Saturday, August 30, 2008

Upolu Island

August 30, 2008—We have really enjoyed the past week here in Apia. We have eaten in some excellent restaurants, done some shopping, and as usual worked on boat maintenance. We spent an afternoon aboard sv Taleisin with Lin and Larry Pardey. I have to say that their boat is beautiful, especially down below. It was very interesting talking with them about all their adventures in sailing over the past 40 years. We also got to attend the one-year celebration of the marina opening.

I have to take a minute here to talk about the marina. It is a very nice facility. They have showers and toilets, and there is water and electricity on the docks. Bellingham Marine designed it, but I don’t know if they actually put it into place. The amazing thing is that Apia did not dredge the area of the marina; consequently, there are coral heads in about 1/3 of the slips—they are unusable. There are also some coral heads in the main channels, which they neglect to tell you when you are pulling in. Other than that, it is a great place to stay. We found out that in order to help pay for the facility, which was built for the Pacific Games last year, all boats that have a draft of 6 feet or less have to stay in the marina. Boats with deeper drafts are allowed to anchor out—you are not given a choice.

Anyway, we decided that we would like to drive around Upolu Island so we reserved a car with a local company for Thursday morning. We got up early and got our gear together, and then Steve went to get the car but came back on foot. I guess in Samoa the word “reserved” does not mean you are guaranteed a car. After checking several places, he ended up at Budget so we took off around 9 o’clock and headed east.

Our first stop was Piula Cave Pool. This is a freshwater pool that comes through a cave, pools up, and then slowly drains into the ocean. The cave pool is located under a beautiful Methodist church. Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to swim in the pool.

The next stop was Falefa Waterfall. We saw the sign and turned in to park. A man came out and collected $10 (all prices listed are tala) for us to walk down to see the waterfall. In this case I believe that waterfall was a stretch., but it was a lovely inlet from the sea, and there was a quasi-waterfall.

We then turned inland and drove over La Mata Pass, which is 276 meters. The views were beautiful, and the vegetation was thick and lush. There were vines growing on everything. On this road we located Fuipisia Waterfall. The Moon Handbook stated that there was a $4 per person fee. We parked the car at the entrance, but a man came out and directed us further down a path that was closer to the falls. Steve went to pay him, but he said we could pay when we left. He and his son walked us down the path to the view of the falls that plunge 56 meters. It was a beautiful waterfall with a lovely pool at the bottom. Then the man led us up to the top of the falls to look down—a bit unnerving. We took some pictures and then began our walk back. The man stopped us about half way back and asked if we would like a coconut. Steve said that would be fine, so the man proceeded to make a double loop out of tree bark to put his feet in, and then he climbed up this coconut palm. He told me that I should take a picture so I did. He then cut down 4 coconuts and came back down. He drove a stick into the ground and used it to remove the husk from the coconut, and next he cracked open a hole in the top. Steve took a drink and said that the water from this coconut was much sweeter than the other ones we had tasted. He drank his, and the man told us to take the second one with us so we did. We returned to the car, and Steve started to pay the man. It turned out that our fee was $28 each. Steve and I stopped and looked at each other. Steve said that he thought that was very expensive. The man said that he had climbed the tree and gotten us coconuts so that was more. Nothing like being offered something and then told you had to pay an exorbitant price for it. Because we were in an isolated place and on his property, we whittled it down to $20 each, reluctantly paid him, and left. As we continued on our journey, we decided that if any more waterfalls cost money, we would just bypass it.

The drive down the east coast of the island was lovely. There were white sandy beaches lined with palm trees. We continued around to the southeastern shore where we found the Sea Breeze Resort. It was open to the public so we stopped there for lunch. Steve had a fish chowder that was wonderful and some fish and chips. I had a burger. The food was delicious and quite reasonable.

We left and continued on to the Togitogiga Waterfall, where, according to the guide book, you could swim in the middle pool at the bottom of the falls and there were changing rooms for the public. When we finally found the turnoff, the facility was closed, which was too bad because we were ready for a swim.

About half way along the south shore we turned north on a road that cut through the island and returned to Apia. This drive inland was as beautiful as the previous one. We both love the beautiful huge Banyan trees that grow here. Their root structure is amazing.
There was a stop where you could view Papapapai-tai Falls from just off the road. We continued on and arrived back in Apia around 3:30. Since we had done only the eastern half of the island, we decided to head west and drive the loop around the western half.

This drive was also lovely. On the northwestern coast of the island on the road leaving Apia, Steve and I were amazed at the number of churches. There was a church at least every half mile. We swung down the western coast and drove through a wonderful village named FaleasĂ© ela. The ground was lava, so the buildings here were built on lava rock. The best part was all the pigs. We had to stop several times to allow a sow with her piglets to cross the road. From here we turned inland again and drove through the interior on the western side. We arrived back in Apia around 6 o’clock and finally found a restaurant that was open so that we could eat some dinner. It is amazing that most of the restaurants here close at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

We got back to the marina around 7:30, unloaded the car, took showers, and crashed for the night. We had had a full day and were tired, but we enjoyed seeing this very large and beautiful island.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Arriving Apia, Samoa

August 23, 2008—We arrived in Samoa on Thursday morning making an overnight sail. The conditions were good with the wind around 20 knots. It was a bit rough leaving Pago Pago harbor; but after a few hours the seas settled down, and it became quite comfortable. We sailed with a triple reef in the main for the whole trip. The last few hours we deeply reefed the jib because we were going too fast and would arrive before dawn. Even with the sails reefed way down, we were still sailing at around 6 knots.

Just before dark Steve hooked a beautiful Dorado. It was a struggle to get it on board, but once we did we were able to measure it—it was 47 inches long. I was so disappointed because all we had time for was a picture of it lying on the side deck. It was getting dark fast, and Steve still had to clean it so we didn’t have time for anything more. We got a lot of fillets from it and finished cleaning up the boat (fishing is so messy) around 7 p.m.

Whenever we do a one-night sail, we do not sleep well. I got in a few hours, and Steve rested in the cockpit, but we were pretty tired by the time we arrived. The only thing that kept us going was coffee and the wonderful cinnamon rolls that we bought in Pago Pago before we left.

We arrived outside Apia harbor at 7:30 in the morning and called the harbor master for permission to enter. We had reservations at the marina so a skiff came out to meet us and to guide us into the marina and then into our slip. Earlier we had had to dig out our dock lines and our fenders, which had not been used since La Paz, Mexico.

We got the boat secured in the slip and then waited for officialdom. There were four agencies that had to come to the boat—health, immigration, customs, and the marina staff. Everything was done quickly and efficiently, and the people were all very friendly and helpful.

Several of our cruising friends were here, so we took some time to visit with them. Next, Steve went to deliver a written message from sv Little Wings to Lyn and Larry Pardey. The Pardeys came over later to thank us for the dorado we had given them and for delivering the message. The Pardeys are very well known in the sailing community and have been cruising since the mid-60s.

Mid-morning we both were so tired that we took naps. When we woke up, we decided to walk into Apia to see what the town was like. We stopped at a sidewalk cafĂ© to have a beer and talked for while with a commercial fisherman from New Zealand, which was very interesting. We continued down the main street to the bank where we changed some money. The local currency here is the tala. We also went to the computer store to buy internet time. We are able to get the internet on the boat, which is nice; however, it is not as cheap as in Pago Pago. We returned to the boat around 5 o’clock, fixed some dorado for dinner, and crashed.

Yesterday we went into town to go to the central market. It was wonderful! There was fruit, handmade crafts, material, and food for sale. We bought some curried chicken over rice and some panzit, and it was really delicious. We split one dish, which cost us $5 tala. Steve found some bottled water and was amazed that it cost us $4 tala. Four ladies were sitting at our table so we asked if we might take their picture. Three of them gave us a wonderful pose for the picture. We talked with them for awhile and found out that two were in Samoa from New Zealand for a funeral, and the other two live here. They were very interested to hear about our sailing, and when we left, they wished us well.

We had a great time walking around looking at everything that was for sale. There were tables where men were playing checkers. The board was a piece of wood that had been painted white. Then the paint had been removed to form small circles on the board. They played on the circles the way we play on the squares. The checker pieces looked to be plastic lids off bottles—one set orange, the other set yellow. There is usually a group of men gathered around, and when one man loses, another man gets to play. It was fun to watch.

So far, we really like Apia. It is a nice, clean town with friendly people, and the prices are reasonable. We are also enjoying being in a marina for the first time in 5 months. I have hot water at the sink—what a treat! We have power so we don’t have to worry about draining the batteries, and we have water on the dock as well. We might just become spoiled and not want to leave.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Leaving American Samoa

August 19, 2008--First of all, we have been trying to get this video uploaded since we reached the Marquesas but have had problems until now. This was in some of our heavier weather off Cabo San Lucas. We have to say that videos never truly depict the sea state and conditions the same as we experienced them.

We have cleared out of American Samoa and will leave tomorrow afternoon and sail overnight. We plan to arrive in Apia, Samoa, around 10 o'clock in the morning.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Around American Samoa

August 17, 2008--It is a quiet Sunday here at Pago Pago as is always the case in the islands. We spent the day installing a new radio and polishing the stainless steel. Two of our three packages arrived yesterday. The third one may be in the sorted bin tomorrow, but if it isn't, then, we are here until next weekend. Yesterday Steve installed the new alternator. It was supposed to be an exact replacement for our old one; however, it turned out that he had to build a bracket extension in order to get it to work. That kept him busy for awhile.

We had two calm and sunny days here in the anchorage, which were nice because we didn't have to worry about the anchor dragging, and the solar gain was great. The drawback is that the smell from the tuna factory was quite noticeable. The factory employs about one-third of the population here on the island. These huge, new tuna boats come into the harbor to unload their catches so it is a busy port with cargo ships entering as well.

Two days ago, the sv Second Wind, whom we had met in Mexico in 2006, was on its way into the harbor when it snagged a very, very long fishing line and net. They were not able to motor in so they were sailing and called for assistance. The police boat and a tug would not go out to help them in the beginning because they said that it was too rough. Finally, the police boat went out and helped them get into the anchorage; however, when they dropped their anchor, it began to drag. First they clipped sv Little Wings bow, who had bent their mast on their passage to Suvarov after being knocked down. Next they here headed for sv Fearless, but one cruiser got on board and three others were in their dinghies by this time so they were able to fend it off. Then Second Wind's anchor crossed over Rubicon's anchor and almost pulled it loose. They all finally got Second Wind anchored, and it held. It was very windy that day, and that made it so much more difficult to get anything done easily. Another cruiser put on dive gear and was able to cut away the line and net.

On Friday we took the Tafuna bus out to Cost You Less (much like COSTCO), which is about half way around the island. We loaded up on provisions--two carts full to be exact. When we were done, the store called a taxi for us, and our driver Vasco turned out to be a wonderful guide on our long drive back to the anchorage. His son plays football for San Jose, and his daughter lives in Washington State. He even helped us unload all our boxes full of stuff.

Last night we went over to sv Wind Dancer for appetizers. A little later we decided to have dinner at the Mexican food restaurant just down the street because no one felt like cooking. I have to say that the food was actually pretty good--very close to what we found in Mexico.

We will find out tomorrow morning if our last package made it here or not. Everything will depend on that. It has been a nice stay here. Even though we haven't had much of a chance to see the rest of the island, we are still glad that we came here. We had heard some negative comments about this island, but we found that most of them were not true. Everything is reasonably priced, and the people are friendly.

I uploaded a new album to Picasa. Click the link to Picasa at the bottom right and then select the Penrhyn and Samoa photo album. Hope you enjoy them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pago Pago

August 11, 2008--We have been in Pago Pago for 5 days now. Because the alternator that we ordered did not work, Steve tracked down a rebuilt alternator--guaranteed for 30 days--and installed it. It did not work. Our luck is not improving. As a last resort, he took the repaired alternator that was fixed in Raiatea and repaired the wiring problem for the third time. It worked! He didn't want to depend on it, however, so he ordered another brand new that should be here by the end of the week.

We have been busy packing up shells, books, and my souvenirs from Penrhyn to mail home. We can mail by domestic mail from American Samoa, so the shipping is very reasonable. I was able to get my hair cut, but my definition of short and the hairdresser's definition were very different. Steve is calling me Shanade now. At least it will last me until I get to New Zealand.

At least everything is reasonably priced here. We found wonderful sweet rolls for 75 cents. The laundry is $1 a load for wash or dry. That beats $10 a load in French Polynesia. There is a Cost U Less here that is much like COSTCO but not as big. Unfortunately, it is half way around the island from the anchorage so it is a major undertaking to bring things back. The buses are $1 anywhere you go, but they are small. We were bringing some stuff back from Cost U Less on Saturday, and it was everything we could do to get two of us plus our goods on one seat. We will probably take a taxi back on our next trip.

This is actually a very beautiful island--one of the prettiest we have seen. The harbor, unfortunately, is a commercial harbor. There is a tuna cannery across the way from us. We have had just two times that we could smell the fish, but it didn't last very long. The water is not the cleanest. The wind also blows from 15 to 25 knots in the anchorage all the time. Yesterday a boat that was anchored next to us began to drag their anchor. The owners were not on board, so Chris on sv Wind Dancer picked Steve up, and they went on board to try to re-anchor the boat. The owner then showed up and took over. It was an exciting afternoon. The good thing about a lot of wind is that we get a lot of power from our wind generator.

We will probably be here for another five days or so, and I do plan to post pictures at the end of the week. We were able to pay $15 for a month's worth of Internet service, and since the wi-fi tower is right across the bay from us, we get a very good signal on the boat. We are even able to make Skype calls from the boat, which is very nice.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Arrival at American Samoa

August 7, 2008--When I saw that my last blog had been sent, I was surprised because I hadn't finished it yet. Oh well. Here we are in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The last two days were as close to perfect as one can get out here. The winds were steady and the seas were moderate so we made good time with a comfortable ride.

We spotted the Manu'a Islands around 4 o'clock in the afternoon yesterday. This is the first set of islands in American Samoa. Anchorages are available, but you can not anchor if you haven't checked in. I imagine that not too many boats are willing to sail back after clearing in at Pago Pago.

As I discussed earlier, no matter how we plan, we usually arrive in the dark. Today was not much different. At one point during the night, we thought about reefing the sails in order to slow down but then decided against it. Of course, the wind picked up, and we started moving between 6 and 6.5 knots--too fast to get in after sunrise. We decided to continue on see what how it went.

As we approach Samoa, we had to sail between Aunu'u Island and the main island of Tutuila, which is the largest of the islands of American Samoa. The wind was strong as we approached the smaller island and the seas were on our beam. That made for a very rolly ride. At one point, a wave hit the side of the boat, and then the water came into the cockpit. It hit me, of course, but not Steve. Now I was all wet with salt water. I just decided to let my clothes dry out instead of changing into something else because I would have just gotten wet again anyway. As we moved between the islands, the wind and waves calmed down, and it became much more comfortable. We had been using radar to approach the islands; however, it finally got light enough to see just as we needed to turn and go between them.

We approached from the northeast and then turned west to enter Pago Pago Harbor. This harbor is large and easy to maneuver in so we took down the main sail as we motored in. We called the harbor master three times to ask about checking in but never got a response. Gordon on sv Vari called us on the radio and said that we could just anchor and then check in afterward. We saw the anchorage for yachts and found a nice spot between Vari and Wind Dancer. The wind funnels into this bay so in the anchorage itself, it is normal to have winds in the 20 to 30 knot range with higher winds at times. The good news is that it keeps our wind generator making electricity, and today has been great for the solar panels. The island has steep, rugged, and lush forested mountains that branch out from the central ridge. Pago Pago Harbor is all that remains of the volcanic crater. We think that it is really a lovely island, and we are anxious to do some touring around the island in the next day or two.

We unloaded the dinghy and Steve went to Customs and Immigration to get us checked in. We are surprised that we have to do that since this is a territory of the United States. He then went to pick up our new alternator at the Yacht Club and grab some lunch to bring back to the boat. When he returned, we unpacked the NEW alternator and discovered that it didn't work--perfect! We are frustrated because Dwight in Albuquerque worked very hard to get it to us. We will have to deal with it tomorrow.

For now we will try to catch up on some sleep and figure out what to take care of tomorrow.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

(no subject)

August 7, 2008--The past two days have been very, very nice. We have had no squalls, the seas have calmed down, and the wind has been between 10 and 18 knots so the ride is very comfortable now. Steve finally got into the sleep routine. He always has trouble for the first 3 days of any passage. He has to get to the point that he is so tired, he can't stay awake. I, on the other hand, can sleep anywhere at any time.

Yesterday we charged the batteries with the generator since our alternator was out again. We will be happy to pick up our new alternator in Samoa. We will need full batteries to run the radar when we are approaching land. There are sure to be fishing boats or cargo ships close by. We also made as much water as we could since the harbor water is not clean enough to make water while we are there.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rock 'n Roll

August 4, 2008--This passage from Penrhyn Island to Pago Pago, American Samoa, has been an interesting one. After exiting the pass, we raised the sails and settled into a nice broad reach in about 18 knots of wind. The seas were not bad at all, and we just enjoyed the beautiful day. Ernst left with us; however, he is headed to Western Samoa so he is heading more north and west.

Saturday the conditions were basically the same but with bigger seas. Around 10 p.m. we passed by Manihiki, which is another Northern Cook Island. Larry and Trinda on sv Katie Lee had left Penrhyn two days before us and were now anchored at Manihiki. We wanted to stop there but only during the day. Manihiki does not have a pass into the lagoon so you have to anchor in the lee of the island and take the dinghy ashore. If any bad weather comes up, you might have to leave in a hurry which might be difficult if your anchor chain is wrapped around a coral head. The idea of anchoring in coral heads in the dark was not too appealing to us even though it was possible. Also, we are getting low on supplies so we decided to bypass the island and head straight to Samoa. We gave Larry a call on the VHF radio and spoke with him for a few minutes, and we told him that we would probably see them in Samoa later on.

The past two days has been a bit more challenging. We seem to be caught in the South Pacific Convergence Zone, which is the meeting of two air masses usually associated with the formation of a front that occurs in the Central South Pacific during the southern hemisphere winter. Most sailors are wary of the zone because it can be associated with high winds; however, it can also be quite benign. We have experienced winds from 18 to 25 knots with some gusts to 30 knots during a squall. Most of the squalls we have been through have been rain squalls with increased winds. We have seen lightening in the distance, but, thankfully, have not experienced any close by. The seas have been as high as 16 feet, but mostly they have run about 10 to 12 feet. Initially, the ride was pretty rolly and uncomfortable, but the past two days have been better. Everything we have experienced the boat and crew have weathered just fine. We have had no equipment failures except a minor one--our U.S. flag was consigned to Daie Jones's locker when the lines holding it must have broken. I was lying on the settee one afternoon looking out to the stern of the boat when I realized that our flag was gone. We have no idea when it was lost, but today we put up a new one. The conditions have resulted in a pretty fast passage so far. We have run between 5.5 and 7 knots and a few times hit 7.5 knots. Most of the time we have had a triple-reefed main and then various jib settings.

The only other mishap was that today I was resting on the settee again when the boat was hit by a wave on the port side and a half gallon of sea water came down the center hatch right onto the settee and me. I had to strip the sea berth and mop the floor, but it was only a small amount of water--it could have been much worse.

Our good news is that today Steve caught a small great barracuda. He threw the line in the water while he cleaned the fish, and about 30 minutes later he also had a beautiful 30-inch Dorado or Mahi Mahi. He had been having the worst luck with the fishing; the fish would bite but would get away. We rigged the line a little differently and what a difference it made. We enjoyed some fresh Dorado for lunch, and it was absolutely delicious.

I was in the cockpit this afternoon looking forward when a large wave came under the boat. Right when we were on the crest of the wave, the trough in front of the wave dropped away. I felt as though I were on a bluff looking down at a valley except that in this case, everything was a deep cobalt blue. It was really quite spectacular.

This will by our second longest passage since leaving Mexico, and as usually happens, we are anxious to get there so that we can get a good night's sleep. We will probably arrive at Samoa sometime late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning (we always seem to arrive at night no matter what we do) and will have to wait for daylight to enter the harbor and receive a berth assignment for the harbor master.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Penrhyn to American Samoa

August 1, 2008--We left at noon today leaving Penrhyn Island and headed for American Samoa. The past two days have been full of goodbyes, first to the wonderful Tapu family. We went ashore on Wedesday morning because we had planned to cross back to Omoka Village; however, the weather was not good because of rain and high winds, so we postponed it for a day. When we arrived at the Tapu home, we found that Emily was not feeling well because of her bad tooth so she was resting inside. While inside, we were given two woven shell necklaces made by her mother Repa. We had asked for two necklaces to buy from them, but they would not accept any payment, so we thanked them for the lovely gifts. When we went outside, Leida handed me a large woven shell fan with orange and yellow in it. The ends were frayed to give it a very delicate look. Yesterday when they were fishing, Soloman told Steve that Leida was thrilled with a pair of earrings I had given her, so she made me the fan. Right after that a neighbor named Teina, who is baby Mary's mother, handed me another necklace and 2 black pearls. I was totally surprised. To receive so many beautifully made gifts from these people was so special. We visited for several hours and then headed back to the boat, because we needed to get a few things done before leaving Te Tautua Village.

Steve needed to clean the propeller so he got out his mask and fins and prepared to jump in. I saw two black-tip sharks so I asked, "Are you sure you want to go in right now." Before he could answer me, there were six sharks, two of which were nurse sharks and the rest were black tip. Steve started slapping his fins against the water and all the sharks came up for a look, thinking that they were going to get fed. After a few minutes, however, they lost interest and disappeared. Steve went into the water and watched all around him for a few minutes. There were still a couple of sharks, but they were keeping their distance. He did get the prop cleaned and even took the camera underwater for some pictures and a video, all of which came out very well. That was enough excitement for one day.

On Thursday morning we went back to the Tapu home to truly say goodbye this time. We thanked them for everything they had done for us during our visit and for all the wonderful gifts, which we will always treasure. I walked across the road to find Leida's sister Puna to ask if I could take her picture. She posed with her baby boy, and I got a very nice picture. Then she asked me if I would take one with her husband and daughter, and I said that I would love to. Her daughter was off playing, so I took a picture of her, her husband Mike, and their 10-month-old son. As I was leaving, she stopped me and gave me another lovely hand fan with orange, yellow, and green in it. What more can I say about these gifts? I returned to the Tapu home, and Steve and I said goodbye one last time, and we left and stopped at two other homes to talk with some of the other people in the village. They were cleaning fish right by the water, and four large nurse sharks and four black-tip sharks were all swimming right up to to wall, just waiting for scraps. This is where they learned to expect to be fed.

We returned to our boat and were ready to go in about 30 minutes. The weather was much better for crossing because we had sunny skies and could easily see the coral heads on our return trip. We anchored off the wharf and within 20 minutes a large rain squall came through and whipped up the rain and the seas. We waited to go ashore until it had passed, and then we went in to check out of the Cook Islands. We were a bit nervous about the anchor holding because it was blowing pretty hard and the waves had built up. We found Ru and told him that we needed to check out, but first he lent us his motor scooter to drive to the store. We picked up just a few items for our trip and then returned to his house to fill out the paperwork. We got our exit zarpe and thanked him, and then we walked to Alex's house.

We were happy to see them again, and we sat on their front porch and told them about our visit on the other side. They invited us to dinner since we were leaving the next day so we went back to the boat to shower and make some fruit salad for dinner. We returned at 6:30 and visited while dinner was being cooked. We then all sat at one table outside the kitchen and ate wonderful batter-fried fish, pasta salad, rice, gravy, and a special bread that Christina makes. We let the kids enjoy the fruit salad, and did they ever! There was none left. We then had to say goodbye to this other wonderful family so we told Alex and Christina how much meeting them had meant to us and thanked them one last time. When we got ready to leave, all 11 children, ranging in age from 22 down to 18 months, came out to say good bye and give us each a kiss on the cheek. It was very special. We walked back to the dinghy talking about our experiences here on Penrhyn and how we are so glad that we stopped here. It has been an experience of a lifetime, and one that neither of us will ever forget.

As I said, we got underway around noon. There were some small rips at the pass, but we had no trouble at all. We got the sails up and now have 812 miles to go to get to Samoa. The sea swell is a bit large, so we are rolling back and forth, back and forth. The winds are about 15 knots, but we hope it picks up just a bit to reduce the rolling. Ernst on sv Accord left with us, and we can see his boat to our starboard. We may stop at Manihiki, Cook Islands, if the weather is settled. If not, we will just continue on to Samoa. As much as we hated to leave, it does feel good to be back out here--rolls and all.

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