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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Health (quarantine)
- Customs - exit papers, crew list
- Harbormaster, explained where we could anchor.
- Harbormaster’s boss - who’s in port?
- Drop Harbormaster paperwork at cashier lady
- Drop Harbormaster paperwork at security
- 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.