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Anthem Adrift
Head for Fun
09/20/2010, Niuatoputapu, Tonga

September 20

Hate to leave the Potato. For one thing, will miss roasting of Babe on Wednesday (place is lousy with free range pigs). This is a very pleasant place to fish, dive and hang out, but party lights beckon. Will arrive Vava'u on first day of Regatta festivities, but hope to hit the ground run... walking quickly. Expect to get up to speed after a few intensive Zs. Thereafter expect to engage in heavy drinking during training for Full Moon Party on Saturday.

After eggs, bacon, toast, jam, coffee, juice and morning nets, hoofed 3 or 4 klicks to Western Union for exchange of $ for pa'anga to pay various fees, clear out to Vava'u and buy phone sim card. Returned home to finish tidying from heady experience yesterday and store still serviceable used gaskets, O-rings and parts. A productive stop, this will probably be the last association of nose and grindstone for week of festivities. Then, of course, there's a week of recovery.

Well, just learned there's a kava drinking thingy on shore at 2000, so this will do for now. Tah tah.


Undistilled Spirits
09/19/2010, Niuatoputapu, Tonga

September 19

What does one do on Sunday? Why go to church, of course. Huh? Those who know me well are checking a calendar for April first. It was Methodist. Mom would be so proud.

While the speaker was droning on in Tongan (much of it while wiping away tears), many in the congregation had heads bowed on the pew in front ostensibly praying, but I'm thinking nap, knowing that loud music would immediately follow to awaken them and maintain their cover.

There is a big clock in front which seems odd. Guess they want to know how long the good news will last. Despite reports of some island services extending for two and a half hours, we were released in just 55 minutes.

One woman in the congregation stood up midway and with great emotion spoke for a few minutes. She seemed very taken with the spirit, but it was evocative of an AA meeting. "Hi, my name is Jack and I have sinned. I haven't had an impure thought in three minutes and 27 seconds. Oh, hello sister Myra... oops."

Interestingly, because Oceanians were not particularly religious before missionaries, there is a native word for God (Atua), but not for 'Amen', which was the only one understandable during the entire proceeding.

Music was divine, so to speak. Everyone from this part of the world must be born with the singing-in-harmony gene. Songs were in Tongan with Polynesian harmonies, but pace and composition obviously made them hymns. It really was remarkably beautiful.

In the afternoon was myself so taken with some kind of spirit decided to rebuild the head, which had been showing minor signs of distress for several months. Except for joker valve, all used parts are serviceable should any new ones poop out.


Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Today?
09/18/2010, Niuatoputapu, Tonga

September 18

What happened to Friday the 17th you might ask. Left Apia on Thursday then a day later landed New Potatoes on Saturday. Very confusing. Suspect that all those hours collected every 15 degrees since Florida were taken back. This seems terribly rude. Nobody mentioned a loan. Hope the vig doesn't hurt too much. Tomorrow didn't do any petty pace creeping this time.

Great sail all the way down from Apia. Arrived just before noon through a narrow pass into a beautiful, protected lagoon large enough for 50 boats. It's not raining, sky is mostly clear, breeze is perfect and it's not raining. Oh, and it's not raining. Without pratique until late afternoon, haven't been on shore yet but am fond of the place already. A resident caught a pile of fish and invited the anchorage (about 10 boats) to lunch tomorrow.

Clearing in with customs, immigration, agriculture and health was no fuss (except for waiting until 1730) as three little ladies came aboard with smiles and paperwork. Real pain comes Monday at payment of 135 Pa'anga (about $65), 100 of which is apparently for a hospital. As a sponsor, wonder if I can get some cool drugs or a complimentary operation. Wouldn't hurt to ask! Unless operation thing comes through, expect to leave Tuesday for arrival in Neiafu, Vava'u (vah VOW) during first day of week-long regatta.

Spent afternoon once again achieving self-actualization, this time by fixing nav lights. Todo list back into three digits. Traced problem to corroded connection in anchor locker where Star Kist cannery remains in evidence. Dumped all chain in the clean water before retrieving half not in use. Mo bettah.


Filling In and Filling Up
09/17/2010, Enroute to Niuatoputapu

Show at Aggie Grey's

September 16

Got away at 0600 with no wind. Didn't fill in until 8 NM south of Upolu after motoring for six hours, then has been 17 to 20 on the beam. Anthem is romping along at better than 7 knots in 3 meter beam sea. With continued conditions, could arrive in Niuatoputapu much earlier than anticipated tomorrow, before noon. Wind vane is steering the boat like it's on rails, albeit somewhat lumpy ones.

Show and buffet dinner last night were at Aggie Grey's Hotel, an institution in Apia for 60 or 70 years and now run by Aggie's granddaughter. Traditional dancing and music were performed by volunteers from the staff who were excellent as was the food and cheaper than Tisa's on Tutuilla. Beach Boys could have written one of the songs, but would have needed help with Samoan lyrics. Got some video, but sound didn't seem to record. Too bad as it was terrific. Typically, for all-you-can-eat, ate all I could before waddling home late.

Expect to spend only two nights at New Potatoes, maybe one. It's suppose to be beautiful, but otherwise not much there. The 1300, Taters (are the kids tater tots?) are Tongan and live on the north end of the 13 square kilometer island. Between Samoa and Vava'u, the place is somewhat isolated except for now when a deluge of boats seems to be invading. Hope the natives are friendly.


Soggy Flock Flies South
09/16/2010, Apia, Samoa

September 15

Although Apia is at 171 degrees 46 minutes west, the international date line takes a jog east, so it's cheek by jowl with tomorrow. This is of no moment, except that proceeding to Neiafu, Tonga from here makes one 24 hours older (not 23 as one would expect) and, more importantly, causes loss of a travel day for desired arrival next Tuesday. Hadn't previously focused on that, so expect to leave for halfway point, Niuatoputapu, tomorrow, Thursday, which is actually Friday even though at 173 degrees 47 minutes west it should be Thursday, but it's not. Does that clear it up for you? Well then, how about this - time of day is the same as Samoa, so no time zone is crossed. There's a bureaucrat involved here somewhere.

Looks like a mass exodus tomorrow for Tonga as at least five boats decided today to join the parade. Departing crows will have about 171 NM. Waterborne transport may go a touch farther as Niuatoputapu is t'other side of Upolu. Wind is forecast at 12 to 18 with 10 foot, 11 second sea. Looking for a good sail (this assumes one can trust a weatherman a day ahead).

As O dark thirty departure is necessary to assure reasonable ETA in New Potatoes, will relate details of tonight's show and buffet at Aggie Grey's in some future blatherage.

By the way, with additional sampling data, have reconfirmed that rain never stops, ever.


Fun Facts Facetiously Foisted
09/15/2010, Apia, Samoa

September 14

Samoa (formerly 'Western', which commandeered the generic name just as did America) is apparently a very conservative place, highly resistant to change, practicing (outside of Apia) Fa'a Samoa, a pure pre-industrial socialism. Due to absence of individual ownership a local might walk off with your property as a matter of normal practice. Although the people are very peaceful and exceedingly friendly, this can create some conflict with more European sensibilities where working for everyone else (or not, depending upon personal penchant), while expecting them to give you everything you want hasn't quite caught on yet among a dwindling majority. This is, of course, a fun game for some only if everyone is forced to play whether they want to or not. Nobody gets ahead here.

Other tidbits that piqued interest, gleaned from various sources, including Moon Handbook: "Samoa" is Samoan for sacred chicken. This is the center of the South Pacific Bible Belt. The country has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. If a visitor is thought to be intruding he might get stoned by village children. This is usually avoided by smiling, so ostensibly, acting friendly is not optional. Cranky visitors take note. "Eco" is promoted heavily, including eco-helicopter rides and eco-prices for gullible eco-tourists. Much of the coral around Apia has been killed by fishing with dynamite. Each village has a high chief who is too grand to speak, so also has a talking chief. Families live in Fale (fah-LAY) that have no walls - a touch less private than Haight/Ashbury in the 60s. With admittedly limited sampling data, have concluded that rain never stops, ever.

In more personal news, red/green navigation light discontinued operation on sail from Pago Pago. Will attempt cajoling a return to service if rain ever ceases, otherwise will go 'stealth' to Tonga. Anchor and chain have been dropped onto dock from bow locker (vented into V-berth) for eradicating tuna enhanced bouquet and munge acquired in Pago Harbor. Helped Evi on Wonderland replace cracked fuel hose that had caused a diesel sheen over much of the marina. Officials threatened $5000 fine, but when told "no", just said not to do it again. That should also turn the trick for next speeding ticket.

"Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff." - Frank Zappa


Fixed, Fed and Fagged
09/14/2010, Apia, Samoa

September 13

A good downwind run over to Apia was culminated with light winds provoking shaking out double reef just before getting blasted with 25. There's probably an immutable law of nature in there somewhere, a corollary to Murphy, perhaps. The puff was hiding in rain that continued all day without additional wind or much cooling.

All yachts are required into shiny new, inexpensive, floating dock marina where officials come to you for all formalities. This is good. Unfortunately, after arriving at 0900, remained under house arrest with breakfast unattainable just across the street until last guy came at 1400. Once freed up, fed and ATMed, headed for hospital to have crown reinstalled a scintilla out of position for only 20 tala, about $8.50.

Circumstance of islands, other boats and such in close proximity allowed only minimal Zs overnight, but invitation to expected, then realized excellent and free home-cooked meal on Jackster prompted dragging semi-somnambulant carcass out of bed where reading had degenerated to napping. No further interruption is expected toward phase four unconsciousness to begin mere moments from now.


Lowerarchy of Needs
09/13/2010, En Route Apia, Samoa

Tuna Boat in Pago Harbor

September 12

Wasn't kidding about atrocious eating habits. Lard intensive Samoan diet was turning blood into sludge. Last few days have felt logy and inert with low grade headache, so took to eating cereal, fruit, nuts and berries. Seems to have worked, as am again frisky as a pup.

Took notice that cannery was not befouling atmosphere in the anchorage today. Although some might suggest that being closed on Sunday is the explanation, am pretty sure its a scurrilous trick to entice the unwary to stay. Have not been fooled. Did not come down with the last rain, you know. Currently rocking and rolling rather slowly toward Apia, Samoa.

As was yesterday implied possible, priorities were set, tools were employed, work was accomplished. In no particular order of importance, cleaned head/shower, greased cranky door latch, replaced blown water system accumulator (based on name, an incorrect assumption could be made for this even-handed device) and mounted new fire extinguisher in V-berth hanging locker. Low expectations were exceeded. Self-actualization was reached.


Crowning Achievements
09/12/2010, Pago Pago, American Samoa


September 11

Unsure what happened with awaited shipment, but all items were available for pickup this morning at 0900. Huh! Pretty soon, Post Office will be able to deliver mail and packages all over the U.S. as well.

Since business in Pago Pago was finished, might have struck toward Samoa this afternoon but for wayward crown dislodged by floss last evening. Sole practitioners in American Samoa are on call at the one hospital. After paying $10 to register as a patient (I have a card), spent all afternoon turning brain into mush watching Disney channel (gaps in laugh track might have provided clues to intelligent snippets had there been any) to eventually be informed that dentists only respond for emergencies. At 1705 caught late, last bus back to harbor's heady aroma with admonishment not to swallow or inhale the piece until arriving (or presumably somewhat thereafter) in Apia, which is reportedly knee deep in dentistry.

Fifteen hour sail to next destination requires weighing anchor late afternoon to arrive daylight Monday, so conscientious duty before then would involve utilizing newly arrived pieces for appropriate mends. Really diligent crew would also perform many previously bagged tasks. Although no such individuals are currently available, a smattering of such activity is not entirely out of the question with such as are.


Incensed Sense or None
09/11/2010, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Not Pago Harbor

September 10

After two days of ineffectual tinkering, returned Honda carburetor to more useful location following brute (that would be me) force (pliers) adjustment of throttle butterfly. Untested expectation that compromise lower speed/decibels will allow adequate output for charging is a hair shy of comprehensive.

American Samoa, like many countries, allows everyone costless entry, but charges (in this case $167) for departure, then kicks most out after limited time. Sneaking out is an injudicious gambit as neighboring countries (no doubt in collusion) will cane all aboard, put offenders in solitary confinement on bread and water for life and burn their boat to its waterline... or possibly some lesser chastisement, but not good in any case.

Jacksters cleared immigration today for Monday departure, no problem. My operation indicated departure tomorrow, Saturday, for which $20 overtime would be charged. Huh? So, would they send a refund for subsequent delay past weekend? Discretion stilled snide retort as fee was waived.

With the minor exceptions of marshaling interior of boat for seaway (OK, not so minor) and jerry jugging some diesel, tomorrow is available for diddling (not the naughty definition, Cal), so anticipate being thusly employed. Wish to leave afternoon for 75 NM overnight to Apia, but conditions (good wind, lower sea) may favor Sunday if apoplectic olfactory nerves can be provided sufficiently palliative inveiglement.


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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See profile for information on why this mess is being foisted upon an innocent world and, despite what is probably your better judgement, how to make contact.
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