I hope this blog finds you all well. We had a wonderful day yesterday in Honolulu! More to follow on that.
On Wednesday 16 March Aurora was at anchor off Christmas Island, an Island full of natural wonders; from the unique annual red crab migration, to rare and unusual birds and deserted beaches. The Island is often referred to as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.
There was no crew shore leave to give priority to our passengers. Due to the depth of water our boating operation was very slow, as initially we could only load 20 to 30 passengers in a boat, hence we did not get everyone ashore that wanted to go which was frustrating for all. The trials of boating! However we can only work with what we have got and by 1530 we ceased taking passengers ashore as we had to get all those ashore back to the ship in time for sailing.
Here is Graham's report on the day................
Kiritimati or Christmas Island is a Pacific Ocean atoll in the northern Line Islands and part of the Republic of Kiribati and not to be confused with a similarly named island that is in the Indian Ocean. It is one of 33 low lying islands that make up the Republic of Kiribati. It was previously called Christmas Island when it made up part of the former British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.
Christmas Island lies 105 nautical miles north of the equator. It is 1160 miles south of Honolulu and is in the world's farthest forward time zone, UTC+14 and it is interesting that the island is the first inhabited place on Earth to experience the New Year each year.
The island has the greatest land area of any coral atoll in the world: about 124 sq miles; its lagoon being about the same size and the height of the land averages 10 feet or less, but there are a few lines of sand hills which reach a height of 20 to 40 feet. The highest of these are along the southern shore of the Bay of Wrecks. The atoll is some 93 miles in perimeter, while the lagoon shoreline extends for over 30 miles.
The Christmas Islanders are very religious and there are several churches of differing denominations scattered over the Island.
Kiribati is one of the world's poorest countries. It has few natural resources. Commercially viable phosphate deposits were worked out at the time of independence. Copra and fish now represent the bulk of production and exports and tourism provides good earnings now. Kiribati is considered one of the least developed countries in the world and foreign financial aid, largely from Australia, New Zealand and Japan, is a critical supplement.
It is a strange thing that island names take on some of those from the UK and in fact London is the main village and port facility. The cutely named Banana is near Cassidy International Airport which is used from time to time as an emergency landing strip if aircraft get into difficulties.
The ship's tenders transferred the passengers to the island in an operation that was difficult to the extreme in the morning due to the low water levels and the tender drivers needed to use all of their skills to avoid the coral beds.
The coconut palms, most of which were planted after 1880 can be seen some 10 or 12 miles away. But the northeast and southeast points are so low that they are only visible from a few miles.
The people are incredibly friendly and were so pleased to see us, the pre school children especially putting on a special show. The children although shy danced to the music which we all appreciated. Most of us bought a postcard to send home with the treasured Christmas Island stamp affixed. Special memories here.
There are also a few stores that sell the usual essentials of life for the islanders and some of the passengers managed to find a small bar to ease away the heat of the day. Most families appeared to own a pig or two to provide tasty meals at some time as well as several chickens.
In many ways it could be an idyllic life here on Christmas Island; lovely beaches and a certain amount of isolation from the what can be maddening modern world.
Thank you Graham..........................I would not like to upset those pigs!
Aurora's pontoon out in the water with a tender alongside.
The P&O Cruises House Flag - at home all over the world.
At clearance we handed over some football kit which we were carrying for the islanders - so just to prove that we did it - here we are Natalie, Victor and James along with the Local Officials - pictured modelling a selection of the shirts!
Check the colour of the water....................
Aurora at anchor.
After sailing from Christmas Island we enjoyed two sea days before arriving in Honolulu.
It was interesting to watch the Royal visit to Christchurch and Brisbane - all places that were on our minds during this Grand Voyage. Looking forward to visiting San Francisco - we have four sea days between Honolulu and San Francisco in Northern California..............
Thank you for all your messages - I will get round to answering these soon. As you know we are always very busy when arriving in the USA.
Bye for now,
The willingness to share what you have is more important than what you have.