Posts Tagged ‘Penhryn’

A Cruising Sloth

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Not sloppy…. slow. I guess that would be us or specifically  me.  First: I don’t like to rush up to the next anchorage as if driving down a highway trying to be first at the next stoplight. Second: I don’t want to live in a mess preferring to not climb over stuff or constantly or needing to move things about the boat since I live in it. And  third:  I like to take things slow; quality vs quantity.

Yep I am a sloth.

I love to sail.... Slow

I love to sail.... Slow

We are after all on a sailboat. I know some people who like to brag how fast their boat goes, all in a sailboat.  I find it quite funny when all cruising boat speeds are slower than an Olympic runner. Yeah some boats may go a knot faster, some a fraction thereof but so what.  I arrive safe and for the most part as rested as possible. And for me safety comes first, comfort second and speed last.

I remember one trip to the Bahamas; it was our best crossing ever. We left W Palm at midnight and had beautiful sail with a  lightening show N of us, S of us, E, and W of us. Yeah, the trip had a bit of “OMG” in it but we sailed the entire way and it was comfortable. We arrived and while waiting for customs and immigration I was talking to other sailors. Most everyone around us had an uncomfortable ride dealing with squalls the entire way. The moral of the story; luck more than speed is what traveling in a boat is about.

Messes. Every boat has them and when ever there is a project to do within minutes the boat becomes a workshop. And

Cleaning the heat exchanger

Cleaning the heat exchanger

most everyday there is some project to do.  We try to limit projects to only the am. When afternoon arrives we pick up / put away and have lunch. The rest of the day is ours to do what we wish.  Larger projects still follow the same pattern. It is just that they extend across several days. Some projects  last longer well into the pm but for the most part our goal is to not live in a mess. Even while hauled out with the boat a mess we chose other accommodations. This allowes us to do more because daily we didn’t need to get tools out and put them away.

Penhryn Experience

Penhryn Experience

Finally we rarely rush. At least we try not to. When late afternoon arrives  and we’re close to our destination; yes, we’ll rush then, preferring a calm anchorage vs another night out. Generally we plan our day trips to coincide with the wx and the travel time. We prefer an easy comfortable sail to a noisy motor or a blusterous sail. We find this time provides us greater freedom to meet people and explore an area.  While there is most likely nothing new for mankind to discover  on our planet anymore, there are many things W/ and I have never seen or experienced. Traveling slow gives us the time to experience a new place, new culture, meet new people, and try new foods.  I watch those traveling on cruise ships come and go, always in a rush like those speeding to the next red light.  Over the 8 years I’ve been traveling slowly across our globe I understand that if you want to just “see” and “do” things- take a cruise ship or a two week  vacation.  If you want to experience a culture and the place, bring your own boat and…

Go Slow,
Sail far,
Stay Long.

Ouch!

Friday, May 1st, 2015

We had ordered heaps of stuff while in Penrhyn. As out of the way as the atoll is they have good; relative to most of the pacific islands, internet.  So the last 6 weeks there we had ordered spares as well as some new things we needed, had them sent to one of our shore support team members and she consolidated them to send on to American Samoa when we left.

USPS Priority Only

USPS Priority Only

About a week before we left we asked her to go ahead and send them suggesting the USPS Flat Rate boxes and Priority Mail.  She wasn’t able to send with the Flat Rate boxes but luckily  she sent with priority mail  (we hear horror stories of not sending supplies Priority Mail) and we didn’t figure that would be too problematic-or costly. It wasn’t problematic because she had packed well but turned out to be more expensive.

Any future cruisers visiting AS be sure to have anyone in the states shipping you supplies to use the FLAT RATE boxes.  I include  pictures of two almost identical sized packages. The one is

Priority vs Flat Rate Priority USPS

Priority vs Flat Rate Priority USPS

sent priority mail; insured and it’s cost is $81 where as the FLAT RATE is about $18 with the same amount of insurance.  Lesson Learned. If at all possible; ship in a USPS FLAT RATE box to American Samoa!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Home Again

Monday, April 6th, 2015

We arrived back to Tetautua and setup Elysium for comfortable living while anchored off the village. Our awnings were up!  I don’t understand how any cruiser can live without awnings.

Elysium and Her Awnings

Elysium and Her Awnings

When we have the awnings set the boat is so… much cooler. These are not awnings made of sail material. Sail material lets a lot of the UV through and with the UV comes heat. Our awnings are made of Regatta fabric and have a vynal coating making them water proof as well as having an SPF of 100 or more. 🙂  Of course in a good tropical rain water will drip through some seams. When I have checked with an infrared thermometer on the deck under the awnings there is a 20º F difference between the sun and shade areas. That heat has to go somewhere and a good part of it ends up on the boat deck radiating day and night making the cabin below hot like a sauna.

Once we were all set up we went ashore and visited our friends. I walked over to the school and checked in with the teacher; Ms. Williams, for my schedule in the following weeks. I had one, maybe two more presentations on basic

Ms. Williams and Me

Ms. Williams and Me

science and then she wanted some work on Geography and Mapping skills.  For mapping we started with where Elysium left Florida, and traveled to the Bahamas, then offshore to the Virgin Islands. The kids always wanted to know where we had been.  After that we plotted dots down the Windwards and Leewards to Trinidad and across to Panama. All the while they were trying to plot on a world map our positions. Next onto  the Panama Canal, the Galapagos to the Marquesas, down to Tahiti, up to Bora Bora and finally Penrhyn. Some students were surprised Penrhyn wasn’t even a dot on the world map.

The Senior Class

The Senior Class

The following day; near the end of the term we worked with a map of the Cook Islands that I had in one of our cruising guides. Students listed  the Lat / Long of each of the 15 islands and to finish they were working out some distances between the islands. Here Ms. Williams reminded me that on Thursday; the last day of the term, the students were  going to honor W/ and I for my work with the students.  Oh-Oh!  I’m not one for attention but what could I do; I graciously accepted and just shy of noon on Thursday W/ and walked to school.

They were having Kai-Kai (a buffet provided by the parents) and then gifts for us provided by the students and their families as well as a before feast presentation and an after feast presentation. Plenty embarrassing!

W/ and I sat up front while each student brought up necklaces, wrist bands, and fans all made from local material. I swear I sat lower and lower  in my chair just having 100’s of shells draped around my neck.  After the

presentations, a couple of songs including one in English “We are Family”, we ate. And as is tradition in much of the Pacific islands we were invited first. Fortunately  once we had chosen our gastrointestinal delights Ms. Williams had the children begin so we didn’t have to eat with 30 hungry faces staring at us.

After lunch we had another show, Rhomanda and Makeroa put on a Cook Island dance then the students sang

Primary Kids Dancing & Singing

Primary Kids Dancing & Singing

and danced to another couple of songs sung in the mother tongue (Mauri or often referred to as Penrhyn).  We left thoroughly entertained and quite tired from all the attention. We are not used to being the center of anyone’s attention. If you want to call us voyager

Wendy and Me; Elysium in Background

Wendy and Me; Elysium in Background

wall flowers that’s fine.  We are. Back at Kura’s,  Kura snapped a picture of us wearing all our stuff and then we crawled to the dinghy for our return and a good rest on Elysium.

Three days later after Easter Sunday church we had another Kai – Kai. This time the entire village was there and while we were not the center of attention as visitors we were still invited to be first. I doubt I’ll ever get use to the attention and respect given guests here.  Knowing that for us being guests in their country we need to respect their customs we had to swallow our pride and accept the accolade.  From Roast Pigs to every fish dish one can imagine, clams sautéed in Coconut, plenty of rice, Breadfruit, Chocolate cake and Brownies (provided by the two visiting yachts here) we again ate till we were near the Hindenburg status, ready to explode.

Part o the Cleanup Crew

Part o the Cleanup Crew

The villagers have these events choreographed to the max.  No sooner had everyone eaten than they began to clean up. Volunteers started collecting the plates and glasses, others washed and rinsed, someone else dried and then there were those sweeping the area and returning  tables and chairs to their stored places.  Two hours after we started one couldn’t tell there had a been a feast there and 60 people returned to their homes

Two Happy well Fed Kai-Kai 'ers

Two Happy well Fed Kai-Kai 'ers

(and 4 to their boats) completely satiated.

These are the days. And there are not many left. We’re looking to leave this month and while Penrhyn will remain in our hearts Elysium will be looking West to other anchorages.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Kwai is Back

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

We’ve waited for this. The Kwai delivers goods from Hawaii to here and then on the return trip from Rarotonga more supplies to here.  When last we saw the Kwai we ordered a few things, beer; eggs, TP, etc. Stuff we figured we would need before the cyclone season was over.

We heard they would arrive Monday and we figured then later we would transit from Tetautua to Omoka and stay a day prior to our return. What we didn’t figure was that the Kwai would only be staying Monday and would leave by the evening. Time to rush.

Tehana at the helm!

Tehana at the helm!

We had spoken with Rio and invited him along crossing to Omoka. He in turn brought his Uncle, Wife and daughter Tihana.  We towed his small Aluminum boat over and had a nice motor sail chatting all the way. The great thing was that Rio showed us the best path to cross the lagoon and said he was putting in reef markers for the natural channel.  This helped immensely and I’ve now the track on the GPS. As much as I have found coordinates of other boaters to be inaccurate I’m listing them here in

Penhryn Lagoon Crossing

Penhryn Lagoon Crossing

hopes that these will at least help another boater find the easiest path.

From W to E – beginning at the point in the ships channel:

  • 8º 58.27′ S   158º 01.70′ W
  • You might choose to leave the channel a wee bit before this mark but the area around the channel is populated with bommies and one needs to keep an eye out
  • 8º 58.20′ S   158º 00.90′ W
  • Either the one previous or the one following will take you between two close bommies andthe water will shallow to about 15-20′.  Keep an eye out
  • 8º 57.93′ S   157º 59.29′ W
  • 8º 57.89′ S   157º 58.80′ W
  • 8º 57.53′ S   157º 55.95′ W
  • You are coming into the anchorage. Find a spot in 15′ of water over sand just off the customs dock (sign posted you can see with the binoculars) and a little S.

I showed Rio the cardinal marks that French Polynesia and much of the world use for navigation and he is now considering adding those to the reefs. With those markers you will know whether to stay N or S of the reefs (bommies).

Once in Omoka we anchored where another cruiser said they had found sand. But as I said; most other cruisers way points (GPS marks)  have been in error for us and here we have yet to   find any sand.  With the anchor down Rio and family hopped into the Aluminum boat and headed ashore, W/ and I shut our boat down and followed in the dinghy.

Cloe saw us anchor and met us ashore. He was all smiles as he had the replacement gasket sealant and replacement JB Weld.  Cloe is the engineer on board and he’s the one we helped last time the Kwai was here and had engine issues on the southbound leg of their trip. He was returning the favor.

Our order wasn’t exactly as we had expected. Instead of 5 dozen eggs we ended up with a box of 15 dozen.  We didn’t get a couple of the items on W/s list (it is not like shopping at a Super Walmart or Sams Club anywhere in the states). After receiving our order, I returned our supplies to the boat for storage. I quickly put them onboard leaving the eggs in the shade of the cockpit and rushed back as Rio would give us a lift to his aunts;  Manongi, who has a store down by the airport. We had figured on going there the following day but with a free ride offer now it was too good to refuse.  After picking up some more supplies we finally return to the boat to deal with storage and mostly the eggs.

I opened the egg box and “whew”!  The smell wasn’t the best. It made mucking out my Uncles hog barn when I was a kid a chore with sweet smells. This almost knocked me over and ran W/ below. Before she gagged we worked out a scheme to check and store the eggs. Some of the eggs had cracked and in all honesty Frankie had warned us of that happening.  So we went through the eggs, one by one, disposing of those obviously beyond use. W/ would then float them and see if any were internally bad and we disposed of those too.  We stored them, some in the containers we had and the rest sat out in a container on the counter. Not a wise choice on our part.

The following am saw more issues with the eggs. Those little pesky nats / miniature flies had found a new home.  We disposed of more eggs and decided to put the rest in the refrigerator. That was a smart thing. I should have guessed they needed refrigeration but it didn’t say so on the box. When we did receive the eggs however they were washed and basically if they’ve been washed they often need refrigeration. Yet in many of the countries we’ve been in the eggs have been washed and not refrigerated.  So after going through the eggs again we disposed of a few more and I think out of 15 dozen we’re now down to 10-12 dozen left.  Hopefully they’ll last a good while.

On Tuesday we stopped by Alex’s (the baker) and picked up some bread for us and for Rio. Last night was rough and we had thought to stay another night but we were now motivated to return to Omoka where a peaceful night of sleep beckoned. Retracing our steps we anchored in just about the same place we left from, 5 m of water over a sandy bottom and just N. of Rio’s home.  W/ hopped in the dinghy to deliver the bread to Cursa (Rio’s wife) and I finished shutting down the boat and getting her ready for our comfy stay. Good Night

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Parents Day

Monday, December 15th, 2014

We attended. We envisioned a short presentation of awards to students and then maybe a brief snack.  Institutional memory is strong.  But here; it is wrong.

Everyone from the village was here. There were a few assigned tasks of readying the banquet; and that is what it was, as the awards and accolades were handed out. The students did a song and dance routine. The students are

Traditional Dance Routine

Traditional Dance Routine

only K-6 and they had a cute play of which we barely understood; it was in Mauri, the mother tongue of the Cook Islands, and then they sang in the Cook Island format with contrasting harmonies.

After which they handed out awards and like the Western world counterparts, it seems that every child received an award of some sort.  I was honored to be selected to hand out some awards for the highest achievement, highest

Ready for my award!

Ready for my award!

attendance, and most improved. Although I was illiterate on stage I knew when to give the award and shake their hands.

And to cap off the ceramony some of the village wise men spoke of; I’m assuming here, the value of the school and education, at the end of their speech making a donation to the school.  Something maybe the western world, at least in the US, might well adopt because I don’t know of any school system adequately funded.

When  the show was over we began to head back to the boat but were accosted by councilman Rio and told we were welcome to stay and eat. And the food made the average smorgasboard look parse by any standard.  There was whole pig, fish, tube steaks, breadfruit, tea and lemonade just to name some of the fair.  We filled our plates and sat with a couple of the school children while W/ tried to learn their names and they laughed at how we worked so hard to pronounce them, never quite getting them right.  But…we persevere.

After being thoroughly satiated we again began to wander back to the boat and were stopped by Bana who maintains the log of visiting boats. He asked us to fill it in and so we took it back to the boat to see what others had said and to add our 2 cents.

This log went back to around 2004 and when we returned it we borrowed the earlier one they had back to 1994.  Quite interesting however he had asked us to not put any on the internet as they intend to do that sometime in the future.

Back on the boat we lay about stuffed like a pig and perused the log book to discover who we know that might have gone before us.  Ah…to be just hanging out in paradise. Ah……

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Crossing

Friday, December 12th, 2014

My first concern was getting the anchor up. We’d heard the chain dragging across the coral on the bottom and when the winds were from the SE I knew it was lodged under a head because the chain was coming up short. Adding a good bit of snubber to the system stopped the jerking / snapping of the chain. Snapping chain is a good way to break it as the chain is not designed for shock loads.  We started about 10 ish and not long after the anchor came aboard.

There were a couple of tense moments where it appeared “stuck” in a crevice or under a rock. But patience seemed to work and after the boat moved around a bit the chain popped out of it’s spot and I continued to retrieve the anchor. I was concerned because we had anchored in about 45′ of water and once I could dive; albeit briefly, to that depth, here the water clarity and the depth made the retrieval by snorkeling a chance proposition.

Free of the bottom we slowly motored away from our home of the last couple of weeks; Omoka, and began the task of eye balling the lagoon for bommies. There are no charts showing most of the lagoon depths and the bommies will at times rise from 200′ of water to within 3′ of the surface. Mostly the depths are between 50 and 100 feet but any bommies will stop us should we be distracted enough to run into one.  W/’s at the helm and I’m on the foredeck watching the water for signs. In good light and with a light breeze they are easy to see. For me; it is mostly the light that is important. We first try to use the “ships channel” that the US charted when they had a presence on this atoll back in WW II but all in all it seemed easier to weave in and out of the problematic areas.  Eventually we cleared the worst of the shallow spots and finally set a course due E to Te Tau Tua. Here I just had to keep a sharp eye out and for the most part we didn’t veer more than 10 degrees off course to avoid any obstructions.  Then back towards the other side we headed.  An hour later we came upon the shore of Te Tau Tua and I looked for a place on the sand shelf.

Te Tau Tua in the am

Te Tau Tua in the am

The depth here is about 15-20 feet and 95% sand bottom; clearly visible. With the winds being generally out of the East I found a place that I hoped would not swing us against any coral heads and was close enough to the village to obtain wi-fi.

Anchored we had lunch and then began to prep the boat for our stay here.  This afternoon we planned on walking the village and maybe meeting a few people.  We remember Rose from the Kwai and we met Sam along the highway in Omoka while returning from our shopping trip to the lone grocery. We hoped to run into them and get a sense of the village on this side. We found much more than we had hoped.

Initially we didn’t see Rose nor Sam. And foolish me I never asked where they lived although I could easily have asked anyone in the village. But I’m male and asking for directions is just not in my DNA. So we walked. North, then South. We found the  power plant, the Telecom (which is unmanned), and the school. We crossed the main road and walked a wee bit farther S till the unoccupied home with a new sea wall and then began to head back to the boat.  There we ran across Solaman and his family.

They asked us to sit and join them so reluctantly we did. We’re just not use to how friendly people are outside of the US.  Walk down any street in the US as a visitor and maybe 1 out of 100 people will ask you to stop and sit a spell just to chat. Here it seems the vast majority will ask you to sit a spell. I said reluctantly because our US culture seems to doubt the intentions of others and we’ve been ingrained in that thinking process. We’re trying to change our attitudes from fear of others to acceptance.  So we sit a spell.

Solaman asks if we got our diesel (everyone here knows what everyone else is doing), and we said yep, we’re now full up and ready for anything.  We talked about cooking, the Kwai, the one store that Te Tau Tua has and laundry.  He had heard that I do welding; god knows from where, but I told him I have welded plastic but never Al. He had a boat that had a bunch of pin holes. I told him we had worked for the school system and he invited us to the last day of school that they had before their year end vacation. It was called Parents Day but he said we would be more than welcome. Wanting to experience other cultures  the best way is to participate in them so we said we would be there. And Parents Day was much more than we expected.

I’m finding my expectations are usually no where near correct. While just talking Soloman indicated if we have any laundry that W/ could just bring it in and do it. He understands most cursing boats do not have a laundry machine. At least boats as small as ours!  On our boat I’m the laundry machine here and I do a small load 5 days a week just to keep up. Can one imagine anyone in the US offering to let a traveler use their laundry machine upon meeting them for 10 minutes?

We left with something new on our to do list and a puzzled look on our faces. People in Penhryn hold few pre conceived notions about others. They take people as they are and are welcoming to whom they see. Carpe Diem is a great cliche’ in the western world but here it is through living.  Seize the day, Seize the moment, Seize the opportunity, the opportunity to share in others lives.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Penhryn, Cook Islands Part 1 of …

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

We’ve been here; anchored off Omoka,  about two weeks. My first concern about hanging here was having enough diesel. Noonsite says there is no fuel for sale in Penhryn but wherever there are people there is a need for gas and usually diesel. I’ve seen some tractors and heavy equipment here and they need diesel. I’ve walked past the power plant and it uses diesel so … I’m optimistic.  We met Alex who is the baker and also the agent for the Kwai; a sailing cargo ship that travels from Hawaii to Rarotonga and back again stopping at all the smaller villages – islands delivering / selling merchandise from the US on the way down to Raro (as the locals call it) and then delivering / selling merchandise from Raro on it’s return trip. It also books passage for people traveling between islands, they get to “camp” above the cargo holds while enroute.  Alex tells me the Kwai will sell diesel and in fact he usually gets a barrel for his truck. So I’m hopeful.

Too, Papa Ru  (pronounced Papa Lou) said that we needed to apply for our long stay visa two weeks before the tourist visa ran out so with our usual travel speed we figured it would be best to hang on the Omoka side of the atoll till both of those tasks were completed.  Most cruisers head almost immediately to the Te Tau Tua side where it is calmer.

But before my nerves settle Penhryn had a small cruise ship visit. The first in 24 years; the Orion. It held roughly 100 passengers and stopped at places few people ever traveled to. Here being one of them. So too; we attended the event delighting in the songs of the Cook Islanders, the dance of the school children and enjoyed watching the delight of the tourist as they tasted a slice of life few ever see anymore.  We enjoyed coconut milk provided by Omoka and watched the Mayor dance with the best of them.  After the introductions the people took had a possibility of a couple of tours of which they could choose one.  Since we were only party crashers and weren’t invited on the tours we returned to the comfort of our boat. The Kwai was to arrive tomorrow and I could hopefully get my diesel then!

Kwai Store

Kwai Store

The Kwai came in a few days late and we were indeed able to purchase some diesel. While everyone brags on the price of fuel in the states going down we ended up paying about $10 US / gallon and added 90 gallons to our tanks. But considering the alternative; running out or having to leave for Christmas Island just to fill up on diesel; 7 days N, we felt it was a fair deal. Besides; we were able to purchase it here where all indicators say  that it is IMPOSSIBLE to.  We borrowed some containers from Papa Ru and reducing our runs back and forth to the Kwai only ended up needing to make 3 round trips. But hauling 90 gallons off the wharf, up on the boat and adding it to the tanks is not an easy task. Between W/ and I we were able to accomplish it all in one day and at the end of the day I was…..tired.

Being tired didn’t stop us. The Kwai was to be here only two days and after they delivered supplies what ever they had left in their hold they opened as a store and sold. We waited in line not wanting to be pushy and finally our turn came. Corin was patient enough to take our order and while she and the crew gathered up our items the rains came. The boat was shut down, the cargo doors closed and we all waited.

During the rain we had the good fortune to meet Cloe (the ships engineer on the Kwai) and Rose; the lovely daughter of Rio; the council’s  representative from Te Tau Tua.  Neville and Glennis on Alba had told us to say “hi” to Rio and Rose and Kura so we did and we learned some more about this remote magical atoll.

Rose told us that the Mauri language has no R pronunciation even though they have the letter R and the R is pronounced as an L. So while we thought Ru was correct we discovered it was pronounced as Lou.  And while the people we’ve met have no difficulty in accepting our language limitations we do endeavor to be correct. With various names we now use them as they were awarded by their parents. Of course there are some names that our tongues just do not seem to accept no matter how hard we try and the owners just smile and say we can call them…. then they give us an easier English name.

Cloe was an ex Coast Guard engineer who was also a sailor from New Orleans so we easily had some things in common. After conversing for a bit and asking all the age old questions Americans ask we discovered the we had lived about 6 miles from each other in Florida. He had lived in Holiday two years before we retired and left on this voyage. Small World in one respect. Huge in another.  The reason the Kwai was late is that they had a leak in their engine oil cooler that let water into the cylinders. Not a good thing. He was working on doing a Jury Rig fix and while the JB weld was hardening up we talked boats traveling and life.

The following afternoon back on the boat the captain of the Kwai stopped by. The jury rig had still leaked so he asked if we had any JB Weld and High Temp gasket sealant. Corry sent him over. I think we surprised him. We did!  We gave him some and hoped that it would now work as they were almost a week behind schedule. We indicated we didn’t want anything for the stuff as IMHO we on the seas help each other. However he wanted to share something with us so he invited us to Dinner on the Kwai and that we accepted.

There we had a tour  of the Kwai with Cloe and an island feast with the members of the crew while meeting most of them and sharing in some laughter. Many of the crew we had already met.  We left with a good dose of comraderie, full stomachs, a satiated thirst with wine (our stock was getting rather low) and returned to Elysium for a good nights sleep.

The following day we saw them head across the lagoon (yeah, Cloe’s fix worked) and we enjoyed  the

Omoka Highway

Omoka Highway

weekend walking the island and waiting for the very first science fair the Omoka school has had. We had planned on attending it.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Change of Plans

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

I’ve always admired Eric and Susan Hiscock (I believe it was them) who, when sailing in the Pacific once, they were going to a specific atoll. About 5 days away the winds changed and they were needing to work hard to make their destination. They changed course and went to another slice of paradise that was much more favorable for the wind and sea conditions.

I have always been goal driven. So much so that if I choose something and that’s where I want to go, I will go there come hell or high water.  Cruising has for the vast majority of my life been the goal.  Move to Florida, get a boat, sail the Caribbean etc.  If something got in the way I figured a way through it. I never looked for a way around the problem.

Well, finally I / we have broken through my glass highway.  We said when we left Bora Bora we were heading to Pago Pago (American Samoa).  While fixing things on the boat in Maupiti and with the weather crappy for a few days and with an email from two cruising friends in Pago Pago we began to  look elsewhere for where to hang our hat during the cyclone season.

With the cyclone season upon us we were getting a little concerned. Maybe more than a little concerned.  Elysium is our home and although we lived 30 some years in Florida where hurricanes oft were our frequent visitors; here in the Pacific we don’t have the same constraints nor the same methods of protection for our boat.  In Florida we knew where to go, what to do in event of a storm. We knew how to prepare the boat and we had a place to store stuff that was removed. We were in a comparatively safe harbor 3 nautical miles from the Gulf of Mexico entrance.  But here?

We received an email from two cruising friends; Mark on sv Mystic and Meri on sv Hotspurs. Pago Pago had just had a tropical depression move close to it.  Now, remember a depression is two steps below a cyclone. The order is: depression, tropical storm, cyclone and the worst is a category 5 cyclone. Cyclones and Hurricanes are synonomous..  Mark had planned on working in Samoa and spending the cyclone season there as well. He said that with the weather that had just passed his boat dragged it’s anchor across the entire harbor.

We had known that the harbor has a soft bottom and is not good for anchoring. We had planned on paying to have a mooring installed or purchasing / renting one there. Hotspurs has a mooring they were able to secure and they said there was no issue for them during the squalls that rolled through. But too we like to research what others have experienced as well. During our stay in French Polynesia we had written to other friends that had been there this season and while staying for any length of time in Samoa was a mixed bag; some loved it and others said stop only for supplies and move on …quickly, we figured that was just the way people are anyway. Some love Disney, some hate it.  But what started to scare us a little wasn’t our boat and the anchoring / mooring situation but others.

We had read that if a Tropical Storm (TS) or worse is predicted then all the nearby fishing fleet will also come to Pago Pago to hide from the worst of the storm. So while we might be secure we would be surrounded by 100-200′ steel fishing vessels anchored in a soft squishy bottom. And while I understand too that no one, commercial or otherwise wants to have an issue with their boat during a storm I also know that if just one of those boats had an issue and dragged through the fleet, Elysium would be as bug brushed by a steel flyswatter. We began to think that we didn’t want to cast quite so much of our fate to lady luck. We began to look elsewhere.

Our shore support team had suggested Kiribati (pronounce Kiribas) as a good place and so we looked N. The cyclone box begins at 10 degrees S latitude and we began researching.  The farther W we went would mean the more likely we would skip some of the islands we wished to visit and with the shipping of American goods to Pago Pago being the easiest in the Pacific we wanted to ensure we stopped there. While we are still well supplied in the spares department there is always something we need.  It was in our search N we came across Penhryn or as the locals refer to it Tongareva.

The only downside we can see to Penhryn is that there are no boat services there, no stores there, no restaurants there; but there are some people there and it is 99% safe from cyclones. They’ve only had one nearby in 30 years. Hell, if we have enough warning we can make the run from Penhryn to Kiritabati which is in the Northern Hemisphere less than a week away.

And with our new knowledge and our new sense of fear (caution)  we changed plans. We’ll head N to Penhryn and seek shelter there for 5-6 months. We’ll complete the boat projects we can, read a lot, met and share stories with the residents on the island (they speak English- Yeah), and maybe volunteer for things the community is working on. It will be a safe place with what we hear are friendly people. What more can we ask for?

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long