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Anthem Adrift
Lips, Skirts and Eardrums
09/04/2010, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Pago Pago Bus

September 3

Last night's planned anchor drag has been delayed. Opportunities for rescheduling, however, should abound as wind gusts increase tomorrow, forecast 15 to 30 through weekend. Amps leaking from wazoo at prodigious rate; batteries smiling (this is a figurative term as Trojan T-105 golf cart batteries lack lips). Despite wind not coming directly from Starkist, eddies periodically bring air through hatches, chewy with essence of rotting tuna. As no maggots are nearby, am spared sound of their gagging.

Advance intel on Samoans has proven accurate. These are substantial people, sturdy people, big people. Many play for the NFL (American football). Men often wear a traditional skirt-like garment, the lava-lava. Nobody makes fun. Small, trim individuals, being at far end of bell curve, awaken health concerns among friends and family. Despite ability of many locals to squash modest-sized individuals with an eye tic, all have been delightfully friendly.

Utilized local conveyance today in proceeding to retail establishments for acquisition of various useful (he claims sincerely) items including surprise discovery of a holy grail, 10 year old Talisker single malt scotch (it's not 'the' holy grail, of course, that would be the 18 year old). Driver/owner on first bus may have spent more for stereo woofer than the wooden coach, as is how most are constructed. Riding with him could be a status elevating experience to the degree that bleeding eardrums is a positive social statement.

Jack

Scheduling Tight
09/03/2010, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Pago Pago Arrival

September 2

Well, what do you know, GRIB (Grievously Rendered Insufferable Baloney) was eventually right (even a blind pig...). Wind filled in from ESE with ensuing good sail featuring ambiance of only wind, wave and rig after 0130. Performed highly unusual maneuver after dawn by double reefing early (he said early). Wind kept building to 20 on the beam, probably making up for lack thereof previous day, for a rip roaring sail into harbor. KISS is punching out amps like it's doing the same as wind-o-meter is jumping well into 20s.

Spent all afternoon with Swiss and Thai couple from Dilan walking and waiting for customs and immigration. Now cleared in for indefinitely (they have 30 days) paving way to fritter away tomorrow spending vast sums of US lucre (some extracted for my benefit at gunpoint from taxpayers) on replenishing stove gas, gasoline, diesel, staples, fresh produce and fixing Honda carburetor, laundering clothes, making a dent in Cost-U-Less inventory which includes adult beverage and myriad other things too numerous to contemplate . Deep breath. Pass the rum. Preceding enervating rendition requires a shower and early bed to prepare for dragging anchor scheduled for 0300.

Jack

Tenacious Turned Tenuous
09/02/2010, En Route to Pago Pago, Day 4

September 1

Smug with supreme confidence that weather would change, continued beating toward Pago Pago. This faith was rewarded when wind, which had backed north allowing perhaps a faint smell of tuna to waft the 100 or so miles to here, died altogether. OK, not what was in mind (or whatever occupies that space), but was yet smug with supreme confidence. that.. weather... would.... change. Hmmmm. Could easily motor there by tomorrow, but having come so far with so little help, preferred not.

In fact, morning GRIB (this, as previously reported, is possibly an acronym for 'Grudgingly Reported Inaccurate Bullflop' or, more likely, GR stands for 'Gleefully Reprehensible' (sportier readers may substitute more expressive terms for 'flop')), indicated wind becoming SE at 15 tonight. Smugness reigned, but frayed at edges as sea continued glassy throughout day.

Finally gave up at dark as wind remained insufficient to keep pointy end stabilized on any heading at all and progress since 0900 was one NM due entirely to ENE current. Movement forward now noisily proceeding apace with anchor set expected just after noon tomorrow.

"The best way to compile inaccurate information that no one wants is to make it up." - Scott Adams

Jack

Samoa East Wind
09/01/2010, En Route to Pago Pago, Day 3

August 31

Another month kicked in the tookas. Looking back, seems like time was well filled, but it still scuttled past like a frightened crab. For September plan to be in Neiafu (village), Vava'u (island group), Tonga (country) for sailing regatta middle of month after visiting Samoa (Western) and New Potatoes. This all assumes first making it to American Samoa at some point in the near future as light wind remains north.

Enjoying down time of leisurely passage to Pago Pago, however roused torpid carcass for utilization of toolage to delve into tightly engineered archana of Honda generator hoping to make the thing quieter and save fuel. It's currently running flat out full time while feeding battery. Carburetor throttle control found frozen like it's welded. Now where did that carb cleaner on buy list go? Still in store?

Accounts are flooding in (two) that indicate destination harbor is actually pretty nice. Reporting boats must be upwind of north side tuna factories and probably consider dragging through mud slurry bottom a fun and interesting pastime. Must be as everybody (unsubstantiated hyperbole) is doing it. Hope to find out some day.

Jack

Polar Primate Prognostications
08/31/2010, En Route to Pago Pago, Day 2

More Whale Tail

August 30

Another day, another 90.9 nautical miles. That two day thing was frittered away yesterday by killing the Westerbeke (excessive violence was unnecessary). May arrive Pago Pago (don't forget the unwritten 'N') sometime Wednesday with occurrence of either actual forecast for wind backing to NW or veering to SE, depending on which monkey threw the dart. I'm rooting for chimp number two. (apology to apes, which are neither monkeys nor consistently wrong about the weather).

Despite tracking languidly toward Niuatoputapu (nyoo ah TOE poo TAH poo - referred to as New Potatoes, for good reason), 204 NM west southwest of destination, there are no plans for utilizing exploding diesel to push pointy end in better direction as sailing is excellent with no urgency to anchor off largest tuna packing operation on earth before mail arrives on Monday. Heard fish goo is piped offshore now instead of into harbor, however, one should nevertheless eschew eating anything caught there or swimming. Breathing, for those with a sense of smell, is discouraged. Amputating any body part dipped into the water is probably excessive and widely considered unnecessary.

Although lethargy inducing reading has occupied preponderance of waking life last two days, managed to mend frayed lazy jack (no relation), reacquire stereo power and drill & tap boom to move preventer control block for better function. Expectation for reprise of useful occupation tomorrow is minimal.

Jack

Bob's Your Uncle?
08/30/2010, En Route to Pago Pago, Day 1

Whale Sounding

August 29

Benefit party at Matavai Resort went way late as ride back to Alofi stayed until bitter end. Whale breaching just off shore at sunset provided good PR for research group, plus music and dancing made the evening very enjoyable. Begging for bucks was agreeably low key, but pecuniary production was impressive. Factoid: Unable autonomically, whales breathe consciously and therefore can't sleep. They rest by shutting down half their brains. This is a habit of many humans, as well, who neglect to restart.

Preponderance of whales are either tardy or have removed Niue from this year's itinerary. However, observed two a tiddlywink flip behind boat Friday night (loud breathing sounded like a fireworks rocket going up), the one last evening and a cow and calf in the anchorage this morning. Considered staying awhile in case area gets lousy with them (was told it was hard to sleep last year for the noise), but whales are as notoriously undependable as weather guessers who predicted fair east wind (Pago Pago is north) for next two days before three day lull with some northwest making anchorage uncomfortable. Unwarranted trust in verisimilitude of the biped currently has boat beating into 4.5 knot north zephyr and hoping for American Samoa before shipped parts arrive Monday a week.

Meanwhile sea, virtually calm, exhibits a very long two meter swell, larder is stocked, grog is at hand, no albatrosses have been harmed and, preferring peacefulness, pressing posthaste for Pago Pago appears pretty passably purposeless.

Jack

What About Bob?
08/29/2010, Alofi, Niue

Sea Snake

August 28

Spent all day on boat projects... yes, work. OK, except for diving on the caves, but that was it. Fingers are mere smoking nubbins. This operation is approaching ready to float away in the O dark hundreds tomorrow if a smidgen of wind can be coaxed from Aeolus.

Went back to Chimney and Caves for pictures with, unfortunately, cloudy sky. Began playing with sea snakes, then realized this might be a sportier activity without gloves, which had been left on boat, but discovered that higher surge in cave and grottos was sufficient diversion.

Weather weasels forecast an adequacy of breeze on the beam through Tuesday morning before going light and on the nose. He, she and it are wrong, of course. Just hoping that direction of wrongness is toward more wind on beam and for longer. How do you spell phat chanse? Trip would take until Tuesday morning with good wind or well into next month if current conditions persist. May burn some diesel or just bob around in northeast swell for awhile.

Will get ride to whale benefit at Matavai Resort at 1700 which promises to go late as ridee is with research group and suspected party animal.

Jack

Terminal Tenacity
08/28/2010, Alofi, Niue

Talava Arches

August 27

After various activities such as clearing out with customs and breakfast, finally got seven-man (def: a human being of either sex) self-guided tour on the road. Visited Togo Chasm, Talava Arches, Matapa Chasm, Palaha Cave and some other stuff - arches, caves, chasms and pools plus arches, caves and chasms with pools. All very cool, but one of the men (who could conceivably take umbrage at that designation) was over-caved and waited in van at last stop.

There are many helpful signs along roads exhorting population to save resources and not litter. This all seemed harmless enough until a sign was sighted enjoining the elimination of "persistent organic pollutants". Wonder if they realize that cruisers are seldom excessively persistent? Given large numbers of graves around the island and not wanting to test the limits, have resolved to remain pallidly diffident for remainder of stay. And they seemed so friendly.

If interest remains high, however, will tempt fate as described above by diving The Chimney and Bubble Cave tomorrow with new arrivals. Dive company reportedly gets a little peeved by divers using their buoys, but not them at $120 a shot, so we'll wait until they leave site around noon and use our own dinghy anchors. Departure toward Pago Pago the following day before sunup while wearing Richard Nixon Halloween mask will be entirely unrelated.

"On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time." - George Orwell

Jack

Spelunk This
08/27/2010, Alofi, Niue

The Chimney

August 26

Have stumbled upon a few comments placed onto blog site up to a month and a half ago. Please feel free to add them, but replies may take awhile as they are seldom checked even when internet available. This foolish flood of folderol is foisted upon you via radio waves.

Just barely able to rerun halyard over only remaining, usable, free sheave pushing from top and pulling from bottom. Masthead is on exponentially growing list of projects for New Zealand. Anyway, checked the 'boat work' box and went diving.

Six of us easily found 'The Chimney' for additional exploration. All went in at top (5 meters) and out at bottom (30 meters) except Stuart whose head explodes at 50 feet. Pretty cool, but there was better. Dave and I found a narrow spooky entrance to 'Bubble Cave', which is completely dark (he had a flashlight, um, torch - he's British, you know). Great schools of fish hang out there hiding, one presumes, from higher food chain creatures. Upper part of cave is above water, but accessible only from below. Exited by easier route and took others back, then into pretty extensive lighted caves and grottos. Topography in open includes deep, narrow, sometimes overhung, chasms. Snakes. Way cool. As today's group is sailing in the morning, may try to gin up interest for reprise with new fun-seekers before departure NLT Monday for Pago Pago.

Tomorrow is a seven man van of caves by car. An uplifted coral atoll, Niue is lousy with them.

Jack

Tried to Work, But Caved
08/26/2010, Alofi, Niue

Auto at Chimney

August 25

Following full English breakfast (with baked beans - Brits are weird) at Yacht Club, returned to boat, climbed mast, with some difficulty ran light, weighted line down over proper masthead sheave, tied it off to halyard and promptly broke it while attempting to pull said halyard through said sheave. Blew off all attempted productive activity at that point (have yet to put away Monday's laundry) to go diving with Jacksters.

After searching for 35 of the 40 minutes available on decompression dive, finally found lower cave entry to The Chimney (not far from an automobile?), just in time to go up and hope to get out at top. Cool. Tomorrow following second try at reaving halyard (this time with help), plan return there for pictures, then Bubble Cave, which is reported harder to find. Because of distance, may have to pay dive operator or not go to Snake Cave where there are reputedly snarls of snakes. Despite some archeologically significant crap, have no expectation of seeing Indy. Besides, even if Callista is working some serious magic, he's like 90, right?

Jack

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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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