Marshall islands – Ratak chain report

Published 12 years ago, updated 4 years ago

From Noonsite Regional Editor: Luc Callebaut & Jackie Lee on s/v Sloepmouche


We are now enjoying the Marshall Islands and Majuro. Will be visiting several atolls after getting boat parts from the US. Majuro is another Capital in a small island chain, and like Pago Pago, is a strange and contrasting mix of rotting buildings left over from WWII, and every decade thereafter, right next to shiny mirrored buildings and modern architecture of govt buildings donated by the US, China, Australia, and any other country that wants power over, and favorable votes from, this small island nation. Amusing and sad at the same time.

Out in the harbour are commercial fishing boats from different nations, coming and going to the fishing grounds which the Govt islet being plundered for some seemly extravagant sums for these rights. In truth, it’s nothing compared to the profits the fishing companies are making. One yachtie that visited one of the boats was told that they if they don’t bring in over $1.2 million of fish every 3 weeks they get a reprimand. (That’s only one of all those boats).

But, there is a bright spot tucked away from all that global control and avarice, in a tiny part of the harbour, squeezed between the high tech fishing boats and the decrepit wrecks along the shoreline: the sailboat cruising community of Majuro.

This year’s yachtie community is the most welcoming and friendly bunch of folks that we have met in all our years of cruising! Even miles before arriving in the anchorage, at 7:30 am, the local cruisers VHF/SSB net was going on, and Karen from SEAL was calling to see whether we arrived in yet! (We’d been in email contact). When we came in, the mooring field was quasi-full, but immediately, one long-time live-aboard resident signalled us to come to take one of his spare moorings til we got our bearings. Within hours, John (Commodore) from HAWKEYE came over with a “welcome package” with a gift bag, a great guide to Majuro, and other flyers and leaflets. As we were making our first trip to the shore, Ken (Commodore) from MOONBIRD, waved us over to say welcome and offer help with any info we needed. WOW.

Karen and Carrey (SEAL) have created a very nice CD guide for visitors, titled “On the Move in the Marshalls”, and they are the unofficial welcoming hosts to all visiting yachts. They organize yachtie dinners, races, rallies, swap meets, and draw everyone out to share in activities, give talks and share info of interest to other cruisers. The spirit here is contagious and brings out the camaraderie in everyone.

We have only been here a month now, and we’ve not stopped meeting people and learning information about everything from the Open CPN navigation program to the latest computer techno-gadgets, to health and nutrition. We’ve already gotten involved in a project to create a series of awareness videos for the Diabetes Wellness Center. Diabetes is the number one medical problem in the Marshalls. According to the director of the Wellness Center, almost 100% of the people will have Type ll Diabetes by age 40. They are amputating legs and feet at a rate of up to 4 a week. It can all be prevented totally by exercise and proper nutrition. The goal is to let the Marshallese know that.

After 4 months in Majuro, we were thrilled to finally start to explore the outer-atolls! But first, a few notes about Majuro.

  • The anchorage area is well protected from regular winds so you will have comfortable nights! We favoured the Southern mooring field as water is cleaner there (we swam around the boat most days) and you don’t have the wake of the tenders going between the big fishing boats anchored further out and the small harbour.
  • Several options to land ashore exist and taxi transport is cheap to go anywhere in town (75c a ride in share-taxis).
  • There are several ways to get wifi internet at a speed that often is not too bad despite numerous technical issues. The most affordable solution is to have a smartphone and take a monthly internet wifi subscription at 15$/month. But keep in mind that NTA (sole phone company) will not let you connect any I-pad or any apparatus with reasonable screen size. They want to force laptop and tablet users to use their pay-per-minute rates of 10c/min instead! Since they are the only game in town, not many users can do!
  • Best way to get packages sent in or out is with the US Post Office. It generally takes from 6 days to 2-3 weeks to get stuff in from anywhere. We only had one problem with First Choice Marine when they sent us hatches by Surface mail – aka by boat!) It took 3 months to arrive here despite the USPS website giving an ETA of 2 weeks! With FCM not very responsive, it was quite frustrating! But as luck happens, we got these hatches the exact day we were leaving for our 3-4 month cruise in the Ratak chain of outer atolls! Avoid FEDEX if at all possible. The few times a supplier sent things Fedex, they got stuck in Guam. Only by a lot of bugging and requesting the office here to email Guam, and then following up again and again, were we able to finally get the packages. Totally defeats the purpose of FedEx as an express courier. UPS is a little better, but the office is a taxi ride or long dinghy trip away.
  • A small boat fuel dock and a floating dinghy dock is being constructed at Shoreline so yachts will be able soon to get fuel and gas at a proper dock, and have a lot less dinghy congestion at this landing.
  • You need to see Internal Affairs to obtain a cruising permit. For each atoll you wish to visit, you will need to specify how long you intend to stay as well as during what time period you will be visiting (it’s quite flexible). You will be informed of the fee that each atoll is levying. Most fees are paid on first check-in in the atolls but a few need to be paid in Majuro before leaving. Cost range from free, $25 (majority), $50 and $150 or $250.
  • It is very important to anchor right away in front of the main town to check in with the mayor to introduce yourself, pay your eventual fee and be informed of what you can or cannot do!
  • Since we knew that most charts are either incomplete or slightly off, I looked on Google Earth and saved a jpeg of all passes with exact waypoints taken while I was online. If only Captain Cook could see me … he would be amazed at the info we now have at our disposition before arriving in unknown places!


An easy 77-nm overnight passage going North from Majuro. We heard that seas can be quite confused in the vicinity of each atoll but we lucked out, we had a very nice passage with East winds 10-13 and no sudden squalls! We entered Aur via the very easy South Pass (WP outside: 08deg10’444N-171deg06’376E / WP inside 08deg10’625N-171deg06’538E). We made one easy tack towards Aur island in the South corner and anchored in 25ft of good sand at 08deg09’166N-171deg09’844E.

This is the first village you should visit to present your permit and pay the $25 fee. We arrived on April 13th as the next day was the annual Liberation Celebrations day. We and the Finnish parents of one of the volunteer teachers were the only visitors on the island! After the flag raising and a few speeches in Marshallese, baseball matches went all day. Communal lunch was chicken (imported!) and white rice. We had local bananas and coconuts and were well catered to! The festivities actually went on all week with spelling B and other sports. It ended up with the Palm Sunday mass and celebration at the Protestant church. People from both Tobal and Aur village put on an all-day show of dances and singing and small shows that they had practised for several weeks. Lunch was a copious basket-plate woven from fresh coconut leaves that were stuffed with local dishes as well as rice, chicken, and spam! Each year, each village alternatively hosts all feasts.

The anchorage is away from shore so we had a very nice breeze and had privacy on deck. You still have short and easy beach access by dinghy to the shore. There is, however, a relatively large tidal difference (about 6-7 ft) to be aware of.

After a few days celebrating with the villagers, we decided to sail and anchor off some of the uninhabited motus on the way North towards Tobal island (the second inhabited island) so we could enjoy beachcombing with our Schipperkes as well as swim and snorkel around the lively reefs. Normally etiquette requires one to obtain permission to visit any islet from its owner. The only catch is we don’t know which island we will anchor at until we see one we like…then, try to describe which island it is to anyone…” you know, the one with the white beach and lots of coconuts”. We did our best by asking the mayor AND the iroche (custom chief).

We chose Pikiet islet about half-way to Tobal. Later that day, one of the motor launches stopped by and the driver, Boston, told us we were welcome to enjoy his island .. which we did for 3 days!

Later in Tobal, we added into his cruisers visitor book. We anchored in front of Tobal village and had great contact with many people including James (acting doctor) and Terry. The atoll recently received complete solar systems (post with 2 panels, 2 batteries, 6 lights, gauges, small inverters from the Taiwanese govt.) For a $5 monthly fee to the local electric company in Majuro, they get any future maintenance. So plenty of lights in the villages here with DVD players and more! Gone soon will be the era of coconut oil lanterns and the whole village in front of one TV screen! There are some very shallow reefs right in front of the village with very vibrant coral and pretty fish. Great snorkelling. Beach access is tricky at low tide, but there are a couple areas with a clear channel to the sandy beach. Easy navigation with very few, well visible, shallow areas on the way to one of the NW passes out of the lagoon.

Links to Aur videos and


Our passage from Aur was easy in 15kt of East wind and regular seas. After one tack we entered via the Southern pass (outside N08deg31’98-E171deg06’31 then inside N08deg32’33-E171deg06’47) and sailed all the way to Airik Island in the SE corner.

Calm anchorage in 30ft of good sand with isolated coral patches. The mayor lives on this island (when not in Majuro) so you can pay your $25 fee to him. When we arrived, we were told the acting mayor was in Ollot. The mayor, Benjamin, I had met in Majuro, happened to arrive the next day to stay a few weeks on his island so we checked-in officially with him here. This island hosts also the Queen of the lower Maloelap Atoll. Nice community. A very small-uninhabited motu just north, only a dinghy ride away, was a nice little beach for us to relax on. We were able to help several people fix several things like replacing a fuse in SSB radio, epoxy glue a guitar, move the battery bank of the clinic to the new shed outside and other repairs. Not all repairs undertaken are successful as electronics are often hard to troubleshoot and parts needed are often not available … but people are happy to get any help they can! We also checked many solar /battery systems and gave advice on upkeep. We received gifts/traded and left with plenty of limes & coconuts, breadfruit & a beautiful handicraft. The queen gave us permission to stop at a small uninhabited atoll just 4 nm away, Kumaru Island. We anchored in 50-60ft of good sand (N8deg34’1-E171deg10’3). Beachcombing was fun as well as going at night to look for coconut crabs & lobsters. Despite the 20-25kt of NE wind, we were well protected with only a small sideways swell.

After great sailing inside the lagoon, on one tack, we arrived at Taroa, the main Japanese base during WWII. Perfect calm anchorage in 25ft of good sand and a galore of WWII artefacts to look at, from the wreck in the harbour you can snorkel on, to the numerous pillboxes, guns, plane fuselage, concrete underground bunkers, a 3-story HQ building, huge fuel depots … and more ashore. Small WWII concrete jetty makes dinghy landing convenient. We saw Zacharias, the council secretary, who introduced us around and showed us many WWII remnants. Most of these remnants just sit there and deteriorate slowly exactly where they were left at the end of the conflict … some buildings are used by people but most are just abandoned!

We snorkelled scuba & filmed on the sunken wreckage of a Japanese freighter “Terushima Maru” easily spotted as two prominent masts of the large vessel still extend above the water at even high tides. The water is generally very clear and calm at low tides and has a nice collection of marine life in and around the vessel.

Warning: this vessel has live depth charges. Many Japanese warships, when sunk, carried their live depth charges with them. If pre-set to 33 feet, as was a custom, and the safety forks fell off, they detonated. Many men were killed in the water in this manner. The depth of the hold is about 35 ft deep. The depth charges sit on a mid-deck, at about 20 feet down. If they were to roll off, or the deck deteriorates and fails, they could detonate. You can see a few of them remaining as well as the rails used to roll those to the transom to dump them.

A short 4nm sail brought us to Ollot (‘whoolit’). Anchorages can be a little rolly now as Easterly swell brought over the reefs at high tide tends to roll along the coast. Had plenty of contact with the local population. A few more miles up the lagoon brought us to Tjan island. Both anchorages in good sand between coral bommies. Here we were greeted by Ken, a very energetic native who lived in the US for his education as he is part of the Ratak chain family of traditional chiefs (Irojche). After having lived in the US system for all these years and had a boy there with a Marshallese girl, they moved back to an uninhabited island here. What contrast! We traded for more fruits like papayas, coconuts, pandanus, …with him and others.

As he went back to his own isolated island a few miles North, we decided to anchor up there and share with them some food recipes and more. We anchored at Enea Island at N08deg52’73-E170deg59’66 in 17ft of good sand. We anchored Bahamas style (anchors fore and aft) to avoid going over shallow reefs if winds were turning, as it did once in Tjan during a rain squall. We had no rain for about 2 months so that rain squall was welcome. The lagoon has very few coral patches that present any danger and these are very easily seen so you can sail easily within the lagoon. We decided to exit at one of the NW passes we found on Google Earth, one that is easy to confirm even during overcast wx as it passes between 2 islands. The waypoints were spot on and we had a wide and deep pass to sail thru (lagoon side N08deg49’798-E170deg52’035 / ocean side N08deg49’777-E170deg51’641)

Link to Maloelap video 1

Link to Maloelap video 2


After a very calm overnight passage from Maloelap, we entered thru the very easy Schishmarev channel and made 2 tacks inside the lagoon to arrive at Wotje island proper to present our permit and pay the $50 fee. This lagoon has also very few coral patches that present any danger and these are very easily seen so you can sail easily within the lagoon. The Camp charts have these patches pretty well located too … when you compensate for chart offset. We anchored in the calmest anchorage so far at N09deg27’484-E170deg13’855 in 25ft of good sand with few isolated deep reefs. Dinghy landing is easy at the 2 docks.

There is a wifi antenna next to the power station (the Northern dock) so we could get internet access with our NTA card obtained in Majuro. (Have to take your laptop and sit next to the antenna at the power station building).

We met plenty of nice people on this island including Wesley (our informal guide), Glen and his daughter at the power plant, Dancy (high school agricultural teacher). We traded for plenty of fruits (breadfruits, coconuts, papayas, coconuts, pandanus, vegetables). Plenty of WWII artefacts on shore to look at and an interesting wreck to dive on. The Japanese vessel Borudou Maru was sunk at anchor in 123 feet of water (you can contact HPO or email us for exact GPS position). The top of the upward hull is about 70 ft.

We then sailed to the SE corner of the lagoon and anchored at Egmedio Island, next to the Toyotsu Maru wreck that you can see breaking the surface. Beautiful snorkelling. Plenty of fish around that wreck as you may see in our YouTube video. We also sailed to the NE corner of the lagoon and anchored next to Toleef, an inhabited island. Just south of this island is a series of small islets that are very photogenic and nice to visit by dinghy. We had a nice visit of Ormed island where the locals were eager to trade so we got nice size lobsters, coconut crabs and fruits.

Link to Wotje video 1

Link to Wotje video 2


We decided to check this uninhabited atoll (after getting permission from Wotje mayor) as a detour on our way to Ailuk. We experienced some excitement entering thru the Eastern pass (N9deg10’849- E170deg02’886) as the pass had blind breakers in some areas and you have to dodge your way once you have determined where the deep water was. Amazing blue colours in that pass that would make this an excellent pass to snorkel or scuba with milder wind conditions. But what a disappointment to not find any suitable overnight anchorage anywhere we checked! We checked the islets north of the pass as well as the one in the NE corner of the lagoon. We even checked the outside of the atoll just South of the Western pass (N9deg09’686-E169deg56’438 oceanside) that we used to exit the lagoon.


This was the favourite atoll of the cruisers this season, several yachts that visited only one atoll in the outer islands visited here and skipped those in the south. This was one of our favourites too. Ailuk is known for still using and building traditional sailing outriggers, and it was great to see the natives using these instead of motorboats for their daily excursions to the copra islands or to go fishing on the isolated coral heads in the lagoon. They are very adept at handling them…they can zoom at 10-12 knots! They make a beautiful sight as they skim by so effortlessly. We also loved the views of the beautiful blue colours of the water contrasted with the white sand beaches and greens of the coconut palms as we sailed in the protected waters of the lagoon!

We had to tack several times to get here from Wotje because a strong Westerly flowing current pushed us out at least 30 deg to port. You do not experience it when sailing close to the western side of atolls, but as soon as you are in the open, there it is frustrating your progress if you try to head North! Since we arrived at the atoll at night, we decided to hang around the west side in the lee until daylight (even then seas were rough with the strong winds we were experiencing). You want to stay at least 1 nm off the atoll’s edge since your radar won’t pick up the low fringing reefs. When the sun was high enough, we entered the lagoon by the deep and straightforward Marok channel (N10deg21’812-E169deg54’461).

(Note: There is a pass on the South end of the atoll that we thought about using, but our friends on La Gitana reported it quite shallow looking and they used one of the Northern passes, all deep enough for inter-islands boats.)

Once inside Ailuk lagoon, we had a very nice sail straight for Ailuk island, in the SE corner. We even crossed 2 local sailing outriggers carrying people and goods! Not long after we anchored (N10deg13’6-E169deg58’7) in 45ft of good sand with bommies around, we were visited by Emae, the mayor. He came to welcome us and check our papers as well as collecting the $50 fee. The anchorage is breezy but is quite well protected in Easterly winds. Can get rolly at high tide especially if the wind goes more NE. The island has a nice convenient modern dock where you can land your dinghy easily. It made it very convenient for us to go ashore without getting my infected leg wet. Make sure you treat any small cuts or scratches right away or you might, like me, get a big infection requiring strong oral antibiotics! (the dispensaries on the islands are limited in supplies).

Except for a few families living in Enejelar, everyone lives on Ailuk island. The island is fairly small with one village, very neat and tidy. Like all other main islands on every atoll, it has some churches, a dispensary, a new school as well as an airstrip for weekly flights. The cargo boat from Majuro only comes here about every 3 months so the island is quite isolated. As usual, we traded for local food like lemons, coconuts, breadfruits & bananas (eating and cooking varieties). Ailuk is a drier atoll than the ones south of it. Though they still had many food crops, papaya was rare. We checked the numerous batteries and solar panels and gave advice as well as troubleshoot some systems. We saw more sailing traditional canoes in this atoll then any other visited so far … some cruisers made sails for them a few years ago and the impetus has been going strong since then … nice to rely on wind instead of gasoline at $8/gal! One of the past-times of the children (and men) is building miniature outrigger models and sailing them in the shallow waters at low tide. We think it’s great to promote the tradition of sailing this way, so we organized a race with the kids and gave prizes to every participant. What a great time!

After 10 days of enjoying the main island, we decided to sail along the East side of the lagoon and anchor in front of an attractive uninhabited island with a good anchorage. Tempo, a retired school teacher living behind the visitor information booth (!) encouraged us to visit any of his several islands. You have several possible anchorages along the chain of small islands. We anchored at Uriga island N10deg15’25-E169deg58’79 in 25ft of good sand in front of scenic islets with sea channels between them at high tide. An easy way to go beachcombing! Great snorkelling on the reef just south of Anchorage, that comes out of the shallows ashore, as well as some small nearby seamounts. We had more glorious sailing to our next stop, off Achactakku Island at N10deg23’53-E169deg57’87 in 30ft of good sand, just in front of a bigger seamount. We then sailed to Enejelar Island, where about 6 families are living. Calm anchorage in less than 40ft and good sand N10deg26’70-E169deg57’30. We traded for pandanus, coconuts & breadfruits and had a great potluck lunch before our departure. Very welcoming people, a favourite spot from our friends on La Gitana too.

Easy passage thru Eneman channel on our way to Utirik with only a rare isolated reef to watch for!

Link to Ailuk video 1

Link to Ailuk video 2


We had an easy passage, (without tacking), to the outside of the atoll as we did not experience that strong westerly current we did coming from Wotje to Ailuk … the wind was more to the East so that helped too. We arrived outside the Utirik passage at 4 am so we had to hove-to until the daylight would let us see the reefs. Unfortunately, the charts are vague and you cannot see the outside barrier reef on the radar (very low) so keeping 1 nm away for safety, we actually were about 2nm. Alas for us, at dawn, we got a big squally area moving on us giving us 30-40kts for a few hours, making us drift away even more! Then the wind progressively died down while we motorsailed toward the passage and into the lagoon. We had looked on Google Earth to get the exact location on that passage over the barrier reef. We found a minimum of 15ft of depth but friends found at least 25ft when they passed at low tide. The entrance channel is not so much a “pass” as just an area of deeper water across the barrier reef. Keep a good bow watch and use these waypoints only as a guide: outside WP is N11deg14’553-E169deg44’587 and inside WP is N11deg14’721-E169deg45’402.

Crossing the lagoon, there are few bommies, but some are hard to spot, on the way to the anchorage off Utirik but watch out in the anchorage as we did not find any sandy bottom, all brittle corals and some very shallow areas (5ft!) difficult to spot with bad light. When checking our anchor, we were thrilled to see a manta ray swim by. A group of 5-6 manta rays hang around the area so you might be able to see them too if you ever visit this atoll. We met the acting mayor to present our permit and the $25 fee. We met several friendly people ashore (as like on every atoll) and did trade for fruit and fish. In this atoll you don’t have many different islands you can anchor off, so we ended up staying 10 days right here. We dinghied to the uninhabited island just North and watched many local people harvesting sea cucumbers for the Asian market. At $30- $50kg for dried cucumber it is better to work than coprah, and Utrick is the most fortunate atoll of the Marshalls with all 6 kinds of cucumber present in the lagoon.

Link to Utrik video


Natives call it Taka. We asked the permission in Utirik to visit this uninhabited atoll as we heard it was a beautiful natural reserve with turtles, birds and plenty of fish (and sharks). We had an easy day passage from Utirick. The entrance channel is straightforward: outside WP is N11deg06’802-E169deg35’419 and inside WP is N11deg07’190-E169deg35’637. We tacked inside the lagoon to get to the anchorage. Keep a good watch for coral patches, some, need a good eye to spot them. Anchored in 50ft of good sand with a few deep coral formations at N11deg06’808-E169deg39’579. This anchorage is well protected from winds NE to SE.

If you enjoy seclusion from time to time as well as little disturbed nature, this is one of these places you will really enjoy! This island is only seldom visited for a few days at a time by some families of Utrick to get coprah, coconut crabs and more. Good beachcombing on the ocean side as usual. Plenty of birds of different types are nesting here both in tree branches and under scrub brushes on the ocean side. We saw fresh traces of turtles so we decided to come back at night but were not lucky to see a turtle laying her eggs! But we saw some coconut crabs, nesting birds, and mice. Great snorkelling and good spearfishing between the islets on the barrier reef as well as isolated boomies. You might even see conchs like in the Bahamas! It was so beautiful to just sit on the beach and watch the seabirds soaring all around us, some even coming very close to check us out. It was fun to watch the young ones joyously try out their wings and practice manoeuvres. We’re really lucky to see a rare event of a group of eagle rays in very shallow water. As we drifted by in the current with our masks on we saw there was one large female being pursued by at least 5 smaller males, and even saw one male actually mount the female! Where was the UW video when we needed it!?

Link to Toke video 1

Link to Toke video 2


After an easy overnight passage from Toke, we entered Likiep via the easy and straightforward southern pass [N09deg49’621-E169deg13’367 ocean side] and had to make one tack to sail to Likiep Island. A number of isolated bommies can easily be seen on the way anywhere in the lagoon with reasonable light. We were pleasantly surprised to hear someone calling us on VHF as we approached. It was Joe de Brum, manager of the Plantation Haus welcoming us and offering the use of a very sturdy mooring right in front of the hotel [N09deg49’588-E169deg18’317]. This mooring was installed a few months ago by some Majuro cruisers. There are numerous buoys in the harbour used for aquaculture, but the mooring is the one in front of the Hotel (building with several flag poles in front) at a comfortable distance from shore. Despite 25kt+ of wind, there was hardly a ripple on the water in this small natural harbour protected from all but Westerlies! This harbour also offers a very picturesque view of the beautiful Catholic church as well as hotel, school and other buildings meshed into the landscape. We went to see Joe find out to whom to present our visitor’s permit and $50 fee.

Joe is celebrating his 80th birthday this year and is spry, animated, and very friendly. He loves to talk to visitors and has been the yachties’ friend for many years. The hotel is really not operating since the time that Marshall Islands Airlines suspended service to the islands for an extended period. Now there is a flight at least once a week, weather permitting, but still, no guests arrive. The place is slowly “going native”, as abandoned things accumulate, and upkeep loses priority. … but Joe is happy to help cruisers when needed. Joe took us on a tour of the island on his ATV Quad. He helped to build the grass runway which amazingly is over a mile long. It’s hard to believe that the highest elevation in the Marshalls is in Likiep (according to visitor guides). All it is are some small mounts in the coconut plantation mid-island! We went down the ocean side road to the end of the island where Joe’s brother, Orlando, is building a fancy villa for his daughter and American son-in-law who come from the states to visit occasionally. What contrasts to the native way of life. We got caught in a rain shower, so didn’t get to see Joe’s house and garden on the other side of the village.

You can tie your dinghy at that dock or you can beach your dinghy at the resort. We met Bill, originally from Majuro, because of his beautiful vegetable garden on the road between the main dock and the Hotel. It’s rare to see an organized garden with green veggies, so we had to meet the gardener. Nice guy who’s Mother is a gardener in the Laura region of Majuro. He just loves to plant and putter and try new things in his garden. Unfortunately, we had just missed his harvest a week ago when he gave away a lot of veggies to the neighbours.

Also met Junior de Brum, Joe’s nephew, who is the manager of the Fish co-op, and Giant clam breeding program. They have freezers (all solar) where the villagers can keep fish or keep frozen food stocks for a small fee. No one has refrigeration in the atolls, so this is a real boon. The clam farm is on the neighbouring island, Lodo.

For a complete change of scenery, we sailed just 2 nm away to Lodo Island where only one small family lives permanently. On the SE side of the island, you can visit the giant clam farm where they breed them for the aquarium market, and on the NW side, you can snorkel in the pools in the channel between Lodo and the next island, on both sides of a small islet.

You can also find suitable anchorages along the eastern islands and you can exit the lagoon via a west passage if you are going towards the Ralik chain.

Link to Likiep video

Notes about the Ratak chain of lagoons

We had originally planned to visit Kwajalein atoll after Likiep and then sail back to Majuro from Kwajalein. Looking at our tracks going north, a result of predominant winds and westward current, we came to 2 conclusions. First, if we cruise the Ratak chain again, we would sail from Maloelap directly to Ailuk and visit Wotje after Likiep on the leg back to Majuro, Second, sailing from Kwajalein to Majuro would be a very difficult sail with lots of tacking … thus our decision to keep Kwajalein atoll cruising for a separate cruise departing from Majuro, exploring some of the Ralik chains on our way West towards FSM.

Outer-atolls are the best part of island countries and visiting them is the only way to really meet the true natives of the Marshalls, and appreciate your visit. We were surprised to see a majority of cruisers never leave Majuro during their time in the country. Most boats this past season seem to have come here to avoid the cyclone season in the South Pacific and kept comparing Majuro with Fiji! Some were quite disappointed in the little of the Marshalls they explored. Expect little and enjoy all the positive aspects, is our way of thinking. Try not to compare using a very selective memory … enjoy all the great things that any place you visit has to offer!

We heard reports of natives being aloof and not so friendly … we were very pleased to discover that not to be the case. If you go around greeting everyone you see, even from afar, with “Yokwe” and a big smile on your face, people will usually return the greeting. Stop and let people approach you or even go slowly towards them, they might be a little shy because they see very few visitors and their English might be rudimentary … but that does not make them any less friendly! Some cruisers reported islanders not growing their own food and having nothing to barter with … we found, on the contrary, a willingness to trade their fruits, vegetables, seafood, coconut crabs as well as handicrafts! (We cruised Apr-Aug which seemed to be breadfruit, pandanus, and lemon season, which may have made a difference)

In four months of cruising the Ratak chain, we never saw any other cruisers … so if you are looking for rarely travelled cruising grounds, cruise the Marshall islands … during the best season – April to October.

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