25 August 2008, Pago Pago Harbor, American Samoa
26/08/2008 0457UTC 14 16.433S 170 41.620W Day 444 Up at 0650 27C, Partly Cloudy, Showers, Wind ESE 5-20 Knots.
[Above, one of the board games we play on a breezy or rainy afternoon at anchor. 'Dread Pirate' is a crew favorite.]
It was nearly calm enough to attack the roller furling project this morning, but not quite. The steady breeze was down to about 5 knots, but gusts in rain showers were hitting 20 knots. I need about an hour-long window of calm to go up to the masthead while we bend-on the genoa. So, with no joy there, and though we are keeping up nicely on battery charging with the DuoGen, I fired up the engine to satisfy myself that the heating issue is really resolved. It is -- the engine ran cool.
Karl the mechanic has had the old fresh water pump at his shop and he brought it back so I could see what was amiss. The internal seals were shot, which had been allowing the pump to suck air instead of move water. I suspect the seals have been going bad for a long time because the engine has notoriously run hotter than it should.
About midday, 2nd Mate and Cabin Girl went to shore by themselves to play in one of the local parks. When they returned, we all settled in for an afternoon of Dread Pirate. This elaborate and involved board game is a heck of a lot of fun, and has all the trappings of a high seas pirate adventure: ships, doubloons, jewels, skirmishes, remote islands, disreputable harbors and exotic islands. The game cards include a Lore & More section with facts, myths and legends about the days when pirates ruled the seas. We couldn't find a more fitting game for our scurvy-dog crew.
Another Juneau, Alaska, connection unfolded here today. The s/v Gail out of Whitianga, New Zealand, hailed us on the VHF radio:
"Wind Dancer, Wind Dancer, this is sailing vessel Gail."
"Go ahead, Gail."
"Yeah, mate, I noticed your homeport is Juneau, Alaska. Our boat is also from Juneau. We bought it there in the mid-1990s. It was a commercial fishing vessel, and we converted it to an ocean-going sailboat. We sailed it from Alaska to New Zealand and are out here cruising now."
"Right, mate, it's a small one."
1st Mate: School starts in a week for the kids. I read through the information packets and got some pages ready to be copied the next time I go to town. This year should be a little easier for me knowing what to expect. It still means I have to be organized and diligent with the kids so we get through all the lessons in time.
I made a killer cheese omelet with bacon for breakfast and I poured salsa on mine. The kids seemed a little restless so I suggested they take their new bubble toys to the nearby park and eat a packed lunch. They weren't gone too long but Captain and I had some peace and quiet. I got enthused enough to bake in my new Bundt pan and made a chocolate, cherry, coconut cake -- it was delicious. We all enjoyed a piece while playing 'Dread Pirate,' a favorite game of ours that requires a few hours sometimes. It was a perfect day to play the game and hang out.
I am making SOS for dinner: creamed corned beef on biscuits, actually. We are planning on renting a car to see some more of the island tomorrow, if it doesn't turn out to be a good day to fix our jib. We are all looking forward to Gracie's pick for movie tonight. I have spent a lot of time today reading the new book I got for my birthday -- 'Niagara Falls - All Over Again,' by Elizabeth McCracken. It is not a book I would think to read but it is an enthralling tale of a vaudeville act and the straight man's life story through a part of history that has always been a bit blurry, but incredibly fascinating.
2nd Mate: Wildlife seen today: least tern, frigate bird, Hawksbill turtle*.
Woke up around 0600. I played for a short while and then I worked on my workbook. We ate breakfast and played with some stuffed animals. Dad fired up the engine as it's been a week since we last ran it and we wanted to see how she's been doing. The status: she runs better than a cheetah. So, Grace watched some TV while I messed around online. We shut everything off and turned off the engine as we had charged our batteries up almost to 100% (we don't want to waste that much fuel charging batteries when the wind is free).
Once the engine was turned off, we were brainstorming ideas on what to do next. Mom thought it would be neat if boats with kids on it would fly a special flag, so Grace and I got a project! We made many different flags and pennants. We're still trying to decide on one, but we got it narrowed down to just two of them. After that, Grace and I went ashore to the park to play. We found the playground fenced off and locked with three padlocks, so we took a wild guess we weren't allowed in there and just played in the nearby field. We sunbathed and played with the bubble wands we got at the Cost-U-Less the other day. We had fun lazing around and playing. We walked back to the docks and went back to the boat.
Grace and I played a game of 'Cogno' before our family game of 'Dread Pirate' (details and web link above in the Captain's blog). We just finished and started our blogs. While I was typing mine here, Dad went up to the bow to check our anchor chains. He wasn't up there more than a minute when he shouted "Sea turtle! Up here, guys! Sea turtle!" We rushed to the bow and saw a cute, little baby Hawksbill turtle swimming by our anchor chains. Unfortunately, he dove under just seconds before getting we got the camera out on deck, so we don't have a picture of it. We're now resting and awaiting dinner. We plan to watch 'Alice in Wonderland' tonight as out family movie.
Cabin Girl: The weather today: partly cloudy, showers, variable wind, the high today was 30C, the barometer is 1009 and falling, the moon is waning towards new. I woke up and had eggs, bacon, and toast for breakfast. I played the 'Chuck Wagon' game with Grant. Grant and I designed flags to show people they have kids on their boat. We had many ideas. Then, Grant and I went ashore by ourselves and went to the park. The park was closed, so we just played in the field next to it. We used our bubble wands, but they ran out of bubbles really easily. Not much luck today! I pretended I was a doggy and then we went back to the boat.
Grant and I played the 'Chuck Wagon' game again, only this time I made them go to New York City as a rock band to play. Dad alerted us that he saw a sea turtle and we all saw its cute, little head.