Friday, November 6, 2015

Timing is Everything
By Michael

Watching American Samoa go by from
a bus window.
Poor Eleanor.

As our stay in American Samoa was extended by Dengue Fever, waiting for a weather window, and our being totally charmed by the place and reluctant to leave, Eleanor grew increasingly anxious.

“Are we going to be at sea for my birthday? What about Halloween?”

Windy, our weather guru and route planning officer, hesitated, “I don’t know, we’re going to have to wait and see—but it’s possible Eleanor.”

Eleanor was scheduled to turn 12 on the 29th, two days before Halloween. It would be a two-and-a-half-day passage from American Samoa to the Kingdom of Tonga. She watched the calendar carefully.

A weather window appeared, we were all healthy, and our business in American Samoa was over. It was Wednesday the 28th. Windy declared it time to go.

“Worst birthday ever.” I joked.

“DAD! Seriously, my birthday’s going to suck.”

Windy leaned in to assure. “We’ll still celebrate.”

“But Tina and Shane won’t be there—and we’re going to be at sea for Halloween…”

I saw an opening, “Being at sea will be better than being in Tonga, they don’t celebrate Halloween there.”

Underway to Tonga, Frances
writing in one of her journals,
wearing Halloween cat ears.
“What? Dad, stop.”

So the first 24 hours, force four on the beam, passage heaven. The next day, we woke Eleanor with a couple gifts and I made a special birthday breakfast with eggs and the veggie sausage we were able to buy in American Samoa. Windy chopped up a fresh Papaya. Then things went downhill.

In the middle of making the lemon tart that Eleanor requested, we ran out of propane. I’d gambled that we’d have enough to get us to Tonga.


“It’s okay, your birthday’s over anyway.”


“We just crossed the International Date Line; it’s now the 30th.”

“Mom, seriously?”

“Uh, yeah. Tomorrow’s Halloween.”

“Uhn…my birthday’s gone…and how are we going to trick-or-treat?”

“We have candy.” Windy said.

“But there are no other boats.”

“Just keep coming back to us,” I suggested, “‘Trick or treat! Trick or treat! Trick or treat!’”

“Oh my god—worst birthday ever, and worst Halloween.”

I’ve got to say that Eleanor’s a trooper, that most of her sentiment is tongue and cheek. In fact, I think she thinks it’s kind of cool that she got to celebrate her birthday under such exotic circumstances.

“Next year can we at least sail the other direction so I can have two birthdays—or two Halloweens?”


Frances walking along a pretty stretch of coastline
near Pago Pago.

Viewing Leone from remnants of an abandoned home.
This will be the last year Windy is taller than her oldest child.

A rugged stretch of coastline.
So far, the only photo of me I public wearing one of my
lava lavas.

The girls discovering a puddle with thousands of pollywogs
on a hike with Britney and Matt of Tipsea.
Underway to Tonga, Frances looking for hidden candy. We
did an onboard Easter-Halloween mash-up in lieu of
The birthday girl underway, enjoying fresh papaya from a


  1. Happy Birthday, Eleanor. I have no recollection of turning twelve. You won't have that problem.

  2. Happy birthday Eleanor!! Sending hugs from NZ

  3. Casey s/v Dawn TreaderNovember 13, 2015 at 3:29 PM

    “It’s okay, your birthday’s over anyway.” That is classic Captain Dad, right there. That sort of observation eventually got me dropped in rank from Skipper to simply, Bad Dad. I hope the girls can get together when you are back in the states. Thinking of you guys all the time.


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