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Sunday, May 10, 2015

What's New in Pago Pago - Part One

Flower Pot Rock - Fatu & Futi. The beaches on Tutuila are amazing!

Gorgeous harbor sunset
With the slow strike over on the west coast, supplies have re-appeared on the island. It was sluggish at first... the few items that did make it to Tutuila were greedily grabbed up (by hoarders like me) and socked away. Then, there were no eggs.... again. But little by little, more containers arrived on the ships – and then even more. Fresh produce is again abundant, as is everything else.
Cassidy and Carolyne - inseparable - again!

Shannon's great photo of two of her children enjoying an island ride
in the back of our pickup truck

Waterfall hike in Nu'uuli
This was perfect timing for several cruising friends, one family who sailed from their 7 months in Tonga and another family who sailed from Fiji. There is no better place in the South Pacific Islands to get provisions than American Samoa! Their eyes bugged out of their heads when they saw all the available groceries.
They have chia seeds?
Gluten free pasta?
And the 6 kids aboard reacted the same way Carolyne did once the anchor was dropped...
Joe demonstrating the art of using the coconut shredder. This technique
renders the most awesome coconut cream in the world!

Taco Thursday at Evalani's for $1 chicken, pork or beef tacos - LOADED!
Unfortunately for sv Lil' Explorers, their stay was way too short. But we managed to squeeze in some tour time. It was great fun to share some of our favorite nature hikes with our friends. Sludging through the mud to the waterfall for a cool swim was memorable. Fortunately for us, sv Lady Carolina will be here a little longer and also our new friends who spent 5 months on the small atoll of Penryhn, sv Elysium.
Our cruising friend, Dick, giving us ride back home from the dock

Cruising friends, Dane and Jessie

Helping our New Hampshire friends on sv Ironbarque with a science project in the tropics...
Earthwise produce bags

These papers work pretty well, but this is what Clare on Ironbarque had to say:
"Among our various tomatoes the best one by far is the one sitting on a paper towel that had been dipped in vinegar and dried.  So I would recommend dousing fruits and veggies with a diluted mix of white vinegar, or at the very least, dousing the vessel in which they are stored." 
Jim recently took diving lessons with an awesome Frenchman, Renault. The cost here is $350 for the complete open water certification and $175 if you only want the Padi scuba diver card. Tutuila is a great island for learning to dive – lots of shallows for the introductory lessons and then later on and a little further back the coral reef drops off and Jim said he was suddenly swimming with the turtles! Carolyne and I signed up together and now after taking our first Mom/Daughter Dive we're enthusiastic about our second lesson!
Renault and his precious wife, Anita, whom he met in Madagascar.

Meanwhile, we're wrapping things up here in Pago Pago. Jim is already hopping on the boat projects that we have ignored over the last 8 months. I won't bore you with the list – it is depressing. But here are a few photos of what lies ahead:
Mold on cockpit canvas due to water leaks - relentless!
Dinghy chaps surgery... patching, patching and more patching!
Seems like this project is not really a priority, but chaps can extend the life
of your inflatable by YEARS!
Projects put on hold while we wait out the weather produced
by Rainmaker Mountain (and so aptly named!)
In addition to boat projects, we have a list of equipment repairs...
but, we're no longer taking risks fixing or upgrading anything else here in American Samoa.
You would think that with the huge fishing fleet here that oodles of qualified mechanics and technicians and “fix-it/make-it-better” gurus would be in abundance. That has NOT been our experience. And yes – we asked around and got recommendations before we hired. Our 5HP outboard is STILL sitting in a garage, completely torn to pieces, and the only problem it had was that it wouldn't spark. The repairman says he can't fix it and we're terrified what he's going to charge us to put it all back together in un-working condition. And the alternator we had re-built for $160? There is absolutely no improvement – the amps are exactly the same. It is very difficult to locate “competent” service people. Luckily, you can ship easily to the US and other countries. So, that is our remedy for repairs.
Rah-Rah-Rah!! Our new love!
Jim performed numerous carburetor surgeries (one after the other) to our California purchased Yamaha generator. <Do NOT buy California carburetor equipment if you value your sanity!> Jim finally threw in the towel and bought the only brand new generator we could find on the island. It had less than appealing reviews on Amazon, but with all the cloudy, rainy days we felt we had no choice. We took the risk. And we're happy we did. $500 later, we are smiling again.

The internet on island seems to have gotten worse (although I understand that it is far better here than in Tonga!) - it has taken me several hours to post this!

so more later...