The counter is on, some people did notice!

Some of you noticed a new gadget at the bottom right of our blog! just there on the right side of the screen, a little lower… yes nearly … there you go!

And to keep you more in the loop, it is exactely what you thought :  In other words no more picture like this one, or “anonymity”. Some of our readers by now, may think that we don’t know how to take picture without cutting our head. In fact, from the begining we had decided that for business purposes we would stay discreet. It became a game and a challenge in the last two years.

This flattering picture of *V*’s silhouette was taken yesterday. A perfect day for sailing and forget about the world for a bit. Flat sea 12 knots of wind and only a few boats out, two hours of pure pleasure and relaxation.

Nothing more to say than the engine got a work out, our rusty skills got put to the taste and it reminded us why we love being on the boat so much. Those are priceless and worth all the work we put into it.

Island 247th will bring us to The Marshall Islands. They were settled by Micronesians in the 2nd millennium BC. Little is known of this early history. People traveled by canoe between islands using traditional stick charts. Spanish explorer Alonso de Salazar was the first European to see the islands in 1526, he commanded the ship “Santa Maria de la Victoria”, the only surviving vessel of Loaísa Expedition. On August 21, he sighted an island at 14°N that they named “San Bartolome” (probably Taongi).

On September 21, 1529, Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón commanded the Spanish ship “Florida”, on his second attempt to recross the Pacific from the Moluccas. He stood off a group of islands from which several natives came off and hurled stones at his ship. These islands, named by him “Los Pintados,” may have been Ujelang. On October 1, he found another group of islands where he went ashore for eight days, exchanged gifts with natives and took on water. These islands, “Los Jardines,” could be Eniwetok or Bikini Atoll.

The Spanish ship “San Pedro” and two other vessels in expedition commanded by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi on January 9, discovered an island at 10°N where they went ashore and traded with natives and named it “Los Barbudos” (possibly Mejit). On January 10, they sighted another island that they named “Placeres” (perhaps Ailuk), ten leagues away, they sighted another island that they called “Pajares” (perhaps Jemo). On January 12, they sighted another island at 10°N which they called “Corrales” (possibly Wotho). On January 15, another low island was sighted at 10°N (perhaps Ujelang) where they made a good description of the people on “Barbudos.” After that, ships like “San Jeronimo”, “Los Reyes”, “Todos los Santos” also visited the islands in different years.

Captain John Charles Marshall together with Thomas Gilbert came to the islands in 1788. The islands were named after the first in the Russian (Krusenstern) and French (Duperrey) maps (1820), later in the English maps. However, they were claimed under the Spanish sovereignty as part of the Spanish East Indies. In 1874, the Spanish sovereignty was recognized by the international community. They were sold to Germany in 1884 through papal mediation.

A German trading company settled on the islands in 1885. They became part of the protectorate of German New Guinea some years later. Under German Imperial control, and even before then, Japanese traders and fishermen from time to time visited the Marshall Islands, although contact with the islanders was irregular. After the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese government adopted a policy of turning Japan into a great economic and military power in East Asia.

In 1914, Japan joined the Entente powers during World War I, and found it possible to capture German colonies in China and Micronesia. On September 29, 1914, Japanese troops occupied the atoll of Enewetak, and on September 30, 1914 the atoll of Jaluit the administrative center of the Marshall Islands. After the war, on June 28, 1919, Germany renounced all its Pacific possessions, including the Marshall Islands. On December 17, 1920, the Council of the League of Nations approved the mandate for Japan to take over all former German colonies in the Pacific Ocean located north of the equator. The Administrative Center of the Marshall Islands atoll remained Jaluit.

The Japanese were unlike the German Empire, which had primarily economic interests in Micronesia. Despite its small area and few resources, the absorption of the territory by Japan would to some extent alleviate Japan’s problem of an increasing population but an ever decreasing amount of available land to house it. During its years of colonial rule, Japan moved more than 1,000 Japanese to the Marshall Islands although they never outnumbered the indigenous peoples as they did in the Mariana Islands and Palau.

The Japanese enlarged administration and appointed local leaders, which weakened the authority of local traditional leaders. Japan also tried to change the social organization in the islands from Matrilineality to the Japanese Patriarchal system, but with no success. Moreover, during the 1930s, one third of all land up to the high water level was declared the property of the Japanese government. On the archipelago, before it banned foreign traders, the activities of Catholic and Protestant missionaries were allowed. Indigenous people were educated in Japanese schools, and studied Japanese language and Japanese culture. This policy was the government strategy not only in the Marshall Islands, but on all the other mandated territories in Micronesia. On March 27, 1933, Japan left the League of Nations, but nevertheless continued to manage the islands in the region and in the late 1930s, and started constructing air bases on several atolls. The Marshall Islands were in an important geographical position, being the easternmost point in Japan’s defensive ring at the beginning of World War II.

In the months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kwajalein Atoll was the administrative center of the Japanese 6th Fleet Forces Service, whose task was the defense of the Marshall Islands.

In World War II, the United States, during the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, invaded and occupied the islands in 1944, destroying or isolating the Japanese garrisons. The archipelago was added to the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, along with several other island groups in the South Sea.

The battle in the Marshall Islands caused irreparable damage, especially on Japanese bases. During the American bombing, the islands’ population suffered from lack of food and various injuries.

U.S. attacks started in mid-1943, and caused half the Japanese garrison of 5,100 people in the atoll Mili to die from hunger by August 1945. In just one month in 1944, Americans captured Kwajalein Atoll, Majuro and Enewetak, and in the next two months the rest of the Marshall Islands except Wotje, Mili, Maloelap and Jaluit. From 1946 to 1958, as the site of the Pacific Proving Grounds, the U.S. tested 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands, including the largest nuclear test the U.S. ever conducted, Castle Bravo. In 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission regarded the Marshall Islands as “by far the most contaminated place in the world”.

Nuclear claims between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands are ongoing, and health effects from these nuclear tests linger. Project 4.1 was a medical study conducted by the United States of those residents of the Bikini Atoll exposed to radioactive fallout. From 1956 to August 1998, at least $759 million was paid to the Marshallese Islanders in compensation for their exposure to U.S. nuclear testing.

With the 1952 test of the first U.S. hydrogen bomb, code named “Ivy Mike”, the island of Elugelab in the Enewetak atoll was destroyed.

In 1979, the Government of the Marshall Islands was officially established and the country became self-governing. In 1986, the Compact of Free Association with the United States entered into force, granting the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) its sovereignty. The Compact provided for aid and U.S. defense of the islands in exchange for continued U.S. military use of the missile testing range at Kwajalein Atoll. The independence procedure was formally completed under international law in 1990, when the UN officially ended the Trusteeship status.