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The Passage from Tarawa to Majuro

We made it to Majuro about a month ago after a rather uncomfortable 3-day passage from Tarawa. Leaving Tarawa was interesting. Every country has its own process for clearing people and boats in and out. Clearing out involves a visit to or from someone from Customs and someone from Immigration. When they are done they give you a set of official papers to be presented to the authorities at the next country. Even though we are small vessels with very few people on them, for the most part we follow the same processes, including forms, that large cargo and passenger ships use. In Tarawa in Kiribati, we starter the clearing out process with a call to the authorities on the radio around 3:00PM on Friday. They said they would be right over so we got the boat ready to go and waited. And waited. And waited. If they didn’t come Friday, then we would have to wait until Monday, because either they don’t clear sailboats on weekends or they charge extra for it. And they didn’t come.

So we settled in for the weekend. Saturday morning we decided to find Barry’s Pizza Kitchen. Finding specific businesses on these little atolls with few street names and no addresses is a fun game. Sometimes, when you ask someone on the street, they will know exactly where it is or what direction it is and will point or even escort you to the location. Barry’s was something of an enigma. No one we asked had heard of it. It wasn’t on any of the map apps. We finally found it by finding a clothing manufacturer next door where one of the workers realized what we were looking for after a few minutes. “Barry’s” “Pizza?” “Bakery?” It turned out to be right next door. There was, typical for the area, no signage whatsoever. But they were open so we ordered some pizza and enjoyed a feeling of accomplishment at finding Barry’s using locally available tools. Just like locals, kind of.

We were enjoying some Netflix while we hid out from the afternoon sun when we through we heard someone calling us. We went up to the cockpit and sure enough, there were the ikibati officials ready to clear us out at 4:00PM on Saturday. After verifying there would be no overtime charge (there usually is outside of normal work hours) we welcomed them aboard and got about the business of clearing out. Kiribati has good efficient electronic systems so we were ready to go in just 15 minutes. We sent them over to our buddy boat Pulsar and they got halfway there and then turned and headed for the dock. This meant that we would be leaving alone for the next and final leg of our journey to the Marshall Islands. Sadness and gladness at not being able to passage together and because we were cleared out on a Saturday. As it turned out, Pulsar did not get to leave until Tuesday morning. We jumped into get the boat ready to go mode, which is mostly getting Millie the dinghy stowed up on the foredeck and running through our departure checklists. Calla Lily was fueled up and were were underway by 5:00PM. This was a good time to leave for the 375nm passage which would take about 2 and half days. Leaving at sundown meant we would arrive in the morning which we always like to do especially when we have to enter an atoll through a pass.

The trip across the lagoon took twice as long as we planned because we were going directly into a 20 knot wind. Our friend Rob from Morwena came out in his dinghy to help us find a good place to anchor. Anchoring in Majuro is difficult because it mostly more than 100 feet deep and the holding is not very good for the most part. Most people avail themselves of the dozen or so moorings which are typically made from a big heavy piece of metal (like an engine), some ship’s chain, some really thick rope, and a float. Unfortunately there were no suitable ones open so we anchored out in front of Delap park and the K and K grocery store (bonus!). That is, until a few days later when the police decided that we couldn’t anchor there anymore. Sometimes the rules, such as they are, change. Luckily we were able to find a suitable mooring with Rob’s and the other long-term cruiser residents’ help. And there we sit surrounded by a bakers dozen or so yachts full of friendly long-term and transient cruisers.

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