Samoa – The Pains of Trying to Accomplish ….. Anything

We’re almost done with our errands and the waterline is showing it. We have provisioned up and our tanks are full. We missed an excellent weather window this week to sail for Tonga as a result of delayed shipments from the US. Our batteries are supposed to arrive this Saturday. They were delayed as a result of the hospital equipment that took priority on the plane. We were told our batteries were booted and are sitting in the hangar in Honolulu. I also decided to order a new – very expensive – gearbox from the US. Having a reliable engine is of the utmost importance when you transit the treacherous reef-strewn waters of Tonga and Fiji. If you don’t remember, our gearbox was giving us trouble in Penrhyn, but has been working fine since. It was sent overnight express so we are very hopeful it will also arrive on Saturday.

Eric on ZEPHYR was kind enough to send us an ipad to replace our salt-crusted laptop that bit the dust on the last passage. I was very excited to fire it up and load it with charts and navigation software, but it was not to be. The ipad needed a big software update in order to run and despite three days of effort and frustration, we were unable to download the update. Samoa is not yet connected to the outside world via fiber optic cable yet so the internet here is about dial-up speed. We tried to let  the download run from the boat via a wifi booster but it was too slow and kept dropping the connection. So we scouted out the fastest internet in town and it was at the only nice hotel on the waterfront. We got the download going, had a couple beers, and dug in for a long afternoon of waiting….and waiting…and waiting…until we came to the realization that it still had 13 hours remaining. It was now evening so we decided to take drastic measures and rent a hotel room for the night to let the download complete. We enjoyed the AC and cable TV while the status bar slowly creeped across the screen. When we woke in the morning it said 78 minutes remaining – we were very optimistic and I jumped in the shower. When I got out Alyssa had a look of dispair on her face…..it had dropped the connection – or rather timed out – and when it was restarted, it began the download from the beginning! We were crushed. A whole day spent in vain trying to download software that would probably take half an hour back home. We decided we’ll try again in Fiji, where they have a fiber cable and high-speed internet.

Frustrated, we set out to try and accomplish something else….anything….to try and regain some control over our to-do list. We needed a new gas tank for the dinghy so we jumped on the bus and went to  the gas store that we knew had the tanks for sale. After a 40 minute ride, we entered the store only to be told Andy, the owner, was out and not back until the afternoon….and he had locked up the tanks and had the only key. We spent the next few hours taking 5 more buses (two of which we took to arrive back at the same departure point) and the only thing accomplished was eating a very fattening meal at Carl’s Jr. We finally returned to the gas store and were able to buy the fuel tank. A small victory in the battle to check boxes off the to-do list.

Yesterday we pulled anchor and motored out of the harbor to make water. The harbor control asked curiously why we were going out for only three hours. I replied that we were making water. He must have been very amused as we motored out into the rain to make water. I will admit that I felt very silly and questioned my sanity when we were desalinating water in the rain. I think we’ll set up a rain catchment….and make an appointment with a shrink.

When we returned to the anchorage we tied off to a huge ship mooring and set a stern hook to keep us off the mooring when the wind dies. I climbed on top of the mooring and shackled our chain to it. We then buoyed the chain with three fenders so the weight of the chain doesn’t pull us into the big rusting steel mooring. We are now very secure and there is no risk of dragging anchor when it blows again. We can now leave the boat unattended without worry. 

There is no wind today and it’s hot, humid and wet. Our mold colony is doing very well on our nice teak interior. We are currently providing it with the perfect growing conditions and look forward to each new patch with unbounded enthusiasm. I hope you can sense my extreme sarcasm. It’s a never ending battle whenever we are on the windward side of a high island in the tropics.

Today I run the last errand on the list – propane fill. Then we get to relax a little more and wait for our parts to arrive. Today is taco night with all the other cruisers and live-aboards. We just met Steve on a very small boat (23 feet?) SPARROW, who just sailed in from San Diego after 58 days at sea. I am really looking forward to his full story of the passage.

Oh, and the proper way to pronounce Samoa is: Saaaahhhh moh ah. We’ve also been corrected on our butchering of the pronunciation of Tonga. It’s pronouced Toohhhnga.

Cheers from Saaaaaaaahhhhhhh moa,

Lewis & Alyssa

July 9, 2015

Pago Pago, American Samoa

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1 Comment

  1. Slove's Gravatar Slove
    July 10, 2015    

    I bet that fatty carls junior burger you speak of was secretly very tasty……….

    p.s. dude you met sailed from San Diego to American Samoa on a 23 footer??? wow! 50 some days at sea on a 23 footer, I probably would have offed myself at about day 20.

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