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Old 17-02-2014, 14:06   #1
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Marshall Islands charts and anchoring

Hi all,
Headed to Marshalls soon, and from someone who is there or recently has been there, what navigation products were the most useful, what islands did you like the best, and where did you anchor? Some of the lagoon depths look 100 foot plus except right near the reef.
Answers would be greatly appreciated.
We have paper charts, garmin sd card and electronic charts, corrected latest notice to mariners.
Any comments from people out there or been there greatly appreciated.
Smooth seas.....
swanly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-02-2014, 17:26   #2
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Re: Marshall Islands charts and anchoring

I went to Majuro, Arno, Kwajalein, and Wotje Atolls in the early 90's for diving. I have always meant to go back. Traditional navigation and charts. I came from a maritime family and was a Navy trained navigator before most of today's electronics. Just Loran A, radar and RDF'S. Otherwise the sun, stars and planets. I only went thru customs in Majuro, there must be 20,000 or more people in the capitol. I am told some nite life. Kwajalein may require permission, it's one end of the USA's Pacific Missile Range. It does have some interesting stuff like the wreck of the Prinz Eugen. Wotje has a lot of WWII leftovers, bunkers, guns, and sunk ships. Arno is next to Majuro and when I was there, only a few families lived there. On all the atolls you can find quiet, natural areas. All the large populations centers have air service to Majuro.
Main lagoon entry channels are usually clear and plenty deep. I wouldn't use the small channels without a local guide. The lagoons are 75 or more feet deep. However, you need to keep watch for coral. There are dome like shallows throughout the lagoons made of coral. The shallows are easy to see and are usually far enough apart to navigate around until you get close to the beaches or reefs. I always found the bottom between the coral heads to be sand and did my anchoring there. However, the locals didn't seem to mind anchoring in coral - and causing some damage. The water is the clearest I have ever encountered. If I told you how far I could see under water, you would not believe me. Diving is the best I have seen. It was like diving with Jacques Cousteau. All kinds of marine life. I didn't wear a wet suit and was comfortable on the inside except near the lagoon entrance where you get much colder water. The outside reef is cold! You can hire a local to guide you. The people are friendly. Be a good tourist and everyone will be happy. Ask permission of any nearby residents if you're going to have a beach party. You know, the usual polite things. Nobody ever approached our anchorage. It seemed, they could care less about us. When we wanted to talk to a local, I waited until someone was out, usually getting their boat ready for fishing. Nobody was rude. I did use a local guide for searching out better dive sites.
There was always a breeze. Days were 75-85° and comfortable. Nights were about 70-75°. Most people rig a sail to force the breeze thru their boat. Sometimes passing tropical showers. When the sun goes down, it's dark. I lived twilight to a little after sunset. At extreme low tide there is good lobster catching in the outside reef tide pools. You need the moon or a light and the speed of youth. It's a little like catching a cat. There are ships and fish buyers that sell supplies to the locals. Bulk supplies like rice. Also, if you're there long enough you can air freight in supplies through Air Marshall Islands. There are a few stores around population centers. Plenty of fish to catch. We spent 99% of our time away from most people.
The usual advice for long ocean voyages, plenty of spares and backups for the backups.
Have a great voyage.

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Old 17-02-2014, 17:47   #3
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Re: Marshall Islands charts and anchoring

I went there in 2007. Back then my Garmin gear was useless. It showed Majuro as a shapeless green blob so I had to use paper charts. C Map data better detailed but I don't think it works with Garmin. I don't know whether Garmin have lifted their game since then.

There are cheap moorings at Majuro. I paid $3/day. The water under me was 65 feet so it was a good idea. There is shallow water over to starboard past the commercial wharf if you want to anchor. If you do that don't go straight ashore because the dinghy will probably disappear. Motor up to the fuel dock and leave it there.

The only good shopping is on Kwajalein and Majuro. When fresh food is there buy plenty because the next delivery might be 10 days away. I still remember going to the supermarket in Majuro to buy meat for my voyage out and there wasn't any . . . . none. Oh well. Even so groceries are cheap.

There is superb diving in the north end of Majuro atoll but the area is quite shallow. You should anchor beside the channel and motor up there in the dinghy. The channel is lit but I wouldn't go to the town at night without radar. There is a reef halfway down on the starboard side of the channel. If you enter at night, anchor at the first atoll to port and head down in the morning.

The natives in Majuro are not at all friendly.
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Old 17-02-2014, 21:48   #4
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Re: Marshall Islands charts and anchoring

We spent a year in the Marshalls, if I can help you just PM me.
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Old 18-02-2014, 18:16   #5
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Re: Marshall Islands charts and anchoring

I spent 3 years working on Kwaj in the 60's and another 3 in the 70's. The military base on Kwaj is mostly US contractors for the missile range. In general, there will be a population of several thousand on the base. It has a large dive club, a yacht club, a HAM radio club, and a lot of web sites. Google Kwajalein High School, and Kwajalein*.* for links. The bottom line is that if you do some email traffic to those links you can likely find some good contacts with very up to date information.
For your anchoring question, most of the time you will be anchoring in the lee of an island of the east side of the atoll. An average day during the dry season gives constant trade winds of about 17 mph, from the east. Wet season is during the summer, and on occasion there can windless days for a week or even two weeks. Kwajalein gets about 100 inches of rain a year. Go north and its dryer, maybe 60" on the northern atolls. Go south and its wetter, I recall about 180 inches a year on Kili Island.
Note that all the islands in the Marshalls are claimed by individual families, part of tribal groups, that are under thumb of the Kubua family. There is a substantial history on the Marshalls, and getting some books on it will make the trip even more interesting. Be sure to include information on the toothy critters and toxic marine life. Make contact with someone on Kwaj and you will find a wealth of knowledge.

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anchor, anchoring, charts, Marshall Islands

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