Saturday, December 03, 2005

Exploring Kiribati

Location: Abaiang, Kiribati
Position: 01°49.02' N 173°00.90' E
Next Dest: Butaritari, Kiribati

We've been in Kiribati for six weeks now, and are enjoying the
various atolls visited since Onotoa. It's amazing how each atoll
can be so different. Onotoa is known among the other atolls for
their organization and cleanliness, which was quite noticeable.

After leaving the clean, friendly atoll of Onotoa we visited
Tabiteuea (aka Tab-North). Supposedly Tab-North is known for
their knives, but we didn't have any troubles what-so-ever.
In true I-Kiribati fashion, we did a whole lot of nothing in
Tabiteuea. Just tried to keep cool!

After six days we left for Abemama (an overnighter from Tab-North),
where we had a "thrilling" pass experience as our instrumentation
(like much needed depth) continued to go out and 17knot head winds
met a 4 knot tail current creating large standing waves. Chris
(who stands watch on the bow) was SOAKED as the bow punched through
the waves on more than one occasion!!! On the bright side, we were
greeted by a pod of dolphins (although they are hard to enjoy in such

Just as the previous atolls have some sort of reputation (cleanliness
& knives), Abemama is also known for something. But you'll have to
read "Sex Lives of Cannibals" for that bit of information as it a
little to risqué to post!

We had a great time in Abemama, exploring various parts of the atoll
as we moved around utilizing three different anchorages. After
eleven days we pulled anchor and headed for the "big city" of Tarawa.

As we'd heard ahead of time, Southern Tarawa (Betio) is quite dirty
and WAY over crowded. Some have referred to Betio as the armpit of
Kiribati ... but it is not without its good points too. The people
seemed to still be extremely friendly and as we walked the streets
we enjoyed seeing the Kiribati traditions (such as singing and Toddy
cutting) still in practice. Betio is also the site of a major US
and Japanese WWII battle and relics could be seen all along the roads
and beach fronts. We planned on a short stay consisting of check-in,
interneting, provisioning, and WWII relic searching.
Our stay was extended a few days when the wind died. While bummed
we couldn't leave, we took advantage of the down-time and enjoyed a
huge "traditional" Thanksgiving (although not too traditional since
we celebrated on Sunday).

After a few nights anchored out by "the island" (away from the smelly,
noisy main harbor) the winds filled in and we made our way to
Abaiang. It was not a fun passage, the wind filled in quickly
and we had to beat to Abaiang in 20-30 knots ... NOT FUN!!!

But we are here now, and all is calm. We haven't yet had a chance to
explore the atoll, but are looking forward to it.

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