Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shark attack surviovor interviews

January 31, 2013
Te Tautua village, Penrhyn Atoll, South Pacific Ocean.

Penrhyn is sharky. Yesterday we had 18 sharks swimming under the boat. Mostly black tip reef sharks, but also some larger dusky colored Nurse sharks. Sort of intimidating to jump in for a swim, although the local kids are fearless and they swim out to the boat with the sharks following like a pack of pet dogs.

At the Kai Kai lunch yesterday, I was asking around inquiring about shark bites. In the group of 41 I found one young boy and one older man whom had both been bitten. The older man mostly spoke Maori, but I understood that there might be other shark attack survivors from the village as well.

A 3 year old boy was swimming with a group of kids as they do every afternoon. Fearless of the sharks, the kids play together like kids play with dogs in a yard. Down the wharf some 'Mommas' (mothers) were cleaning fish and the scraps had attracted a large number of frenzied sharks.

The young boy not knowing any better swam toward his Momma who was cleaning fish and swam into the frenzied sharks where his hand was engulfed past the wrist by a Lemon shark. The boy screamed and one of the local men, Rio, had to assist in removing the hand. The boy was injured and has some impressive scars, but regained full mobility of the hand. No fear still, that same day he wanted to go swimming again.

Incredibly, the local kids think the shark bite was punishment for playing in church!

The older man was bitten by a Black shark (a small all black colored shark considered dangerous by all) while spear fishing in the pass. His bite shows a deep crescent shape scar in his lower leg. The pass is said to have many sharks including Hammerheads, Tigers and even Great Whites toward the deep water drop-off.

That's it for now.

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Pouring concrete patios on Penrhyn atoll

January 31, 2013
Anchorage position:08°57.513'S 157°55.663'W
Bottom type: 15' white sand with good holding
Te Tautua village, Penrhyn atoll, South Pacific ocean

Penrhyn is the best! The environment is pristine, the weather is great, the anchorage secure and the people super friendly. The only things that could make it better would be cheap fast internet and cheap beer, unfortunately the chances of either are less likely than the construction of an outdoor ice rink.

Yesterday, we joined the community in pouring a large concrete patio for one of the families in Te Tautua village, population around 54. All the able bodied men on the island, about 18 in all, turned out to lend a hand. Rio, who is the master carpenter and leader set the forms, a tractor delivered scoops of sand and coral gravel and the concrete was all mixed with a power mixer. From there it was wheelbarrowed to the forms where I helped screed (level the cement) and I also ended up doing 100% of the troweling. This is hard work in 90 + degree temperatures, high humidity and an unrelenting tropical sun. I honestly can't recall a time I've sweated more in just 6 hours.

After the work was done we enjoyed a huge lunch of roast pork with all the island trimmings. It's called a Kai Kai and we counted 41 villagers enjoying the lunch.

For the last six months the village population had been a meager 26 souls as the others had gone to Rarotonga. Since transportation to and from the island is so unpredictable it took nearly 6 months for them to find a ride home to Penrhyn!

Today, I hope to go fishing for Varo Lobster (Mantis Shrimp).

That's it for now.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day 1 Te Tautua or Motutapu, Penrhyn atoll, Cooks Islands, South Pacific Ocean

January 29, 2013
Anchorage position: 08°57.5135'S 157°55.6638'W
Te Tautua village or Motutapu, Penrhyn atoll, Cooks Islands, South Pacific Ocean

It's great to be back at Penrhyn atoll and especially to Te Tautua village. This is a place where the villagers will launch a boat to greet you in the anchorage. Maybe 5-10 yachts visit Penryhyn each year and visitors are given a warm and authentic Polynesian welcome.

We spent a few hours visiting with a good group of guys, gals and children at Rio's waterfront home. We talked about the trading vessel s/v Kawi based out of Hawaii that services the Cooks and Kirbati and the high price of goods in the Cooks and how they wouldn't see the s/v Kawai again until June or July. And how nearly half the village was stranded in Rarotonga 800nm to the South for 6 months due to the lack of any ships going that way. Finally, the s/v Kawi making the rounds gave them a ride. All the while, just a feet away, ten 10 kids frolicked in the water for hours, as medium sized Black tip reef sharks and pretty big Nurse sharks swam amongst the kids like pet dogs.

While hanging out at Rio's house we all enjoyed photos from my 2006 visit. One of the photos from my last visit has become a tee shirt logo with the text MotuTapu, which loosely translates to 'sacred island'. It's a cool photo of the Te Tautua village that I took from the top of my old Beneteau First 405 s/v La Vie.

Rio's place looks great. He extended out 20' into the lagoon and has a nice new sea wall. He wants me to take another photo of the village from the top of my mast so we can compare old vs new. Apparently, these guys have been busy with lots of projects.

Tomorrow, I'll be helping pour cement for a new porch and next week we might be working on sea walls for some of the other lagoon front homes.

That's it for now.

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Going Slow on Penryhyn Atoll

January 27, 2013
Anchored near Omoka Village in 40' coral rubble at 08°58.718'S 158°03.101'W
Penrhyn Atoll, Northern Cook Islands, South Pacific Ocean

Shortly after arriving we took the dinghy to shore and within minutes the Agriculture and Health officer appeared. I forgot the guys name, but he was super nice and was ready to launch his boat to come inspect ours. We talked for a few minutes inquiring about the inspection process as we heard it might include spraying the interior of our boat with some sort of pesticide. I politely asked if we could skip the pesticide step as this was not required in either Rarotonga or Aitutaki. He asked me if I had the $20 for the fees and since we had the cash on hand we skipped the boat inspection and proceeded directly to his home for the paperwork and receipts.

Withing 10 minutes we were on our way toward the administrative center to track down Andrew, the Island Secretary. Andrew is in charge of Immigration and Customs and on such a small island it's easy to find anything by just wandering around for a few minutes. Since this was my second visit to Penrhyn we were probably setting a speed record. The rumor in the cruising community was that Andrew liked to hold your passport until you checked out, a collateral that would ensure you'd pay the outrageous Cook Island fees without skipping town.

Going into the check-in process I was hoping we could negotiate to keep our passports to eliminate the chance that they might get somehow lost or damaged within the grinding gears of bureaucracy. Attempting apply logic, I offered to pay Andrew the Custom, Immigration, Exit and Anchoring fees in advance in exchange for the privilege of holding on to our passports. It seemed simple he collects all the fees in advance and thus he no longer would need to keep out passports as collateral. Everybody's happy, right? Just broaching this idea probably ended up costing more time and confusion that apply for a lost passport. This was an idea WAY outside the box and the gears inside Andrew's head started to jamb. First, he said we'd have to come back on Friday. Then he sat there and tried to ink up one of his stamps for 5 minutes and then sat looking confused for a while until Kathy offered him a piece of paper so he'd have somewhere to press ink into paper. Don't get me wrong. Andrew was very nice. However, attempting to pay first was not the normal procedure.

All the while we filled out all the requisite check-in and check-out forms. Then Andrew took off towards home on his motorbike to get something. Then when he came back we sat in his office for a while before telling us it was not going to work to pay in advance. At this point I was regretting the whole idea, so I didn't even ask why. Anyway, after physically waving out passports around for 10 minutes strait, I asked if we could have them back and have about 5 more minutes of him thinking about it, I guess he decided that would work. He said we were 'checked in' and that we'd need to pay when we left and he'd need 24 hours notice of our departure. Presumably, he'd need the 24 hours to find the paperwork we'd already filled out? But, hey that's the process so in the interest of efficiency we'll just roll with it.

During the prolonged check-in with Andrew I met the Islands Finance guy who's office was next door. We asked about where we might find a local baker to place our order for a loaf of bread. He offered to relay the order. Cool.

On the way back to the boat I asked some local kids where the shop was located. They pointed the way to one of the bigger homes on the island. The shop hours are flexible, you just knock on the door and if someone is home then the shop can be opened. After, knocking and no answer, some curious and helpful kids that were following us helpfully found the shop keeper who was working in the back yard. She was sweet and took a few mintues to chat. Then she went off to find the key to the shop. When I say 'Shop' envision a closet built into the outside wall of your home. The hunt for the key went on for at least 5-10 minutes during which we offered to come back another day several times. Finally, the shop keeper conceded the shop key was lost, so we headed back to the boat to grab a nap.

On Friday we went on a mission to find the local Baker. Having placed our order by proxy, we weren't sure where the Bakery might be, but it's a small island so it couldn't take long. We found the Baker 'Alex' within a few minutes and ended up spending the whole day chatting with him and his wife. Super nice folks who married at 16 and have 11 children. They invited us to join them at the Catholic Church on Sunday.

Heading back to the boat I ran into a guy named David whom I'd met in 2006. He invited us into his Grandparents waterfront home and we spent an hour or more chatting. I had photo's from our last visit which was a real hit. Grandpa William asked if I could weld aluminum boats. Unfortunately, no. Then Grandpa William asked if I could fix outboard engines and I said I could give it a try.

So, on Saturday I spent the entire day taking bits and pieces of 3 broken 1970's vintage Johnson outboard motors and trying to piece together one working engine. None of the engines had run for years. Opening the covers on any of the three engines revealed a complete nightmare and in one case a mouse's nest. We took all 3 lower units off and found one that still had working gears so we swapped it on to the most likely looking powerhead. And after wrenching all day, guess what, the motor started on the first pull! So, after test drive number one we changed out a faulty spark plug wire and then on test drive number two disaster struck as the water pump went out. So, now the lower unit needs to come off again. The real problem is getting a replacement for the crusty old rubber water pump impeller. On an engine this old it might be tough to find in the USA, but out here forget about it. Maybe one of our readers would be interested in sourcing a rubber impeller for a 1970-80's Johnson 25 commercial engine with a white cowling? Mailing it to Penrhyn might take 3-6 months, but it would be simply HUGE to this family living on a remote South Pacific Atoll. They could then go fishing again for some nice fish instead of the crappy fish that they are catching from the shore. Email if you can help find, purchase and mail this $10-20 part.

On Sunday we attended Catholic mass with 10 other souls. All 140 other residents go to the Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC). And to our real surprise the Catechist was our Baker friend Alex! How he kept this secret from us after spending Friday afternoon together, I can not know. The congregation of 10 was made up of 8 of his family and one old guy and the school principal Tyrone. Needless to say the service was very personal and homily was custom made just for me! It was actually quite fun as those 10 devote Catholics really belted out the hymns with passion.

After Church I rode down to Tyrones house on the back of his motorbike. We checked out his beautiful beachfront home and had a beer and checked the weather. Then we headed over to Alex's house for lunch. The lunch spread was incredible and the stories entertained us until later afternoon. Around 5PM the wind kicked up from the NE and it was getting really rough in the anchorage and we were sitting on lee shore. Doing any kind of work or play on a Sunday is forbidden. Moving the boat is Tabu. Swimming is out of the question. We were loath to be disrespectful, but the situation on board was becoming uncomfortable with the building wind and potentially dangerous. So, we pulled anchor and motored in 25+ knots of wind to the North end of the Atoll. It was late in the day to be moving around the coral studded lagoon, but we're pretty good at visual navigation and quickly made our way to a nice calm anchorage.

The last two nights we've enjoyed blissful sleep in the protected waters behind the Northern motu. We've been beach combing and explored an abandon pearl farm. It's good to be cruising and exploring again.

That's it for now.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Arrived Penrhyn Atoll

January 24, 2013
Anchored dropped at: 08°58.7182 S 158°03.1010 W
Omoka Village, Penrhyn Atoll

Arrived safely at Penrhyn Atoll, Northern Cook Islands.

Our escape plan from American Samoa worked! Fortunately, Tropical Cyclone 'Garry' decided to stop chasing us and turned a bit to the South East. He's still out there, but now he's headed for the Southern Cooks.

Our course arced to the North sailing 867 nautical miles over 134 hours for an average speed around 6.5 knots. Considering the West setting current, several days motoring and then almost two days with winds between 4-12 knots, I'm pretty happy with the 6.5 knot average. The final 36 hours we had 17-24 knots on the beam and just sailed with the jib to avoid arriving too early. The sea state was been pretty bouncy with multiple swell directions and 3+ meter short period wind waves on the beam.

Penrhyn Atolls' westerly pass, Taruia Pass, was really sketchy with the 3+ meter NNW swell and major ebb. The water was so churned up with whitecaps, breakers, standing waves and overfalls it was very difficult to determine the location of the pass even though it's said to be 300 feet wide. We approached very slowly and then hovered for a while trying to sort it out. There were no markers what-so-ever. On my last visit there was at least one rusty piece of rebar sticking out of the reef on the north side to delineate the pass. This time it was nearly impossible to determine the reef break from the pass break. We shot a video as we edged in from the NW avoiding most of the overfalls in the outflow and then hammered the throttles and surfed a wave through the pass at nearly 12 knots. I think in a mono-hull these would have been classic broaching conditions and extremely dangerous. Perhaps, Takuua Pass located on the Northeast would have been better today.

Completed check in procedures ashore. We're super happy to have the anchor down and ready for a good nights sleep.

That's it for now.

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Day 2704 of the Sailing Adventure

January 23, 2013

Day 2704 of the Sailing Adventure

Kathy 36,056 nautical miles sailed as Admiral

Dave 47,536 nautical miles sailed as Skipper

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 6 Samoa to Penrhyn, Northern Cook Islands

January 23, 2012 4PM local (Jan 24 0300UTC)
Position 08°33'S 159°31'W
Speed 7.1
Course 106T

90nm remaining to Penrhyn Atoll, Cook Islands, so we'll arrive early on Thursday January 24, 2013.
We found the wind around sunset last night and have been bumping along with 20 knot winds and 3 meter plus swell and wind waves smacking us on the beam. Unlike a monohull sailboat, catamaran's don't like beam seas as they tend to smack into the sides of the hulls. Underdeck slamming isn't very common, but having waves crash into the near vertical sides of the hulls is not conducive to a restful sleep. All day to day we've been pushing more to the ENE, so as winds continue to build we can make a turn in a few hours and assume a more 'off the wind' course reaching toward Penrhyn. The extra northing has been hard won today as we've kept the hatches and front door mostly closed up as spray sheets the deck. When the clouds part it gets darn hot this near to the equator, so at the moment we have the front facing front door open at risk of catching a little spray. So far so good with only a few drops making over the threshold the last couple of hours.

Kathy and I just finished reading 'Wild' From lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). By Cheryl Strayed.
A great read and a big thanks out to my mom for sending the book in a care package to us while we were in American Samoa. The book helped me relive some of the hundreds of trail miles I hiked on the PCT during my teen years. The feeling may wane, but my interest is piqued. After 8 epic years of adventures on the sea, maybe an epic land journey might be in store.

Our plans remain fluid and highly changeable. But, today's thought contains ideas about sailing North to Hawaii in the next few months.

That's it for now.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 5 Samoa to Penrhyn. Calm before the storm

January 22, 2013 2:30PM local (Jan 23 0130UTC)
Position 08°45'S 161°59'W
Course 090T
Speed 4.4 knots

The last 24 hours we've had almost no wind. Calculating our arrival time to Penrhyn yesterday we determined that if we kept pushing as we were, we'd arrive there just an hour too late in the day for safe navigation. So, we had two choices. One, continue with the hurry up plan as cyclone Garry is still on our tail, but predicted to move SE. The thought being we might be able to make up the hour by tweeking the sails. But, if we still ended up late we have to hove-to in the predicted 20+ knot winds for around 12 hours.

The second option was to simply enjoy going slow, flying just the JIB and then when the winds fill in we end up sailing fast for 24 hours and arriving in the morning. We opted to go slow and are now 18 hours later still crawling along at 4.4 knots with just our Jib in 8-10 knots true out of the NW. As it turns out, it's nice and peaceful to just go slow for a change. Believe it or not we've never sailed this slow before on LightSpeed.

To keep things exciting Kathy decided to drop a line in the water and within two hours we landed a 54" Wahoo. I didn't weigh this one, but it seemed like something over 30 pounds. Our fridge is working overtime trying to cool off all those fillets as it's pretty warm here with temps around 89F and 75% humidity.

Kathy cooked up some sushi rice and we had a great lunch of fresh Wahoo. Looks like we'll have another Scrabble match this afternoon.

That's it for now.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Tropical Cyclone 'Garry' on our tail

January 22, 2013 0245UTC (3:45PM local)
Position: 09°09'S 163°47'W
Course 76T
Speed 6.8 knots

We now are 510 miles from Pago Pago and nearing the latitude of Penrhyn Island. With Northing in hand we are feeling pretty secure that we are out of the likely path of Cyclone 'Garry'. From here we'll just sail east to Penrhyn about two days distant.

Our friends on s/v Songline in Pago Pago, American Samoa had this to say:

"TC Garry is now predicted to move to between Tutuila and Manua and stall there for a while, forecasting 60+ knots of wind around midnight tonight.  We've scooted over to tie up to the MV Sili, bought some BFBF's (big f&%*ing buoy fenders) at the seine warehouse and are feeling ready to dance."

Wishing everyone in American Samoa well as they brace for the onslaught of TC 'Garry'.

Aboard LightSpeed we are currently motorsailing with less than 5 knots of wind, mostly clear skies and HOT and HUMID conditions. The proverbial calm before the storm it seems. We may have another 12 hours before Northerly winds fill and we get back to fast sailing.

I hope I can wrangle a few gallon of diesel from the locals on Penrhyn as we're going to come close to burning every drop on-board motoring through these calms.

On our website you can find a link near the top left hand side of the page that will show our most recent position report on Google maps.

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Tropical Cyclone 'Garry' in the neighborhood

January 21, 2013 1:20AM local (1220UTC)
Position: 10°06' S 165°07' W
Speed 7.5 knots
Course 045T
Wind NE 9 knots
Motor sailing (1 X engine to conserve fuel)
Fuel burn rate: 3L/hr... 110L remaining or (36 hrs X 1 engine or 18 hrs X 2 engines).
Reserve fuel not included in above calculations: 80L (12 hrs X 2 engines)

It's official Tropical Cyclone 'Garry' is in the neighborhood.

Jan 21/0756 UTC 2013 UTC.




AT 12 HRS VALID AT 211800 UTC 11.3S 171.3W MOV E AT 06 KT WITH 45 KT

NB ( AT 211800 LightSpeed will be at 09.68S 164.66W moving NE at 6 knots)

AT 24 HRS VALID AT 220600 UTC 11.4S 170.5W MOV E AT 05 KT WITH 50 KT

AT 36 HRS VALID AT 221800 UTC 11.5S 170.0W MOV E AT 04 KT WITH 60 KT
AT 48 HRS VALID AT 230600 UTC 11.6S 169.5W MOV E AT 03 KT WITH 65 KT


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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Running from a storm day 3 afternoon update

January 20, 2013 5:30PM local (Jan 21 0430UTC)
Position: 10°33'S 165°53'W
360 out of Pago with 480nm to Penrhyn Atoll (near 08°57'S 158°03'W)

We left Pago Pago, American Samoa on Friday with two major motivations. First, we'd simply had more than enough of American Samoa experience, but I'll park that topic for now as it could be two chapters in an E-book. Second, it looked like American Samoa was going to get slammed by a Tropical Cyclone and if we hurried we could get out of the way before it arrived. We'd been looking at the NOAA GRIB model weather and other sources and just couldn't bear to just sit there in Pago Pago and let a storm potentially destroy our boat when we so badly wanted to leave anyway.

So now flash forward three days and we're 360nm out of Pago on Monday January 21 at 0430UTC 10°33'S 165°53'W and we're running before a 25 knot breeze on a course of 55T. The last 30nm we've averaged 8.8 knots which makes us happy, even if the 3+ meter swells are a little bumpy. It taken us 2 days to regain our sea legs after sitting in Pago Pago for 2 months eating too many cheese burgers on terra firma.

It now looks like our amateur weather forecast was pretty much correct and a Tropical Cyclone (TC) is pretty certain to form. The good news is it looks like it's going to veer North of American Samoa giving them a pass, but then intensify to a TC and track East not SE as we previously thought. The bad news is that the storm is more or less following us and as it get's closer it begins to pack a real punch carrying strong winds across many hundreds of miles of ocean. So, again we are happy to be moving quickly to the NE and we sure hope that storm decides to give us a break and track to the South a bit.

Very much looking forward to the prospect of anchoring at Penrhyn Atoll, a three week visit in 2006 was filled with memorable experiences and true Polynesian hospitality.

That's it for now.

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Running from a strom day 3

TIME: 2013/01/20 17:26 UTC or 6:26AM local
LATITUDE: 11-20.25S
LONGITUDE: 167-11.73W
SPEED: 7.9

Despite the GRIB weather model saying light winds we found some good sailing wind yesterday around sunset and have been sailing since. Around midnight it got squally and I decided to strike the main when I couldn't be sure what the squalls might be packing wind wise. At that point the boat was going high 9's to 10.6 knots which was really nice when running from a potential cyclone. Overnight we've flown just the jib suplemented with a little motor sailing to keep the boat speed around 8 knots. Wind is currently West which is much nicer than the forecast NW.

We might swing close by Puka Puka this afternoon just to have a look. There is some sort of boat pass the locals use and I've been curious about the possibility of sailing a shoal draft cat into the lagoon. Based on the forecast, it seems Puka Puka is going to get slammed with 50+ knots so we'll keep moving.

Finally got our sea legs after 2 months anchored took them away. Feeling optimistic about the remainder of the voyage now that we're moving North of the forecast TC track.

Our cat 'Shell' is being entertained by a hitch hiking bird that's just out side the window sitting on our Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board.

All is well onboard.

That's it for now,

Dave & Kathy
s/v LightSpeed

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Running from the storm

January 19, 2013 13:20 UTC (2:20AM local)
Sailing Vessel LightSpeed
Call sign: WDF2150
Position: 13-30.92S 169-45.15W
CRS: 052T @ 7.4 kts
Underway Am Samoa toward Penrhyn, Cook Islands

It's peak cyclone season here in the South Pacific. The NOAA GFS model has been indicating the likely development of a cyclone that looks set to hit on American Samoa in the next few day. Not liking the odds of riding out a storm in American Samoa's Pago Pago harbor we decided to sail North toward the upper edge of the cyclone belt.

American Samoa is located at 14 degrees South and we're hoping to move up to Penrhyn Atoll in the Northern Cook Islands located near 8 South. To dodge the storm it will take nearly 900 nm of sailing. During cyclone season, nothing is a sure bet, and while Penrhyn has been hit by a few cyclones in the past 40 years it's much less likely to take a hit than Samoa which seems to be in the cross hairs again only a month or so after Cyclone Evan. We've been hustling this last week to make preparations for the voyage.

Aside from the 5 offices that required visits to officially check out of American Samoa, we had to fuel the boat, do laundry, buy provisions, check the weather 3 times a day, install the sails and rig the boat for sea, change the engines oils and filters, bake a cake, organize a going away party for us and a birthday party for our friend Shane and generally do lots of running around town that required many taxi rides across the island, lots of shopping lists and innumerable bus rides to and fro. It feels good to be underway and as I write we're about 10 hours into the voyage and 75 nautical miles to the NE of American Samoa. It's a little scary to be at sea when a cyclone is developing a few hundred miles to the West of us, but we'll continue to carefully monitor the developing likely track and if necessary sail further North to keep clear of it's path of destruction.

That's it for now.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Underway for Northern Cooks or French Polynesia

January 18, 2013

Another cyclone looks to be on the way to American Samoa so we are running for cover.   This afternoon we are underway from American Samoa for Northern Cooks or French Polynesia.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Atlantic 42 LightSpeed

A42 LightSpeed at anchor in French Polynesia

Interior layout of the Chris White designed Atlantic 42 LightSpeed.  Image Copyright Chris White Designs.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tropical depression headed for Tonga on Tuesday?

Above image from

We've been closely watching the development of 99P INVEST  Fiji Met Service shows the storm tracking well to the South of American Samoa.

Vapor image from:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Keeping a lookout for cyclone development

Kathy and I look closely at GFS GRIB weather files twice a day.  We're not weather junkies, just prudent mariners looking for cyclone development.  As weather amateurs we see conditions looking ripe for the formation of cyclone Garry in less than 96 hours. We hope it tracks to the South of American Samoa.  Fingers crossed.
 A screen snip of our weather tool of choice is ViewFax as it supports direct GRIB downloads from Saildocs... no more sending emails to get your GRIB.    Download view fax here:
 Fiji weather maps like this can be found here:
 Cool images like this satelite vapor image can be found here:

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Hike to Fogama'a Crater National Natural Landmark

 Partial exoskeleton of a Slipper lobster Thenus orientalis found in Fogama'a Cove
Slipper Lobster, Thenus orientalis
 Fogama'a Cove is one of the nicest beaches we found on American Samoa
 Lunch break at Fogama'a Cove with Kathy and the crew of s/v Songline, Fred and Cinda.
 Inviting waters of Fogama'a Cove, Larsen Bay, American Samoa.
 Are we there yet?  Kathy and Cinda decipher our cryptic map as we complete our mission of finding Fagalua Cove where we swam through a sketchy shore break and snorkeled outside of the reef wall.

At one point we got separated from Fred and as we picked our way through some thick jungle a friendly plantation worker with a sharp machete led the way chopping a trail... just like the movies.  Luckily we found Fred and then continued on to Fagalua Cove:)

 American Samoa National Natural Landmarks Map Fogama'a Crater
                                             American Samoa National Natural Landmarks Map

To hike to Fogama'a Crater National Natural Landmark:  Take the bus to Vaitogi and then head West along the road. Before Shark and Turtle resort turn right on a side road and then follow this 4X4 track until it ends in a plantation in Fogamaa Cove. To get the correct road you should ask directions along the way.  Once at Fogama'a Cove walk down the beach and then climb back up the slope at the other end to pick up a trail to Fagalua Cove for which a nice trail leads to the rock quarry where you have a choice to go toward Fagatele Bay or head out Futiga Road to 'Main Road' where you can catch a bus back to Pago Pago.  Wish we had those directions before we started!

Rain or Shine

Good thing we have a rain or shine motto, as we sure got the rain today for our hike.  Sustained torrential downpour would be more accurate, but once we were soaked through it was really pretty fun. Our rainwater  collection system on the boat captured 30+ gallons in few hours and our tanks were over flowing when we got back to the boat.  

It rained so hard that we actually experienced a very infrequent sensation here in Samoa, a brief feeling of chill.  The temperature might have plunged to 81 degrees.  Burr.
 Our hands after today's hike look like we've been sitting in a hot tub not hiking.
Artificial waterfall during the peak of the downpour.

 Can you spot the 1980's Mercury Topas GS?
You know you're in the rain forest when you find plants growing out of a chrome bumper.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

New Years in Pago Pago, American Samoa

 Does this remind you of a William Shatner "Priceline"  Kung Foo commercial?

You know you're getting old when Champagne goes unopened.
 You can only find Budweiser girls like these in American Samoa.

Nothing small about this party.  Kathy hoots it up with her new Puletasi (traditional Samoan dress).

Great example of how to keep trash out of Pago Pago Harbor

 Using and securing waste bins.  Nicely done!
Re-purposing old fishing net into a recyclables container.  Nicely done!

Source of trash in Pago Pago harbor

 Goodanchorages sucks.

The harbor of Pago Pago, American Samoa has a far reaching reputation of being pretty dirty. A few days ago we set out to find the source of all the trash that makes it's way into the harbor.  It didn't take much detective work to find one of the primary sources up the valley from Pago Pago.
 At the head of the valley, trash piles up like glacial ice and slowly makes it's way down the steep ravine
 Although lush with greenery this waterway had lots and lots of trash.
During frequent tropical down pours anything thrown in this waterway makes it way to the bay and coral reefs.
 Even after a rainstorm, lots of trash is still hung up in the water way.
Styrofoam sucks!  We do not buy products that use or served in styrofoam.
 Look closely and you see litter everywhere and in large quantities.

Trash ready to enter the bay from a drainage creek on the side of the bay.  All that's needed is a little help from a tropical downpour and all this trash can make it's way to the nearby coral reefs and sea turtles.

 Just outside the offices that manage this marina, sunken boats and broken docks are the norm.  The sad thing is this marina looked only marginally better in 2006 and after the 2009 tsunami what happened to the funds that should have rebuilt this facility?
 Busted and loose docks could be bolted back together in a few days, but gosh I guess that would be too much work.
Abandon and now derelict catamaran that looks to soon be on the bottom and fouling up potential dock space for a functional yacht.  
Does this boat look ready for a cyclone?  It looks well on it's way to becoming yet another piece of litter in the Pago Pago Harbor.