Typhoon Haiyan & Woleai

Kapt. Katastrophe Strikes Again                       


The Typhoon and Aftermath:

As I reported to some but not all of you, we were at Woleai (pronounced ‘Woh-lay-eye’) atoll in Yap state of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) when the eye of Typhoon Haiyan (which later devastated the Philippines and is now cited as the worst typhoon in history to make landfall) came roaring within 60 miles of us on November 5-6, generating winds over 80 mph and terrible seas and despite our best efforts, shortly after midnight in pitch-black darkness, a half-inch thick piece of steel (the chain hook on our anchor bridle) bent and released our anchor chain placing us sideways to the waves, then the remaining chain and nylon rode (anchor line) was stripped out of the anchor locker through the windless, snapping the nylon rode, so that we were suddenly drifting free, causing us to hit a nearby reef and ultimately come to rest on a beach on the main inhabited island of the atoll, just 100 feet from the main shelter (the Catholic Church).   Our doubled anchor (the secondary anchor and 15 feet of chain shackled to the crown of our main anchor with a lot of extra scope on the chain) held just fine and was later retrieved from right where we dropped her, and the bridle itself survived with only insignificant chafe.   The disaster events – the waves crashing over and into the cockpit, water and sand and seagrass being forced through ports on the windward side, us suddenly noticing on the chartplotter that we were moving, trying to motor to safety, the barely noticeable crashing into the reef (due to the noise and violence of the wind and waves)  all happened quite quickly:  it took just a few minutes from finding ourselves adrift to jumping off the boat onto a beach.   We were lucky we were not swept away onto the barrier reef at the outer edge of the atoll and the furious seas on the other side, for surely Backbeat would have been dashed to pieces and Glen’s and my survival would have been problematic.

In retrospect we likely could have avoided all damage had we had in place a backup for the chain hook, which was stainless steel, but since the hook was thicker than the chain links, which were only galvanized, we felt more secure in the hook than in the chain. 

Even though there was a lot of damage to trees and crops – all-important in a traditional subsistence society like that of Woleai’s – and thatched roofs, the people of Woleai immediately swung into islander-hospitality mode and organized us a place to stay – the Women’s Center –  with bedding, food service, and help with securing and repairing Backbeat.  With the collective efforts of a couple of hundred people – men and women, young and old – we were able to pull Backbeat ashore bows on over the course of several days, and we began cleaning her of bucketfuls of sand and seagrass and water, and got some pumps going and removed floorboards and even tore out built-in cabin furniture with hammer and saw to get at the cracks and holes from the inside.  The port (left) hull was severely – extremely  damaged with the minikeel sheared off, leaving a gaping slash in the bottom about six inches wide and ten feet long, the saildrive (similar to the lower unit of an inboard/outboard except it is fixed and cannot swing) with propeller and most of the rudder all knocked off, causing big leaks in the engine compartment.  The starboard hull was damaged but not as severely, and we soon got that motor, saildrive and rudder working (the rudder erratically).

Cruising friends of ours in Pohnpei on the sailboat Carina from Washington State had been sending us weather info via email about the typhoon and so we notified them of our emergency situation, and they generously arranged to load emergency supplies for us on the FSM Navy patrol boat (about 120 ft. long) along with other supplies the FSM government was sending to the battered atolls in this area.   Within a week of our being driven aground by the typhoon we were patching Backbeat with fiberglass mat and resin  which we hoped would be enough to float her again.  But in the process of securing Backbeat ashore and giving us inspection and work access under the hull, the locals had lifted the port stern to set logs under her, and used logs as levers to do so, and we think these levers cracked the hull even more.  In anticipation of the arrival of a tug to tow us after a couple of weeks we relaunched Backbeat with hundreds of locals pulling (the biggest block and tackle on the island was taken out into the lagoon and affixed to a coral head and a long line led through it so we could pull Backbeat backwards).  Immediately she began taking on water – in relaunching some of our exterior repairs were ripped off by the sand and gravel of the beach and overall our repairs proved too limited for the damage.  We used what little fiberglass and epoxy supplies we had left and slowed the inflow some, but ultimately resorted to cement and GladWrap which helped minimally, employed food coloring to detect where a pesky leak was, and even scavenged a steel pole from the kindergarten swing set to get leverage to move the remains of the port rudder (we replaced the pole for the kids after we used it).

One of the big problems in trying to fix leaks on the exterior of the boat was that at high tide the port hull stood in water (fiberglass must be dry to be worked), and low tide she sat in sand and gravel on the beach.   The preferable lower low tides (note:  there were two low tides as well as two high tides each day, the levels on low tides on the very same day being as much as a foot different, so that one was preferable to the other) were inevitably in early morning from one to four a.m. during the crucial period, and we had to dig under the hull to make room to crawl underneath and work before the rising tide came in and swept our workpit away.

But we could not stem the inflow from the leaks and so began trying to keep the water pumped out.  I bailed with a gallon pitcher for hours, making a workout out of it – 50 pitchers-full with this arm, 50 with the other – and Mr Fix-it, Glen, worked on trying to keep pumps going.  We had no good high capacity sump (submersible) pump and Glen went through nine pumps we had onboard and ultimately ended up with one that worked intermittently.  The problem with the pumps was that none were rated for continuous duty, pumping 24/7, and instead were made for shortish bursts at the shower, sink or for refrigeration.  Some pumps, moreover, had no lift to them, and could not really lift water from the bilge up to a port and out.   And all had to be primed.  Glen also re-routed the intake line of the generator’s seawater-cooling system so that it sucked up water from the bilge instead of water outside the hull, and that proved effective – when the generator was running.   After a week, though, we ran out of diesel, and could neither use the generator nor easily charge the batteries (we do have three solar panels and a wind generator that generate some electricity) to run the electric pumps so were forced to beach Backbeat again so that the boat would be in shallow water when the port hull started to fill again.

Ultimately we tried locals’ sump (submersible) pumps but of three only one worked after Glen repaired her and she quit in less than 24 hours.  It was the twelfth pump overall he worked on.  And later we tried another non-submersible pump that a local lent us.

All this time I had been working to arrange a tow with a mad Aussie in Yap, the nearest port, whom I had met in Pohnpei with his family, they traveling on a gypsy-esque homebuilt timber motorsailer.  Unfortunately he was the only person I knew in Yap and, after I contacted him, he claimed he could arrange for a tug to bring us more patching supplies and diesel and tow us back.   Dealing with him was the worst part of the whole rescue effort by far.  He proved highly contentious, illogical, and illiterate to boot, and he made a bad situation worse with worry that he was ripping me off completely after I wired him thousands of dollars.  But finally – after 8 days for a distance of only 370 nm – the tug appeared.  It was decrepit, towing a barge with road construction equipment and averaged only two knots.  They planned on leaving the barge at Woleai in the lagoon while they towed us back to Yap, then were planning to leave us two miles offshore (so they would not have to clear in with Yap authorities) where the mad Aussie would pick us up and finish the tow, then the tug would return to Woleai, hook up to the barge again and continue on their voyage to Fiji with the barge.  On arrival, however, the crew didn’t want to proceed with towing us because of lack of fuel, so I released them and engaged another boat via email with a friend of a local Woleaian, although I lost $4500 in down payment and the limited supplies the tug brought, which included 20 bags of rice for the locals that the tug crew spoiled by storing them in the oily bilge.  Besides lack of fuel the crew, poor Fijians, also were running short of food so I gave them two bucketfuls of canned vegetables and a trashbag filled with packets of pasta and containers of flour, all from our now non-essential supplies.  I even bought them a fully grown pig from a local family who then slaughtered, gutted, and burned the hair off it. 

Then I did something that was a first for me – and probably for every other cruising sailor:   I took the hog carcass out to them in our dinghy.  That provided us with a great photo opportunity which Glen happily took advantage of.  I also provided the captain with codeine and aspirin for a toothache.

As an alternate tow I chartered a fishing boat from Yap.  They arrived a few days after the tug left and also brought more supplies to assist us in patching the remaining leaks, a working submersible pump,  and diesel so we could run the generator.

Glen, poor fellow, besides taking the lead on the fiberglass repairs and working at all hours to keep pumps going, had a few physical setbacks while we were in Woleai.  A dedicated Coca-Cola drinker, he loves coconuts when Coke is not available, to the extent that some of the locals on Woleai even called him Coco.  I estimate he averaged half dozen a day.   Soon after the typhoon we were in our quarters and he was cutting off the top of one while laughing and joking with me and some of the local men, not paying sufficient attention to the chef’s knife, and whacked off about an eighth of an inch of a finger, including some fingernail.   That slowed him down very little but knocking that finger against objects caused him a good bit of pain over the next few weeks.   Then, just about the time we relaunched, Glen decided to go for swim to refresh himself (we didn’t have a proper shower so we usually would go for a swim), and when he dove into the water he apparently smacked his face right into a jellyfish which stung him.   He hurried back to our quarters, and began literally to writhe in pain, rolling around on the floor, splashing his face and head with water, telling himself he had to tough it out, and he also lost vision.   Soon his body color changed to ashen then to jaundiced, and I was afraid something serious like renal failure might result.

I gave him some codeine from our med supplies, and yelled at a passing woman for help and she  immediately gathered other ladies and the medical officer.  The medical officer gave Glen a painkiller injection and the ladies made a poultice out of an ivy-like vine that they rubbed his upper body with.  One lady held him in her lap and hummed a song and did some sort of incantation, running her fingers very lightly across his face.   Slowly Glen regained his normal personality and began joking around.  He claimed later that the pain was the worst he had ever suffered, worse even than when his appendix burst in NZ years ago.  Seeing happy-go-lucky Glen, a big, strong, jovial man, in utter agony was gut-wrenching for us all.  But within 24 hours he was back to normal.

Then he aggravated an old knee injury, and with the work we were doing he could not let it rest, so he finally reached the point where he had to use a walking stick, and even today as I write this, several weeks later, he is quite gimpy, walking little and with a severe limp.

All during the many-faceted repair period Glen and I were on an emotional roller-caster, succeeding here, failing there, promises kept, promises ignored, getting excited about a solution we brainstormed, then seeing the solution fail, worn out one day, bored the next waiting in our sultry quarters for the tide to change, and envisioning resolution, then seeing our vision slip away.  Our living conditions were quite different than we were accustomed to, of course, and while pleasant enough overall, they were maddening at times with absolutely no privacy most of the time, even when changing out of my swimsuit, and flies swarmed on scrapes and blisters during the day while mosquitoes attacked at night.  We had uncomfortable bites all over and itchy heat rashes and festering scrapes and cuts continuously as well as fiberglass resin and fibers and expanding foam stuck to various parts of our bodies a couple of times, requiring us to bathe in acetone (we had almost no safety equipment).   But we acclimated well enough ultimately.   Overall, it was a highly interesting and invigorating phase in our lives, although we were exhausted by the end.


Life in Woleai:

Woleai is a part of Yap state (one of four in FSM) which prides itself on trying to retain its traditional communal culture much more than the other states.  The Woleaian language differs from Yapese, however, but is shared with some surrounding atolls.  It is an atoll with about eight islands, four of which are inhabited, and with about 15 villages in total, with a present population of about 600 with an equal number residing on Yap island, Guam and Pohnpei.  We were on the largest island at Woleai atoll, Falalop Woleai, which is located at the NE corner of the atoll, and which has five villages that all run together.  It turns out that villages are for breaking down communal tasks such as sharing fishing catches and work details into manageable levels, and the term ‘village’ connotes something different to the Woleaians than it does to us westerners.  There was only one church, St. Ignatius, which was next door to our quarters in the Women’s Center, just yards away from where Backbeat washed up in the typhoon.   Their bell – an acetylene canister hung on rusty rails from the Japanese era and struck by hammer – rang around six each morning and then in early evening three different times, and because it was only 30 feet away from our quarters could be deafeningly loud depending on who was striking it, mostly ladies.

Because it hosts the high school for several islands in this part of Yap state and computer science is a part of the curriculum, the government put a diesel-fired generator on Falalop Woleai so there is a very basic electrical grid, if grid is even the correct term for just a straight line down a road with one short offshoot in the middle.  Electricity was knocked out for a week or so after the typhoon while the three power company employees reconnected downed lines.   The Women’s Center was not connected to the grid, however, but the Catholic Church quickly connected an extension line to it after power was brought back, and the high school brought us two oscillating fans and a retired captain in the FSM Navy brought us his water dispenser with hot and cold outlets.  Potable water is rainwater supplied by individual cisterns, toilets are on an individual septic tank basis (although many people use the beach and lagoon).   The Women’s Center, a cinder block building with slab floor built by the government, had a toilet in a separate shed but no running water so we hauled water from next door for the toilet, for washing, and for drinking.  In the shed there was a drain and a giant basin and large plastic dipper with which we took a ‘shower’.

The bedding supplied us was what the locals use:  a lovely pandanus leaf mat about as thick as a placemat, and a pillow and a sheet.  After a couple of nights of that we brought in twin mattresses from Backbeat.  The Women’s Center had a table and two chairs and no more furniture, and in the church everyone but the officiant (not a priest) sat on the floor.

Most housing is traditional thatched roofed with woven mat or plywood siding and separate outbuildings for cooking, the toilet, storage, and sometimes a chicken shed, although some buildings were cinderblock and concrete, many from the days when 7,000 Japanese lived here on the atoll.  Glen and I felt a bit miffed for a while because we were never invited into a home, although we were invited to the grounds outside homes several times, but finally we realized that what we considered their ‘homes’ were really just their bedrooms (better:  sleeping-mat rooms), and socializing was never done there.  We peeked in a couple, though, and in the traditional thatched homes they had woven mat floors and in both the cinder block and thatched homes no furniture was evident.

The people in Woleai dress traditionally, men in loincloths and women in wraparound skirts (lava-lavas or sarongs), no tops, all locally woven, usually in the Women’s Center (the two small looms were moved out on our arrival).  The women’s lava-lavas are woven of local fibers, the loincloths of imported cotton thread.  Becoming accustomed to topless women took very little time and I think I will never get giddy again (if a man of my mature age can even do so) at the sight of women’s breasts, but one can’t help but wonder about the randy high school boys sitting in class with all those perky girls . . . .

Diet was comprised of limited fish and shellfish, more rarely pork or chicken, and heaping servings of breadfruit and taro, sometimes rice and potatoes, coconut sauces, papaya, and bananas.  The government introduced within the last twenty years a green leafy vegetable called something like kang-kung, grown like watercress in swampy areas, that they served us cooked with coconut vinegar, and with which I would mix a bland starch to make a nice dish.    Glen and I surreptitiously threw heaps of taro and breadfruit to a neighboring pig, trying to hide our distaste for so much bland starches from the ladies who served us.  Often for breakfast we got thick pancakes with no fixings, so I would mash a banana and spread sugar on it for a wonderful meal.  The locals also eat turtle and dog, neither of which we tried. 

Our meals were served in rotation each day by the five villages, women serving, often in freshly woven baskets of coconut palm and other leaves, with no utensils. 

When we first anchored in the lagoon, days before the typhoon, we came to shore to meet the two local chiefs who control all customary matters (that is, everything not mandated by the government) and the council of elders (men only) who advise them in a traditional open-sided thatched men’s canoe house, and pay our anchoring fee of $10 per person with unlimited duration.  We had given all our gifts away at previous islands so here instead of giving gifts I just doubled our anchoring fees, which seemed to please the chiefs.  The elder chief was Francisco, 78 years old, thin and blind since birth, while the younger chief, Francis, was about my age, and through an interpreter we were told the rules:  no photographs of people without asking their permission, boat speed limit of 5 knots within 100 yards of shore, no standing in boats because that is a signal for asking for assistance, no visiting two of the neighboring and, at low tide, attached uninhabited islands on any days but MWF and only with permission, and no fishing in a certain area off those islands.   On paying our fees, the chiefs accepted us as guests and thereby took responsibility for us, so that when we were shipwrecked they organized the specifics of our stay, ordering the villages to feed us, the Women’s Center to house us, the school to provide fans, a rotation of men to guard the boat at night, etc.  Nothing is done without the chiefs’ approval except what is required by the government.

We were told that a Japanese company offered to pay millions to Woleai for use of one of the uninhabited islands for a golf resort, but that they were refused for fear of disruption of traditional life.

There are five clans here on Falalop Woleai, fewer on the other inhabited islands, and each clan has a chief.  There are three chiefs from Falalop Woleai who are at present in Yap for some kind of chiefs council, leaving Francisco and Francis to rule.  They seem to hold a meeting every day for men to discuss something or the other, from fishing to cleanup to planning Christmas celebrations and most everything else, so do not act dictatorially and instead seek advice and rule by consensus.

Property is held matrilineally so that when a young man marries he moves in with his wife’s family.  From what I could detect in my limited interaction, women are second-class citizens otherwise.  In church one Sunday, I noticed a woman holding a crying baby scooting on her knees to the exit.  I asked about it later and discovered that women may not stand if brothers or male cousins are seated, while men are not so restricted.  Women do serve on committees but not on the council of elders, nor may they enter the men’s canoe houses.  Women’s activities are strictly segregated from men’s, and they do not sit together in church.  If high school girls hold athletic events, men are not allowed as spectators.  (I did not inquire about sports bras, but breast bounciness may be one of the reasons.)  This blatant sexism is a mixture, I think, of traditional culture and Catholicism, the one religion officially allowed.  

One Sunday evening near the beach barely a hundred yards from the Women’s Center, the women held a puberty celebration for two girls who had begun menstruation, and they decorated themselves with yellow ginger powder and lipstick and a white substance and they ate and sang until late that night.  The next morning the singing – the voices all sounding youthful – began again at six just after the church bell clanged its loud reveille for the island, and later I learned that the celebration goes on for four days, the men providing fish and coconuts and women preparing food.  There is no such rite of passage for boys, probably because they undergo no sudden physical episode that defines the moment of maturity so clearly as occurs with girls.   

Glen and I were feted with seven goodbye celebrations, one giant one with the genders separated, the women off to the side, and then there were lesser celebrations by the village where we were located as well as one by a neighboring village, two by women, and one by a youth group.  Women sing a great deal, forming the largest singing contingent in church, and in their goodbye celebrations for us sang and danced (we have some interesting video, below).  Often we heard groups of women singing, and they have a tradition similar to caroling at Christmas time when wandering groups walk about the island.  Occasionally young men accompanied the singing with guitar or ukulele, apparently women not allowed to play the instruments themselves.  Their singing I found nasal and whining and there was rarely any attempt at harmony.  The songs were simple and repetitive.  Polynesian music is much superior to my untrained ear.

Generally young people are treated with some disdain by adults and act as servants for elders.  Women and children eat after the men.  Many otherwise very nice adult men addressed young men and boys quite brusquely, ordering them to perform tasks like a drill sergeant addresses new recruits, and it was not uncommon to see mothers slap toddlers and older kids on the side of the head.  When we first arrived the kids seemed intimidated by us, but unlike the local adults, Glen and I greeted everyone including youths with at least a wave and a smile, and soon the kids warmed up to us and gathered around us constantly.  We more or less temporarily adopted an eleven-year-old illegitimate boy – quite rare on Woleai  named Walton, who was bright and constantly wanting to help us.  In retrospect, perhaps he adopted us.  Lots of teenagers also proved of considerable help as did many wonderful adult men.  We did have to shoo away young kids on several occasions who were underfoot as we tried to work. 

No one ever showed affection in public.  There was no hand-holding, and when Glen and I patted someone on the shoulder he or she seemed to stiffen as if we had invaded their private space.   After the celebrations, the celebrants would line up to shake our hands, but the women we hugged and gave a peck on their cheeks which seemed to delight them.

Many given names on Woleai were Spanish:  Francisco, Cipriano, Blas, Romeo, Fabian, Inocencio, Natalia, etc.  The Spanish controlled this area for centuries, then the Germans bought it from them at the close of the 19th century, then it was given to Japan to administer when WWI broke out.

The people of Woleai displayed two other customs that in my experience were unique.  First, for celebrations or important events, even for the approach of the typhoon, people of both genders dust themselves with a golden powder that I understand comes from the ginger plant and some mark their faces discretely with lipstick.  During two of our goodbye ceremonies Glen and I were adorned with not only lovely headdresses and necklaces (like Hawaiian leis) of flowers, but also with the ginger powder and sprayed with perfume.  A second unique custom is that they greet the arrival of any sea vessel with cries and shouts to ward off illnesses.  We experienced this with the arrival of the FSM Navy patrol boat, the tug, and the Fisheries Dept. boat that towed us to Yap.  The last two vessels were not allowed to land personnel because both came from Yap atoll where there is an outbreak of chikun gunya (sp?) which is similar to Glen’s old nemesis, dengue fever.

During our goodbye ceremonies we were each given gifts of woven goods such as a lava-lava for a woman, a purse, a fan, and a basket, as well as a hand-carved ornamental cane paddle.  We also received official invitations to graduation by this year’s senior class.  A young man in a wheelchair whom I befriended made two necklaces for me, one from fish bones and another sporting a boar’s tusks.

One might wonder about giving a purse to a man but here just about all men carry one to put their betel chewing supplies in.  All adults here are addicted to either betel chewing (men and women) or alcohol (men only).  The alcohol they drink is called ‘tuba’ and is fermented coconut blossom sap which men harvest twice a day.  Women are allowed to drink non-fermented sap only.   The age limit for young men to start drinking tuba is 20.  While marijuana was prevalent on Pohnpei and Chuuk, it is strictly proscribed here, possession of any amount subject to a $5000 fine.

This traditional culture is much more communal than western culture which focuses so much on the individual.   Pulling Backbeat ashore then launching her again was achieved by hundreds of people coming together and tugging on lines, occasionally sitting down in the sand to get a better grip with both feet, and was treated by the locals as a festive occasion.  A large and fat man with a thunderous voice was the caller and led the people in their equivalent of our chant ‘one, two, HEAVE’, although theirs had many stanzas and the people were quite used to it, and shouted out the ‘heave’ part in an eager but practiced manner.  The people were laughing and joking during the whole process and one fat woman and the fat caller danced in a humorous way.   One of these pulling session lasted around two hours, and we had four sessions in all.  Because we were so involved Glen and I unfortunately failed to capture the moments on video but we did get some stills.  

If Woleai was easy to reach I would suggest it for hardy travelers, but the supply ship which serves as the sole means of transport and postal delivery system only comes four to six times a year, the last this year being in August, the ship caught up with insurance and safety inspection problems.  Tobacco smokers were out of papers and were rolling their cigarettes from pages torn from books, then scraped with knives to thin.   There were hardly any store supplies:  no toothpaste but there was a Chinese tooth cleaning powder, for example.  Gossip has it that the supply ship will come before Christmas and everyone is excited about it. 


The Tow and Aftermath:

We attempted last minute patching of leaks and adding buoyancy using empty jerry cans, an ice chest and our fenders all stuck together with spray foam, and then the next morning at high tide, the fishing boat, named Mathawalyap, took us in tow and we set off, us with two pumps and the generator exhaust all pumping out the port hull.   Glen and I soon saw that we would be lucky to prevent Backbeat from flooding because water was flowing in at a barely manageable rate, we think from damage caused by sitting too long on sand and gravel which was constantly eating away at our fiberglass repairs from a couple weeks earlier.  We had retrieved the minikeel that had been sheared off and had it lashed down on deck and decided to lighten our load so managed to dump it overboard, and we dumped our fresh water supply as well.  But then a pump quit and the writing was on the wall:  our month of work was fruitless, and Backbeat was going to fill with water.  

We watched as the port hull slowly filled, causing Backbeat to list at a radical angle.  Soon the water spilled over into the deckhouse or main salon that spans the hulls, and then started filling the starboard hull (see video, below).  Gear of all sorts was swept out the door – books, cushions, clothes, tools, and everything else – leaving a trail of litter behind us.  Once Backbeat evened out with more or less the same amount of water in each hull (the starboard hull has a watertight compartment in the bow so floated a bit higher), the towboat came around and Glen and I left Backbeat to finish the tow aboard the fishing boat.  Backbeat, being a catamaran, did not sink and Mathawalyap continued to tow her the 370 nm to Yap over a four-day period.   We averaged 3.5-4 knots.

Glen and I both found the tow quite miserable, as Mathawalyap is only a 50-ft.-long workboat and was built for Japanese and not for six-foot-plus people, and was already crowded with five crewmen.  I ended up sleeping on the hard fiberglass cover of the fish hold on the front deck, and Glen slept here and there.  The weather was fine, but it was quite boring with nothing to do all day and no comfortable place to sit, and moreover we had to listen to the loud emissions from the drystack exhaust.  

Now we are in Yap, eating well (especially ice cream), tending to our festering wounds and aching limbs and are trying to figure out how we are going to haul Backbeat out.  An insurance surveyor must inspect her before any repairs may commence.   I have no idea yet about schedule.

I fully intend to get back in the saddle again on either a repaired Backbeat or a new boat, as I have enjoyed the best year of my life in 2013 and do not want to give up the life of an ocean vagabond for life ashore if I can avoid it.  I still have to reach a longitude equivalent to Cape Town’s to be able to claim I have circumnavigated, which is my goal, and at my age I have to keep at it right now or it won’t happen.

Whichever way I go with a boat, I’ll be lucky to find an insurance company that will carry me. 

(December 2013)  


  Morning after Haiyan, port (left) minikeel knocked off causing boat to heel (lean)

                         People of Woleai pulling Backbeat further up on beach


                                 Some of the platforms built of coconut trees

                                                Catholic Church service, Woleai


     Woleai women administering herbal relief to Glen for pain from jellyfish sting

                                                     Hog carcass in dinghy


                Local man with Kelly & Glen, eating, at men’s farewell celebration

                    (See brief video, below, with men singing from same event)

                  Bedecked and powdered Kelly at women’s farewell celebration


                          Kelly at stern of fishing vessel during 4-day tow to Yap


                            Gimpy Glen along dock at Yap, Backbeat awash

                      Video:   Kelly & Glen discuss preparations for typhoon

                                  Video:  Glen with iPad at onset of typhoon

                       Woleai men singing traditional song teaching navigation 

                      Woleai women singing & dancing at farewell celebration

                                Backbeat during tow just before we evacuate

                       See also our adventures on another sailboat:   http://www.syanna-kellywright.com/

© R. Kelly Wright 2014