Posted by: powellpjc | October 29, 2010

American Samoa. Repair time.

Sand + coconut = palm tree. This one is just getting going.

Next thing you know, the neighbourhood is overrun.


I liked Aitutaki a lot. Friendly people, lovely lagoon, pretty hillsides and scenery, some good agricultural land (= fresh and cheap tomatoes) but there comes a time to leave. From our anchorage in front of the main village we needed to motor out a shallow and narrow channel for about 1 km. This channel through the lagoon was tricky and we knew it. We had plowed through sand on the way in so I took careful note of the high tides and calculated the best time to leave would be about ½ hour before high tide. With a fellow sailor who had a hand-held depth gauge we tracked the deepest parts of the channel in his dinghy. So, we’re all set.

Aitutaki and her lagoon.

You can see the channel leading through the lagoon. It was dredged years ago to allow for offloading of the fuel needed for the flying boat service. It needs dredging again for la Rosa.


I get about 200 metres and run into a sandbar. We back up and take another run (using more power of course) and get a little farther but just run aground even harder. My fellow cruiser, Petr, comes out in his dinghy and takes a halyard from us and he tries to tilt the boat to one side, the thought being that the tilting might free the keel. No go.

After a ½ hour of hand-waving Ulic goes back to Aitutaki in the dinghy and scouts out a fisherman. $100 and a bottle of rum later we are under tow, plowing through the sand here and there but we are free at last of Aitutaki. Harder to leave than expected.

Lots of fishes in Aitutaki lagoon.

Lots of underwater sights in general.

The lagoon coral is very pretty, but don't run into it.

The red starfish are the coral killers so this guy is ok.


That was the first of two setbacks of the day. As soon as we cleared the lagoon I went down below to start making water. The lagoon on Aitutaki was too silty where we were parked to make water and there was no handy water tap. We had almost no water in our tank.

Watermaker would not work. Too much current draw from some source. We can’t go back into the lagoon (it’s now well past high tide) to tank up. We have enough bottled water for drinking (we think) so we say the hell with it and push on.

The sailing is lovely. Light winds, sunny days and easy living. I spend half of each day working on the watermaker trying to figure out the problem. We are eight days from Aitutaki to Pago Pago, American Samoa and I never do figure out the damn watermaker. It’s salt water showers on deck. Not 5 Star living but we are fine.

We collect some rain water using a collection tarp I rigged up but we find the best collection is simply off the sail, using a bucket. No fishing so no fish. A full moon.

So now we are in Pago Pago (pronounced Pongo Pongo) and I’m ordering a new starter motor for the diesel. A friend helped me through the watermaker problem so now it’s fixed. It was a centrifugal electric water pump that started to draw 24 amps instead of it’s designed 8 amps that was the source of the problem. Electricity continues it’s strange and virtually unknowable behavior.

No scooters here. Everyone drives a new 4×4. Are they really worried about snow?

The coastline of American Samoa looks intimidating but there is a good and safe deep water harbour.

A tsunami came through here last year and wrecked a lot of the waterfront. Rebuilding is slow.

There is a Costco type store here and good hardware outlets too. Time to get to work again. Oh, and a laundry load here costs $2.50. In Papeete it was $24. While paradisical, my life also includes coin-op laundry and public washrooms.

The 'la Rosa Riders' in front of Bloody Mary's, Bora Bora.



  1. Hey Boys congrats on American Samoa, Glad to hear you got the water maker going/ If I were still there and water was getting low, how would we decide who gets the last bottle? A game of gin rummy perhaps?

  2. great stuff & in general keep it coming

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