S/V Crazy Love

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Tonga, Part 1: 24 August - 1 September 2018

Sunset view of the harbor from Neiafu.

We spent 7 weeks cruising the Vava’u group of Tonga and I can’t quite figure out where the time went. The islands are beautiful, each less than a day sail away. Neiafu is the primary town with shops, a very nice market, and multiple restaurants and bars along the harbor set up to cater to the cruising yachts.

August 24 - September 1 - Moored Neiafu

Once arrived and checked into customs we hit the market and breakfast to begin planning our stay. It was lovely being on a mooring with a quick row to shore. Even I was able to row us in and back and made just a few trips on my own. We took advantage by participating in many of the bar activities, Rugby at Refuge (lots of All Black fans), Movie Night at Dancing Rooster, Electricity and WIFI with a view at Bella Vista, laundry by Tropicana, Fish and Chips at the Hideaway.

Fresh vegetables and the best tomatoes I have had in a very long time.
View while we were charging our devices.  Thank you Bella Vista.
The little blue houseboat moored in the harbor called the Hideaway.  Best fish and chips this side of the equator.

We soon discovered it was cheaper to drink out as opposed to buying ice that would melt before we got it back to the boat. We took walks out of town with many local kids asking us where we were off to along the way (if only we knew). We discovered the Kilikilitefua rock wall and also found and hiked up to the tallest spot on the island - Mt Talau. The legend of Mt Talau is pretty entertaining.

The sign kept promising a historical site. Can you see the wall of lava rocks?
Kilikilitefua rock wall.
View from the highest point Vava'u.
If you are up for an interesting story about a woman using all her assets to protect Mount Talau check out the link above.

We did some excursions from town as well. Our buddy boat and moored neighbor Kuan Yin took us out to Swallow’s Cave for a day sail and snorkel.

Our friend Keely from Kuan Yin and Dave.
Heading into the cave from Kuan Yin.
Looking out from inside Swallow's Cave.
A lovely day sail and snorkel on Kuan Yin.

By far one of the most amazing activities and experiences in Tonga is a whale swim. Although expensive, the excursion was more than worth the money ($400 TOP/ person). Tonga is one of a few rare places that allows this close interaction with the humpback whales and the water is so very clear. They arrive July through October to give birth and mate. We spent an entire day out with Captain Easy and our guide Meddie. Check out the charter’s website with pics of the whales and the boat.

We didn’t take our camera with us, we really wanted to enjoy the moment. There are a ton of great pictures from Tonga Instagram and really show how close and personal you get with these amazing animals.

We spotted whales fairly early in the day in the southern part of the island group. These were males and it was a quick in and out in our snorkel gear as they swam by in a hurry. They were in no mood to put on a show or slow down for us. Hours later we were fortunate to come upon a mom, baby and escort. The guides are careful to only take in 4 people at a time and very respectful of the whales. My heart nearly stopped when we came face to face with mom and baby. Dave was scolded for stopping too far back and away from the group as he was intrigued by the very large male escort below mom and baby. Baby was asleep and using mom as a guide to surface very frequently in order to breathe. We were told the calf was about 2 weeks old. Truly breathtaking and a moving experience.

After such an experience on Friday we used the weekend to recover and provision before heading out to some anchorages away from town.

American Samoa to Tonga: Finally a good passage

19 Aug 2018 - 23 Aug 2018

4.5 days, 350 nautical miles

Sailing south from Pago Pago.  Tough to say goodbye & excited about new adventures

Perhaps it was the prospect of only a 5 day sail, perhaps we were blessed with an excellent weather window, perhaps it was comforting to have a buddy boat in Kuan Yin, or maybe just maybe we have our sea legs back!

We checked out on a Friday thinking we would head out on Saturday afternoon. There was still a bit to do on Saturday after one last stop at the Chinese market in town, good byes to our friends, call the family, secure Albert, reorganize the v-berth and secure everything after 4 weeks at anchor. In the midst of this it began to rain... hard and steady. Sunday at first light seemed a much better option.

We gave a shout out on the VHF to the port captain and pulled up anchor around 7 am, Aug 19. Motor sailed oh so slowly out of Pago Pago (did I mention 4 weeks at anchor, no bottom or prop cleaning?). Waved to Pam as we passed Pied a Mer and heard from Kuan Yin they would be right behind. As we exited the harbor we passed a rather large shipping vessel waiting for the pilot, turned the engine off, set the sails and we were off in light winds and clear skies.

Beautiful sunset saiing south to Tonga.

We had a daily check in with Kuan Yin. Lucky for us they had access to up to date weather. Although they left ahead of us they quickly pulled ahead and then stayed about 10-20 miles ahead. They also seemed to run into a few more smaller squalls than us.

Winds never more than 15 knots, waves never much higher than 1 meter, decks were dry and even more importantly the crew stayed dry.

Beautiful sunset saiing south to Tonga.

Land Ho on Day 4! Arrived mid morning Faihava Passage on Aug 23. We lost a day again as Tonga is one day ahead.

Motored as fast as possible to get to customs before they closed at 4 pm. A quick visit with quarantine on a very scary customs dock and a promise to return next day with all our paperwork we were free to find mooring. The harbor has a large number of mooring balls but a quick call to Moorings and Beluga Diving said none were free. Fortunately Kuan Yin spotted one near them, unfortunately we didn’t know if it belonged to anyone as it was not marked. Our luck held when a yellow Beluga ball came open just feet away. $15 TOP per night and worry free of anchor drag or worse yet someone anchoring on top of us. We celebrated with dinner out and a cold local beer or 3.

No rashes, no illnesses, in fact rather rested and ready to take on Neiafu and the island group of Vava’u.

Four weeks in American Samoa, Tutuila Island

View from Crazy Love's Home in Pago Pago Harbor for four weeks.

After reading Dave’s previous post with his very raw notes from our passage - I feel the need to emphasize how much fun we’ve been having since. As mentioned to us by another cruising couple it is important to check in on the fun to suck ratio. Our time and most importantly the people we met in American Samoa definitely balanced out this ratio.

It did take two weeks to recover. Dave mentioned our rashes - his healed up quite nicely and quickly, mine on the other hand landed me at the LBJ Medical Center for antibiotics. Apparently staph infections amongst cruisers in the tropics are not that unusual. A 10 day course of antibiotics and good as new .. just a few scars as a reminder. AND $20 to see the DR and $40 for oral and topical antibiotics -no insurance required.

Our first day we met Pam and Eric who host a cruisers pot luck every Sunday on their beautiful catamaran Pied a Mer. This was the most fantastic way to meet the others in the anchorage and talk story. Pam and Eric are working on getting their mast and rig back up after a dismasting south of Pago Pago. They are nearly ready and we hope they catch us in Tonga or Fiji before the end of the season.

We met so many other great cruisers who I look forward to running into again over the next few months…Esther Frances, Apex Predator, Summer, Westy, Love, Zensation, Kuan Yin, Bella Chao, Tiki, Counting Stars, Aloha caught up with us too… just to name a few…

American Samoa is the stop all cruisers say they love to hate..the anchorage, a natural well protected harbor is really quite beautiful - however the holding is well known as terrible, the cannery across the way wafts fishy smells on the right breeze, the power plant is brighter than the sun at certain angles even in the middle of the night, and come to find out some cruisers have absolutely no anchoring etiquette (just ask Dave about Two Moons). That is the bad. The good I believe far outweighs with awesome people, excellent provisioning options, US mail, and as US citizens we’re welcome to stay as long as we like. The island itself is beautiful and stunning and though not set up for tourism I would encourage a visit.

Western coast American Samoa.
Eastern District of American Samoa.

Highlights of exploring the island include a Samoan feast at Tisa’s Barefoot, First Friday at the market in Fagatogo, snorkeling at Sadie’s, pizza at Paradise Pizza, and a ferry trip out to Aunu’u.

Umu oven at Tisa's feast.
Another beautiful sunset.
Paradise pizza and a cold beer.
Ferry to Aunu’u with the crews from Zensation Aloha Bella Chao and Tiki.
Bushwacking across Aunu’u.
Western coast of Aunu’u.
Spot our four legged tour guide.  He followed us across the island and took a swim with us too.

Just riding the bus around for $2 was a great tour. And the buses… well pictures say it all.

The busses in American Samoa are colorful loud and cheap.
They're all different too.

We also met Kat - she was on the island working for FEMA and became such a big part of our stay. Adventures included a drive out to Fagamalo, hiking in the National Park and of course $2 Beach (which was really $5), not to mention sampling all the Samoan style chips and junk food. Kat is awesome and we even spent one night at Sadie’s hotel because of her awesomeness. Did I mention warm showers??

One of the views from our Saturday drive with Kat.
We drove to the end of road Western District.
Shark and turtle beach where Auntie will call to the shark and turtle.
Patty from Love with Rosie and Kat on the far right.
American Samoa National Park.
Sunday hike in the national park.

I feel its necessary to mention the WiFi situation. I was very much not impressed, and must say miss Mexico cruising a bit. When we first arrived it was known that McDonald’s had a decent WiFi connection. It was a very nice air conditioned WiFi lounge and who can resist a McDonald’s breakfast? Unfortunately they cut off their WiFi access soon after we arrived. This very much saved some of my figure :-) However the other options were slow and expensive. We did end up getting a SIM card and the data was ok as long as you were fine without downloading some new movies. This in part could be why we might be behind a bit in these blog entries. As a side note Tonga is actually worse….

Because we were staying in an American territory the US Postal Service was able to accept our mail forwarding at general delivery without much trouble or cost. We found out we did get the full deposit back from our apartment and the marina slip - more beer $$$ for us. Because it was so easy to receive this package we thought an order from West Marine would be a breeze. We needed a few parts to make a better fix for charging our devices on the boat. Well we thought wrong, in their infinite wisdom West Marine decided to ship UPS (very different than USPS) and it took quite some tracking down on our part to find out where in the world this package would arrive. A few phone calls and trips to the airport later and we received our package just in time - the Friday of our check out.

This looks like the United States.  If someone could please inform West Marine to send packages USPS.

Check out was not nearly as painful as checking in, it did cost a bit. Costs they failed to mention up front but what can you do and it really could have been much worse.

We visited the harbor master, the cashier at the harbor, customs and immigration.

Check In / Check Out

  • $100 (customs)
  • $50 (rat and pest cert at arrival)
  • $58 (port)
  • $40 (immigration).

For four weeks not bad. If it was a shorter stay this would seem a bit steep.

Now off to Tonga, and we have a buddy boat as Kuan Yin is headed the same way leaving the same day, 19 August 2018. We're off to the Vava’u group!

Passage Log: Fanning Atoll to Pago Pago, American Samoa

Dave's introduction: These are the notes I took underway on an iPhone. I don't expect them to be interesting to anyone but my future self. The route from Fanning to Pago Pago is a little less than 1250 nautical miles. We averaged more than 120nm per day (5.1kts) - the trip took ten and a half days. I've surrounded the text I added after the fact in [ ]

7/10, 7/9 in American Samoa

[Call "Fanning Boarding Party" on VHF in the morning. They hired a boat and came out around noon. Only three in the boarding party this time.]

Leaving on the 5:30p high tide. Answer VHF call from Jack on Aloha, exit lagoon, set sail, haul ass.

Single reefed main, half jib. Moving nicely. When we cleared south point wind built, added second reef, reduced jib.

7/10 Day 2 first full day

Dawn at sea.

Made a bunch of miles overnight without intervention. Good wind all day, bit bumpy, mostly beam/close reaching with double reefed main and working jib. Hauling ass at sunset. Lotsa heel. How can I fix it without giving up west? Smaller jib? Ease main? Tried both w/o adjusting vane, see how it works

120nm good in first 24 hours

Covered in salt. Rosie and I talk about first things in American Samoa & next life on mainland.

Selfie of Rosie at dawn enroute to American Samoa.

1138nm to go, just passed through 2N @ 160.5 W. Moving fast with little sails, holding on for dear life. Go Crazy Love go!!!

Leaks seem to be taking toll on port side electrical. GPS doesn’t stay on with boat power all the time so I added batteries. Seems to stay on for now.

Hoping to make 40nm overnight.

7/12/18 Third Full Day

Crossed equator first thing after midnight!!!

About 12:18a 0° 00.0’ S 161° 32.1’ W

To celebrate, Had a bit of Siri’s coffee rum, some Mac nuts and went back to sleep. Decided on tattoo to commemorate occasion: bent palm tree with lat/long on either side of trunk.

Woke after dawn with tons of wind and huge waves. Wind whistling in rig. Pac-Man still driving right at Pago Pago.

Took nap after lunch, woke up to calm boat thinking we’d stopped, looked at gps, we’re still going 5+ kts.

Barometer 1008, 1007 last night 01° 3.4’ S 162° 7.4’ W 932 nm to go, more than 1/4 the way.

Still double reefed with less than working jib. From cabin, the waves seem to have calmed down though I doubt it really has.

It did! Wind tapered off a bit, waves too. Still lighter conditions as we turn in for night.

5:30p After 72 hours sailing we’re averaging 118nm good per day. That 354nm in 3 days!

Bed is so fuckin' wet. Uncomfortable, and getting worse, but managing sleep anyway. Naked on belly with flat sheet over core is most tolerable - allows my bum to dry. Pillow is mildewed - will throw away at Am Samoa. Somehow head of bed isn’t wet, that’s nice. Turned a fan on to see if that helps anything.

Will pass through 900nm to go shortly. Still double reefed, but have a working jib - first line - rolled out.

7:11p 904nm to go. 1008 on barometer

7/13/2018 Day 5 Fourth Full Day

7a 846nm to go. More than 50nm overnight without a single sail/windvane adjustment. Wow! Bearing to Am Samoa again is 203, nice!

Winds seem light and waves not too big/confused, hope it keeps up for another week.

Averaging 4.9kts over first 100 hrs

7/14 Saturday

718nm to go in morning. Went really fast last night. Didn’t have to get out of bed again. Moved sleeping bag forward last night, nice foot bath in my bunk. No wonder we have to pump bilge so often. Really need to remove the jib sheet track and find a better solution.

Seems to be wet outside too. Lotsa waves over top of cabin, dipping rail in water often. Boat in all over the place, pushed by waves, vane keeps bringing us back on course.

7:30a 4° 10’ S 163° 55.7’ W 717nm to go, 1009 millibars, rising Bearing to Am Samoa still 203*

Bum hurting a lot. Standing in cockpit hanging onto companionway helps, as does laying on side with head under solar panels on low side.

Made 120nm again today. That’s 5 days in a row with 120+nm. 600 miles down!

At check in (10am HST) we talked about mileage for the rest of our journey. Short hops from Am Samoa to Tonga to Fiji. A bit longer to New Caledonia and Australia, but after getting to Am Samoa half our miles to Australia (from Hawaii) will be done.

7/15 Sunday, 10th Wedding Anniversary, Day 7

Had to get up twice last night to make adjustments. No big deal, had to pee anyway and the stars were breathtaking. Couldn’t pick out the southern cross there were so many stars. Milky Way clearly visible.

Looking to make 120nm again today and for the work week so we can arrive in Pago Pago on Friday morning. If we make 120 today we’ll have <547nm to go at 5:30p today. If we make 120 Sun->Thurs, we’ll only have 40-50nm left at 5:30p on Thursday afternoon. Those miles we can do overnight, and at dawn we make our way into Pago Pago. Hoping to get checked in on Friday too. Need to rest and dry out.

The rash on my bum seems to be spreading, covers some of my thighs, working way up left side and it’s under my arms too. Very uncomfortable, but laying on my bed writing this feels comfortable. Some is sun rash, but the rest is from being constantly wet I think.

Rosie’s rash isn’t much better. Mine hurts, hers itches. She’s got it on her bum and legs. If anyone in Am Samoa looks close they're gonna send us to quarantine.

Day dreamed about a trip to Vegas for poker, CraftSteak, and a luxurious hotel room. Just gotta get that job at SpaceX so we can move to LA. Can’t believe I want to move there, but I do.

Also day dreamed about a cruising trimaran - maybe a Searunner 31/34/37? Funny how quickly I go from “I never want to own a boat again!” to “I’d like to build my own boat.” Building it ourselves would allow us to know where the leaks are and fix them! Customization options are endless...refrigeration, water maker, huge solar array, lotsa electronics. Would be a fun, fast, comfortable, dry boat. Maybe in 10 years. Maybe get the study plans when we land at our next place?

It was calm-ish this morning - but we were still doing 5kts. Rosie prepared a pressure cooker meal to be cooked later. Had a hell of a time digging everything out from under my bunk.

After lunch, wind piped up a bit, going 5.5-6.5kts with the occasional surf in the mid sevens. That’ll help our average! That average so far, almost 6 days in, is 5.0kts - oh yeah, that’s knots made good. No idea how many miles we’ve actually sailed - the gps will tell us that later. Didn’t think Crazy Love would go faster than her 4.3 kts from Puerta Vallarta to Hilo, but she’s doing it.

3:30p 548nm to go 6° 39.0’ S 165° 18.0’ W 1008 millibars 204 bearing, new [positive] development today

7/16. End of week 1, 7th full day

So many miles last night! Two ships encountered though. AIS said one would have come within .1 nm if we hadn’t moved. Scary stuff. Beautiful stars though.

Made our 120nm today by 1p. Passed through 400 soon after 5:30p. Looking for 307nm to go at 5:30p on Tuesday. We both really want to be there. Hope there’s some showers available for cruisers.

At sunset, full Genoa double reefed main I know weird right? 394nm to go. 205 bearing to Pago Pago NE waypoint. Will pass onto 9° S latitudee this evening, hopefully 10 by tomorrow evening.

Barometer steady at 1009.

Got a spit of rain and a gust of wind late afternoon. Then it eased and I rolled out full genny. Expect to have to reef soon after sunset.

Stood for much of afternoon to get bum to dry. Nice position to watch from. Thought about poker for much of that time. Think I know what I’m doing preflop but don’t have a clue postflop. Need to do more reading & thinking.

Rosie still has mean cough.

About 8, during Serial, wind builds, I reduce jib, get hit by wave, damn. But boat under control. Wind dies almost immediately, we’re going nowhere. Wind comes back 15 minutes later. Same scene repeats again at about 10, then wind returns for the rest of night.

7/17 Tuesday

End of Day 8 at 5:30p

7:40a Looking good to make it to 307nm and beyond by 5:30p. Emotional state of boat hinging on hope of Friday arrival.

Still double reefed with sliver of jib rolled out. Doing 5-6.5kts doing course between 185 and 210. Everything seems good, sailing-wise. Rosie is sleeping in cockpit.

330nm to go 09° 52.7’ S 167° 4.2’W 1011 millibars, rising? 207 bearing to Pago Pago

Want to be at 187nm to go by 5:30p tomorrow - Wednesday. Then we’ll need to be at 60nm by 5:30p Thursday. That’ll give us a late morning Friday arrival in Pago Pago.

Not sure if I want beer or cheeseburger first after checkin. My snap answer when Rosie asked yesterday was beer, but if the cheeseburger comes with a tall Diet Coke with lotsa ice and WiFi, I might change my mind. McDonalds has never been so appealing as it is right now even though I crave it on a normal basis.

Late morning : jury rig usb charger for Rosie’s phone. Appears to be working, didn’t take much...bit of red wire, 2 connectors, gorilla tape, usb car charger. Ended up taping the wires to appropriate spots on car charger. Rosie got positive lead to stick, now her phone charges.

2p bum hurting real bad. Laid on side in cockpit helped a little but was in way of dishes. Brutally hot inside and out. Few clouds, just have to make it to 4p.

The rash is really bad. Can’t tell if it’s getting worse or better. The dark red spots on my left hip and inner thigh are particularly worrying. Doesn’t itch yet.

297nm to go. Double reefed main. 2 lines showing on jib. Vane set at 75° [off wind]. Doing 4.5-6kts.

10° 20.6’ S 167° 24.1’W 1010 millibars 207 bearing to Pago Pago NE

Great wind this evening. Fewer splashes in cockpit allowed us to wait for stars to come out. Listened to Come Tomorrow and Moby. Great stars, maybe saw ISS again. Double reefed, still!!! Two bars visible on Genoa. Doing 4.5-6.5kts smoothly, just a few bashes, splashes, slides. Minimal heeling.

10p 256nm to go. 10° 55.5’ S 167° 45.4’ W 1012 millibars, rising

Thought about internet situation. iPad should be able to connect to the wireless there and we can signup without a new SIM card, right? Isn’t that why we paid extra for the wireless feature on it? If so we should be able to turn on tethering too, right?

Listened to 2 episodes Serial podcast before bed. Rosie put lotion on my bum...marriage is indeed dark business.

7/18/2018 Wednesday

Beautiful perfect night. What a great time even though my bed is wet and I’ve got crazy rashes. Minimal pain and itching last night. Maybe getting better?

Hoping to get to 187 [nm to go] today. Woke at 8 with 203nm to go. Didn’t touch windvane or sails while it was dark. Epic, epic stars. Couldn’t find southern cross in middle of night pee break.

8a 203nm to go 11° 36.6’ S 168° 20.2’ W 1012 millibars, steady 208 bearing to Pago Pago NE wp

Feels like we’re hauling ass - gps says 5.5-6.5 kts on 190-215 course. Rosie is standing in companionway. Looks like completely blue skies, much like yesterday. Waves feel calm like they did all night. No slamming or splashes over the top, minimal heel, just a bit of rolling. I’m thinking this is what perfect tropical sailing is supposed to be like.

Should be to 187 [nm to go] by noon. Maybe 150 by sunset and <100 by morning if this keeps up?

I’ll hop out of bed, take a 💩, and enjoy morning before it gets too hot.

1:25p Scorching! Sweating my arse off trying to rest in the cabin. Wind has dropped a bit but we’re still doing 4.5-6.5kts under full Genoa and double reefed main. Almost like we’ll jinx it if we shake out the reefs. My bum really hurts still. Maybe the temperature has something to do with it? I was fine all night and this morning, but then it got hot and the pain is intense. The rash on my front had turned into a lot of red dots, seems to be getting better or at least not getting worse.

174nm to go 12° 3.5’S. 168° 33.3’W 1013 millibars, up since this morning 210 bearing to Pago Pago NE

Might need to ease our course this afternoon.

Beautiful new sails.

10:30p Wind slowed this afternoon, put full Genoa out, eventually shook out reefs in main - Rosie was asleep so I had to wait for her to wake to get outhaul tight. Kept boat moving nicely. Still have full sail up. Going 5-6kts, vane 105° off wind.

127nm to go 12° 41.9’ S 169° 2.5’ W 1015 millibars, rising? 212 bearing to Pago Pago NE, seem to be going between 205 & 230 degrees

Listened to Florence & the Machine and Pearl Jam. Then listened to two Serial episodes.

My bum is bothered by the wet bed still.

7/19/2018 Thursday, 10th full day

1:30p Slept late, until 9. The boat hauled ass all night under sail. Woke a few times to check on things and pee but never had to adjust anything. When I woke we had already made our miles for the day - 67nm to go. Was expecting 87nm to go at 5:30p so we must have really been flying, maybe 6-7kts all night? Didn’t feel like much because he waves were so calm.

Leftover pancakes for breakfast with peanut butter and honey.

45.5nm to go 13° 40’ S 170° 0’ W 1013 millibars, steady 211 bearing to our waypoint

Expecting middle of night arrival, will motor into harbor in morning daylight. For now, gentle winds, agreeable waves, full sails, making 4.5-5.5kts surfing backs of waves. Boat moving easily 105° off wind, vane doing all work, top hatch open, companionway open, resting easily in cockpit. Few more clouds than last few days makes it a bit cooler.

Rash seems to be getting better. Bed is still wet, but the boat in general is much drier the last three days versus the first part of the trip.

We’re totally gonna get there tomorrow and be checked in before happy hour!

Hoping for <35nm to go before 5:30. Maybe landfall before sunset?

Writing on Sunday, reflecting on last night at sea...

Rosie spotted the island mid afternoon. We aimed at left side of it. Got dark before we were close.

As we approached three big dark clouds came over us. First two rained on us, last one was just wind - we went from full sail to double reefed main and working jib quickly. SE wind. It would stay SE for the rest of our 25nm (@5:30p) into Pago Pago.

Tutuila at sunset as we approach Pago Pago Harbor.

After sunset we were gonna heave to offshore, 5nm from our waypoint, but decided to get closer so we could enter harbor first thing in morning. We went between small island [Aunu'u] and main part of island [Tutuila], the charts were completely accurate, even green light on island. We got within 3nm of entrance, then hove to. By then it was 11. I remained in cockpit with board shorts and foulie jacket because my bed was so wet & uncomfortable. We drifted too close to land a bit later, sailed toward the harbor entrance again and hove to again. We repeated this one more time before dawn. At dawn the breaking waves east of the entrance were really close so I woke Rosie up and we started our way into the harbor under sail. Dark clouds on the horizon promised rain. It was a miserable, miserable night, but we made it through. My butt never stopped hurting, but the promise of cold beer kept me going. Rosie has timer set for 20 minutes to check position.

Pago Pago Harbor as we motor in for check-in.

Rosie called Harbormaster, got response first time and we motored in. Then the rain came, hard, hard rain. Have never seen such hard rain. And confusion, where do we tie up for checkin? They want us on the main dock, big enough for a cruise ship, cleats half as big as our boat. The ‘dock’ is 10 feet over our heads as we get close to it. No way we could tie up there, the thought of that is comical. Rosie goes back and forth with Harbormaster and they suggest another place, no way that’s happening either, there’s nowhere to tie up the boat. There’s people motioning for us to tie up at both spots but we just can’t do it. At the second spot, we nearly ran aground on mean looking rocks 5 feet from shore - fuck! I didn’t want to lose Crazy Love this way! Meantime we’re circling the harbor, getting drenched, really really drenched, and are no closer to figuring out where to dock. Rosie keeps going back and forth with Harbormaster (can barely tell what they’re saying, she did great) eventually they tell us to raft up to smaller aluminum boat that’s rafted up to a huge research vessel. The aluminum boat is much larger than us, length & height so we had to be creative with fenders and lines. The lines had to be lead up, about head high when standing on deck, to perfectly placed cleats on aluminum boat. Fenders hung from shrouds to keep beam (and shrouds) from banging into boat. Mostly worried this whole time about getting our rig torn off by a bigger boat or huge dock.

Crazy Love from the boat we rafted up to.

Then we’re tied up, we made it! The sun comes out, I’m exhausted. We wait on boat for someone to come check us in. No one comes, I heat up (not hot enough) foood for me and tea for Rosie, then take a nap. Rosie calls Harbormaster, they tell us to come to third floor. On way we’re stopped by customs and quarantine, get their paperwork done. Then Harbormaster paperwork, he takes us to see his boss, then to a cashier and then to security. Immigration is closed at noon, so we’ll have to do that Monday. Also need to go back to quarantine to get our rat and cockroach inspection paperwork- $50 and a cursory inspection. How come we’ve never heard of this? Why are small boats checked in the same way as gigantic boats? What’s up with the crew list thing - every official needs their own copy?

List of officials at checkin

  1. Health (quarantine)
  2. Customs - exit papers, crew list
  3. Harbormaster, explained where we could anchor.
  4. Harbormaster’s boss - who’s in port?
  5. Drop Harbormaster paperwork at cashier lady
  6. Drop Harbormaster paperwork at security
  7. Immigration (closed for day) - wait until Monday 7:30-12p

Then we were free to go. We untied, motored to anchorage at end of harbor. Got help from yachtie who kept us from running aground on reef, saw 5.5’ on depth sounder. Oops. We’re so tired at this point we barely know what’s going on. We anchor, start to clean up, then decide we’re too close to surrounding boats and in too deep water - almost 50’. I pull up anchor, difficult, all 50’ of chain and anchor hanging straight down!

Consulted depth on Navionics, depth sounder wasn’t working momentarily, the only time we really need it and it isn’t working? Really? I eventually get anchor up, Rosie goes to wind ward 200 yards and a bit to starboard. Found 35’ on depthsounder and told me to drop anchor, but it got caught up in stuff. Freed it a minute later and we were anchored again. Much better spot this time - closer to dinghy landing, farther from other boats. I adjusted the anchor lines I rigged to keep pressure off the broken anchor roller. We had arrived! Maybe 1p by this time.

We get the dinghy in the water, much easier time assembling it this time! Then Dean, fella who kept us from running aground on reef, came over and gave us the lay of the land and his bathroom/shower key!!! Wow I love cruisers - so generous.

We try rowing to shore. More wind/waves than I can handle rowing. Not as bad as Fanning, but too much nonetheless. We revert to paddling with the oars. Looks ridiculous, and we had an audience on Love, right at the dinghy landing. We made it though. Lotsa cursing! We’ll carry collapsible paddles from now on. Just in case. Head to McDonalds. I ate a double quarter pounder with cheese, large fries, and a milkshake. haven’t been that hungry since I was a teenager. Get on WiFi, check on real life, nothing exciting happening. No news is good news, right? Mortgages were paid at reduced amount, credit card auto pay worked, condos were fine, Padres 20 games under, France won World Cup, stocks still going fine. The walk felt good, a/c even better and we found beer and ice on the way home. Coors Light cans 7.99 for a 6 pack. Bag of ice too. We’ll be adventurous later. Rosie freed cooler before we got in dink [to row ashore].

Back to boat, drink a few cold beers, have some Flaming Hot Cheetos, bed time. Sleep is easy and deep. We made it! Maybe not elegantly or comfortably but safely. Broke a few things but we can work around that.

Aloha Oahu, Passage to Fanning

Diamond Head & Waikiki on our way out of Ke'ehi Lagoon.

It was June 18 and we were ready to leave already! Thanks to all our dear friends old and new for the multiple send offs and parting provisions. We will miss Kailua Beach, wine tastings at Kalapawai, the best udon at Marukame, karaoke nights at the Kailua Palace, mai tais at the Royal Hawaiian, the HOPS crew, Nico’s loco moco (a must with fried rice if you can get there early enough), happy hour at the pub, Lanikai plays in the Park, poke at Hibachi and much much more. Aloha Oahu!

Sunset on the first night underway.

We head out in a light south easterly breeze with beautiful blue skies! If it would only stay this good. It’s been 4 years since our last cruising and we are not in cruising shape. We’ve been working so hard on getting the boat ready there was little time for sailing. We manage to get a little sunburned on this first day- a bit excited and forgot to reapply the much needed sunscreen.

It wasn't all difficult - some easy sailing to be had.

Second day in and we settle into a beam reach. The waves crashing into the hull and sometimes over into the cockpit. They are stronger than a slap but not quite a bashing. I seriously wasn’t ready to get thrown around so much. It’s much different than the wind and waves we had behind us on our crossing from Mexico to Hawaii. Despite the crew having difficulties adjusting, the boat is moving fast. Very fast and straight at the island of Fanning for the first 600 miles or so. All the work we did rebedding hardware was an utter fail. We are wet inside and outside, but it is very warm as we head south closer and closer to the equator.

Rosie jury rigged a bimini with clothespins and a lavalava
Dave got his wish - swimming in the middle of the ocean!

At about 400 miles to go (day 7 of our journey) the wind essentially stops. Is this the ITCZ - the doldrums? Seems pretty far north but we do know it moves and it seems to be moving with us. We have no way to know for sure. We run into very light wind and confused waves. Light enough the wind vane can’t really steer us and we do a lot of self steering, including a little motoring and some floating. Dark sections of sky move across the horizon bringing rain and gusts of wind. During the day we can steer around the majority of these mini storms. At night the stargazing is otherworldly. With the light winds we arrange the pillows with our heads on either side of the tiller and lay on each side of the cockpit staring up into the sails and beyond to the sky. The stereo works well and we blast music into the night sky, with no one nearby except the dolphins to complain. The Milky Way is quite prominent the later it gets. Our constant companion the southern cross leads us onward in the right direction. This constellation is easy to spot early in the night sky and very easy to lose as more and more stars fill in. Some nights the moon is so very bright it’s best to wait for it to set. After Two days of frustratingly low miles we were rewarded with dolphins two nights in a row. They didn’t seem to mind our small wake. Finally we get moving again Day 11 but only for a few hours. We have a problem with the wind pilot, we’ve fondly named PacMAn. (It’s a Pacific Light wind pilot and it eats up the miles.)It loses a bolt but fortunately Dave has a replacement.

Dark clouds before sunset to the east on our way to Fanning.

Day 12 and we are still moving very slowly. 156 miles to go and the night brings the darkest sky we have ever experienced. No moon, no stars, cannot even see a hand in front of you. This doesn’t bring any wind or waves and we are experiencing a pretty strong eastern current. The next day we see a whale. A very large whale... best guess is a pilot whale - amazing! Day 14 lots of rain and finally toward the end of the day PAC Man is able to take over full time through the night. Now the trades have picked up with only 55 miles left to go. We head west by pole-ing out the jib. There is a bit of excitement when we hit a storm, tangle the pole, sheet and halyard in the genoa as we try to get it down -fortunately boat and crew come out unscathed. It’s Day 15 and we get about 10 miles out from the island and heave to in order to delay our arrival until morning. At 3 am it’s pretty uncomfortable and a small squall hits us so we move on with jib alone.

Land Ho, 7 am Day 16. And a huge pod of dolphins greet us.

We know we should enter the lagoon of the atoll at slack tide. The million dollar question is: what time is it on Fanning Island, Kiribati? We come prepared with the tide chart but if we don’t know the time it won’t do us much good. We know they are a day ahead and after much debate and review of the chart and world clock on the iPhone we guess it’s HI time plus one day. Turns out we were right. Noon is the time to enter so we sail back and forth outside the entrance until we can pull the sail in and motor through the windy channel. Crazy Love seems to be barely moving - it’s taking a lot of RPMs to power through the wind in the pass. The anchorage though windy and on a Lee shore seems to be good holding for Bruce (our anchor) and we set down the hook with a temporary sigh of relief. We anchored 50 yards south of the sunken wreck (marked on the charts) at 3° 51.42'N 159° 21.48'W

But now we must launch the dinghy and get through check-in. It’s windy, very windy but we manage to launch the dinghy and fly the quarantine flag. It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to row ashore in this wind. We’re hailed on the VHF by the "Fanning Boarding Party" and it sounds like they are coming to board us for check in. That sounds great...except I failed to understand that we were to pick them up at the wharf...oops. Looks like Dave is going for a dinghy ride but how are we to transport all four officials?? And in this wind?? Dave is amazing, hops in the dinghy gets to shore no worries; however, rowing back one official at a time is just not going to happen. In the meantime the weather picks up and I am happy to keep a good watch on our anchor. On shore they manage to hire a boat to take everyone out and tow our dinghy in. Four public officials come aboard and when you add Dave and I the cockpit drains are under the waterline so we're slowly sinking. We manage to get the paperwork filled out. They searched the boat best they could and we were all set. Ultimately we spent $20 for the hired boat - each way as the boarded us at checkout too and a $20 anchorage fee. All the officials were friendly and professional. The horror stories we heard from other cruisers turn out to be unfounded.

Lagoon in Fanning
The wreck we anchored next to.
The main road in Fanning - almost no cars here.
An outrigger canoe off the main road
Fanning's major export is copra. This is part of the production process.
Wharf view from the main road.
Dave & Albert in front of Crazy Love.
The government building with police and a jail.
Look at the color of that water!

There are no supplies on Fanning. They catch rain water and a barge comes every 4 months with supplies for the islanders. And don’t think of taking a coconut... you’ll find yourself in jail for a few weeks!! We only went ashore once as the windy conditions held steady except for one day. It’s a beautiful island with friendly people. The majority live in traditional huts in family compounds. They collect coconuts for copra and Sunday is a day of rest. We headed out just before their Independence Day. It was time to head on to American Samoa. We have plenty of provisions and about half our water supply left.

Look at the color of that water!  It isn't photoshopped. I promise.
Albert floating behind Crazy Love with a different view of the wharf.
Thank you Alan and Lynn.  We celebrated 4th of July with margaritas!
The "Fanning Boarding Party" at checkout