Returning Home: Reflections of our I-Kiribati Observer

August 6, 2019

Miita Ribabaiti, Observer


Ship's Log

Current Position
8˚48.554’S // 172˚43.118’W

Ship’s Heading & Speed

Sail Plan
sailing under four lower sail


Souls on Board

Today’s blog is written by our I-Kiribati observer, Miita. In addition to his role as observer for the government of Kiribati, he has been participating fully in the student experience, beginning with classes in Woods Hole in June.

Living on the boat was very good since it was very comfortable in terms of taking shower in anytime you want. Food was good I like the food so much since I taste food that I never taste before and beside that we ate more a lot of vegetable on this boat. Sleeping was really good and I sleep well in my small bunk. This boat was very clean boat because we do a lot of cleaning on this boat and I love cleaning because I want to live in a clean environment. Those things are very cool to me since sailing in the ocean in a long time with that kind of exciting condition make me happy.

This sailing boat gives me a lot of learning with new experiences. I learn a lots of things on the boat like: Sailing handling was very fun to me since we do a lots works on different robe especially setting different sail, striking the sail, gybing the boat without using motoring and steering the boat. By doing that everyday especially during our watch duty it makes everything to me easier to take an order from the mate. We do lots of deployment for science researching and I learn many things from that deployment like being a dancer, driver, data recorder and more safety about science deployment. I love being dancing jobs duty during the deployment since you always keep an order all time.

I also see many interesting species that we caught from our tucker trawl, phyto net and neuston net deployment, learning some species from hundred counts by using microscope and entering different data. We do a lot of watch on this ship in different time which I learn some navigation skills such as plotting position, doing weather and steering the ship. By doing those I feel that I become as captain especially when I steer ship. Emergency skills are another thing that we are always do and repeated in regular time for doing safety on the boat. I feel that doing this regularly can avoid any issues and trouble that might be happen on the boat. We do lots of time to practice for drill training like fire problems man overboard and safety skills and many others. We are being tough with much kind of skills which is very useful for our safety on this boat. I also have time to learn an engineer role, I have time to help the steward to prepare food and we do lots of cleaning on this ship to defeat bacteria. Those things that I learn keep me good and new experience for my life. But one thing I feel excited about is the ways of captain and all their crew manage this trip that in good organize. Most crew talk nicely when they give command to everyone. Helping each other and being helpful was the leadership that I felt in good way and make me happy on this trip. Everyone on this trip are being social, friendly and working together.

I really enjoy this trip a lots since is not only about doing science study but is more than what I expected. We are tourist as well I thought because we do lots of things when we arrived on islands. When we are in Kanton Island I feel more excited to see my own kind of races. This island is new to me because this is my first time to arrive on Kanton islands. I have time to meet with people on that island and talk a lot about saying and life in Kanton. Beside that I see many things that are very new to me while staying in Kanton. We do snorkel trip in the lagoon and in the passages near shipwreck.

I’m from Kiribati I do snorkel a lots in my islands but here in Kanton was my first time to see a big massive plate coral and many fish inside this lagoon and was very fascinated to me. I saw many old building and many bunker on land while walk around on this island this building made by American people during world war two. I have time to see rail way airport on this land and it seem pretty nice. Anyway the total population in Kanton was 48 including children and the maximum population which can live in this island was hundred no more than hundred. This information I got from the boss who lives there and his name was Tuaake. The last day before we left Kanton we held farewell party with people on this Island and next day student Kanton had time to tour our sailing boat before we sail to Orona.

We keep doing our sciences deployment before we arrived on Orona Island but one day before we arrived in Orona one of the students saw FAD (fish aggregating device) floating on the surface. Seeing this kind of device tell me pipa area is not well protected. Anyway when we are in Orona Island I saw more bird that in Kanton so I haven’t see many bird like this before. When we get on island I saw many shark and many big fish while walking near the beach. We spent two days in this island for snorkel mission in the lagoon. Sadly no plate coral I saw in Orona lagoon just massive corals (round coral) and numbers of clams everywhere. I can saw clams survive near the beach and that was interesting to see. One house in Orona which still exist and still good and that house were built by Kiribati people for storing copra (coconut).

After that we left Orona to Nikumaroro. Before we are arrived in Nikumaroro Island we saw two fishing vessel and the day after we saw one. I felt sad because these three fishing vessel do the wrong thing since they fish inside the protected are. When we are in Nikumaroro Island we also do snorkeling and tour island as well. We tour the island on the first day. We do many funs that day since I show my group the way to open the coconut. I provide many coconuts and teach them many things especially on how to select right coconut that good for drink. I talk a lots of many things about Kiribati people and that what they ask for and want to hear from my side. I show them everything about coconut and the way we used coconut trees.

On the second day in Nikumaroro one big mission that we did was finding FAD (fish aggregating device) on the beach. This trip lead by Henry and Jordan and we walk 10 miles around the island. This first to walked that far in my life and we found fifteen FAD on that trip. We spent almost seven hours that day for walking. After we returned back from finding FAD then we have another last snorkel trip so that time I’m very tired I do not to joint that trip. That is Last Island inside the PIPA area that we are drinking many coconuts before we left.

But still keep doing our science deployment and everything has been change on the program. Before and during our watch and running the ship we always help by a mate. This time no more help from mate and now every each of students must give an order of running the ship and do the deployment science.

- Miita Ribabaiti, Observer

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