Amount Material

¼ Minim Wood

½ Minim Wood

¾ Minim Wood

1 Minim Wood

2 Minim Wood

3 Minim Wood

4 Minim Wood

5 Minim Wood

10 Minim Wood

15 Minim Wood

20 Minim Wood

Some of these pieces are still available. Click on WEB STORE at right.


¼ Minim

½ Minim

1 Minim

2 Minim

3 Minim

See WEB STORE for availability.


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 Gaferut is a small 28 acre island in the State of Yap, Federated States of Micronesia, 60 miles northeast of Faraulep in the Caroline Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The island is approximately 1,500 feet long and 500 feet wide. The tiny atoll is 3/4ths of a mile by 1/2 a mile. A crescent shaped reef extends out about 500 to 750 feet beyond the island and it is exposed during low tide. The island is located at 9 degrees 14 minutes North and 145 degrees, 43 minutes East.

Trees cover most of Gaferut with coconut palms rising 50 to 60 feet while breadfruit and other woody growth is about 15 to 25 feet high. A ground cover, up to 18 inches in height occurs. The island's surface is almost covered by a continuous canopy provided by the trees. 7 varieties of plants grow on Gaferut.




Skinks, coconut crabs and orb-web spiders are found on the island. A bird count totaled 550 birds on Gaferut during the time the count was made. Most are terns and boobies. The island is a popular turtle nesting ground. A caterpillar is found on the island but does not put much of a dent in to the plant life.

An interior acre is cleared for the homes of the workers.

The Japanese mined the island until 1935 for phosphate. Evidence of this work can be seen on Gaferut.

The annual average temperature on Gaferut is 82 F. degrees and the temperatures vary less than 15 degrees throughout the year. Gaferut receives about 100 inches of rain a year. Typhoons tend to originate between Gaferut and Truk. While a direct hit is fairly rare, strong waves and strong winds from such storms affect Gaferut each year. While a typhoon can happen during any month of the year in this part of the world, most happen during an annual 6 month season.

Gaferut had been thought to be associated with a legend from the region. This was told to be the island Gaferudj, either an imaginary magical island or a submerged island that had once been inhabited. A more local legend says Gaferut is an island called Fayaew. Fayeaw is known as Gaferut due to a Yapese spelling. You’ll learn why the Yapese spelling was accepted versus the local name by reading further.

It was described as an island that was feared by area island populations, called a desert island void of food and water and also nicknamed the devil's island. In reality, settlement and visitation was frequent among numerous parties.

Area islanderss visit for food. Gaferut is owned by the people of Faraulep, 60 miles away, with 200 people living on the on the tiny island, covering little more than 100 acres.

There is a rich culture and belief system here I would love to explain fully, but this would take pages. So, here is the headline format. It truly helps you understand the questions of why things are this way on Gaferut.

The first inhabitants were those on Yap. From these people came the Outer Islanders. The Outer Islanders are considered inferior to the people of Yap. Once on the Out Islands, Ulithi was first settled, thus the superior island. All the other islanders are considered inferior to the people of Ulithi. This thinking is a part of today’s society. With superiority, comes responsibility. A superior people must care for, feed, house and protect the inferior people but the inferior people must remain respectful, quiet and make no demands.

In the scheme of society there, the people of Lamotrek, Elato and Satawal would be inferior to the people of Faraulep.

Next society is divided in to clans that are not exclusive to a particular island. For example, a clan may have people on all islands. Clans have a certain level of power but not as much as their clan member’s physical location. For example, more head chiefs might come from one clan more than another. Most importantly, marriage within your clan is frowned upon. This demonstrates the biggest reason for clans is selecting a mate.

The next layer is beliefs. While the islanders say they’re Catholic, superstition prevails so heavily it affects everyday actions. The superior islands have the most powerful spirits. Each island has many, many ghosts and spirits. There are spirits dedicated to land, specific homes and so on.

There are good spirits and bad spirits. Some are male and some are female. All were thought to have been human at one point.

Care is taken not to irritate the spirits. Angering the spirits can cause one harm, his family harm and even the entire island community. The head chief is thought to be able to understand the messages of the spirits and thus, be able to warn of dangers, typhoons, epidemics and the like. It is thought some of his wisdom comes from the spirits who communicate with the chief.

The chief is so respected that men bow or crawl past him. Even so, the chief is, by the rules set up to pacify the spirits, never to act above or superior to the other islanders. The chief is not feared but has absolute authority. Still the chief is known for his kindness, mercy and wisdom. His actions are to be an example one is to aspire to.

Ironically, the woman owns everything on these outer islands. She is the true ruler and the eldest woman may pass a message to the chief and the chief is obliged to act on that message as the eldest woman directed.

The power women have is due to the way society works. The woman lives in her home all her life but the man is forced to leave his home and live at his wife’s house. If she orders him out, he has no home. Still the man holds strong ties to his family. For example he may only fish in one of his family’s canoes.

Everyday life is affected by this structure and religious beliefs. A man who is lazy may irritate the spirits as would a zealous worker. The society is to show compassion and kindness toward one another and be peaceful in all matters or the spirits might turn on them.

With this information we are able to construct life on Gaferut.

First, Gaferut must be run by a manager from Faraulep who has the blessings of the Chief. The women must approve as well.

In addition, workers, while they may be from Faraulep since there are few jobs, they would also possibly come from those islands where those islanders are considered ‘inferior’ to the Faraulep people.

It is truthful to say Gaferut is ruled by a very powerful spirit named Lefaiwot. This spirit is said to control the waterhole on the island. If you upset this spirit, the waterhole will dry up. A gift (very specified) must be brought to the spirit when you visit the island or go to work there.  According to a former resident of Faraulep, the gifts might include cigarettes, water and food.  This former resident has been to Gaferut and some of his family visit the island.

There are several rules to be followed. One is dietary. A black-winged bird found on the island cannot be eaten, for example. This bird is considered sacred. Only certain foods can be eaten on Gaferut. In addition, relieving oneself on the island will anger Lefayot. All of this makes one wonder if Gaferut could be the mythical island the Yapese speak of as the magical island.


Gaferut has 21 people living on the island. They are workers and immediate family. The men work the island and its waters while the women farm, cook and teach the children.

There is no electricity and no cars on the island. A solar powered radio allows for communication with the outside world.

There is no regular shipping service or regular form of transportation to Gaferut. The supply ship that visits the outer islands every 8 weeks does not go to Gaferut. The Faraulep and Gaferut islanders travel by motorized boat the 60 miles across the Pacific. Goods are sent to Faraulep by boat to be picked up by the supply ship and supplies for Gaferut are brought to the island on the boats. For example, the Gaferutese sell 100 pounds of copra for $10.00 US when the supply ship visits Faraulep. Other products from Gaferut are sold as well with proceeds staying on Faraulep.

The cleared area has 8 houses or huts plus a men’s house and woman’s house and common area. An addition 3 acres is reserved for the manager’s house and a guest house. Bathrooms are located on the ocean side of the island and over water, connected by a wooden walkway.

The island store has cigarettes, flour, rice, cloth, fabrics and a few other items. It is next to the manager’s residence.

Food is distributed to those on the island by the household’s value or ilet. 1 ilet is equal to one portion. Nobody goes without on the island.

Like most outer islands, women wear only the lava lava and men only a loincloth. Both sexes do not wear upper body clothing garments.

Alcohol is prohibited on the island.

Workers are paid in “Minim” meaning a small pearl in the Japanese language, possibly indicating interaction with the Japanese who frequently visited these islands, including Gaferut, through World War II.

The “Minim” acts as a local currency. With no bank, cash is not on hand on Gaferut. Workers leaving the island can cash in the “minim” on Faraulep but cash cannot be brought to Gaferut.


Compiled from various internet sources and written materials from various sources. In compiling Gaferut Today, some material, while not specific to Gaferut, was utilized. This information describes life on other isolated islands within the area of Gaferut. For example, food is distributed by ilet on Faraulep. Facts on clothing, electricity, cars, copra prices and what sex tends to specific jobs are specific to the surrounding islands. We have to assume, by cultural standards, who would manage and work Gaferut. Specific details on the spirit ruling Gaferut and the requirements are Gaferut specific. Bill Turner - 2006





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