Sep 182014
 

Even my mom guessed it. Bodhran’s in Hawaii for the Winter. Normally late August/early September are a good time to sail back from Hawaii to the West Coast, but El Nino threw a hitch in that giddy-up. The storms started marching across Alaska two weeks ago and there’s no sign of them abating until Spring. Even if there had been wind north of the islands, I’d have been hit by two low pressures systems a week the whole way home. That and the prospect of a long cold Winter in Seattle makes this an easy decision to make.

I now have decide on one or a combination of three options:
1. Find a place to leave Bodhran and come home and work for the Winter
2. Find a place to live aboard Bodhran and find a job in Hawaii for the Winter
3. Cruise Hawaii for the Winter

The problem with Hawaii is the lack of boating facilities paired with a lack of all weather anchorages. It adds complications to any of the above options. Ala Wai marina is well located, allows liveaboards and cheap by Hawaiian standards, but transient boats are only allowed to stay for 120 days a year. I’ve already used up 100 of them. I can go back in January if they have room, but for now I have to find someplace else.

La Mariana Sailing Club in Keehi Lagoon has berth space for me, but they don’t allow liveaboards. They’re actually cheaper than Ala Wai. The plan here would be to leave Bodhran and go home and work/spend the holidays with family before being able to come back and stay in Ala Wai until Spring. Of course I could still come and go and get some cruising in around the islands. This is my preferred option.

Another option in Keehi Marine Center right next door to La Mariana. It’s a nicer marina and allows liveaboards, but require work history, letters from your bank and a survey before you can get moorage. It’s also $900 a month. If I was working, I could stick around a place like that, but it seems like such a hassle and living under the runway at the airport/air force base isn’t worth spending the premium.

I don’t really like the idea of sailing around Hawaii by myself for 6 months. I could probably get some folks from the mainland to fly out and visit, but I’d have to find some buddy boats to hang out with. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a cruising community in Hawaii, but who know I might find something.

In the meantime, I’ve left Oahu in search of more peaceful climes. I left yesterday morning and took advantage of a northeasterly wind to get across the Kaiwi channel to Molokai. It started out light, but turned into a ripping good sail beating into 15-20 knot winds by the time I reached the lee of Molokai and motored the last few miles into Haleolono.

The wind was from the NE but there’d been a big swell from the south for a few days. The surfers in Waikiki were loving it, but in made for an intimidating entrance to Haleolono. The anchorage is inside a jetty from an abandoned quarry. Coming from the West, it looked like surf was breaking across the entire breakwater. I began to think that the big swell had closed out the entrance, but once I got the very prominent range marks lined up it was clear that there were no breaking waves in the channel. Still it was an intense ride in with no buoys, a 6+ foot following swell and lots of surge making it tricky to stay in the middle of the 150′ wide entrance.

I tucked into the far east corner where the big swell caused quite a surge, but the water was Calm. I hadn’t dropped the hook since Christmas Island. I probably should have checked it before I left. As I went to drop my chain immediately hung up somewhere down in the chain locker. The wind was blowing and there was lots of surge, so I had to hurry. I ran down to find that the chain had shifted pounding into 10’+ waves for days before I reached Hawaii and had ended up a tangled mess. I quickly decided that I’d need time to clean it up, so I popped up to the cockpit, motored back into the center of the anchorage and dropped the stern hook for only the 4th time in 8 years. It took a good 20 minutes to clean up the anchor chain. With the stern hook already down and the limited room for swinging, it seemed like a good idea to let some slack out and motor up to the skinny part of the bay and drop my primary Bruce anchor.

As I was getting my anchor situation figured out, a truck came and started setting up porta-potties which seemed a bit odd in this uninhabited, remote corner of Molokai. I rowed ashore and started exploring and ran into Moku, who was running security for the boats that were already staged on the beach for the weekends 6 person canoe races from Molokai to Waikiki. Moku was cool enough to give me the lay of the land as well as a ride up to the viewpoint overlooking the abandoned wharf. I’m going to be in the way of the 100 or so escort boats for the race if I stick around till Thrusday, so I’ll probably only spend two nights in this sweet little spot before I head off to points further East on Molokai or South to Lanai. I think that I’ll try and get back to Oahu in a week or so and see about figuring out what the next 6 months have in store. In the meantime it’s damn nice being away from the hustle and bustle of my old slip in Ala Wai.

Sep 092014
 
The Hilton lighting off fireworks for my return to Hawaii

The Hilton lighting off fireworks for my return to Hawaii

I don’t know why I thought it might have been different this time. I waited for a month in Fiji for a decent weather window to get to American Samoa. I was “stuck” in Pago Pago for 3 weeks and Christmas Island for 2 waiting for parts. I’ve now been in Hawaii for almost 3 weeks. I hadn’t been ready for the first two, but for a week now I’ve been all provisioned up and ready to go. Patience is almost as import as skill for an offshore sailor, but mine is starting to wear thin.

The North Pacific High, which I need to be as far south as possible, has been hanging out all the way up in Alaska meaning that I’d have to sail nearly to Juneau before heading back down to Seattle. Now the high has disappeared all together with 5 different lows surrounding Hawaii. Two are tropical storms, but they pale in comparison to the big systems that are already steaming up the Aleutians to Alaska. I could just get out there and see what I get, but there’s been a big wind hole 500 miles across just north of here, which would have me spending half my fuel in the supposed trade wind belt. All I can do is wait.

That's a whole lot of no wind north of here surrounded by certain unpleasantness on all sides.

That’s a whole lot of no wind north of here surrounded by certain unpleasantness on all sides.

On the bright side, I’m docked right at the beginning of Waikiki. I’m getting a little tired of all the noise from the restaurant band across the street and the endless parade of passers by. Still it’s an epic spot to be docked in with some world class people watching.

Mainly I’ve been hanging out with the crew at the old fuel dock. The dock itself has been sold to a Japanese firm that wants to turn it into a wedding chapel. In the meantime, there’s about 8 boats that have their own little private marina in the middle of Ala Wai. They have to use their own anchors and med-moor to the wall, but it’s a sweet setup. Garrett has a Downeaster 32 named Mary Jane. He plays guitar and is fully into paragliding. Chris and Leyla live have cruised the South Pacific on their Hans Christian 33 Privateer and Chris just happens to play guitar and banjo. You can see where we might have hit it off.

The Fuel Dock Compound

The Fuel Dock Compound

The most epic moment of the last 3 weeks came last Friday. Garrett asked if I’d wanted to go with him to the other side of the island where he’d be doing some paragliding. I grabbed my camera rig and jumped at the opportunity to get out of town for a bit. Little did I know that I’d meet Maui Doug over there and get in a 90 minute long tandem flight over Makapu’u Head. Truly one of the coolest things that I’ve ever done.


So now I’m looking at the North Pacific High not forming back up for at least a week. In the meantime, I’m going to try and get a little cruising in. I’m not sure where, but I’m definitely ready to get out of the city.

May 192014
 


May 5th
It’s been 12 days since I left Samoa for Oahu. I’ve left a serpentine trackline behind me as I’ve tried to navigate through the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ). Oh the first few days were fine. I wasn’t able to lay the course that I wanted, but the wind was consistent and I was making progress. Then 8 days ago that came to an end.

I’ve sailed upwind before on the ocean, but rarely for more than a few days at a time. Even my recent run from Fiji to Samoa was mostly about waiting for the wind to die and then motoring like hell. This passage was going to be in excess of 2600 miles and I wouldn’t be able to rely on my engine to make it all the way there. Besides, I’m still a little concerned with my little Suzie Diesel. She’s been acting up on me lately and I don’t like to push her so hard.

When the wind left me, it didn’t leave all together. It’d come and go in spurts. Evaporation during the day would create huge squalls every afternoon that would creep across the sky like alien motherships dropping their lead gray payload on the sea below. These squalls would bring wind, often lots of it. So may day would be filled with trying to play the light air to get to the next squall. Then I’d hastily reef down the sails as the squall front hit while still trying to maintain the best sailing angle to get east.

It’s all about the easting. The wind predominately comes from the east. The currents flow from the east to west. The cards are all stacked against me. At least in the southern hemisphere, the winds are supposed to be from the southeast, not that they’ve done that for me. When I get to about 8 degrees north, I’ll pick up the northeast tradewinds. If I haven’t made it far enough east by then, these winds will push me west of the Hawaiian Islands. I’d have to beat right into the heart of these intense winds and waves. I’m not sure either Bodhran or myself are up to the task. So I try for my easting in the southern hemisphere.

For a whole week, I play the light airs. After 3 days the squalls dry up. I’m surrounded in the distance by puffy white clouds and bright blue overhead. The real problem is my tacking angles. Bodhran isn’t a very weatherly boat. At the best of times, she can barely hold a 50 degree angle to the wind. Now with the light airs and ocean swell, I’m not able to sail closer than 70 degrees to the wind. When the wind is out of the due east, that means that I can either sail north on a course of 20 degrees or south on a course of 160. Either way I’m not making much easting. So when the wind dies, I fire up the diesel and motor as due east as the waves allow.


May 8th-11th
I got 4 good days of sailing in. The east wind filled in 10-15 knots and I was finally making 100nm days towards my destination. I was just south of the equator when……………..

May 12th

Oh what a sickening feeling. I’m sailing downwind. I’d spent days trying to claw my way east against wind and tide. Now I’m giving it back running for Christmas Island. It’s hard to describe how disheartened I feel.

Last night, while beating into a 10-15kt east wind I came down hard off of one of the occasional 4-6′ swells that I was bashing into. I heard a telltale snap from up forward. My first indication that something was wrong was that the jib was flogging. The jib sheet having been loosened slightly. Upon further inspection forward, I noticed that the furling drum was swinging around inside the pulpit. Something was definitely wrong. Fortunately I was still able to furl the jib and take the load off the presumably broken headstay.

Once the sail was in, I hooked up the spinnaker halyard to the bow roller and winched it tight to make a temporary stay. Fortunately Bodhran is cutter rigged and the inner forestay kept the mast from breaking. I eased the jib halyard to see what would happen and the entire sail/furler started to come down. Obviously my headstay or some other component in the chain had failed. I re-tensioned the halyard to further support the mast and made the decision to fall off for Christmas Island 220 miles to the west.

I’d already been out for 18 days. It’d been a long hard slog, playing the squalls, light winds and currents the best I could to make nearly 1000nm of easting. I’ve never had to work so hard at a passage in my life. I’d expected ESE trade wind conditions, though the pilot charts said that I’d be as likely to get force 3 as force 4 winds. As it turned out, I had winds from north of east for most of the previous 18 days and only 4 days of fine force 4 sailing winds.

Still, I’d made my 1000 miles of easting and had turned north. I was just about ready to cross the equator when the headstay snapped. I had a bottle of champagne chilled and ready. Instead of celebrating my return to the northern hemisphere, I turned away in defeat.

Matters were made worse by the light of day. I can see where the headstay snapped at the mechanical fitting just below the masthead. If the water was calm, I could climb up there, replace the fitting and re-attach the stay. I could be back on my way. Instead there’s still a 4′ sea running making it impossible to do any delicate work aloft.


Hopefully I’ll find the refuge in Christmas Island to make the repairs I need. It should be straight forward, but it would be an immeasurable help to have a second pair of hands on board. The worst part will be when I leave Christmas and have to start working my way due East again to regain this 200+ miles before I pick up the northeast tradewinds.

May 16th
Sailing to Christmas was excruciating. Without a headstay I couldn’t fly the spinnaker or the jib. Instead I was limited to the staysail hanked onto the inner forestay. If I wasn’t a cutter, it would have been worse. I wouldn’t have been able to fly any headsail at all. I also kept a reef in the main sail. It probably would have been ok to fly the full thing. Going downwind, there wouldn’t have been much need for the headstay, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. So I limped along between 3-4 knots.

To add insult to injury, I had a 10 knot ESE wind with me the entire way. This is the perfect wind for Bodhran to be sailing upwind and making more easting. Instead I had to sail wing-on-wing dead downwind, one of the least comfortable points of sail know to man. Wing-on-wing sailing causes the boat to roll 10-20 degrees to either side as you go down the face of the following waves. The sails give almost no stability to the motion of the boat. I was already very depressed giving up all this easting, the rolling of the boat was just icing on the cake.

The best part of my 3 day sail to Christmas Island was the night sailing. I’d left Pago Pago just before the new moon. Now I was sailing under an almost full moon under a cloudless sky. The moon was far brighter than most compact florescents. I could have read by it’s light if my Kindle hadn’t crapped out on me the day before I lost the headstay.

I timed my arrival off Christmas, with a little judicious motoring, to ensure that I’d be 10 miles off the island at first light. It took most of the morning, but I’d made it around to the lee by 10:30 and dropped the anchor a few hundred meters south of the wharf on the leeward west side of the island. Alas the sandy patch that I picked was just a shallow layer of sand over rock and my bruce anchor found no purchase.


I dropped in deep water and had 200′ of chain out. The last thing I wanted to do was haul all that chain back up, but up it came. Exhausted after 20 days at sea and hauling 200′ of chain in the equatorial sun, I moved up to a shallower spot closer to the wharf and dropped the hook again.

This time the anchor skittered across the bottom as I backed down on it. Then it stuck. I put more power to my little Suzie Diesel and my heart sank as I broke the anchor free. This spot was also no good. Greg and Bonnie had anchored here before and told me it was the place to be, but I wasn’t having any luck. So up came the anchor again, except this time it was much heavier. When I finally got it up, the weight of my Bruce had been augmented by a nice hunk of rock that I’d broken off and taken with me.


As recently as 2007, you could get inside the lagoon here at Christmas Island, but the channel has gotten too shallow and you have to anchor off. The water is crystal clear and I noticed that there was a nice sandy patch just north of the wharf. Greg had told me that south was the place to be, but after getting the anchor free of the rock, I was just about spent. I motored north of the wharf, dropped the hook in a beautiful patch of sand and was set.

I put the skiff in the water, grabbed my documents and went in to deal with formalities. The wharf has a beautiful floating dock where I merrily hitched my dinghy and jumped up the rusty stairs enjoying my first steps on solid ground in 3 weeks. I made it as far as the security gate and then was told that I had to return to the boat and wait for a boarding party to come with all the officials. Dejected, I returned to Bodhran. After 2 hours of waiting in vain for the officials, I decided that it was time to get drunk…..so I did.

This morning I set to work on the headstay. I climbed the mast and took off the broken fitting. I could see that the headstay had unraveled and that I wouldn’t be able to replace the fitting in place. So I climbed down the mast and began the agonizingly sow process of trying to lower the whole roller furling/sail/headstay assembly while anchored in the ocean swell. Through a complex series of lines I was able to slowly lower the assembly down to the spreaders when a couple of guys I’d met on my way in yesterday swung by in their outrigger canoe. Mariga and the other fellow whose name I can’t remember made short work of getting the 40′ long furler/headstay assembly down onto the deck. I served up some coffee to the guys and we chatted in the cockpit for a while until they took off to continue their fishing.

The officials hadn’t been answering their radio all morning. Now I get a call from them. I need to move 500 meters to the south. I’m not allowed to anchor where I am. Siiiiiiiiiigh! So up comes the anchor, and I moved to a spot 500 meters south of the wharf. The holding isn’t good, but I’m too tired to do anything about it after all the exertion of yesterday and todays project of getting the headstay down. It should be good enough where I’m at to deal with customs at least.

Again there’s no response on the radio. I decide to make some lunch and wait. An hour later I get a call from the officials. They don’t want to walk the mile up to the wharf, can I please re-anchor a mile to the south down by the pass into the lagoon? Arrrrrrgh! Up comes the anchor for the 4th time in 24 hours. I’m fairly certain that I’m going to have to get an electric windlass when I get home.

I anchor again near the pass and go ashore to pick up the officials. Instead of having a nice floating dock, I have to pick them up through the surf on the beach. It wasn’t a problem, but it took some doing to not swamp the boat while the less than nimble officials were clambering on board, simultaneously keeping off the sharp coral beach that was just waiting to punch a hole in my skiff.

Clearing in was no problem. There were no fees which was great after being gouged for a $165 to clear in and out of American Samoa. I had to handwrite my forms in quadruplicate, but the officials were cheerful and never even bothered to come below. I just dropped them off on the beach. It’s too late to go in and find internet, so hopefully I’ll get this posted tomorrow.

I’m here to fix my headstay. I have spare wire and fittings. I think that I’ll be able to get it done in another couple of days, especially if I can enlist a couple of helpers to wrestle the thing in place as I raise it up again. Christmas looks like a beautiful island. I was met by two huge green sea turtles on the way in yesterday. The water is amazingly clear. Hopefully I’ll get my repairs done, take a couple of days to tour the island and then be on my way early next week. Keep your fingers crossed!

May 18th
A couple of problems here. First, my spare length of wire is 16” too short. I’ve tried to figure out a good way to MacGyver it together, but I wouldn’t feel good setting out for Hawaii 1200nm to windward without a well functioning headstay/jib. The second problem is that I bent the furler extrusion when I was taking it down. I should be able to beat it back into shape, but I’m going to have to take it apart. It’s riveted together and I don’t have any rivets, so they’re going to have to be sent in as well.


On the bright side, the pass into the lagoon is teeming with life. On one trip in, I saw 2 green sea turtles and 4 mantas. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do some snorkeling there. The folks in town are friendly. There’s a brewery here. It was Sunday when I passed by it yesterday, but I’ll definitely be heading back to check that out.

Apr 202014
 

So maybe I’m not giving American Samoa a fair break. If I’d pulled into this place on my way down from Hawaii, it might not be that bad. As it is I’ve been cruising through some truly beautiful parts of the Pacific for the last 8 years and Pago Pago just doesn’t hold up.

I’m anchored between the Starkist Tuna cannery on one side and a dilapidated wharf on the other. Big diesel generators run 24 hours a day. They’re right beside the anchorage of course. The harbor in Pago Pago is a stunning geographical formation. Imagine a lush volcanic crater stretching up 1000ft out of the crystal blue South Pacific. Now imagine that a quarter mile wide section of that crater fell away to allow boats in and out. That’s Pago Pago harbor. It’s beautifully protected. That’s why the US Navy came in here and took over the island. Then the tuna fleet came in when the Navy left. There’s no vestige of quaint Polynesia here. It’s American industry through and through.

The real problem is that I’m on a mission. I’m trying to make it 6000 miles back upwind to get to Seattle. I knocked out the leg with the worst contrary winds when I made it here from Fiji, but I was ready to keep on going. Eager to make my easting and the nudge my way back up into the northern hemisphere. Instead I had to deal with a faulty alternator that went out the night before I made it to Pago Pago.

American Samoa is just a bit too American. The fix for my alternator would have probably taken a few days at any sizable port in Fiji or Tonga. In American Samoa, there’s no one to fix it. It’s cheaper to order new parts from the states via USPS. I ordered a replacement alternator the day after I got in.

Through neglect from the company that I ordered my alternator from combined with the USPS sitting on my package for 5 days in Florida before it got trucked west, my alternator has been on it’s way for 20 days now and it’s still not here. I ordered it express and it should have been here in 3-5 days.

So instead of making a quick stop in Pago Pago and continuing on my way back home, my momentum has been broken. I spend my days doing little projects around the boat, playing guitar, going to McDonalds for internet and drinking sundowners with Phil, a young singlehander from Victoria who’ll be on his way down to Tonga soon. I want nothing more than to leave, but I’m stuck here in possibly the dirtiest harbor in the Pacific. Fetid water that I’m unwilling to swim in, daily rain that keeps my solar panels from keeping my batteries full, no shower facilities, and a sprawling un-walkable community that’s difficult to explore combine to make Pago Pago one of the least pleasant ports I’ve ever been to.

The reason to come here is supplies. If I were continuing on through the Pacific, this would be an amazing opportunity to stock up on American products at back home prices. The local hardware store is stocked with high quality tools that I couldn’t find and certainly couldn’t afford down in New Zealand. It was so beautiful that I almost cried when I walked into that store the first day.

The other big store here is the Cost-U-Less. A scaled down version of Costco, it’s gigantic by Pacific Island standards. I’m heading north and only need to stock up on snacks, meat and cheese. If I’d been heading back to Fiji, it’d have been a wonderful place to refresh my long term stores, but I’ve got a 30 day passage to make up to Hawaii. After that I won’t have to worry about provisions again, so the Cost-U-Less is a bit overkill for me.


Every evening since I arrived, the Samoans practice racing their Fautasis. A Fautasi is the largest racing canoe that I’ve seen in the Pacific. They vary in number of rowers. The largest have nearly fifty rowers, while the smallest sport closer to thirty. There’s are a total of 12 Fautasi representing different villages on the island.

Flag Day was on the 17th and the big Fautasi Race was the day before. The 12 gigantic canoes lined up out in the Pacific swell 7 miles away from the finish line which happened to be right off Bodhran. The crowd was lined up on the beach and listening to the action on the radio. I’d hear them erupt with applause. I’d then look around and couldn’t see anything. Then the crowd went wild as the the first Fautasi rounded the point escorted by two tugs, a fishing boat, a police boat and various official jet skis. It all came down to a photo finish with the home town Aeto team losing out by a nose.

The fautasi race is a big deal here. Here’s the prize payouts as listed by Samoa News: Total cash for the fautasi race was $74,000: with $20,000 to Manulele Tausala #1 – the winner; 2nd place $15,000 to Aeto; and 3rd place $10,000 to Paepaeulupo’o. Other prizes: $7,000 4th place; 5th place $6,000; 6th place $5,000; 7th place $4,000; 8th place $3,000; 9th place $2,000 and 10th place $2,000. I don’t know where all that money comes from, but a total of $202,000 was handed out in the various Flag Day events.

On Flag Day proper, Phil and I took a little hike up to some waterfalls we’d heard about. There was a series of 12 falls in all, but it was too slick to go beyond the second. It was glorious to get into the water after being trapped in Pago Pago harbor for so long. On the way back down we stumbled across some Flag Day BBQ action down on the beach where we finally got a little Samoan culture, hanging out until we took a late bus back to the boats.

There’s still no word on my alternator. I’m anxious to get a move on, but it may still not be for a while. Hopefully my part made it on Friday’s flight and will be sorted through the post office on Saturday, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Apr 042014
 

Gopro off the bow as I motored away from the setting sun

Gopro off the bow as I motored away from the setting sun


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In my case a journey of 6000 miles from Fiji to Seattle, began with a 4 mile trip out to Cousteau Resort. After waiting nearly a month in Savusavu for a decent weather window, I checked out and was ready to leave. The weather didn’t look great, but there were no cyclones or dangerous looking lows out there and I was ready. I hoisted sail and took off all the way down to point reef, 4 miles away where I broke off the clutch handle for the windvane.

This passage was going to entail sailing east against the prevailing winds. I could use the autopilot to steer the boat, but it uses lots of power and will only hold a compass course. The windvane, on the other hand, uses no power and will adjust to any shifts in wind direction to ensure that I’m always making as much easting as possible. The prospect of sailing to American Samoa without this tool filled my heart with dread, so I pulled a u-turn, sailed a mile back to the anchorage off Cousteau Resort and dropped the hook. I slapped a liberal coat of JB Weld around the broken windvane clutch handle, scrubbed the hull and prop, and took care of a few other projects that I should have done before I left.

The next morning I left in earnest. I was able to sail a little bit, but I motored most of the way out to Taveuni. I was thankful that the SE wind hadn’t filled it, it made this first leg a much easier trip. A pod of pilot whales came by to check me out a couple hours after I left. I also spotted my first everpygmy sperm whale a little before sunset.

Pilot whales leaving Fiji

Pilot whales leaving Fiji

Once I passed Taveuni, I began to encounter a contrary current that stuck me all the way to Pago Pago. Sometimes it was down below half a knot, but for the most part I had to fight a 1+ knot current 620 miles against the wind. Bodhran doesn’t motor particularly well into the waves, nor does she sail particularly well hard on the wind. This combination made this passage the hardest leg of my proposed trip home.

The weather was all over the place during the passage. When I got wind, it was normally out of the southeast and I was able to sail into in fairly well. I had blue skies about half the time with the rest being filled in by squalls, and lightning. I ran into one cell in the middle of the night that brought gale force winds from the east, so I hove to for 7 hours and let it pass. In between the stints of sailing, I fired up the motor and made as much easting as possible.

On the 6th night out, I’d been motoring for 48 hours strait. The constant vibration shook a wire loose from my alternator. Of course it happened in the middle of the night. I spent 3 hours doing everything I could to fix it. But it looks like something shorted when the wire came loose and blew out the diodes.

I was worried about running the engine with a faulty alternator. Fortunately the wind filled in out of the SE and I had a great sail to within 10 miles of Pago Pago. The the wind died down leaving me along a very rough coastline with a 7-10ft swell running. I nervously ran the engine the rest of the way in, hand steering to conserve power.

I dropped the hook at the head of the bay, up past the Starkist tuna cannery on one side and McDonalds on the other. It was too late to clear into customs, so I put the boat to bed. Drank a couple of Fiji Golds as the sun went down and then put myself to bed. It took me 7 days to make 620 miles. Not my best average ever, but I was pretty happy with it. I ran the engine for exactly 100 hours. So I burned lots of diesel, but I made it. This was the passage I’ve been worrying about for the last few months. I’m glad to have it in the books.

Tuna boats in Pago Pago Harbor.

Tuna boats in Pago Pago Harbor.

Yup, that's a McDonalds.  They've got two here.

Yup, that’s a McDonalds. They’ve got two here.

Settled into Pago Pago with the Q flag up.

Settled into Pago Pago with the Q flag up.