November 3, 2017

#Woleai atoll #Micronesia #FSM

                                                                                                                         16 - 23th of March, 2013

We set sail around 3pm for the short 120 mile sail west to Woleai Atoll from Olimarao island.  The forecasted  were showing winds to ease to 15 knots out of the east so we set the screecher sail and expected a slow 20 hour passage.  Instead of easing the winds did the opposite and increased to over 25 knots!  With a breeze like this Downtime was really moving and surfing down the swells at over 11 knots at times! Needless to say we were going way to fast to fish and just sat back and enjoyed the smooth downwind ride.
Around 10 pm with the winds still blowing strong we decided to change sail and slow the boat down so we would not pass up our destination during the early morning hours.  Furling this huge sail can be quite a challenge in high winds like we were experiencing and I was not looking forward to going on deck and wrestling with it while the boat going 10 knots and sliding down waves in the dark.  We were lucky tonight and everything rolled up like it was supposed to and the dreaded job was done in 15 minutes and Downtime was now cruising along at a comfortable 7 knots.  Having cover nearly 80 miles in the first 8 hours of the trip we had just 40 to go and were due to arrive a 7 am at the south pass into the atoll.

As we approached the island we were hailed on the radio 4 miles out by a watchful eye on shore who asked us our vessel name and intention.  This was a first in a long time that we had been spotted so far out and we were impressed that they were watching their waters so closely.   After entering the lagoon we were handed over to a guy name Tommy who would be our go to guy for the week and he gave us directions into the anchorage.  After we got settled we were contacted by him again and he welcomed us ashore to meet the chief.  We lowered SD and went ashore after breakfast and were greeted with a beautiful lei and a warm handshake.  There are several villages on Woleai and Chief Francis lives on the south end of the island.  We met in a circle under a men’s canoe house with the 78 year old blind Chief and few other village leaders.  Everyone we meet gets the condensed version of our travels and most are amazed by all the places we have been.   We gave the Chief a zip lock full of tuna filets and a hat and he welcomed us to stay on the island as long as we like.

After all the formalities were done we set off to do our favorite thing on a new island, find the kids and hand out gifts and candy.  Soon after we arrived at the elementary school our bags were empty and we were surrounded by smiling faces.  Most the kids spoke English and it was fun to throw a Frisbee and blow bubbles with them. The elementary school has about 120 kids and  there is also a separate high school with another 200 students from here and also a few surrounding islands like Likiep and Elato.  The dress code is loin cloth for the boys and lava lava for the girls and everyone is topless including the teachers.

Five 8th grade girls from the elementary school showed us the way to the high school, down a path that took us through the jungle and across the island.  I was thinking as I walked among them that if I was 15 again and walking through the jungle with 5 top less girls that I would be the luckiest man alive…..

We met with the principle’s at both schools and gave some supplies to the grade school and accepted an offer do a presentation of our travels to the high school.   I have to say that it looks like they are doing a good job teaching and they have enough resources to do their jobs.  The kids are very well mannered and are attentive in class.

We made it to church on  Sunday and caught the end of the service.  It is kind of hard to get motivated to get to church and sit there for hours listening to a language you do not understand….. So we just show up late and meet with the people afterwards.

The night before I had asked permission from the chief to be able to teach some of the boys how to wake board and he said it would be fine after church to go have some fun.  I met the kids on the beach at 10 and the fun began in the rain.  I had 40  5th and 6th grader boys ready to go!  I started the first load of 5 kids on  the wakeboard.  The second kid who tried got up after 2 tried and went a few hundred feet!  I thought great now I have a teacher who can help me explain to the other kids…..WRONG!!  I was only able to get 1 out 15 kids up so I switched to the much easier surfboard, where they could just lay on it and be pulled across the water behind SD.  I kept encouraging them to try and stand and only one brave soul hung ten for a few hundred feet before he wiped out.  I tried telling them all that  it is OK to let go of the rope when they crashed, but most held on for dear life and became human torpedoes!

There were big things going on at the high school with the arrival of 24 new computers filled with tons of information.  John Bush a computer tech from Hawaii and longtime island volunteer was just finishing up the installation.  The mainframe was state of the art and will supply limited information to these students who most of have never operated  a computer.   They are still a long way from having internet but that is not all that bad considering what a waste of time it can be…..instead the mainframe is loaded with all the national geographic issues, the latest world book encyclopedia’s and lots of other useful information that can broaden these kids view of the world.

A few days later we returned and John set up a projector and Daria and I showed the high school kids where we were from.  Daria had lots of great picture from St. Petersburg and I dug up a few of the cows back in Kansas.  Next we showed them a few places like Maccu Pichu, the Mayan ruins in Belize and then shots from the Panama Canal and  New Zealand.  I think they had the most fun with shots we took on their own  islands since they rarely see pictures of themselves let alone projected life size on the wall.  It was good times sharing with all these kids and we were loudly applauded after each presentation.

The winds had been calm for a few days so we  contacted Tommy to see if he could find us a dive guide.  We were in luck, Morgan had recently returned from Yap and is a professional dive guide with over 2000 dives in his log.  We set it up for Monday after we had our presentations at the school and hoped for sunshine.  The weather cooperated and we did two good dives along the pass.  We spotted lots of things with the help of Morgan who could find a needle in a haystack!  We saw several moray eels,  octopus, starfish, a flounder that I thought was sand until it moved, nudibranch, sea stars and even a few pieces of discarded artillery from WW2.   It was strange to see a 5 inch shell laying on the ocean floor knowing it was most likely fired at some unlucky ship so many years ago.

Wolbai Atoll has 8 islands surrounding a beautiful lagoon.  Inside the shallow lagoon  are two small island that might have been candidates for the Corona Beer commercial with a few swaying palm and white sand beaches.  The main island is Woleai which was occupied by over 7000 Japanese troops during the war.  Chief Francis remembers the war vividly and told me that when the troops were here there was not a tree left on the island and you could see from one end to the other.  Like many other islands in the pacific it has a runway built on and has many concrete bunkers doting the landscape.  All the locals were evacuated to Yap during the war and he told me he went to school there until one day when bombs fell on the island and blew up the schools and that was it for school for a while.  Very few locals were killed during the war itself and the only casualties were from people playing with hand grenades they found afterwards.  The Japanese were not as fortunate….he told me only 3000 of the 7000 walked on the ship after the war the rest remain buried on the island.

 Every afternoon the men gather around at 5 to drink tuba (palm wine) and discuss what went on that day and they all seem to want the new visitors at their villages circle for the night. There are 5 circles on main island.  I have learned on thing and that is to bring your own cup and drink slowly!

The men were sitting around one night and discussing fishing and turtle hunting, neither of which they were having much success at lately.  It seems turtles are harder to find and there are not many large fish left on the reef.  I had seen the boat come in and there were 7 or 8 guys with spear guns and maybe 50- 4-6 inch long fish on the ground that they were dividing…not much meat for all that work…..Things used to much much better….

Being a farmer I asked the question of what they were doing to sustain their resources?  Their answer was that they closed certain parts of the reef to fishing certain times of the year.  I asked them to explain how they thought this was helping when obviously a few months was not really helping the catch size…..I took the floor and presented the idea of closing certain parts of the reef for years not months so that fish could mature and actually become old enough to reproduce.  Then they would spread to other parts of the reef and replenish it.  The idea was well received and they said it made sense….but implementing it will be a whole other mater in itself….The next idea I had was how they could harvest more and larger turtles….The practice now is to catch and kill everything you see no matter what size or time of the year it is.  It is even fair game to track the females onto the shore and kill them when they are nesting and laying eggs!  Sadly the eggs are a bonus and they dig them up and eat them too!  What chance does a turtle have when only 2 or 3 eggs will develop into a mature turtle undisturbed in the wild….now with hunting [practices like these it is ZERO!` A turtle lays 70 to 80 eggs and most baby turtles are picked off on their way to the ocean or are eaten by sharks or fish before they are 3 months old.
I suggested to the chief that it would be in everyone’s best interest to stop digging up the nests and taking the eggs and to also stop  killing the females during nesting season.  Another idea was instead of eating the eggs they should gather them and move them to one of their uninhabited islands and protect them.  They also need to build a pen to keep them safe for the first 6 months of their life and feed them.  When they are big enough to survive turn them loose and in 2-3 years these same turtles will return weighing hundreds of pounds.  Only then after a female lays its eggs can they harvest them for meat having created a sustainable farming program.  Again the idea made sense to them…but time will tell if future generations will even know what a turtle looks like……

It seemed every time we went ashore we were given fresh flowers by some one… Wednesday was Raymond’s birthday one of the teachers at the high school and he invited us ashore for a small party. Daria made some chocolate cupcakes and I put together some fishing gear for a present.  Both were very much appreciated and soon  Daria was covered in flowers again.  There was no shortage of tuba either….but I was still in pain from the night before when I almost drowned in the stuff at another party!  We made a short night of it and went back to Downtime early.

The next day we met Tommy and he took us around to see the war ruins.  We saw a few planes in the jungle and some old equipment rusting away.  Most the building were bombed to smithereens and only foundations remained .  Walking through the jungle we saw many craters where bombs had dropped which now were taro gardens where the plants like to grow in standing water.

Our week here was quickly coming to an end and we told Tommy we planed to leave on Saturday.  Next thing we knew a going away party was being planned at the main village.  There was one other boat leaving on Friday so, Thursday night it was.

The culture here is much different than back in the states and only the men showed up to the party!  The women obviously spent many hours preparing the food and flowers but the men served it to us.  The younger guys had been out fishing all morning and our meals had one small fried fish and boiled taro in coconut sauce and had enough food for two people!

The tuba flowed freely and the guys from the other boat brought a few cases of beer so there was plenty to drink. We brought some yellow fin tuna which the men sliced and ate raw, a favorite of theirs.
It seemed that everyone that showed up brought flowers and soon we had 2 or 3 lei’s and 4 or 5 head bands stacked up on our heads.  I had never seen so many flowers!
The next night we asked John to bring down the projector so we could do a slide show at the church for the village.  There had to be 70 or 80 people sitting around as Daria and I showed them pictures of our travels.  We were glad we could share our world with them since they were so generous with sharing theirs.
Our last night on the island Raymond invited us over again and had another bunch of fresh flowers for us to wear.  Wow what an amazing experience!  The generosity and love these people showed us will be treasured for a life time!

In our next adventure we will be stopping Ulithie Atoll the 4th  LARGEST atoll in the world!

Until then, Peace!
Pete and Daria

September 9, 2017

#Hurricane #Irma

Hurricane Irma is slamming the Caribbean as category 5...
Hurricane Jose as category 3 coming in couple of days...  
Hurricane Katia is category 1 in the Gulf of Mexico... 
The strongest earthquake 8,1 for decades hit Mexico today... 
And triggering Tsunami alerts for 8 countries in Central America... 

What is next?

In June, 2013 I was sailing from Palau to Philippines on Downtime, when the Captain Pedro didn't look well at weather report... I mean he did not note some strong wind, which in reality became hurricane 1 category and we lost main sail, jib, radar, autopilot and had a crack in fuel locker... So it was a lot of action and very memorable experience. Thanks again, Pete Tuls... But smooth seas don't make a good sailor!
And to be honest I would prefer be there with friends instead of sit here in St-Petersburg, Russia, all safe and just wait news and be worry... and watch all that "apocalyptic" damage... 


Hurricane Irma is slamming the Caribbean as category 5 storm. Irma's recorded maximum wind speed hit 185 mph, with some gusts of wind moving as fast as 215mph. 
That makes the storm one of the most powerful ever to hit the Atlantic basin. 
The categories on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale are determined based on wind speed, but that's not the only element of a hurricane that causes damage. Flooding, a metric that the categories don't take into account, can often become a costly problem, as was recently seen when Hurricane Harvey flooded parts of Texas and Louisiana. 
To put this year's storms into perspective, here are 5 hurricanes that topped the charts as the strongest in the history of the Atlantic Ocean, based on wind speed and pressure. 
1. Hurricane Katrina - 2005 made landfall as a Category 5 with winds up to 175 mph near Miami, before striking Louisiana as a Category 3 storm. Katrina was the third deadliest hurricane in US history, with more than 1200 deaths. It caused $108 billion in damage, making it costliest hurricane the country has ever seen.
2. About 25 years ago, the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew ripped through Fl with 175-mph winds, leaving millions without power and many neighborhoods completely destroyed. The response was so problematic that it led to major changes within the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
3. Hurricane Camille formed in the Gulf of Mexico and hit Mississippi as a Category 5 storm. Camille caused more than 256 deaths and is considered one of the most intense hurricane to hit the US based on its pressure, which was measured at 900 millibars. (The more intense a hurricane is, the lower its pressure.)
4. Hurricane Carla hit Texas as a category 4 storm in 1961, causing $2.36 billion worth of damage. Its strong winds and storm surge had devastating consequences.
5. Hurricane Mitch hit Central America with 180 mph winds in 1998. The storm led to disastrous flooding in Honduras. 
6. Just a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana, Hurricane Rita formed. The storm brought heavy rainfall to the state again, and hit Texas as well, causing $12 billion in damages. It's often referred to as the "forgotten storm" of the horrific 2005 season. 
7. An unnamed storm that tore up the Florida Keys over Labor Day in 1935 is still considered one of the "most intense" storm in US history, based on wind speeds and pressure. The wind was so powerful it knocked a train, pictured here, off the rails as it was delivering emergency supplies.
8. Hurricane Gilbert ripped up the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico in 1988 with 185-mph winds and 888 millibars of pressure, the second-lowest recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm left destruction in Jamaica and Mexico before moving north through San Antonio, pictured here. 
9. Hurricane Wilma (2005 - 185 mph) broke records at the time as the most intense hurricane ever to hit the Atlantic Ocean. It had the lowest central pressure of any hurricane in the Atlantic basin, with an estimated pressure of 882 millibars. The Category 3 storm was especially damaging to Mexico, Cuba, and Florida. 
10. With max winds of 190 mph, Hurricane Allen - 1980 holds the title as the storm with the highest wind speeds in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm hit along the Mexico-US border in Texas, traveling west. Allen had the highest sustained wind speeds ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere until Hurricane Patricia formed in the Pacific in 2015 with 215-mph winds. 

September 22, 2016

#Cynthia #syntheticBacteria #goneWild #anotherGiftfromUStoOurPlanet

During people getting more and more crazy about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, there is some serious danger hide by US government or at least not let it be as public as it should be... 

"... However, in the nearest future, the planet could face yet another “monster” that was bred deep inside US corporate laboratories. We are talking about the first synthetic bacteria – Cynthia, created “to combat oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico” which, according to the various reports that are often ignored by the corporate media, has mutated and has started attacking animals and humans. Now this highly lethal microorganism is on its way to Europe.

One could recall that back in April 2010 an explosion at a British Petroleum oil rig resulted in millions of barrels of oil contaminating the Gulf of Mexico. Despite the drastic measures taken to prevent an environmental catastrophe, an oil slick produced by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill covered over sixty thousand square miles.
As one of the means of addressing the environmental catastrophe on their hands, Washington decided to take drastic measures, regardless of the possible consequences of those actions. It was at that time when an artificially created microorganism nicknamed Cynthia was unleashed, without any kind of examination of the possible threat it may pose to the environment.
Cynthia is the brainchild of the J. Craig Venter Institute — which was engaged in genetic engineering experiments since the beginning of the 21st century — and Synthetic Genomics Inc, and was created and funded directly by BP. It was believed that Cynthia feeds on oil, but it turns out now that it is equally willing to consume all forms of organic life as well…
In 2011, Cynthia was unleashed in the Gulf of Mexico and in its initial stages of life it was absorbing oil slicks at breathtaking speed. In January, 2011 the Register reported that scientists were particularly impressed by the speed with which the bacteria was eating up its “meal”.
But then this bacteria mutated and soon was feeding on organic lifeforms. Strange reports started coming from the US, like five thousand birds falling victims of an “unknown disease” in Arkansas, or more that a hundred thousand dead fish found off the coast of north Louisiana. It was also reported that a total of 128 British Petroleum employees that participated in the liquidation of the oil slick were struck by some mysterious illness. According to various sources they were forbidden to seek relief in public hospitals, to prevent them from talking to anyone about what has happened to them…
Soon it was recorded that the disease and the symptoms that are now associated with the coastal zone of the Gulf of Mexico began spreading to the continental United States – for example, people who were caught by heavy rains that came from the Gulf of Mexico were also exposed to it.
In fact, such disturbing reports have become pretty common, in spite of the restrictive measures taken by the US government to prevent this information from spreading. In particular, it’s been reported that certain individuals who were unfortunate enough to take take a swim in the Gulf of Mexico often found themselves covered with itching sores only to die in agony a few days later due to extensive internal bleeding.
According to media reports, a person can become Cynthia’s victim under two circumstances: if it penetrated the skin barrier through a wound or if they were unfortunate enough to eat raw seafood infected by this bacteria. Once the bacteria is in the system, it penetrates into the layer between the skin and muscles and starts producing a toxin that disrupts tissues. It is known that Cynthia is capable of reproducing itself rapidly within the infected cells, and that it is immune to antibiotics.
According to the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), up to 40% of the residents of the territories adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico have become infected with severe respiratory and skin diseases, and one in four residents is planning to pack up and leave in the nearest future.
Still, Washington has been pretty determined to mute these reports by announcing that the growing death toll can be attributed to some “unknown virus.”
At the same time, we’ve been witnessing disturbing reports that Cynthia has started spreading to different regions of the world, since the mass death of seals in Alaska, near the town of Barrow, was accompanied by skin lesions and extensive damage to internal organs of the deceased animals.
At the rate the bacteria is spreading together with the Gulf Stream, Europe is definitely at risk. What can the consequences of this voyage be if the reports about high lethality among those infected by the bacteria are proven right – one can only guess … It means that the famous beaches of France, Italy and even Greece and Turkey are to be closed permanently. The microscopic Cynthia might swallow the tourist industry of Southern Europe.
What is happening in the Gulf of Mexico – is not a regional problem and the residents of this area are not the only ones at risk. This is a problem of global proportions. The signs of a possible bacterial viral infection are already beginning to appear everywhere. The mysterious, unexplained illness affecting fish, marine mammals, animals, poultry, trees, and plants arise from the synthetic genomes that transforms natural organisms and force them to mutate.
However, even at the initial stage of the test trials of Cynthia, many experts were vocal in stressing the danger of synthetically created living organisms. For instance, Dr Helen Wallace the Executive Director of the British organization Genewatch that oversees research in the field of genetics pointed out in an interview that this synthetic bacteria could pose a serious danger. In turn, the Friends of the Earth movement has stressed time and time again that this scientific achievement of J. Craig Venter is a threat to the entire world, and all the research of this institute should be put on hold.
Many environmentalists and human rights activists on the back of those disturbing reports say that the US government is not prepared to regulate this revolutionary domain of science. An international civil society organization based in Ottawa, Canada known as the ETC Group has sounded the alarm, arguing that Venter opened a “Pandora’s box” and that an international moratorium on the development in the field of synthetic biology in private laboratories must be introduced immediately, since such research may pose a threat to all life on the planet.
So what are we witnessing here if not the manifestation of Washington’s secretive policy on the development of new types of biological weapons? The US has been hard at work on the weakening of the international norm that prohibits the development of biological weapons, while building up its own military biological infrastructure and creating a string of microbiological laboratories across the world that are being run by the Pentagon. The activities of such laboratories are not being supervised so there’s absolutely no guarantee that a new kind of monster that can outmatch Cynthia is not being created in their depths.
Under these circumstances, there’s an urgent need to force Washington into singing the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction that it blocked unilaterally in 2001. Moreover, there must be a verification mechanism that would guarantee that all the provisions of this convention are observed to the letter by all those who signed it."
Jean Périer is an independent researcher and analyst and a renowned expert on the Near and Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook  
“Cynthia” is very quickly propagated, self-reproducing in infected cells, and it’s not responding to antibiotics. The situation has gone from bad to worse. 
According to the CDC (centers for control and prevention of diseases of the U.S. in 2014 due to bacteria ill 97 people, 27 of them died. 
You can become infected in two ways. The first — through the wound, even the smallest, the second in raw seafood. Once the microbe is in the body, it penetrates into the layer between the skin and the muscles. The bacterium produces a toxin that destroys living tissue.

Among the victims may be a large city on the East coast of the United States, including Washington, New York, Boston, Miami, Richmond. Because the Gulf stream flows close to them.
And no one today can guarantee that Cynthia will not penetrate into the Mediterranean sea. Because it can travel even rain clouds. And this greatly increases the possible geographical spread of the epidemic. 
Daria Friday