11/12/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa
I made it up the mast on Saturday morning and then took off to get more "things". Tracy stayed on board and cooked and cooked and cooked. We now have 20 meals all ready for the next portion of the trip(American Samoa to Tuvalu to Tarawa to Kosrae to Pohnpei in Micronesia. In total, about another 3,000 miles of the same distance it took us to get from Mexico to the Marquesas. We should make better time since we will have the Genoa or Spinnaker for the trip. We've inspected and stitched lots of seams on the Genoa and checked the fittings on the mast.
Yesterday(Sunday), we spent some time scrubbing Zephyrs sides at the waterline as we have developed a lot of growth. Scuzzy on the starboard side and grass growing on the port side. No clue as to why the difference but there is.
Once that was done, we took off to do the laundry. It's open 24/7 and there is no waiting for a washer or drier as they have lots. Wash and dry total at just $3.00 so it's not to bad and the drier actually will dry two washer loads in one run instead of two as it was at Vuda Point Marina. We returned to Zephyr and put the clean clothes away and watched a show or two. I crashed just after 2030 since I was quite tired. Slept in till 0600. A long night for me.
This morning, we took off for just about the last of our provisions. We hit two stores(close together) and ended up taking a taxi back as we had so much food. We've been hitting Cost U Less on a regular basis and this time we did it right and got a ton. Taking a taxi was the only way to get it back to the dock. Tomorrow, we stow what we bought today(it's going to be tight) and go hunting for what "fresh" veggies we can find. Not a lot available on the island.
Weather looks good for us to be out of here on Thursday for the first 800 mile jump to Tuvalu. About 7 days of downwind sailing.
11/10/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa
About ten years ago, Sebastian emigrated from Uzbekistan to the United States. He did it all within the guide lines of the United States government and eventually got his "green card" allowing him to live in and work in the US. About a year ago, he decided to go on vacation. His destination--American Samoa. He wrote letters to the government of American Samoa as well as the US government and both assured him that there would be no problem with him going there.
Once his vacation was over, he attempted to board his flight to go back to the US. He was denied boarding and escorted off the plane. His paperwork didn't allow him go back the US, where he had lived for the last TEN YEARS! He was suddenly stuck. The American Samoan government said there was nothing they could do and the US government said he had "left the United States" and they wouldn't allow him back in. For the last year, he has spent his days sitting in McDonalds using the internet to keep himself occupied.
This last week, it was announced on the radio that he was now in need of surgery. The American Samoa government is denying him the surgery as he is not a citizen of American Samoa and is not considered a citizen of the United States(still has his Green Card). Apparently the rules that the American Samoan government is supposed to follow(according to international law)is that if they refuse to allow him to have his surgery, they are supposed to return him to the last country where he spent a length of time--The UNITED STATES!!!
Now it up in the air as to what will happen next. No government official--here or in the United States is taking any responsibility for what has happened to him. It's the other government's responsibility. Are we surprised!!!? I think probably not.
On a side note, there is now going to be a case brought to the United States courts about the US citizenship of people born in the American Samoa. It's been part of the US for more than 100 years. Apparently, you can be born here, have a US passport but you are not a citizen of the United States. Apparently, this was a policy decided by the US Navy back in the early 1920's when some of the citizens wanted to come to the US mainland and were denied access. When the original treaty was signed giving ownership to the US, the natives were under the impression that they would then become citizens of the US. No so apparently. Let's chalk these two items up the our respective governments in action. Or better yet--inaction!
11/10/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Well, several more days have passes with more jobs getting done and supplies being laid in for the next voyage. We spent this morning replacing the diesel fuel that we used when we came north from Tonga a couple of weeks ago. We only have one 5 gallon jerry can so, with the local petrol station just about beside us in the anchorage, I motored back and forth till I'd brought over 30 gallons and brought over another 10 gallons of gasoline as well. Back and forth. Each time, I had to motor till I got close to shore, then stop the motor and kick it up and then row the rest of the way to shore. There is a small ledge of coral that runs along the shore that I already hit once during the last time I got fuel. This time, I was much more careful. Loosing one propeller was enough.
In the afternoon, we headed out to the far side of town for Cost U Less. We stopped at Carl's Jr. for lunch. All the cruisers have started a boycott of McDonalds since they have become unfriendly to them. First, they stopped the free wifi that they have had for a long time, forcing everyone to buy wifi from a local company($50.00 per month). Secondly, yesterday, they put covers over all the electrical outlets in the store baring everyone that uses the place as a wifi hotspot from keeping their computers charged as they use them. We've found that computer really like their batteries to be full of power. They seem to work much better that way. So as of now, everyone is boycotting McDonalds and taking the $1.00 bus across town to Carl's Jr. Word is already getting out on the internet about it. While there are only 17 boats in the anchorage, during peak season, there will be as many as 50 boats here. McDonalds has been the gathering place. I guess no longer.
Cost U Less was still filled with things we felt we will need for our journey and stay in the Federated States of Micronesia. Supplies and food, from what we have heard are quite lacking there. It may be a protectorate of the US, but things don't get there that often so we will have a fully loaded boat before we ever leave here.
Yesterday, I returned to the Medical Center for day three of trying to get my prescriptions filled. I met with the head of the pharmacy and she advised me that she would do what she could but their funding(by the US government) has been cut back and she has no idea what, if any, pills may be coming in on the next shipment. If she gets in some, I'll get a 3 month supply. At the worst, I'll get a 2 month supply and then have to find another medical center in Micronesia and start all over again. At least, some time in the next 6 months we should be going back to Colorado for a few days. I can get a full year then.
In the afternoon, I headed back to the True Value hardware store looking for some of the Thompson's Water Seal. It's made primarily for wood but also works on fabric. Many of the covers we have on board have had their water repellant worn off and it's time to get it replaced. While out, I also found two smaller tarps(6 X 8 and 8 X 10) to cover Zephyrs stern deck where we keep the Honda generator. At least this way, we can run it if it rains(does that a lot here). We've been looking for smaller tarps for quite a while.
When I returned, we changed out the oil in the Honda generator. It's recommended to do it every 100 hours of operation and since we run it about 3 hours a day, that means we need to change the oil every month or so. Yesterday was it's time. We're good for at least the next month. We also realigned the DuoGen so it faces fore and aft properly so when the wind flows over Zephyrs deck, it will hit the propellers correctly.
With luck and Mother Natures approval, I'll be going up the mast to check the rigging and attachment at the top. We want to make sure there are as few surprises during the next voyage. It's all down wind so that will make for a much easier voyage than the trip up here from Fiji which was either motor straight into the wind or with it blowing across the side causing us to heal over at a good 20+ degrees. With Zephyr healed over like that, everytime you move around, you have to hang on for dear life or you'll find yourself flying across the cabin. You sleep on the lower side of the cabin so you don't fall out of bed. The next trip should be much easier(we hope). If all our parts come in this Saturday, we should be out of here early next week if Mother Nature agrees. Stay tuned.
11/05/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa
We took off for the medical center about 0900 giving us some time to be on the internet at McDonalds again. I had an appointment to see a doctor at 1100. I was shown in promptly at 110 and had my blood pressure taken by one of the nurses(normal). Back to the waiting room. At 1215, I was shown back to the examination room. I was just about the last person in the waiting room by that time(lunch time was coming). I showed the doctor my pill bottles and he asked a few questions. Never mentioned the blood test I took last Friday. Wrote out some new prescriptions(only for 9 months, not a year) and off Tracy and I went to the pharmacy. Now please keep in mind that this is the ONLY pharmacy on the island. You take a number just to turn in your prescription. My number was 92. They were helping #26 when I walked in!
We took off for the cafeteria that Paul and Star off Starstruck had told us about. Good food and insanely cheap prices. By the time we got back to the pharmacy, they were on #48(45 minutes later). As we sat and waited, we found #77 on the floor. When the number showed up, I finally got my turn to talk to the pharmacist. Actually, she is the head of the department. I explained our circumstances(cruising on a boat) and asked if we could get the prescription set up for a year instead of just 9 months. She looked concerned and told me that they normally only fill it for a max of three months, no where near twelve or even the 9 as specified on the prescription! She said she might be able to go to 4 months if I brought in the documentation papers and our passports and what papers we had that showed we were actually cruising and not going to just become and harbor rat(sits at anchor for months never moving). So, we're heading back to the medical center tomorrow to try again and see what we can get.
Meanwhile, it was raining when we headed to the center and it continued throughout the day. It's still raining at 1640. Let me tell you, when it decides to rain here, it pours. Maybe not as much as Fiji got during the cyclone season but there was flooding along the roadsides as we road the buses.
We're back at McDonalds using the internet as the connection at the hospital was down again.
I'll let you know how the prescription turns out.
11/05/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa
I don't often talk about a specific product that we carry on board but I'm going to do it now. Black Diamond headlamps. I bought a headlamp(bright LED light on a headband) from REI in Colorado back in November of last year before I came back to Zephyr in Fiji. It had come highly recommended by one of the sales staff as far better than lights from Petzl. I took him at his word and bought one(the Spot model). From the first time I turned it on, I found it far brighter and it had more features, including a lock that makes sure it can't be turned on by accident, and a switch that varies the amount of light it puts out. It even has red lights for nighttime use. About a month ago, I noticed that it was getting a bit strange as to coming on. I changed out the batteries all with the same result. I put in a call to their Customer Service Department and they offered a replacement lamp at no charge!! They even agreed to ship it(Priority Mail) to American Samoa all at no cost to me. The lamp has a three year warranty and they did this with out ever asking to have the old lamp back!! WOW!! It's been quite a while since I've seen a company stand behind their product like this. What a refreshing change in working with a customer.
So for all of you out there, sailors and land lubbers alike that are looking for a GOOD headlamp, I can't recommend Black Diamond enough. Even if you don't need one, go get one. Keep it on hand. It uses just three AAA batteries and bulb(LED) runs for a long time without calling it quits. GO BUY ONE!!! You won't regret it.
11/05/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Well the mail finally showed up yesterday. It actually came in by plane on Friday but it take s a while to get it checked in. Mail only comes in on Tuesday and Friday so Wednesday and Saturday are very busy at the Post Office. There are lines at the front counter and at the back door for bigger boxes. Lines everywhere. We got three boxes on our first try at the front counter. When we told the guy that we had gotten email confirmation at there were more boxes already checked in, hos response was "Come back Monday. We should have them checked in by then". Out the door we went and around to the back door. Got two more from them(not really big boxes). We headed for McDonalds to get on the internet only to find that there were two more boxes check in. So back I went. Got there at 11:58 while they close at 12:00. They found one and again said "Come back on Monday". What a great job.
When we got up in the morning, Tracy looked out the hatch and found one of the Princess Cruise line boats tied up to the dock. The Sapphire was in town. Once we got to shore, a whole bunch of white folks had descended on the town. They were everywhere. McDonalds was a sea of white folks with no tans. Every seat was taken. What are cruisers to do. Most stayed on their boats but a few had gotten to McD and gotten their regular seats. People were wandering around town sort of lost or wondering what to do. We stopped and talked to several groups of people as we headed for the Post Office and more on the way back. There isn't really much to do here that would attract a boat like this. Thousand of tourists. Apparently three got taken from the boat to the medical center by ambulance when the boat docked. It's a 29 day cruise starting in LA, then off for four days(and four ports) in Hawaii. Over to Samoa(one day) and then American Samoa(one day) and then onto French Polynesia with stops in Bora Bora, Moorea, and then Papette for two days and then off for LA again. That makes it about 18 days at sea. Not much time in port but a whole lot of time at sea.
We met lots of nice people but according to them the average age on board was in the low 70's. Lots of wheel chairs and walkers. I'll take Zephyr any time over that. At least when we took a cruise to Mexico several years ago, the average age was a whole lot younger.
Today was down into the bilge again. We'd gotten the replacement bilge pump switch in in the mail so in it had to go. We ended up taking everything out so we could get to the bottom to get all the mud and water out. There was just enough oil in the water to make what ever I touched, we slippery in my hands. Couldn't even hold a screw driver in my hands without using a paper towel. Out with the old(a couple of years old) and in with the new and the job was done. Of course, I dropped some of the screws I needed to take out down to the bottom of the bilge so I had to go clear to the bottom to get them back. I was upside down from my waist down. Gee what fun. I was sweating like a pig in heat and dripping everywhere. Oh, I was a mess by the time we got the job done. Tracy got the job of cleaning off all the oil and dirt from the pump and switch assembly. Yuck, what a job. It was a mess down there as all the water, mud and the galvanization that has fallen off the anchor chain ended up down there. Once it was done, I went outside to take off my shirt as it was dripping sweat all over the place and I didn't want to make more of a mess than I already had.
The afternoon was spent with Tracy at the sewing machine fixing the holes in the shorts we have been wearing for the last couple of years. She also made the flag for the Federated States of Micronesia. Didn't get one before we left the US but Tracy had bought the fabric to make our own. Creative girl that she is.
I spent it cleaning up my mess and putting away lots of my tools that have been out for the last couple of days as we fix things. By the time we took off for McDonalds for dinner(both exhausted) Zephyr looked a whole lot better.
Tomorrow back to the Post Office and then up to the Medical Center to see about getting all my prescriptions refilled. Sure hope they have lots of drugs in stock.