[161218, 0328 UTC, Happy Holidays from Oceania,06°58'N / 158°12' E]
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We join you this holiday season from Pohnpei, which is both the name of the island that shields Carina from the tumultuous weather of the north Pacific winter and the name of the State of the Federated States of Micronesia. Pohnpei (pronounced POHN a PAY) is also the seat of the national government with headquarters in rural Palikir, a village about six miles west of where we lie at anchor. The FSM is an island nation that stretches west from the Marshall Islands all the way to Palau, about 1,800 nm end to end. Its most remote island is Kapingamarangi at 1 north, 400 nm as a boobie flies from Pohnpei and home to a tiny population of people of Polynesian ancestry. The four States of the FSM are Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap; each of which incorporates island peoples of different ethnicities, speaking different languages, who settled these islands as voyagers. Many of the islands still practice voyaging aboard ocean-going sailing canoes using traditional navigation methods.
Our anchorage is a cut deep into the volcanic island; we are over a mile from Sokeh's Pass, the dramatic main ship pass through the reef and into the Pohnpei lagoon. As you enter this pass on the northwest side of the barrier reef, a huge cliff face dominates the mountain directly in front of you, known locally as Sokeh's Ridge. Pohnpei's volcanoes are all quiet now and covered in lush deep green jungle.
This season brings the greatest number of tourists to Pohnpei, including those who arrive by private yacht. We have yachts in port from Germany, Australia, the UK, France, plus five from America. Two are mega-yachts; one a magnificent deep blue cutter flying a Marshall Islands flag of convenience. Rumor has it that two more large yachts will arrive this week. We are actively planning a Christmas Day cruiser potluck to include a few expats on shore and plan to participate in a toys for tots-type event on Christmas eve. Tonight we host for a festive supper our Pohnpeian friends, Kumer and Antonia, who own Mangrove Bay marina, hotel and sushi bar.
This is high surf season at Palikir Pass, a world class surf site that's busy with professional and amateur surfers riding the swells arriving from the north. Each day we watch as the surf club boats shuttle divers and surfers to the reef.
In town, tinsel, lights and good cheer are making the season bright, even as it rains torrentially and gusting winds bend the coconut palms and send gorgeous breadfruit leaves to earth. The post office is central to the season as there is no home delivery. The cheerful efficient staff including Lily and Yasko hustle to make sure gifts coming and going are handled with care. We've found Pohnpeians to be happy, friendly and welcoming people, quick to smile and even quicker to help others enjoy their island. We've made many friends here.
We are healthy, happy, busy, and in a peaceful beautiful place. We hope this short note finds you and yours enjoying the same.
With love and peace from your friends of the yacht Carina,
Philip, Leslie and the spirit of the fat cat, Jake