Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Well the New Year is nearly here – I have been FLAT OUT doing things – a quick AUS trip – some more pics and video to add to the Archives of Samoa – lots of socializing with the festive times.
I have had a good time cooking wise, preparing only a few meals in the last month.
Have we eaten good – YUM TUM !!! I can actually cook if need-be and had Rack of Lamb the other night – so I have the potential but it has been seldom seen. I have also been cooking Apple Pies, that have gone done well at parties with ice-cream.

This post covers the last couple of months – we arrived back post tsunami (the Tongan Trench earthquake), as life was just getting back to normal after some very stressful and hectic weeks for the humanitarian aid organizations. Purified bottled water was actually shipped in as all our suppliers were taxed by the disaster on the south and especially the south east corner of the island.
With all stressful events the survivors had tales to tell of tragedy and luck in their survival. For weeks later they just had to talk out their experiences and memories – I just listened to amazing escapes and tales of life’s chances. The sheer luck involved was just a matter of sometimes less than a meter to scramble and run. The first wave was 14 meters high, with usually two slightly smaller following. Wave does not actually describe a tsunami as there is no back to the slug of water, the ocean just moves up and flows over the land until it equalizes, flows back to the sea and repeats the process. Some people were washed inland, out past the reef and somehow survived the three slugs of water. Surviving the tsunami was a miracle in itself, the next was the lung infections from water and debris ingestion to say nothing of the wounds. Two things stand out from the stories – a NZ primary school girl alerted tourists that a tsunami was coming when the reef drained, saving many lives at Lalomanu. (She had been taught this at school.) Another Resort had a siren that saved dozens of tourists along another stretch of coast.
Samoa is recovering and the main tourist resorts are re-opening around the end of March with new buildings and refurbishments. The last tsunami from the Tongan Trench was in 1917, Hilo in Hawaii was 1946 and the Chilean tsunami (Largest underwater earthquake recorded) was 1960. So they are infrequent but you are mindful now of higher ground when on the beach.

I have become a bit of a video person with my HD Camcorder (with a Fluid Head Manfrotto tripod) and have given lots of DVD’s away, things that I have done are:
Judo World Cup Opening Ceremony – very specky mass dance from a local college,
A 40 Birthday Party – great Margaritas,
A building Opening with all the VIP’s
A Graduation Ceremony for 52 students – great food
A local Primary School’s Prize Giving day – hot sauna day (24 DVD’s)
I was fourth video camera for a local Variety Show and gave the production company 19 minutes of crowd reaction – so I can say that my video has been broadcast on TV (if only flash clips), it was a great night and meal at a local nightclub to boot.
The Blessing of the Samoan Va’atele (Double sailing canoe – 73 Feet), also the preparation for a short doco.
A family Christmas dinner and gift giving. (6 DVD’s)
Two HASH runs and after- parties.
Resort Christmas Lunch and Santa arriving on a Surfboard towed by a jet-ski.
Some underwater day and night snorkels.
A recent trip to Savaii, the blowholes were going OFFfffffffff.
Or should I say UPppppppp.
This time they were full coconuts the Martai was throwing down the vent!!!!!!!

The digital still collection has not been neglected as we hope to pass the 20 thousand mark by the New Year. At 13.6 or 12 MP it soon fills a hard-drive to say nothing of the HD Video and everything is backed-up to DVD each month.

November was just a blur to say nothing of December as I wrote a story of a two year odyssey from my ancient past. This has been refined and expanded and is now ready for the printer. The usual round of Christmas festivities started and I got to talk to diplomats from several nations at one social occasion. The Chamber of Commerce party was an interesting affair as I moved around several tables to talk to people I knew, then drove to the airport, had a nap on the back seat and waited for F to come through from Customs just past midnight.

We have had our third lot of visitors from AUS this week, with F’s daughter and partner over for Christmas. We took them to the highlights of Samoa – two nights at Savaii ; blowholes, swimming under waterfalls, feeding the turtles, snorkeling; and Christmas at Sa’moana Resort where we were part of a lunch for over 50 guests. Excellent food was served with hermit crab races at night for entertainment. The moral is if you get to pick, go for the small ones, number 22 won three times in a row and we kept making the circle bigger as a handicap. We lost 10 tala on our two “nag” crabs. No animals were harmed during or after the racing although a human handler was bitten at the starting gate drawing blood from one finger.
I also took the kids snorkeling at Palalo Deep in Apia with a huge surf running and strong currents. Being the gentleman I am, I also escorted two fair maidens on a snorkel tour and safely saw them to shore. Gee it’s hard to be humble with bikinis around !!!! And this was after showing three young ladies the Clown Fish at Sa’moana and swapping masks with one of them.
Gotta love the South Pacific.

I also got to attend the headstone dedication for Shafter (our ex-Monk and GM) from Apia HASH. I had helped build his crypt last November and afterwards we retired to his favourite drinking-hole for refreshments and nibbles. Hash again staged the Christmas Carols run behind the Fire Engine in fine weather this year. So the video is pretty good and I edited it to 70 minutes to get it onto a 4.7GB DVD at Standard Definition. F took 300 digital stills.
Lots and lots of copies to burn.

So as the EVE of a new year starts tonight and we get ours tomorrow – we look forward to Twenty Ten and all the excitement it will bring. EUROPE is high on our agenda.
2009 will stand out as a LIFE Changing year for me.
May there be many more years of health for us ALL.
To 2010 with a vengeance for a full life of good experiences and love.

I will post some pics in the New Year as we MAXED out our 500mb on the 7th of December.
Cheers from the Pacific

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tsunami in Samoa and AUS Trip

We share the grief with all people of the Pacific and especially our home of Samoa, for the loss of life and destruction caused by the recent earthquake and tsunami.
While the devastation along the south coast of the island of Upolu was appalling, there was some consolation that it was low tide and daylight, both contributing to what could have been a more serious catastrophe.
F worked the phone on the Wednesday tracking colleagues and their relatives.
The Apia Hash was saddened by the loss of Godmother and thirteen relatives of another Hash member. Godfather was injured as their vehicle was thrown and tumbled by the waves as they tried to move to higher ground.
We had flown out the previous day and our friends house-sitting before flying out got to run out into the yard when the shaking from the earthquake hit. A few books and paintings fell and we await an inspection on our return.

On the MM front I got another three month PASS and got to collect $12 on Lotto. So it is around the Monopoly board again for me. As the blood tests accumulate my ONC is becoming a bit more positive in his yearly percentage of an All out attack by the Uruk-hai against the Walls of the Hornburg. (The Twin Towers – Tolkein)

I come back in early February for hopefully another good result !!!!! (As they say in the MM world it is three months blocks of life that you live in.)

Waves have been great at Coolum Beach – hand-boarded until I cramped on good waves on a sand bottom - riding right into the cliff on a full tide and timing a bounce wave to stop in time.
At Point 79, about 350 meters out from the surf club you can hear the whales singing on the bottom in about 25 feet of water. A really special moment to savor and reflect on !!!!
We watched whales playing in the bay at Mooloolaba on our first day as they were herded by jet skies trying to stop them from tangling in the shark nets.

So we return to Samoa next week with bodies overhauled, but only one truly free do-anything day. Our hearts are still in shock from the Pacific, Philippines and Indonesian tragedies.

Whale being chased away from the shark net at Mooloolaba - the big cat was replaced later by inflatables and jet skis

Our rest day was spent at the Eumundi Markets, an Art Exhibition at a local gallery followed by a walk along the Noosa River at Noosaville and Hot Chocolates at out old haunt Moondoggies Cafe

Saturday, September 26, 2009

American Samoa Va'a tele visits Apia and Sinalei Reef Resort

I was able to sail offshore from Apia last Thursday for a couple of hours and the Va'a tele was on the hard at Sinalei Reef Resort last Sunday for a lunch provided by the Samoan Voyaging Society(I am a member), some great shots and video.
Having fun in the Pacific - free trip around the Sun every year - Yahoo !!!!!!!

Offshore Apia in rain squalls - note rope assistant and snubber for shock on steering oar

Steering with traditional crab-claw sails - love the tatts

Twin main sails and a small jib set

Chicken's head on steering oar

Crew member - "Pirates of the South Pacific" ???????

Big oar and outboard well - 50hp Yamaha (IRON Sail)

Artwork is distinctive to each va'a and reflects the national designs

Sharp end

Head (DUNNY) is the front door on the hut - no standing room, bring your own bucket filled with sea-water to flush with. BIT CRAMPED

On the hard at Sinalei Reef Resort looking towards Coconuts Resort and Liquid Motion Dive shop and tours

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Up to Road Switch Weekend - Savaii

Up to Road Switch Weekend - Savaii

I have not posted for over a month and I apologise for my tardiness, it has been all hands on deck as I have tried to crush in as much living as I can between Haem/Onc visits. With MM although it is in the Smouldering stage it can turn on you at any time. I have joined a listserv on MM and I have picked up many tips on survival and coping – you live life in 3 month blocks.
On the Samoan front we attended a Samoan Ports Authority Tenth Anniversary Dinner and F got to present a large cheque to the lucky stevedoring winner. The entertainment was spectacular with groups from Hawaii and American Samoa. I was able to get some great digital of the fire siva.
Places we have been recently have included a weekend at Sa’moana Resort for a night solo scuba dive. I ran out 70 meters of rope to find the special spots in the afternoon and followed them with the still digital, then a night snorkel to retrieve all the rope. Lesson learnt is to make a reel for the rope so you don’t get tangled in the dark while trying to retrieve 70 meters. My other project has been Bucket-Cam. I mounted the video housing in a bucket, cut out the base for the lens, the side for the mirror view-finder, attached some tape lead for weight, some lights from polly pipe and O-rings, two 9 LED bulbs, battery packs and wiring from head-lamps, some plastic bottle bases for diffusers and you have bucket-cam. You can push it amongst the coral and video the fish and coral up close and personal. Unfortunately the housing is only good for 5 meters, but I am specializing in night snorkeling and low tides for steady video. I have also been videoing the local kids swim group at the Olympic pool. They love to watch themselves doing tumble turns and starts on the laptop.
Art Group has relocated to a new location with plenty of space for all of us. I am currently working on a 900x600 scene and a smaller avant-garde of a popular children’s book. In the works is a trypitch of a split scene mostly underwater. Other offerings include a free thrown post-modern canvas. So I am squashing tubes of paint and working wet on wet in oils with brushes, knives, toothbrushes, rollers and fingers and having lots of fun with our group. We break into dancing, at least I do, the music machinery is serious stuff with a valve amp and Warfedale speakers.
Also crushed into the social calendar was the Teulia Festival, we only made it to the Fuatassi (Longboat – traditional oars only this year) Race on the Friday morning.
Apia has had it’s share of ship wrecks and groundings in the last month – first a steel sailing yacht went up on the reef and sank as it was pulled off, then a container ship was up for 6 days(fortunately only the bow was stuck) then a fiberglass tuna boat got confused at night by the container ship aground and ran up on the reef for another total loss.
Road Switch Weekend
Samoa has just changed the side of the road that we drive on. So now we have a left hand drive Hilux and drive on the left, not looking forward to my first night drive(actually survived it) or Hash on Monday evening. So Samoa has just had a 4 day weekend, the schools are closed for the rest of the week, there are only a few buses around as they have to cut new doorways, the police presence is astounding with Red Cross workers on most major intersection, taxis’s are doing a roaring trade and everyone is wearing seatbelts, even taxi drivers – AMAZING !!!!!

So we caught the vehicle ferry to Savaii (The BIG Island) for three nights of rest and recreation, F rested and I did the recreation – double scuba dive with Dive Savaii on their flat bottomed barge. Five divers, four snorkelers and three staff made everyone cozy and enjoying the Juno wreck and coral drop-offs and gardens diving. I night snorkeled twice off the resort beach to a row of stakes for easy navigation – checked out the lighting system and added diffusers. The most unusual thing that I saw was a sea cucumber with it’s rear raised and emitting a white fluid (presumably either – sperm, eggs, or fertilized eggs; it was full moon). It was the only one doing this and on both nights. F got some great moon shots while she waited on the beach at the end of the dive.
F and I also visited the turtles with apple and avocado to feed them as we snorkeled with still and video going flat out. Things I learnt are – a turtle can get confused and try to mount you (this results in a piercing scream) and they can bite your leg (the expletives’ are then deleted as Trick Dicky Nixon once professed). So the stats from the weekend came to 667 files(555 still) and 5.05Gigabyte on the hard-drive after editing. Gotta get better at editing the video – can now do still capture from the HD video – fantastic stuff.
The early slow drive(max 38kph) to the vehicle ferry was wasted as the ferry was not running and a two hour wait was added to the one hour that you get there to queue (luckily we were third and got on the noon barge). We dispensed cold drinks from our esky and picnic set for stranded tourists.
So it was the barge that battered the swell back to Upolu Island with lots of rock and roll, upturned stomachs and video action. We enjoyed another great time on Savaii, love the wide roads, the lack of traffic and potholes and the friendly people.
Lots of small posts as I lost a 20 odd pic load - started again in smaller lots !!!!
All the best from the Pacific - having fun

F and the BIG Cheque

Dancing Group

Not the guy to mess with - BIG Spear

Siva Dancing - DO NOT try this at home

Siva Dancing in blur

More pics - Siva Dancing - Night Dive Sa'moana Resort - Night Snorkel Savaii

Siva Dancing at SPA Awards Night

Bucket-cam prep

Clown fish at night

Sea Cucumber smoking at night

Fins in the rain (Arty Shot)

More Pics - Savaii - Day and Night Snorkel

Rain on the water

Queen Fish

Coral at Night(See following Day Coral)

Me and Bucket-cam

Moon on water - Stevensons Beach in front of our Suite

Saturday, September 12, 2009

More Pics - Savaii

Fautassi Race with Traditional Oars (Part of the Teulia Festival) - Digicel Won again (Green Boat nearest from Don Basco College, this year with a male cox/rudder person)

Stranded container ship - Tugs keeping her steady for 6 days towing - Wreck of Fishing Boat just seen on horizon - Fautassi in training

Road Switch - Spinal Board at intersection - INTERESTING First Aid assortment

Mulifanua Wharf Eary Morning

Coitus prolonged

Bus(before change) Catholic Church on Savaii

Sina and the eel - Stevensons Entertainment Stage

Scuba diving with Dive Savaii
You can't see me

Follow the Yellow Fish Road


Light Hole in the reef

Wall of Clowns

Flavai and me

Dive Group on Dive Savaii Barge (Soon to have two new 40HP Outboards)

Juno Wreck and diver

Juno Wreck and fish

Turtle about to eat - Jaws wide open

Electric Anomoine - You can see the electric current arcing

Blue Christmas Tree on a Brain Coral

F's fingers and turtle

Turtle Savaii

Wallowing pig


Spray and we're still inside the reef entrance - portents of waves and spray to come