_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Amerikan Samoa 7/30/07 (Ginger)

We have been here two weeks tomorrow. We have scoped out the big stores (Ace Hardware, Cost-U-Less, True Value Hardware and Napa Auto) and have even had a soft serve ice cream from McDonalds. We have also gotten fish poisoning, spent 3 days at the hospital getting teeth cleaned and checkups, and made numerous trips to the internet cafe called DDW (Don't Drink the Water) and to the post office. We failed at our attempt to get books from Amazon, we know now to use "PO Box" at the beginning of the
address to get it sent by US Mail rather than by UPS. Our large package was denied by UPS even though all carriers leave their packages with the post office on this island. There is no door to door delivery, at all. We have enjoyed spending time with the crews from other boats in the bay. Two boats we met in the Marquesas are here and it's fun to catch up with both of them. While we wait for packages to arrive we're planning ahead to our stop in Apia, Western Samoa where we'll visit the grave
of Robert Louis Stevenson and hopefully see some of the South Pacific Games which start the last week of August. We also made a change to our plans for cyclone season. We had planned to go to Australia at the end of October but are now planning to go from Fiji or New Caledonia to New Zealand first. We'll stay there through February and then head to Australia and cruise up the east coast of Australia next fall/winter (Mar - June).

We have (knock on wood) been fortunate to have our anchor hold here despite the well deserved reputation of plastic bags covering the bottom of the bay. We did, however, participate in the rescue of a boat that wasn't so lucky with their anchoring spot. This boat had been anchored just behind us for a couple of days when a series of afternoon squalls piped up in the bay. Our anchor snubber line snapped in a 40 knot gust and Peter was on deck putting on a beefier line when he noticed this beautiful
boat with shiny paint drifting backwards just feet from a rusting hulk with it's mast sticking over the bow like a jousting spear. We announced over the VHF radio that we needed help and within seconds the crews from Paddy West's, Heidi and Marcy were fending off the hulk from the deck of the unfortunate dragging boat. We were finally able to tie the boat up to the rusty "floating anchor" with the aid of some huge fenders provided by Heidi. Not sure where they keep those fenders on their little
boat but they are quite impressive! The boat owners returned and made quick work of re-anchoring in an impressive drill through rain and gusts. It was a graphic display of how deserved the reputation is of this bay and how fast a boat can drag when the anchor lets go. When they hauled their anchor there was a plastic bag wrapped around it. The problems with the plastic bags here are not limited to anchoring. The bags also float at various depths and are prone to wrapping around outboard propellers
and getting sucked into water intake holes. The idea of swimming in this water to clear a plastic bag from our engine intake is not a pretty one!

Ashore we have met some very nice people and are enjoying exploring the island. The busses run all day until 6PM, Monday through Saturday. They are handy and entertaining. Each bus is decorated with personal flair and they all play loud music. Though this is American Samoa it seems very Pacific island and not very American. It seems like the main American influence is the litter. There are a few chain stores as mentioned above but for the most part this island is more like the rest of the South
Pacific islands we've visited than like any part of the US we've visited. Many of the signs and posters are only in Samoan, most of them are about politics or health. As it is summer vacation here, the kids are all out of school. Some of them are in programs such as swimming lessons at the public beach or weaving at the museum. Many other kids roam the streets in small groups and they especially like to hang out at the dinghy dock. We haven't had too many problems leaving our dinghy ashore on
this trip and we tend to return to the boat before dark. A couple of days ago we had the hand water pump in the dinghy because of all the rain. Well, you guessed it.. no more water pump for Marcy. The next morning Peter went ashore for a quick trip to the internet cafe and no more flip flops for me either! These days we're taking the outboard key with us when we leave the boat and of course, leaving nothing in it when we go.

Today Peter took off the boom and fitted new washers in the gooseneck. Hopefully that will keep the moving parts happy and quiet. He also fixed the stanchions we broke on our way here and he's been bringing jugs of diesel and water out to the boat. I've been sorting out extra stuff, taking inventory of our food and tidying up the boat. As the days tick by it's hard to figure out where the time went. Hopefully by the time we leave here we'll have a lot to show for our efforts.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Passage to Samoa (Peter)

Almost a year of fulltime cruising and several ocean passages has proved that Marcy is nicely suited to the job for us.

Marcy at sea Cook Is
Here is a rare picture of Marcy at sea, on passage from Surawow to
Samoa, about 450 nautical miles. We hoisted anchor shortly after Paddy
West’s and passed her half a day later. Typical of boisterous trade
wind passages, we are double reefed and moving along comfortably at 7
or 8 knots. The wind vane is steering, the sun is shining, and the
miles roll by quickly. We are both on deck because of the excitement of
seeing another vessel, normally at sea just one of us is on watch at a
time. Passing Paddy West's

Lucky for us, Linda on PW is an excellent photographer with a nice camera.

Marcy broad reach
Marcy has a long enough waterline for some good speed, but still a nice
size to handle single or double handed. Full battens and lazy jacks
help control the big main, roller furling tames the jib, and our
spinnaker is set and doused in a sock. At the end of this passage we
had a long night of incessant squalls, which luckily we can handle with
just one of us on deck by furling the jib during the high wind. squall cloud
Our watch schedule is the traditional 4 on 4 off, so we get plenty of
sleep in steady conditions. Only major wind shifts or sudden calms or
large wind increases warrant calling the off watch for help.
To keep the workload manageable, we rarely steer by hand. The Monitor
wind vane does the majority of the work, with the belowdecks autopilot
filling in the remaining 10 percent of steering duty – under power,
running in light winds, and maneuvers like jibing or tacking. Getting ready to anchor
Prepared to anchor
We like to sail rather than motor as much as possible, to save fuel, so
we often anchor under sail. On the approach to the anchorage we inflate
our tender of choice – either the canoe Red Dogfish or the dinghy
Sniffy. For a short commute to shore, the canoe is often more
convenient. Marcy handles very well under main alone, allowing for
drama free maneuvering through an anchorage to the chosen spot. Checking keel
working in Pago Pago
The truism goes: cruising is working on your boat in exotic ports. Once
the hook is down, entry formalities taken care of, and a short visit
ashore, we often need to take care of maintenance business. The sea is
a harsh environment. When we arrived in Pago Pago, we had two broken
stanchions and a loose gooseneck to take care of as soon as possible.
We are constantly inspecting and making small repairs, and cleaning the
bottom is a never-ending chore. Of course, in industrial Pago Pago
Harbor with its murky questionable water, we are in a no swimming zone.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pago Pago, American Samoa

Our passage to Pago Pago was a quick one. If we were wallowing like a pig in the light winds to get to Suwarrow we were rolling like a dog all the way to American Samoa. It was rough enough that using the pressure cooker was difficult as the stove would gimbal the pot right into the cupboard on every roll. One particularly awkward roll came just as I was transferring soup from the pot to a bowl. Fortunately though both hands were full I was able to stand on the bulkhead behind me for the roll and never spilled a drop!
We started having radio trouble as we got ready to check into the Seafarer's Net on the 15th. Peter was able to fix it by cleaning the wire terminal ends. That fix was short lived and by check-in time on the 16th, after an hour of clipping rotten wire and trying to connect we were able to hear everyone but we couldn't transmit. Talk about frustrating listening to people call you and not being able to respond!
Fortunately we had left Suwarrow with Paddy West's and had been in contact with them regularly as well. We even had a photo op with them as we sailed near eachother for a little while. David was able to report in to Seafarer's that all was well on board and we were just having radio trouble. He was having trouble with his VHF radio antenna so once our SSB radio was out we couldn't communicate with them but it was fun to be travelling within a few miles of another boat and to be able to check in with them while it lasted.
We're now anchored in Pago Pago harbour near Paddy West's. We arrived, as seems to be our SOP at 1:00 AM and anchored with no problem. We spent the morning of the 17th clearing in with the 6 different entities (customs, immigration, health, agriculture, harbour master, port control.) We went to the post office to collect a few books we had ordered and were able to make it back to the boat in time for a nap. Yesterday we explored the commercial district looking for antenna wire. No luck. This is definitely more south pacific island than American shopping mecca! We're going to order the wire to be shipped and move on to the other jobs on the list.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wind, wind, wind Ginger

This morning we have the wind we've been waiting for (and that the weather charts have been promising) so we're preparing the boat to head for Samoa and should hoist anchor by noon. We spent the day yesterday thinking about friends and family and wishing we were home to celebrate the life of a wonderful grandmother.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Suwarrow, Northern Cook Islands Friday the 13th Ginger 13 deg 15 min S, 163 deg 07 min W

Suwarrow Atoll, Cook Islands, we arrived outside the pass this morning at about 6AM and tacked back and forth until the sun was high enough to enter the lagoon. As our trip started with lumpy seas and 12 knots of wind we made good time for the first couple of days but it took a full 24 hours for me to get my "sea stomach". The closer we got to Suwarrow the longer the trip stretched out. Though our mileage was slowly decreasing the eta continued to be further and further in the future. Our all
time low was last night with no wind and a little current to barely push us along with just 40 miles to go the estimate was 2 days to get here! Finally after hours of sitting in the heat of the day with no breeze a line of squalls came through giving us a little wind and a welcome opportunity for a shower on deck. We had a new pressure cooker recipe for dinner (chicken parmesan in tinfoil packs, great for cleanup!) and the wind started to fill in. By 7:30 we were going 3 knots and the steady winds
brought us in. We were able to run the pass under sail with no problem and it was great to anchor among friends and take a break from the passage. We're having dinner with Paddy West's crew tonight and were able to visit with Tamasha as well. The forecast is for wind to come up maybe as soon as tonight so we'll haul anchor and head west for American Samoa tomorrow.
We enjoyed our check-in with the ranger John, his wife and 4 kids and heard stories about his family fishing traditions. We'll take some food supplies ashore for them this afternoon as they're running low on some items; eggs, milk, crackers. We mentioned another boat we met, Bravo Charlie III to them and they lit up and retold the story of being evacuated by Tom on Bravo Charlie III at the end of the season 2 years ago. The supply ship that dropped them off was to return 6 months later and pick
them up to get them off the island for cyclone season. The ship radioed that they weren't going to make the trip and they bypassed the island. John and his wife had to gather a few belongings and hitch a ride with the last sailboat to come through the area for the season. They are gracious hosts who have a good rapport with cruisers.
Tomorrow morning we'll be on our way to Samoa and looking forward to picking up mail for the first time since Rachel delivered it to us in March in Zihuatanejo.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Good Bye French Polynesia, Hello N. Cook Islands (Ginger) 7/9/07 4PM 15 deg18 min S 156 deg 26 min W

We enjoyed our time hiking and exploring Moorea. We also spent our time ordering a few things to be sent to American Samoa to pick up on our way. In Seattle when ordering from Amazon it took weeks to get our orders. One way to speed up the process seems to be just to have things sent to American Samoa. They sent everything to arrive within 3 days of ordering! So, our deadline to get to American Samoa is firm as the post office will only hold mail for us for 30 days. On Saturday June 30 we
hauled anchor from Moorea and set out for Bora Bora. The seas were were fairly big: 4 to 4.5 meters, recently down from 5 meters. We had a lumpy overnight trip and arrived at first light at the pass to Bora Bora. It was an intimidating transit of the pass as the seas were now 3.5 to 4 meters and they were coming from a direction to hit the entrance head on. We made it through the pass and immediately caught a large piece of hard plastic in our prop. It must have been floating just below the surface
as we were both on deck scanning the water and never saw it. We shifted to neutral immediately and the engine died. We quickly unrolled the jib and sailed to a mooring at the Bora Bora Yacht Club, jumped in the water to clear the prop and then took a nap. Later we went ashore and met a man named Rapa who is in charge of the moorings. He was born on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and is a very interesting guy. As there is a fee for the moorings we decided to leave Monday morning to anchor downtown.
We held our breath as we turned the key, luckily the engine started immediately.
We moved downtown to be closer to the grocery stores as well as closer to the Heiva festivities. The 2 week celebration leading up to Bastille Day is celebrated on all the islands and Bora Bora makes a huge production of the event. They had built a temporary restaurant city out of bamboo and with about 6 restaurants, a disco and numerous arcades and booths. There were several roulette booths where people bought numbers to win lots of household goods such as rice and cooking oil. The atmosphere
was that of the Puyallup Fair on a smaller scale. We watched a singing and dance competition and enjoyed a dinner ashore.
After our downtown stay we moved about a mile south and anchored in front of Bloody Mary's Restaurant. We had sandwiches ashore to celebrate Auntie Mary's birthday and enjoyed a bike ride around the island. There were very strong winds while we were there and we are sad to report that the outboard that was rescued by the crew of Baloo in Mexico was re-claimed by the sea as our dinghy was flipped in a monster gust of wind. Peter was able to right the dinghy and drift down wind to reclaim both oars
but the outboard was not to be cajoled into starting this time.
Bora Bora was a great stop to catch up with some boats from Zihua and we were treated to a fantastic dinner aboard Volare on our last night there. Friday morning we headed west but as forecast there was no wind. We motored the 25 miles to Maupiti and anchored in the lagoon after transiting the notorious pass with no problem. We anchored off a sailing day camp and were treated to clear water and the happy voices of the campers while we were there. We had planned to spend a couple of days exploring
but the wind came up as we were finishing our swim Saturday afternoon and we were just able to haul anchor and exit the pass before sunset.
We're now 48 hours into our passage to Suwarrow (Cook Islands) and after some light winds the first night we've got trade winds again! We're averaging 7 - 8 knots and enjoying a relatively comfortable trip now. Saw lots of shooting stars and a very bright flash (space debris?) last night.
We plan to stop at Suwarrow for a couple of days and should be in American Samoa by 7/23 or so. We are checking in with the Pacific Seafarer's Net on passage.