Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In Apia

I made it to Apia in 24 hours. Arrived yesterday around 10:30 AM. Just finished checking in an hour ago.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Still in AS

Small delay--I'll be departing American Samoa Saturday AM thus arriving Apia Sunday sometime. In the meantime I hiked Mount Alava with my Samoan friend Junior. The view was even better than the one from Matafao Peak.

Friday, August 26, 2011


The weather has finally settled down a little, and I plan to be sailing out of Pago Pago Harbor in a few hours. Destination:  Apia on the island of Upolu in Samoa (formerly Western Samoa). With all the tacks it is somewhere around 100 miles, so I expect to arrive sometime tomorrow (Saturday).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Squally Weather

It has been an exciting night and day for the sailors in Pago Pago Harbor. 20-30 knot winds and the notoriously poor holding caused several  boats to drag their anchors. Twister is tied up to the dock, but I have been preoccupied by the abandoned longline fishing boat tied up in front of me. If the boat breaks free, Twister will be in its path. I supplemented its ratty collection of partially chafed dock lines hopefully sufficiently to last a few more days.
Yesterday I went with a few of the long-time cruising residents to a Samoan Umu cookout. The hosts were Jay (an American palagi--ie white person) and Mae (his Samoan wife). The dishes (which were all cooked on the umu) included breadfruit, goat, fish, taro leaves, and papaya--all cooked or served with coconut milk. Delicious.
The previous several days have been mostly occupied with boat projects--replacing one of the solar panels, replumbing the sink drainpipe, changing the oil on the inboard diesel engine, replacing the jibsheets (which were close to chafed in half), moving the chartplotter inside the cabin and placing it on an adjustable arm, attempting to refurbish the foot-pump that delivers water to the faucet, patching the canvans dodger (the blue canvas thing that gives some shelter to the cockpit), and fixing some dings on my and Corie's (from Rutea) surfboards.
Thoughts on AS (American Samoa):
conservative AS
In contrast to French Polynesia, the people of AS seem to live disconnected from the ocean. Very few of them have watercraft of any kind; they don't surf or dive. The commercial fishing boats are crewed by Filipinos, Chinese, and Western Samoans, and Tongans. I would guess that the tuna canneries or the government are the biggest employer here. American Samoans seem to me to be heavily built and most carry some extra weight on top of the sturdy foundation. Though there are some American fast-food restaurants and shops, AS is much less American than I had expected. Everyone knows English, but Samoan appears to be the everyday language. I estimate that about 50% of the men and women (and all the school children as part of their uniforms) wear lava lavas (skirts) rather than shorts or trousers. The society is relatively conservative--church attendance on Sunday is the norm, everyday at six in the evening, a bell is rung in every village signalling prayer time, and bikinis are nonexistent. The bell is invariably an old compressed gas cylinder hanging from a tree or other support. There is no tourism here that I can tell and palagis are few, so locals are often curious about what I'm doing me here.

I hope to move on to Apia in (formerly known as Western) Samoa within the next couple of days. I appreciate all the packages I have received. If you are contemplating but haven't yet sent one, please don't send it to Pago Pago. I will do some research to find the best general delivery post office in my upcoming stops.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

more fish

Life on the public dock in Pago Pago is pretty comfortable. Food stores, free internet, and buses to the rest of the island are a short walk away. The buses of American Samoa are worthy of their own blogpost. Fortunately, Neal has already done that. The fishermen working on the commercial long-line fishing boats are very friendly and generous. Yesterday the crew from another long-line fishing boat gave me a big hunk of Wahoo. They also offered me some swordfish, but I declined as I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the Wahoo. Half went into a fish soup (got the recipe from some Australian sailors in Suwarrow) while the other became sashimi.  Neal, Ruth, and Corie from Rutea helped me prepare and eat the fish. I'm not sure I've had raw Wahoo before, but it was tasty.

Since giving up on reaching South Africa by December, I've been contemplating sailing to New Zealand before Australia. Would be a shame to miss it, really. I guess that's why they call this the (coconut) milk run, but I haven't had what I would call rough seas since leaving San Diego. The weather reports I hear on Radio New Zealand do make me a little nervous about sailing in NZ waters, though.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

One Week In Tutuila

It's hard to believe I've already been here a whole week. I spent the first day and night anchored in the far western end of Pago Pago Harbor (the yacht anchorage). The next day I tied up to the public recreational boat dock which costs the same as anchoring (something like $12 per month). It's certainly convenient to be able to step right from the boat onto dry land (as opposed to having to row the dinghy ashore), particularly when moving things to or from the boat. There is a ca 50/50 mixture of cruising sailboats and commercial long-line fishing boats on the dock. A few days ago I asked the Tongan fishermen on one of the long-line boats if I could buy a tuna. They said no, then pulled out a Skipjack Tuna and gave it to me. Some of the meat I used to make poisson crue which is called Oka here. I also attempted to cook breadfruit for the first time a couple of days ago. After peeling and discarding the seeds, I cut it into one-inch cubes and boiled them. The water was discarded and replaced with coconut milk, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Not bad.
Sean's boat
There are several cruising sailboats that have been here from several months to several years. Some of them experienced a near pass from a hurricane last year and the tsunami in September 2009. Pago Pago Harbor, being sheltered by tall mountains is known as a hurricane-hole (a harbor where one might safely seek shelter in a hurricane).
   Yesterday I hiked Matafao Peak with fellow solo-sailor Sean. It was a thoroughly enjoyable hike with a great view from the top. On the way down we intentionally diverted from the trail. After bushwacking for an hour or so we found a creek which we followed down, encountering 6 or 7 waterfalls with swimming holes (which we made use of). I think it was Nu'uuli Falls we found. Sean is roughing it more than most and his 27 foot boat is powered only by wind and sun.
Some photos from Tutuila (the main island where most of the 60-some thousand people in American Samoa live).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pago Pago

I arrived Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango) Friday morning after spending the previous night hove to (along with a big container ship) a few miles outside the harbor. I ended up spending close to 3 weeks in Suwarrow (no internet there) and probably would've stayed longer had I not been running short on provisions. As you can guess, I liked it there. I also like this place and think I'll stay here a while. I went to the post office on Friday and was overwhelmed by all the packages I received. Thank you so much, Chris, Jen, Sandra, Bruce, Jim, Noreen, Adrianna, Bridget, Tim, Isa, Brian, Pia, and Veda. My deepest apologies if I forgot anyone. My only excuse would be the number of packages I got.