we hadn't yet returned from the house up the hill with the gravy and no one had yet cut into the turkey. Festive chaos! They subsequently floated downwind accompanied by a few boats and recently wrote saying they'd invented gnocchi made from breadfruit and would send the recipe along once they translated it. Fun!
Aboard Awenasa were Horst and his sausage dog mutt, Prince, with crew: sweet flower-child Judith and Fernando, a bearded Spaniard with a quick wide smile and a signature black cowboy hat. Another foodie, Fernando is cooking his way around the world. Unfortunately, Awenasa smacked a reef just after leaving the marina and damaged their rudder. They didn't realize the extent of the damage until they tried to anchor at a small atoll. The Italians aboard Kaitek came to the rescue. They unshipped the rudder and helped to do surgery ashore in the village at Lukunor in the Mortlock group.
Bruce and Laura of Pacific Highway floated in sometime in the late fall. They never intended to come here and never intended to stay. But they did and we are glad for it. Veterans of chartering their previous boat for others in the Virgin Islands, they are enjoying retirement entirely alone sailing leisurely around the world. They were a great help to us in our big series drogue project, sharing tips and showing us their ready-bag. Passionate about reading and sailing we had much in common - including friends.
Every once in awhile you really connect, as we did with John and Diane of Konami. They had actually contacted us by email years ago when they were still land-lubbers hoping to cruise. Our website and our insights helped them to get going - or so they said. It was great to finally meet them in the flesh here in Pohnpei and tip a glass or two while comparing and sharing resource and experiences. Cruisers have a lot of crazy stories.
In fact it was John and Diane, and the big hearted "nasty" woman Jeanine, who marched with us on the day of the Women's March. Atop of Sokeh's Ridge, Leslie in a pantsuit and all of us in pink ears, posed for photos to document our effort. It felt GOOD.
The magnificent cold-molded yacht La Cardinala visited here twice. With two owners and their guests, the crew is kept hopping. Carlo, Luisa and Frederico, the crew, were fine and funny and we shared with them intel on the Solomons and Papua New Guinea, two of their upcoming destinations. They even agreed to stow away gifts and letters for our friends in Ninigo. Such is the way of the cruising community - wacky, smart, and giving.
While here in Pohnpei, we also connected with friends from the College of Micronesia. Smart and perky Yen-ti & Ray Verg-in have led the most interesting life as educators in rural Alaska and also ran a purse seiner and a bush plane. Yen-ti still teaches at COMFSM where we were colleagues. It was great to see them again and spend time hiking and lunching together. THEY have lots of stories to tell. We also connected with Allain, a professor of oceanography at COMFSM who helped us by watching Carina when we flew off for a vacation in Thailand.
Through Yen-ti (who was born in Taipei), we met pretty, kind Helen who is the Chinese language instructor at the COM and then Eddy & Carol, he Korean and she Chinese. Carol and Eddy are also foodies and we spent a lovely Sunday in Kitti enjoying Ray & Yen-ti's view of the lagoon while Carol prepared a feast of cold noodles with all the trimmings. We came away with a package of green tea and fantastic dried mushrooms personally imported from Carol's home town.
Also spicing up our lives was the local March for Science that we organized. We only had twelve marchers but Rey and Emma Garcia and family, science instructors from the college who hail from the Philippines, joined us. This day we also met former Peace Corps volunteers Denise & Mark, she a passionate educator who earned her Ph.D. as a single Mom in her forties.
Most recently, yacht Deviant sailed in with our old friend Chuck aboard. He's parked Deviant in the adjacent slip and is flying out to Orcas Island WA where we hope to catch up and maybe meet his dog. Just down from Deviant aboard another Mason are Kathy and Noel and their daughter Saoirse. Leslie took over Kathy's chemistry classes when she went on maternity leave four years ago. It has been wonderful to watch Saoirse grow into a perky, happy beauty.
Our world is full of such interesting, and good, people!
Most of our escapades are captured in our photo journal at:
But it sounds as if we do nothing but socialize. Most of our days are actually spent working - on Carina or for friends including John Ranahan who's also starting Laidenki Divers, a laid back fun group whose snorkel trips we've joined.
The biggest projects we tackled here - other than fabricating and installing yet ANOTHER set of chainplates - were sewing projects: canvas, sail-repair and upholstery. Many of our projects were ones we'd dreaded - such as a cover for our very-oddly shaped anchor windlass, a Jordan series drogue and a mainsail cover - but could not be avoided any longer.
Pohnpei is a rainy place; a local band is called "Wetter than Seattle" and that name is apropos. This is why an offer by our gracious hosts Kumer and Antonia of Mangrove Bay Hotel/Marina/Bar & Sushi to relocate Barney (the Sailrite Sailmaker sewing machine) to their private gym made our project work possible. The gym gave us a cool dry space to work and a large floor for measuring and cutting. To move ourselves and our supplies to and from their home, we bought one of their little old employee cars that had been idle. Philip calls it "Silver Streak" or just Streak for short - it is a cosmetically-challenged, right hand drive Toyota Starlet and was just perfect for us.
As we write we are days away from departing for our longest crossing ever - about 4500 nautical miles - weather depending. Some of you may know - though others may not - that we plan on sailing from Pohnpei direct to Alaska. Our intended port of entry is Sitka but we will see how that goes. It's a bit daunting for us so we've been checking EVERYTHING that we can think of for soundness before we cast off the dock lines. Our list in now short but includes one critical thing that's in short supply, vegetables. Living on a lush volcanic island does not guarantee vegetables - ask frequently frustrated Saimon, of his namesake Saimon's Market, who, as head of the local farmer's organization, struggles to motivate his peers to produce veggies for sale locally. Today a container ship is promised, so tomorrow the shelves should once again be green. Given veggies, then it will just be goodbyes to many friends and at least one kitten. That's going to be hard.
To follow our trip, visit http://sv-carina.org and click one of the links next to WHERE ARE WE NOW? We plan to talk with the Pacific Seafarers Net each day on HF radio - http://pacseanet.com - there is a link to listen if you are interested.
Your friends of the yacht Carina,
Philip, Leslie and the spirit of the fat cat, Jake