June 7 - September 10, 2008

HIGHLIGHTS

A Fellow Mariner in Distress

Weird and Fantastic Cultures

Samoan Soldiers

Battle of the Barnacles

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June 7 - June 29, 2008

Waiting For A Window To Leave

We vowed to get out of New Zealand earlier this year than last -- we wanted to stay out of Whangarei's cold, rainy winter. (They don't call it "Whanga Rain" for nothing.) But we couldn't get a weather window. So, with our stay slipping again into winter, we broke down and bought a dehumidifier -- which improved our comfort level 1000%! That little machine extracted 8-10 liters of water a day. If you want to picture life in Whanga Rain without the dehumidifier, imagine splashing that much water around the inside of a boat every day!

While we waited for a decent weather window, Ken got time to play with his new Nikon SLR camera -- with the promise of better pictures for the web site. Here are some of the "studio studies" that he shot with his friend Bill from "Windsong":

Water drops Flower Water drop on petal

June 30 - July 10, 2008

Passage To American Samoa

Finally the weather cleared and we had a good long term forecast, along with nice conditions for our departure. We like to leave in somewhat settled conditions so we can get used to being underway again. Psychologically, we feel much braver after we've been out at sea for a few days.

Evening at sea Gorgeous sunset first night out. Last sun

 

Wing and wing Our new sails from Calibre Sails got their first real test on this trip and they worked beautifully.

 

Before Here's the only fish we caught on the whole trip. A nice little albacore tuna, before and after. After

Mariners in Distress

Just at dark on our second day out, with the the wind blowing 25-30 knots, we rescued two fellow mariners. Actually, they kind of rescued themselves, plopping totally exhausted into our cockpit.

These two little Greenfinches were out of their element -- land birds over 150 miles at sea in rough and windy conditions.

They went straight to sleep -- this one didn't even wake up when Ken moved her to a new spot so that he could get into the engine room.

New passenger, fast asleep, and kind of in the way

We christened them Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

The next morning, one of them woke up, had one look at Ken, and immediately took off. We figured that one must have been "Dum," since he flew to an uncertain fate without even getting breakfast.

Little bird, big appetite

Dee, on the other hand, lit into the granola we served up.

That bird knew how to eat.

Beth calculated that if Tweedle Dee weighed as much as we did, she would have eaten up all our provisions in a couple of days!

Dee settled right into Eagle's Wings, showing no inclination even to leave the cockpit. Maybe it was Ken's harmonica playing (right), or our winning personalities and cheerful company.

Or maybe it was the unlimited supply of good food and fresh water on EW, combined with the unlimited supply of cold seawater outside.

Anyway, we had a passenger.

Ken plays for Tweetie
Dee keeping an eye on us

We debated whether Dee was a "he" or a "she." Beth felt that Dee's prudent intelligence, in contrast to Dum, suggested a girl.

Ken held out for a while, but he caved when Tweedle-dee started to blimp out and exhibit nest building behavior.

After he decided Dee was a girl, Ken started calling her "Tweetie" or "Tweetie Pie." This could have caused some confusion, since Ken usually calls Beth "Sweetie" or "Sweetie Pie."

In practice it wasn't a problem. Ken's conversations with Tweetie usually took the form "Hi Tweetie, would you like some dinner?" Whereas his conversations with Beth were more along the lines of "Hi Sweetie, when's dinner?"

Pre-fab housing Ken built a cozy house out of a 5 liter vinegar bottle and tied it under the step behind our steering wheel. Tweetie seemed to like the house and spent hours perched on top. This was about the safest spot for her -- anywhere else and we always worried about stepping on her. No subprime mortgage here!

We'd only known Tweetie for a week, but we were thoroughly hooked. During any sail-handling maneuver our first concern was always "don't step on Tweetie."

We debated the ethics of bringing an invasive species into Samoa, but there was just no possibility of forcing her off the boat. Once she had accepted our hospitality, we felt morally obligated to protect her. Funny how that works, but it was quite real.

It didn't matter. After a nice big lunch on the fifth day, she just took off. Didn't even say goodbye. We could only hope that she made it safely to one of the Tongan islands, as we were more than a thousand miles from New Zealand by then. There's that interspecies language barrier again -- we could communicate hospitality and good intentions, but not routing advice.

Her departure left a little hole in our hearts. We felt like empty-nesters!

Stormy Landfall

After a nice easy start to the trip, the weather turned decidedly nasty.

Yuck! Rain, rain everywhere.

We ran into two full-fledged gales during our trip, and several near gales. Fortunately the wind was always behind us.

The seas built very quickly. BIG waves!

After our first fishing success, we looked for every opportunity to try for more. We had some more bites and one BIG fish on the hook.

A chain is only as strong as... The monster fish escaped after an hour of fighting. We were really bummed out when we discovered a clip in the leader tackle had opened up, allowing the escape. Ken promptly removed all these clips from our tackle.

We wanted another go, but the wind and waves kept building. We tried fishing with the wind in the 25-30 knot range, but (fortunately?) no luck. It was just as well. It would have been REALLY tough to slow the boat down to reel in any kind of fish.

After one of our abortive fishing attempts, we discovered we couldn't re-engage our monitor wind vane rudder. It turns out a critical spring had broken inside the rudder latch.

Thank heavens for all our spare parts!

At left, old and new spring. Ken replaced new latch spring (right).

Being able to fix things and keep going is just critically important to passage-making.

Ken having a long evening

We had also been hearing strange creaking noises at our binnacle pedestal, which holds the steering wheel. We were really nervous about this -- a threat to our steering.

Searching for the problem Ken took the binnacle apart, but everything looked intact. Nope, nothing wrong here

Then one night, while he was listening to a Harry Potter book on his Ipod, not thinking about the steering at all, Ken suddenly had a flash that the creaking was caused by failure of the hose clamps which hold the Monitor steering pulley onto the wheel. So he turned off the Ipod and checked, and sure enough, two of the four clamps had failed and the others were about to go!

Talk about subconscious thinking! Things could have gotten real ugly if the other clamps had failed, since an accidental jibe in rough conditions can do a lot of damage.

A disaster is a detail you didn't take care of in time.  This one we caught.

Monitor clamps (left).

The boat on the right lost its boom in an accidental jibe on the way to Samoa this year.

"Elusive" lost their boom in an accidental jibe

After ten days at sea and 1500 nm, we spotted American Samoa.

Not exactly a warm and fuzzy looking place

We had squalls and winds up to 38 knots and the harbor entrance looked ominous in the rain and waves.

At times we had zero visibility, Very scary near land and reefs!

It took us about two hours to get in the harbor and get anchored. Pago harbor is notorious for its foul bottom and it took several tries to get secure. The wind and rain didn't help, either. Finally we got secured, but only after we put a second anchor down -- tied to the chain behind the main anchor.

July 11 - September 10, 2008

Festival Preparations

We came to American Samoa this year to see the Pacific Arts Festival, which features music, dancing and art from islands all across the Pacific. The festival happens only once every four years, and rotates among more than twenty countries across the Pacific, so it probably won't be back in Samoa in our lifetimes. It's a very big deal for the thousands of participants and particularly for the host country.

In the days before the festival, the Samoans plunged into a frenzy of cleaning and decorating.

Patriotic coconuts

We saw spray painted coconut displays all over the island.

A lot of the displays were red, white and blue -- the American Samoans are very proud of their connection to the US.

A thousand year old tradition -- spray painted coconuts!

 

Leave no stone unpainted! Budding artists came out in force to decorate every bare surface in every village. A boy and his dog and his paint can

 

Flowers bloomed everywhere -- even on chain link fences! Let a thousand flowers bloom

Before the festival, local leaders pleaded with the people over the radio and in the churches to be on their best behavior for the festival. Whatever the motivation, we were blown away by the friendliness of the American Samoans. Strangers would come up to us on the street and welcome us to their country.

In American Samoa, everybody smiles Even construction workers were happy to pose for pictures. Lots of fresh concrete for the festival

But the festival looked doomed. For three weeks before the opening ceremony it rained almost constantly, and the wind blew a steady thirty knots. Since most of the events were outdoors, there was just no way the festival could happen in this weather.

Roads turned into rivers We almost got swept away in a rental car when the torrential rains flooded the streets.

Then, on the opening day, the rain stopped. And didn't start again until the closing day two weeks later, when it rained in the morning and then stopped for the closing ceremony.

In the weeks after the festival we often asked the (very religious) Samoans how they got the rain to stop. They all said the same thing -- everybody prayed. One cab driver put it succinctly: "We all prayed for better weather. Sometimes that works."

Let The Games Begin!

We don't think the Governor usually dresses like this

The festival opened with pomp and circumstance, Pacific style.

The governor of American Samoa was treated like royalty -- not quite the way we treat politicians on the mainland.

Politicians as royalty

 

The official "ava" committee A formal "Ava" ceremony (presentation of ava roots and drinking of prepared ava) opens the festivities. (Ava, called "cava" in Fiji, is a mild sedative which mostly makes your lips numb. Delivering an "ava" root

Hundreds of American Samoans participated in the opening, combining singing and dancing with elaborate story-telling.

You could see the women cringe when they sat down in their new white dresses The ground, soaked from weeks of heavy rains, stained the pristine dresses of the dancers but they didn't let it get in the way of their show.

 

One story, many actors This dance tells the story of a village boy and and an out of town stranger who compete for the same village girl. The stranger wins. Stranger approaches the happy couple

 

Samoans are famously big In case you didn't know, the Samoans are BIG people McDonald's loves this place!

In this part of the Pacific, your wealth consists mostly of the fine mats which you have received as gifts. If you have lots of money, but no mats, you are poor.

Thus many ceremonies included the presentation of enormous mats. Some of these mats take months of work.

An important gift for the visitors

 

Throwing dollars to show appreciation for the dance

The Governor's wife (left) dances with a village chief's wife.

On the right, a village woman shows respect for the chief's wife by prostrating herself.

Respect

 

American Samoan culture mixes modern elements, like SUV's and McDonald's, with strong traditions like these leg tattoos. Traditional tattoos

Dances From Another World

For the next two weeks, we saw a dizzying series of dance, singing, and crafts. Ken took about 4000 pictures! (Don't worry, we'll only show you a few.) We saw an incredible variety -- from the minimalist elegance of Tahiti to the bizarre, otherworldly costumes of Papa New Guinea.

The performers just radiated pride as they danced for their peers from the other islands -- nothing like the performers at a typical tourist hotel. You could probably spend your life traveling to all these different islands and still not get the same experience. What an amazing opportunity to see different cultures, side by side.

We'll group them by country:

TAHITI

Sophisticated Tahitian dancers know how to please audiences, and they didn't disappoint. Sleek and sophisticated

The Tahitians gave slick, athletic performances. Similar to what you would see at a Tahitian hotel, but with a more exuberant edge.

Tahiti Tahiti Tahiti

AUSTRALIA

An odd mixing of dress styles around the festival The Australian aboriginals were playful and fascinating.

The dancers mimicked animals in some dance movements and music. The kids loved the kangaroo dance.

Australia A few of these guys looked like their ancestors may have fooled around a bit with the Europeans. Australia

TORRES STRAIT

Torres Strait dancers wore elaborate, complex costumes. Torres Strait
Torres Strait Musicians from the Torres Strait played simple music -- just one beat over and over again with no variation in intensity or rhythm.

The powerful, deliberate Torres Strait women marched, more than danced. They looked formidable.

Torres Strait Torres Strait Torres Strait

 

Torres Strait

Torres Strait men also looked strong and menacing.

Many of the Pacific island male dances are about intimidating enemies and psyching yourself up for war.

One of the dances recorded a battle, between two warriors. One of the warriors prevailed (below middle) but a medicine man performed his magic and resurrected the slain warrior (below right). The same simple monotone beat accompanied the entire piece.

Torres Strait Torres Strait Torres Strait

These very literal dances used lots of explicit props.

Torres Strait Dancers pretend to be fish (left) -- and then scatter when a tiger shark shows up. Torres Strait

The Torres Strait dancers used modern props to help tell their stories. We think maybe they aren't scared of losing their traditions -- which seem alive and well -- so they don't hesitate to introduce new elements. They seem to view culture as what they do now, rather than what somebody else did a long time ago. Kind of like a broadway producer.

Anyway, these simple, literal dances had lots of cross-cultural crowd appeal. In many ways they worked better than the complex dances and songs from places like Tonga, which you can't fully appreciate unless you know the language.

PALAU

Palau Buoyant Palau dancers. Palau

HAWAII

Hawaii Elegant Hawaiian dancers and playful Hawaiian musician. In Socks?? Hawaii in socks

RAPA NUI

We were all blown away by the raw sensual performance of the dancers from Rapa Nui (Easter Island). These folks are incredibly slick and energetic -- and like Tahiti, they offered performances with a polished, commercial feel.

By the end of the festival the young Samoans (who grow up in a very subdued, modest culture) were chanting "RAPA NUI" every time these guys showed up.

Rapa Nui Rapa Nui Rapa Nui

 

Culture shock

Uninhibited Rapa Nuian dancers strolled the festival grounds in provocative costumes.

American Samoans cover up from neck to ankle, so this was quite a culture shock for them. The elders were appalled, and the young folks were fascinated.

Guess that's what's meant by cultural exchange.

GUAM

Guam We could see the results of inter-marriage in the Guam dancers -- especially the men. We got a much better appreciation for the world as a melting pot after seeing the festival. Guam

SOLOMON ISLANDS

Everybody loved the bamboo pipe band from the Solomon Islands.

Solomons The Samoan kids went wild when these guys played their wild, fast music in perfect, foot-stomping unison. And we couldn't get enough of them, either. Solomons

Other Solomon Island groups presented simpler dances and music. Most of those dances included a lot of hopping and shouting, accompanied by wood percussion. The dancers looked like they were having a really great time -- getting ready to bash heads.

The Solomon's have lots of cultural diversity -- over 70 different languages! Two of the islands fought a war in 2000, but they each sent a peaceful delegation to the festival.

Solomons Solomons Solomons

Many of the women from the Solomon's and from Papua New Guinea dance bare-breasted -- a huge culture shock for Samoa, where everybody conforms to the missionary dress code. Only after extensive negotiations did the Samoans agree to allow these dances.

Solomons Group waiting (left). Women in elaborate costumes dancing to simple drum beat (right). Solomons

KIRIBATI

Kiribati Kiribati Kiribati

NORFOLK ISLAND

Norfolk Island

Norfolk Islanders are descendents of English penal colonies and survivors of the Bounty mutineers.

They looked pretty different from the other islanders, but they got an enthusiastic welcome.

Norfolk Island

FIJI

Fiji sent several contingents, covering the spectrum from traditional to very modern.

Fiji Stylized, traditional dances Fiji

 

Fiji This very professional and modern Fijian group would have made Twyla Thwarp proud. Fiji

NEW CALEDONIA

New Caledonia has a large native Melanesian population along side a large French population. Two very different cultures.

The Melanesian dances told traditional stories of colonization and war...

New Cal New Cal New Cal

 

while the modern, ballet-like dances were beautiful, graceful and very French. New Cal

PAPA NEW GUINEA

We were most fascinated by the dancers from Papa New Guinea (PNG). PNG has more than 800 different languages (can you imagine??) and sent a gigantic delegation with groups from many different tribes. Unlike the slick, commercialized dancers from some of the other countries, these folks were not used to dancing for outsiders.

PNG Tree dancers. These folks wore some of the most bizarre costumes -- you couldn't even see the dancers' faces. The dancers moved around the stage, pulsing to a constant drum beat. PNG

As the dancers shuffled, swayed, and jumped, they sang simple chants and played simple beats on small drums.

PNG PNG PNG

We were intrigued by the haphazard choreography. Sometimes one member of the group would start a dance out of the blue and others would soon join in. After a minute or two, a few dancers would just stop abruptly and eventually everyone else would stop, too. They didn't seem to have a concept of a coherent beginning and ending to their dances.

Several tribes had adopted whistles, which they just blew at random as they danced.

PNG PNG PNG

Most PNG dances seemed more about the costumes than the dance steps! We saw the most bizarre and colorful costumes imaginable. The headdresses were otherworldly.

PNG PNG PNG PNG

 

PNG We were astounded at the creativity of the costumes. PNG dancer exaggerating his equipment

 

PNG These folks made us feel like we were with them in the jungle. PNG

These hats and masks, woven from human hair, turned their wearers into creatures from another world. Or so their enemies would think!

PNG PNG  

 

PNG  

 

PNG Banner dance (left) and animated dancer (right). PNG

 

PNG Fish dance. PNG

We were so taken by the dancers from PNG that we now plan to go there.

TAIWAN

The great migration into the Pacific may have started near Taiwan -- making the indigenous Taiwanese the oldest Pacific Island culture.

But they sure look different! The Taiwanese musicians wove intricate, complex melodies, and their music and costumes embodied discipline and precision. Basically, they looked like they had absorbed some Chinese influence over the years.

Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan

 

Taiwan Yes, you are seeing correctly. The girl at left is playing a nose flute! This strange instrument can play two tones at once, one powered by each nostril. (Provided you don't have a cold.) Taiwan

AMERICAN SAMOA

Many of the pieces from American Samoa involved elaborate stories (which we couldn't understand, unfortunately) and choreographed movements with large numbers of people. You could see the incredible pride displayed by all of the participants.

American Samoa The American Samoan costumes featured traditional mat dresses and elaborate headpieces -- but the modest length of the dresses reflected the conservative missionary influence.

 

American Samoa The Samoans are also experts at fire knife dancing. American Samoa

TONGA

Tonga Exuberant and energetic Tongans. Tonga

SAMOA

Unlike American Samoa, Samoa (formerly Western Samoa) is an independent country. The two countries are close (physically and culturally) and many Samoans seek jobs in American Samoa. Universally, these Samoans express deep affection for their country and boast about the great beauty of their islands. Samoa is about 14 times bigger than American Samoa, with about four times as many people.

Samoa Samoans in both countries love tattoos. These are from Samoa. Samoa

Traditional Samoan dance:

Samoa Samoa Samoa

NEW ZEALAND

Maori

Maori showing the power of their culture. Maori warriors used this "Haka" to intimidate enemies. (There's that war theme again!)

Maori

Maori people are starting to wear tattoos again in New Zealand, but most of the face tattoes on these performers were painted.

Kind of hard to get a job in NZ if you look like this all the time!

OTHER CULTURAL DISPLAYS

The festival also allowed craftsmen and artists to share techniques and display their works.

Apprentice carver Young Tongan carver (left). Intricate story board carvings from Palau (right) Palau carvings

 

PNG mask Mask from PNG (left), carving from Solomon Islands (right). Solomon carving

We also sampled some traditional cooking.

Pig roast Pacific cultures use pigs they way we use champaign -- something for special occasions.

We watched the Samoans prepare an elaborate breadfruit treat.

Mashing breadfruit The cooks mash cooked breadfruit in a bowl and then add coconut milk and sugar, cooking the mixture with a heated rock. The sugar caramelizes, resulting in a tasty, sweet treat. Mixing in the coconut milk

 

Umm, umm good! But if they ever want to hit the big time with this stuff, they need to fix the looks!

Pacific cultures really value tattoos.

Tattoo artists

These men extend a customer's tattoo using their traditional tools. They tap a sharpened wedge of wood, dipped in ink, against the skin. Several helpers wiped away blood and excess ink.

Hammering in the ink

When this gentleman from PNG found out we had a boat, he got very excited and wanted us to transport arts and crafts from PNG to the U.S. for sale.

We had to tell him we weren't in business. He didn't understand the concept of "not in business!"

Potential joint venture partner?

Samoan Culture

The people here are just plain friendly. And it wasn't just festival behavior. Even long after the festival, people were always engaging, helpful, and chatty. They would often initiate conversations with us, which is pretty unusual in the islands.

During the day, for about $1 you can catch lots of little, privately owned buses.

Custom decor People buy old flatbed trucks and add a wooden body with seats and windows. And each drivers invents his own "look" for the interior. A bus of his own

Every bus has a powerful sound system and you can hear quite a variety of music wafting in the breeze. Everybody knows each other and drivers beep their horns and wave to friends along the way.

American Samoa is an odd mix of American and Samoan culture.

You can find American products, including many favorite treats and items we haven't seen since we left the States. American goodies

 

American culture And Samoans love some of the more outlandish bits of American culture like candy fans (left) and over-the-top gaudy toilets (right). Every home should have one

 

Gas guzzlers on parade And, like Americans, American Samoans love their automobiles. We saw lots of big SUVS.  

People Who LIKE America!

American Samoa has got one of the best relationships with their "colonial" power that we've seen anywhere. The US provides some money for infrastructure -- roads, the airport, port facilities, police and that sort of thing. But we appear to spend quite a bit less per person than the French do in their part of Polynesia.

Cheap medical care Weirdly enough, we provide the Samoans with basic medical care for a reasonable price -- something we don't get at home. Here anyone can see a doctor for $10. Get a load of the prices

But the Samoans pretty much run things. We didn't see any Americans in official positions -- unlike French Polynesia, where the police and customs and immigration people are usually French. Consequently, the Samoans LIKE Americans, while the Tahitians and Marquesians dislike the French. (We give them money and leave them pretty much alone -- what's not to like?)

Also -- very key -- Samoa has a different status that the American Virgin Islands (AVI) in the Caribbean, where any American can come in and buy land. Here the traditional Samoan property system still applies, and almost all of the land belongs to tribal trusts, which can't be sold. In the AVI's, rich white people have come in, bought up most of the good land, and reduced the native islanders to waiting on tables. (Same thing happened in Hawaii.) Here that can't happen.

Therefore the racial conflict and hatreds that you find in the AVIs (and, we are told, in Hawaii) don't exist here. Despite Ken's University of Chicago background, we've decided that islanders are usually much better off in the long run if they can't sell their land to outsiders.

So what does the US taxpayer get out of this? Well, soldiers for one thing. Practically every family in American Samoa has somebody in uniform.

In Iraq, on average, Americans have suffered about 1.2 deaths per 100,000 people. Vermont, the state with the highest casualty rate, has lost 2.6 people per 100,000. Our home states of Wisconsin and New York have lost 1.0 and .6 respectively. American Samoa has lost 8.6 soldiers dead per 100,000 people here. (These stats are as of 6/2006).

Whatever your feelings about this arrangement, you have to credit the Samoans for pulling their (considerable) weight. And here's some evidence about how the Samoans feel about the US.

Army Marines

A son at war

 

Patriotism A son in Afghanistan

Marines

 

Army Support

 

 

Not forgotten Elaborate yellow ribbon display.

Rugged Beauty

After the festival, we explored the island.

Breezy shoreline

Even though the island is small, you can find spectacular views around every corner.

Many ships have come to grief on the treacherous reefs around the island. Grief on the reef

Ken had fun getting some great nature shots.

A great bug Up close and personal  

 

Ken can't get enough of this guy  A slow invader

 

Tomorrow's fern New leaves  

 

Leaf Through the middle Looking for something to grab

 

Embryo Symmetry Toad with lunch

 

Pago Pago harbor looking south We hiked along the ridge above the harbor to Mount Alava and a breathtaking view of the harbor. Boats in Pago

 

For a long way, the steep Mount Alava trail consists of a ladder of heavy metal rungs strung together with steel cables. We used a knotted rope that was tied to the top rung to aid in the descent. Thank heavens for the rope

 

Hitching a ride After we returned to the road from the trail, a nice couple stopped and offered us a ride back into town in their pickup truck. Fortunately the speed limit is about 20 mph, so we felt pretty safe.

Back To Boat Life

We hung out in Pago Pago for many weeks, partly because Beth flew home to the States to visit her parents and partly to participate in the festival. We met so many interesting cruisers during our stay.

Francis, of "Infini" began cruising single-handed at 17. He is fluent in 5 languages and has two captain licenses and a Master Diver license. Young cruiser
Hans and Gail making music We also ran into friends from the past. We originally met Gail from "Fifth Season", and Hans from "Happy Monster" in Tonga last season.

Many boats coming to Pago Pago limped into the harbor after rough passages in big winds and waves. We know at least 5 boats whose engines failed. And at least three boats suffered knockdowns.

Craig and Kay on "Little Wing" (below left) got hit by a freak wave and suffered catastrophic damage to their mast during a knockdown on their way west from Bora Bora.

Craig and Kay

They made it into the atoll of Suvarrow where another cruiser gave them a spinnaker pole which they used to build a clever tripod support for the mast (right).

Bent but not broken

They sailed with that jerry-rig all the way to Pago Pago. With fierce determination, they fixed the mast by cutting out the damaged pieces and splicing the mast with several new sections shipped from the States. Their new rig (which they've dubbed the "Franken-mast") will get a trial run when they sail to Tonga.

Splicing the mast together At left, Larry Pardee helps Craig and Kay assemble the "Franken-mast". "Little Wing" looks much happier with her five-piece mast (right). Voila -- "Franken-mast"!

 

"Franken-mast" looking strong "Little Wing" spreading her wings.

 

We had our own issues. After we sat in the very "fertile" water of Pago Pago harbor for 3 weeks, Ken took a look under the boat. He estimated that we had 80,000 barnacles on the hull! He spent 9 hours underwater, over three days, scraping, scraping, scraping. And when he finished, he could see new barnacles taking hold again. At this rate, he estimated he'd have to spend the rest of the season scraping the bottom. We had tried to stretch our paint for two seasons this year -- big mistake!

So we decided to haul the boat and paint. Fortunately, MYD Shipyard at the edge of the harbor has a floating, submersible dry dock for big ship repair and bottom painting. While Beth was visiting her family in the States, Ken arranged with "Shipyard Bob" -- the energetic ex-pat American owner of the yard -- to have Eagle's Wings hauled and painted.

Since Beth was back in the States, Ken recruited several boatloads of other cruisers for help in maneuvering Eagle's Wings.

EW at the drydock

The dock normally hauls large ships, like the one in front, and we were the first large mono hull sailboat they had ever hauled.

Ken was VERY nervous, as hauling without proper weight distribution can break the hull.

Ken looking "relaxed"

 

Divers at work

Dry docks are really different. First the dockyard had ten guys work for a day and a half to build a custom cradle for EW. Then Ken guided the boat over the submerged dock while divers worked for hours to position supporting blocks under the hull.

In New Zealand, two guys with a travel lift can haul our boat in an hour. On the other hand, it costs the same to haul the boat there as here. Says something about wage rates.

EW on the hard

The haul out and painting went great.

 

Elaborate carpentry

Shipyard Bob plans to get a proper setup (with slings and jack stands) for small boat hauling. Once he has that in place, Pago Pago could be a crackerjack place for hauling in the islands.

When we upped anchor to go to the dry dock, the chain came up minus our very nice Fortress 55 anchor, which Ken had attached to the chain behind the main anchor. Ken thinks his double rolling hitch pulled out.

Our Fortress anchor in happier days.

Ken planned to dive to retrieve it, but he changed his mind when he learned there were tiger and hammerhead sharks in the murky harbor water! Ken was glad he didn't know that when he was scraping the bottom.

Now that he'd been told about the sharks, Ken said that even if they weren't really in the murky harbor, they would be in his head.

Beth found a replacement anchor in Alaska on ebay, which made it to Pago Pago in just a few days.

Getting Ready To Leave

The weather has turned nasty again and we've seen big rains and high winds. A huge (1046) high is planted east of New Zealand, whipping up big winds and waves here and where we want to go. We'll stay put until things settle down and then move on -- probably to Tonga.