Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pago Pago Update #2

Pago Pago Update #2
May 2012

Morning in Pago Pago harbor, American Samoa

January 8

Yesterday was like Christmas. My shipment from Port Supply (West Marine) came in.

I had ordered a few things that one just can't get out here:
Propane regulator and solenoid,
oarlocks for my dinghy,
a handful of shackles,
a couple chain hooks,
some shaft zincs,
a few spare blocks,
a couple of US flags, and
a few hundred feet of primary wire with a bunch of splice and ring connectors.

The shipment contained mostly just a bunch of spares I should have had on board before I left Key West. Well, in fairness to me I did have some of this stuff, but they rusted, wore out, or were used up.

Word to those starting a trip like this: Bring less clothing and food. You really don't need a locker full of paper towels. Fill your boat with spares. You don't know the value of 100-ft of 1/2" line till you need it and find you're 700 miles from the nearest source.

Some things I never thought about replacing on this trip. Take for example the chain hooks I use to snub the anchor rode. The old ones got so rusty that they were constantly staining everything they touched.

Old and new chain hooks

A Mooring for Galena

February 2 brings me to the latest (and hopefully last) chapter of this continuing drama.

Recall that when I first arrived here in Pago Pago I just anchored in the harbor. That was 2 months ago. The wind blew and Galena dragged a bit. I deployed a second bow anchor and it held. But I didn't really trust the anchors and worried every time the wind blew over 20-kts, which it does a couple times a week.

My friend, Dan (s/v Leeway), had his boat at the dock for repairs and allowed me to tie to his unused mooring while I hired someone to install a new mooring for Galena.

The local guy, Howard, did the work. He did a bad job. As soon as the winds exceeded 20-kts (last week) Galena dragged across the harbor. According to the GPS we hit one knot while dragging. Fortunately I was aboard and it was daylight. I dropped first one then the other of my bow anchors. Galena stopped and seemed to hold a few hundred feet short of the north shoreline.

In theory the mooring was just fine. It was the final implementation that came up short. Howard came up with 60-feet of 3/4 chain. this he probably got for free. The tuna boats use this to weigh down the leading edge of their seine nets. He also came up with 60-feet of 2 inch diameter 8-strand nylon line. Again, the tuna boats use this to reinforce the leading edge of those nets.

I paid for a couple of 3/4 inch shackles to connect the rope to the chain. Howard was going to try to just tie the rope in a knot. I wanted an actual eye-splice on each end with fire-hose as chafe protection. Since he didn't know how to make such a splice I ended up doing it. The two splices took all day and my arms were killing me for the next few days. Notice the home-make fid? It's 3/4" PVC.

Eye-splice in 8-strand, single-braided, 2" nylon line.

When the weather calmed down I donned my scuba gear and dove to see what's up (Galena lay in 60-ft of water). I found my Rocna anchor lying on the hard rock bottom but caught behind a rock. The Bruce anchor was buried deep in mud that had accumulated in a valley. Howard's "Mooring" turned out to be a 50-lb fisherman's anchor. That's all! And it didn't even have to upper cross-member!

When I finally got hold of Howard we had a discussion. He said he'd be out Monday to reinstall the mooring.

Monday he went down to "do it right." This usually involves wrapping a very heavy chain around a (dead) coral head.

But his scuba regulator was broken so I loaned him mine.

While down there looking for a suitable rock, he found a mooring. Actually he said "'s a huge steel drum. This thing must weigh a ton. And right on top are lifting rings. I'll just shackle the mooring chain to the lifting rings."

But he ran out of air so I loaned him one of my tanks.

Monday afternoon the weather turned bad and I couldn't move to the mooring until yesterday. Again I was up on anchor-watch from 0200 to 0600 Tuesday morning as the winds repeatedly exceeded 25-kts. But the anchors held fine.

The winds seemed to let up early yesterday afternoon. With the help of my buddy Rob (s/v Changing Spots) I moved Galena to the new mooring at about 1500-hrs (Tuesday). Immediately after I had everything secure on the new mooring the rain and wind came up. It very quickly mounted to a gale.

This morning I dove on the mooring just to see for myself what was down there. I was very impressed. Here's what I now have for a mooring:

From Galena there are 4ea 5/8" lines to the mooring pennant. The mooring pennant is 60-ft of 2" 8-strand nylon. That reaches to the seabed. Several floats hold it off the seabed when not under load. That pennant is shackled with a 3/4" shackle to about 50" of what I think is 3/4" chain (the links are about 4" long). That chain is shackled to a lifting lug on the "mooring."

The mooring itself is a 4-ft diameter steel drum standing on end in the mud. I can't tell how long the drum is but there's about 3-ft sticking up. There are holes torched into the top through which I can see that the metal is about 1/2" thick. Howard is right, this thing must weigh at least a ton.

I'll sleep well now.

New Tattoo

In early February I decided to get a new tattoo. Samoan tattoos are unique to these islands and therefore recognizable as a, "Been there, Done that" kind of thing. Not unlike the Polynesian tat I got on my neck while in Moorea. I had the artist just wing-it and ended up with a classic Samoan design. The shop is called Off Da Rock Tattoos and is here in Pago Pago. Their web site is
I tried to do a panoramic of the whole band but may have missed a bit. I'm happy with the way it came out and love the level of detail

My new Samoan Tattoo

February 16

Several weeks ago I had ordered some boat bits. There were coming from China. They were a bit late getting here so I queried the merchant. He gave me a tracking number. I checked: They had gone through Hawaii and had arrived here on Feb 4. They were now once again in Hawaii on their way back to China.

I went to the post office, gave them the tracking number, told them it was back in Hawaii and asked WTF? They looked around and said, "It's not here." I explained again that according to the USPS internet site it was back in Hawaii. They checked and agreed.

The clerk said, "It must have had the wrong address."
I said, "But it got here."
He said, "It must have had the wrong address.
I said, "The address is Bill Shaw, General Delivery, Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799. And it got to here, the Pago Pago post office. What could have been 'wrong' with the address?"
He said, "It must have had the wrong address. That's the only reason we'd send it back."

Sometimes you just have to give up and accept what life offers.

Internet access on American Samoa
The easiest and least expensive way to get internet access on American Samoa is to head over to the McDonnalds in Pago Pago and, between 1400 and 2000 use the free WiFi available there.
Alternatively, you can buy wifi access from a couple of sources. The most popular is Blue Sky.

Two months ago I purchased a 'One Month' internet access card for Blue Sky. I can sometimes get Blue Sky on the boat at her mooring.

Every time I'd log in it said I had 5030 hrs left. Every time! Cool. Sometimes inefficiencies work in your favor.

The suddenly after two months it said I had only 5005 hrs left. They might have caught up with me.

After a full 5 months on the island that 'one-month' card still showed 4800 hrs left on it. I gave it to my buddy, Eric, when I left.

Spam Stew

Tonight (and for the next several days) I'll be dining on my signature dish: Spam Stew.

Let's see, two cans of tomato sauce, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of corn, a can of sliced carrots, a can of whole potatoes, a can of red kidney beans, and last but by no means least, a can of Spam, diced.

You see the common thread? That's right. I'm a man with a plan and a can.

New Sails
February 24

The two bundles of joy containing Galena's new sails are now safely on deck. It's just a bit too windy to hank them on right now (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Maybe tomorrow we'll see how well they fit.

Just before the trade winds kicked in this morning I hanked-on my new sails and hauled them up. THEY FIT!!!! Even the reef points line up with the boom blocks. So happy I didn't screw up the measurements.

All of them (Jib, Stay, Main) are just perfect. And from what I've seen so far they are very well made.

Lee Sails ( absolutely rock! And for only $2600 plus shipping ($400) the price simply can't be beat.

When my buddy Ron (s/v Lastdance) referred to my old sails as 'rags' I was a bit offended. But seeing them lying on deck next to these new sails made his point loud and clear. The old set of sails were, indeed, thin, soft, dirty rags. But they had driven me over 25,000 miles in over 8-years. So, yeah, they served me well. It's almost a shame to toss them out. But for the most part they won't even hold a stitch anymore. So to the dumpster with 'em.

The old main sail was having trouble holding it's stitches. And the lazyjacks, where they wear against the sails, had taken their toll at the battens.

where the lazyjacks chafed the mainsail

I pulled most of the hardware off of the old sails. You can see from the wear on these jib hanks that I got my money worth out of the old sails.

Hanks from the old jib

New Anchor Chain
I spent all day with my buddy, Rob, onboard Changing Spots.

We motored over to the customs dock where we picked up a bunch of stuff we had ordered including 400 ft of anchor chain for Rob and 200 ft for me.

Of course, it wasn't that simple. First we off-loaded his old anchor chain. Then we measured and marked his new chain after cutting off 300-ft of it. That we then loaded that 300 ft into his chain locker. The other 100-ft we loaded into a different locker. We then reloaded some of his old chain that wasn't too bad back into a storage locker on Spots.

My 200-ft of chain we just marked and loaded onto his deck for transport back to the mooring. There I loaded it into my dinghy and then pulled it up onto Galena's foredeck. Tomorrow I get to splice new triple-strand line to the new chain and replace the old anchor rode.

Swapped out the old anchor chain with the new.
First I pulled everything out of the chain locker so I could clean out all the accumulated mud and rust.

On deck you see (starting at the lower-right)
- The bright white rope is 200-ft of 5/8" triple-strand nylon.
- Above that is the pile of old anchor chain. 200-ft of 3/8"BBB. The final 75-ft isn't too bad and I'll probably cut it off and save it.
- Below the old chain is the 200-ft of old 5/8" nylon that backed it up.
- Upper-left is the 50-ft of 5/16" chain for the secondary bow anchor.
- Above that chain is the bundle of 250" of 9/16" nylon that backed it up.
- Finally at the lower-left is 200-ft of new 3/8"BBB chain.

The 3/8" chain weighs in at 1.7 lbs/ft. Tiring work.

I spliced the new rope to the new chain and, after securing it to the Samson posts below deck, fed everything down into the chain locker. The new rope didn't lie well and I had some trouble fitting all that new chain into the locker. I expect the 4-day passage to Tonga will settle everything into place.

Now I have to cut the old chain, stow the not-so-bad section and dispose of the crappy part. Then I can clean all the rust and dirt of the foredeck.

View of Galena's foredeck during the anchor rode swap

Close-up of the rope-to-chain splice on the new rode. 10 tucks. Yeah, that should do it.

New Boat Cards

One of the items in the postal packages I received on Saturday was new boat cards.I've gone with Vista Print for my boat cards for the past few years. When I decided to make a minor change in the card I again went on line to Vista Print.

I edited last year's design and selected a quantity that I thought would last for a couple years. Understand that I give away boat cards to everybody I meet. If you've talked with me for more than five minutes chances are that I've handed you a boat card.

So when I say that I ordered enough for a couple years, I mean quite a few. Then I went to checkout. A popup window said something like, "You qualify for an addition 500 cards for just $3.95" and I just had to hit that "OK" button. Then when I was finished with my order another popup window said something like, "William, for only the cost of shipping we will increase your order by..." and I said, "OK." Somewhere along the line another window popped up.

In the end I had ordered about half a million boat cards for some stupidly large amount of money.

After repackaging in zip-lock bags I still had quit a pile of boat cards

Thank you Vista Print.

For my "Facebook-Free" friends here's a verbatim repost from a Facebook entry wherein I chronicle a night on the town. This about sums up my summer in Pago Pago.

February 22
There I was; this is no shit....
It's about 2AM and I'm just baclk from mu favoriote pub. Well "just back" needs some clarification.

I met up with Dan, my boat buddy, at the McYachtClub, early in the afternoon. He said he was heading to the laudramat to dp laudry. I saId I cou;d dop spme laudry. So off we ent in his dighy.

We p[ut our clothes in to was and went to the store and had a couple beers. Then we went back and put our clothes in he dryer..... and a had a few beers.

Then we went back and folded our clohes.... because we're ci9vilised people.
Then all the bar maids from my favorite bar showed up in the ;laudry mat.

Sp after we finished folding ourt stuff and dfropping it offfa at our boats, Dan amndI wentback tot bar.
On tjh way we passed a bunch of babes who started sjhouting "Bill, hellow" so of course we had to stopand inv igte gthem tgo join uz.

Well, A coub ld hundcfrde sollorsl lAfee I'm convinxsd thart I'm very much loved on this island.

Ohand dan,too.
good night all.

I had spent about 20-minutes typing the first two lines. Then I just gave up and did sort of a Stevie Wonder thing and closed my eyes and just typed.

I usually hit this bar, Evalani's, two or three times a week. They'd close at 2 AM but I'd hang with the ladies for the 'after-party' till three or so. They ladies of Evalani's were simply great. We had way too much fun. Evalani use to be a dancer in Vegas. back in the 60's. Now she owns the best bar in Am Samoa.

Anna was always fun to hang with. She was deaf but we managed to communicate rather well.

This is Baby. One of the sweetest ladies in the pub

Julie is absolutely crazy. And that makes her one of my best friends in Pago

Kat and Lena. Kat is Evalani's daughter and pretty much runs the bar

This is Nina. She runs a small business on the island and comes in to unwind. I try to help.

On Kathy's birthday, I managed to drag her and Judy out to Evalani's for a beer.

Boomkin Rebuild

My boomkin needed to be replaced. I first noticed the problem in the Bahamas. I heard some squeaking sounds coming from the bolts holding the starboard boomkin timber to the deck. I tightened it down and saw that the bolts were being pulled down into the wood. I added some big washers and that seemed to solve the problem. Then in the Marquesas I saw that the spacer block between the boomkin and the deck was rotting. My good friend Jeff advised me to significantly overboard the bolt holes and fill with thickened epoxy. We did that and all was good. But I saw more rot in the boomkin timber itself (only the starboard side). I was not able to find anyone to build me a stainless steel boomkin so I was looking for some good hardwood to just replace what I had. One of the ex-pats in American Samoa, Jay, did woodworking. He said he had some local hardwood that might work. He came out to the boat and took some measurements. These timbers are about 4.5 inches by 2.75 inches by 6 feet. a couple days later he had machined the timbers and provided them to me. He'd only take $20 for both the wood and the work. This wood (and I don't know what it's called) is so heavy it just barely floats! And it's beautiful.

I spent the next week or so pulling off all the boat-bits I have hanging on the back of Galena. This included the solar panels, the wind generator and radar, the stern pulpit, the main sheet blocks, and all of the associated wiring. But the hardest part was to lift off the Aries wind vane. Again, my good friend Rob of Changing Spots was there to help.

As I tried to pull off the old boomkin I found that with just a screwdriver I could pick away most of the starboard boomkin timber. Here's a picture of it. I've laid the almost intact port boomkin board with spacer on top of the starboard boomkin board for comparison.

I applied several coats of epoxy to the timbers to help protect them from the water. Of course didn't do it right. The epoxy blushed terribly. A couple coats of varnish to protect the epoxy and I called it done. Then I spent several days reattaching all the hardware and equipment. While the Aries was on deck I decided to do a rebuild. It was all jammed up again (last rebuilt was three years ago). I had to pull it apart and relieve the tightness of the main bearings on the main shaft. I think it worked out ok.
Dinghy Oars

I row my dinghy. I've become quite proficient at rowing my dinghy. Even in high winds and rough harbors I manage quiet well. The oars on my dinghy are therefore very important to me.

The original oars that came with Galena's aluminum Grumman dinghy cracked/split under the constant wetting and drying in the harsh salt and sun that is my chosen environment. I replaced those wooden oars with a set of nice plastic/fiberglass oars (by Caviness) that I thought would last longer.


I was surprised and disappointed when, several weeks ago I saw that my nice oars had split where the paddle slipped inside of the shaft. I did a patch consisting of wrapping the oar shaft with fiberglass.

Yesterday I noticed the same splitting happening at the other end of the shaft where the handles attach.

The wrapped oar

So it was out with the epoxy resin, hardener, and glass tape to do more repairs. While I was at it I also did a bit of work on Harvey (my old Aries wind vane). The servo-rudder had taken a few hits over the years and needed a bit of patchwork, too.

The Aries happened to be lying on deck while I rebuilt Galena's boomkin. That made it easy to do the little patching-up of the servo-rudder.


The first of April brought me Lena. I met her through a waitress friend, Linda. Lena and I hit it off right away.

What can I tell you about her? She's beautiful, smart, hard working. She's a divorced, 36 year old Chinese lady who owns a small restaurant here in Pago Pago. And she made me very happy by just smiling at me. Her actual name is Liu Ruihong. Most of the Chinese people here use Anglo names since theirs are sometimes hard to pronounce.

At first she was very proper; wouldn't even let me hold hands for the first couple weeks. But eventually we moved past all that. She originally said she wanted me to sail on to a few more destinations and then, if I missed her and still loved her I should come back for her. That all sounded quite reasonable to me.

Lena and me on a little weekend trip to Apia, Western Samoa

But eventually that changed. "All my friends say if you leave you'll not come back." she said. "Maybe you should just stay here." I was so very much into her that I was seriously considering it. The 'it' in this case being to give up cruising and just stay on American Samoa with Lena.

But I said, "I can't promise you forever."
She said, "Bill, you're 62. 'Forever' isn't really that long anymore." She was right, of course. Forever these days is only about 20 years or so.

After six weeks everything was going well. Except that she was beginning to pressure me to marry her. And I have to say I was almost there.

Then in mid-May Lena's old boyfriend, a captain on a commercial fishing boat, returned to port after being out for six weeks (hmm, I'd known her for six weeks...). She had to visit with him. Later that night she said to me, "Bill, you're really tired, why don't you spend the next week or so on your boat?" Things went downhill very fast after that. I really didn't see this coming.

I suggested she might not be finished with him; that he still loved her and she still loved him. I was angry and hurt so I did the first thing that came to mind: I ran away. I rather abruptly departed American Samoa and headed over to Tonga, the next island in this crazy journey of mine.

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