July 31 blog

You know you have been staying too long in one spot when you name the fish that have taken up residence under your boat. Fred, the nurse shark, has been with us for about 5 days now. We like to go swimming everyday in the crystal clear warm water. I always let Jordan, my crew member, jump in first.
We are doing some maintenance on the boat before our long Hawaii leg of our trip. All oil and fuel filters need to be changed and every nut, bolt and screw needs to be inspected and tightened. it is amazing what works its way loose with the constant boat motion and vibration from the engine and prop. In additon, we are waiting for some spare parts to be shipped in from the USA. The Marshall Islands have a “compact of free association” with the USA which allows them to be part of the US Postal system so Express Mail is reasonably quick considering the Marshalls are in the middle of nowhere. It also allows the USA to maintain a large naval base at Kwajalein Atoll. While picking up the mooring here we sucked a very thick mooring line into the bow thruster. It damaged the blades. Another reason to be scuba certified. Fortunately it is just a couple of bolts to change the blades but you still need to be underwater for an extended period of time. The guy at the order desk at the bow thruster company says it happens all the time. We could leave for Hawaii with it unrepaired but it is nice to have. We are also dealing with our exploding battery issue. I would feel much better with a back up bank of batteries. The half bank (2-24 volt banks for a total of 400amp hours) seems to be doing fine but we do not want to chance it.
I have decided to engage the services of a weather router for this next portion of the trip. We will be at sea for 2 weeks+ and it is hurricane season. A professional weather router will evalute the current and future weather and let us know the best time to leave Majuro. In addition, he will send me daily email updates through my satellite phone letting me know what weather to expect and if I should change course to avoid bad weather. It is just another safety tool. With the tools available to the boater today it just amazes me when you hear about people getting into trouble as a result of the weather. There are so many ways to download current weather information to your boat. In addition to my sat phone email and weather grib download system I also have a SSB (Single sideband radio). Using a special modem I can download weather to my computer. In additon, there are “nets” that broadcast at a certain time everyday on the SSB. You can check in with fellow cruisers in the area, they let you know if any current events are going on, give an updated weather forecast and is a great opportunity to find out where you can get propane, fuel, parts etc. Here in Majuro the “net” broadcasts on both the SSB and VHF radios. There is a Tuesday dinner night at a different restaurant every week that most of the cruisers in the area attend. it is a great way to meet peope from all walks of life and all different countries.