With an easy night sail we get from Ailuk to Likiep and as soon as visibility is enough we enter the pass and catch two fish, so we are supplied with protein for a few days.
First thing we check out the village and check in with Acting Mayor PJ Junior de Bruhm. A basket full with coconuts and freshly baked cinnamon pasty is already on the table witing for us. We enjoy chatting with PJ and find a first little task for Reto. The only on the island available USB plug for the internet is broken, so it is a rather urgent repair.
The de Bruhms and the Capelles are all descendants from a Portugese and a German who have purchased this place around 150 years ago from the local chiefs. Their influence we still can notice when we compare to the other islands we have been to.
Especially surprised we are that everyone through all generations speaks a perfect English, even the smaller children enjoy to practice on us.
And the next positive surprise is that there is some Internet via the satellite, it is not too fast but enough for our emails and weather forecast.
Reto helps PJ to check the power consumption and input of solar panel, battery and freezer at the airport and we are more than surprised that his recommendation to put up another panel is followed immediately the next day.
On Sunday we join the catholic service, the singing is beautiful, the kids are disciplines like never before and everyone joins in the service.
Afterwards we ask Rosa if it is ok to go snorkeling, “no problem at all” she replies and we are relieved that the Sunday rest is a bit less strict here.
For Monday noon we have appointment to go fishing with PJ and Jack. We want to learn how to find the Wahoos and PJ has never fished from a Catamaran before. Sharp at 12 Reto picks them up at the beach, we sail to the exit of the lagoon and then up and down the outer reef.
Even though there are a few bites the big ones continue to escape. The first one rips off far out, the second one is a nice big Wahoo, but he rips off during the gaffing process and the third one is a MahiMahi who manages to escape from the bathing platform, we smile, we did have that before…
Afterwards they understand why we use ropes to secure the tail and a bucket to secure the head 😉
In the end a small one bites on Jack’s hand line. They give it to us for dinner and it is delicious out of the oven.
PJ and Jack anyway had a lot of fun and find that it was a successful day. Back at anchor we finish up with a sundowner and get to know a lot about local customs and habits.
By accident we talk about the short wave radio communication and find out that the antenna of Likiep is not working since 3 years. Therefore next days priority is to check out the antenna.
Everyone gathers at the airport, PJ, us, the technician Bendik, all 5 police men and everyone is interested.
Reto immediately finds a bad connection in the coax cable, some disturbing loops, some corroded parts and a broken plug.
In the afternoon at 4 pm the revised antenna is hanging again between the palm trees and the agent from the airport for the first time in three years calls Majuro. They have a good chat and a lot of laughter, so we assume that is is working well now ;
We get loaded with a bag full with drinking nuts and feel that the work and effort is really appreciated and the interest to learn is high, like this it is a lot of fun to spend a day working in the village.
The spot is not what we expected in terms of snorkeling and protection, we move further east and find a great reef with turtles, numerous giant clams, big schools of big parrot fish and even two octopus.
We return to look for the octopus with the speargun, but they were clever and have gone out of sight… Reto decides to shoot a parrot fish instead, since there are so many of them and they are really big.
The next day we come back to the village and we get a huge shell from the children on the beach. I get some cookies and candies and tennis balls in return and see that they are well appreciated.
A bit later we see why: together with a simple pice of wood the tennis balls serve to play base ball and the children are really good at it!
Six year old Wina Lilani is especially aroused. She waits for us in front of the internet building and gives me two beautiful shells. We accompany her to her grandfather Daniel to make sure that he agrees with the deal. I promise to bring her some cookies and balls the next day.
When we get there the next day her grandmother has also made a flower crown from colored coconut fibres and a necklace from shells and coconut fibre weaving. I am overwhelmed, they are so sweet.
Then I bring a box of my coconut ice cream to distribute between the kids on the beach. Once again I am surprised how disciplined they are, as they wouldn’t take any seconds until every one around had their first ice cream cookie.
After a few speeches and prayers the children are allowed to take down the balloons and the food is served. We both get a huge plate full of food, this time including turtle!!!
Since the poor animal is already on my plate I do eat it, but I do prefer them swimming graciously in the water.
After the dinner the children show the dances they have trained the whole week or longer. Like always the laughter is big 😉
Then everyone gets up, two songs are sung and at the end everyone passes to say their congratulations to the birthday child and the mother. We understand to give a dollar but we also see 4 young chicken that have been given as presents…
A prayer at the end and everyone walks home happily and well fed, a great party!
Then it is time to say good bye, but what is this?
We are asked to sit down when half the village walks in and sings for us and with a lot of pleasure!
We are really moved and kind of guess what is coming at the end. Everyone walks by (just as we did the night before at mother and baby), shakes our hands and we get baskets full with coconuts, pastry and two wunderful sailing canoe earrings from oyster shell for me and a necklace with a fish pendent for Reto.
Teresa as the oldest of the de Bruhm Clan thanks us again for all our help and that we have integrated so well in the village, she says that hasn’t ever happened like that before with yachties.
We also have to give our speech and can easily say that this is for sure the village where we have felt most welcome on our trip around the world, maybe together with one or two places in Fiji.
But we have to move on… In a quite night sail we go the 120 miles to Ebeye in the Kwajalein atoll.
It is Sunday, we can hear the mess on board 😉
Of course our plan to be able to start ourselves a new data plan for internet doesn’t work, the app is not working. Even the voucher that we have bought in Majuro is not the right one the lady behind the counter tells us, but she cannot change it, even though it is the same company.
An Australian guy in the supermarket is so nice to buy it from us, we go back and let her activate the 5 GB data plan. By the way the supermarket has less appealing veggies than my left overs after 6 weeks out of Majuro…
On Monday afternoon our internet doesn’t run anymore, we patiently try again until Tuesday morning, then check again with the office. ” Your 1.5 GB dataplan has expired” is the answer – “What? – but your colleague should have activated the 5 GB not the 1.5 GB….”
It takes a bit of patience but surprisingly we get our 5 GB “back” as luckily the manager agrees that the mistake has not been caused by us…
We check out with Customs and Immigration and hurry back to the boat. The final customs paper we should get at 1 pm, when the customs guys visit. But at that time the swell is huge, the dinghy is bouncing at the dock, a squall is approaching and the customs guy suddenly doesn’t really have time for a visit at the boat any more ;-).
We use the hours left to use our data, then at 5 pm we go anchor up, time to head to Kosrae 360 miles further southwest. It is again an easy down wind run and on the second day we catch 3 fish, so I am happy 😉
After 2.5 days we see for the first time since Fiji mountains again, Kosrae is in sight!!!
We drop our anchor in the green brown lagoon surrounded by mangroves and soon head over on land.Together with Moki who arrived the night before we park our dinghies at Smith Sigrah’s place.
The check in is easy going, the Customs, Immigration and Quaranteene officers meet us right there.
Immediately we understand that the “day of the women” is celebrated, what a nice welcome at least Katie and I think.
After quite a walk into town to see the officials again and get our internet sorted Reto and I head back to the women’s day celebration, just in time to get a big lunchbox each, see the last performances and get a few packs of detergent and sugar ;-). Betty who is originally from Palau is translating and explaining what is going on, I am very grateful.
In the afternoon we walk around and up the Leluh hill and visit the ruins that were built 600 to 800 years ago.
Pretty much activity after 3 nights on the ocean but we know why… The next few days it more often rains than not. Only on Sunday the weather is perfect, but we learn that diving and alcohol are forbidden on Sunday…
So we opt to join the 10 am service at the church and we are amazed. The church is huge, full with people (Women left, men right, only Reto is making an exception…), the chairs are really comfortable, the ventilators are running everywhere and the singing is enormous!!!
Reto invests the rainy time well, he checks and measures and studies our defect alternator and eventually finds the defect diode. He improvises as usual with what he finds on board, and shortly after our batteries are being charged again 😉
Once the rain eases we finally manage to make 2 bike tours around the island, one down south and another one to the West. Luckily Betty told us that we should take a stick to defend us against the rather aggressive dogs and this turns out to be a real live saver!!! 10 to 15 times every day one to a max.of 5 dogs come chasing at us!! While Reto as always stays cool, I often even with the stick tend to panic, so when we are back the second day I decide to quit cycling on this island…
Even though Kosraenever was battle field the mountains here look like some Swiss cheeses… We visit the tunnel area of Tenwak with Benjamin who is the landowner here. Ben’s had been up here with his father, who has’t told the secret of the caves to anyone else.
We are the first tourists to follow him and Jay up the mountain and we are enthusiastic to discover all the paths through the various tunnel systems, but in the end we are also covered with mud ;-). On the way down we enjoy the view over Leluh harbor and get a refreshing coconut and some delicious soursop fruits at the end of the hike. Well done, we think this is a great tourist attraction!!!
Now we actually would like to leave to go further West but we still wait for the extension of our cruising permit, which was supposed to be no problem at all when we arrived ten days ago….